Grace Pointe

Better Days Ahead (1 Peter 1)

Three weeks ago, we said goodbye to the year 2014, and hello to 2015. For many, 2014 was a break-through year. For others, it was a tough year, and they are glad to see it go.

I know at Grace Pointe, we faced our own challenges. Financial difficulties drove us from our rented church building, to holding services at the Early Chamber of Commerce’s community room. Attendance declined, yet tithes and offerings remained steady. We changed many things… eliminated Wednesday night services, and began a series of small groups. We eliminated Sunday evening services, and began Sunday afternoon services. Then, we eliminated the afternoon services altogether. Monthly potlucks were replaced by monthly lunches at local restaurants. Grace Pointe remained committed to our mission of spreading the Gospel, and made changes to help us accomplish that mission. That being said, I will not pretend that it was easy.

When things fall apart, when times get tough, and when discouragement begins to set in, there are several things we can remember from the book of 1 Peter.

We can remember that this world is not our home. 1 Peter 1:1 says, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, ” The key word, there, is “strangers.” In the New Testament, Christians used the term “strangers” to describe themselves, as this world was not their home, but Heaven was. This idea follows the old hymn, “This World is Not My Home,” which says:

This world is not my home I’m just a-passin’ through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

As Christians, we have a greater hope than anything that we can accomplish in this world. No matter how good, or bad things are here, we can be assured that things will be much greater in Heaven.

We can remember that God holds us in the palm of His hand. 1 Peter 1:2 says, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”

That word, “elect,” means “chosen.” God has chosen us to be saved. The basis of his choice was his foreknowledge of whether we would receive the Gospel, whether we would repent and trust Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. Seeing beforehand the choice we made, God predestined our lives to bring us to that decision. He set us aside (sanctified) us through the Holy Spirit, and purchased our salvation by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Once He saves us, He keeps us. 1 Peter 1:5 says, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” We can not save ourselves, nor can we keep ourselves saved. It all happens by God’s will, and His power.

Therefore, no matter what happens, we can trust that God holds us in His hand. He will work the things in our lives to our benefit, and He will receive us into Heaven. Though the storm rages, we can be at peace in the eye of the storm.

Finally, We can trust that God is using the adversities in our lives to strengthen us, and form us into the people He intended on us being. 1 Peter 1:7 says, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”

When God allows adversity to happen in your life, He is refining you, strengthening you, and building your endurance and faith. He is building you into someone who can do great things for Him, so that you will be received into Heaven with honor. In this verse, Peter compares the trials of our faith to the way gold is purified. It is heated up, melted, and the impurities are burned and sifted out of it. The result is a pure, highly valuable metal. When God finishes with us, we will be the people He created us to be.

Regardless of outcome, 2015 will be an interesting year. Oil prices will continue to fall and then will rise. The stock market will do some flips, and pre-Presidential politics will move to the forefront of any discussion on current events. Whether the year ahead brings good things, or tough challenges, you can live in peace, knowing that God has you taken care of, if you know Christ as your Savior.

As for Grace Pointe, we hope to see our new worship facility built this year. Feel free to come and visit. Grace Pointe meets in the Early Chamber of Commerce, 104 E. Industrial, Early, TX 76802. Sunday School is at 10 am, morning worship is at 11 am.

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If You Asked God What He Wanted for Christmas, What Would He Say?

Christmas 2014“What do you want for Christmas?”

It’s a common question. Santa asks it of the kids as they sit on his lap at the mall. Office workers ask it of each other as they plan their secret Santa gifts for the company Christmas party. And, even though you’ve turned 31, your mom will probably ask it of you.

Christmas is a time of giving, and a time of receiving. Exchanging gifts around a Christmas tree is one of the simple joys of the holiday. Everyone can identify with having a Christmas wish… but what about God? Has anyone ever asked God what He wants for Christmas? I mean, after all, He invented the holiday, didn’t he?

(Okay, yeah, I realize that Christmas is a man-made tradition to bring heathen holidays in compliance with the Christian religion. Humor me, will ya?)

After all, it was God who sent Jesus Christ, His only Begotten Son, to be born of the virgin, Mary. Jesus would go on to pay for the sins of the world on the cross so that we could be saved and live eternally with God in His Kingdom. Maybe that has something to do with God’s Christmas wish.

From the beginning, God’s desire has been to dwell with His people. If you look in Genesis 2, you see the picture of God walking along with Adam in the Garden of Eden, teaching and talking with him as Adam named the animals. When Adam sinned against God in Genesis 3, that close fellowship was broken. However, God immediately began taking the steps to restore that fellowship.

When God ordered the construction of the Tabernacle in the book of Exodus, His goal was to be able to dwell among His people. When His people rebelled, He had His Tabernacle moved out of their camp.

The construction of the Temple was, again, about giving God a place to dwell among His people. All of this was the foreshadowing of God’s overall plan to put an end to sin, and live with His people forever. It’s a dream that will be fully realized in Revelation 21:3, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Christ will come again, establish His Kingdom on Earth, and the Lord will dwell with us forever. At that time, all pain, suffering, illness and strife will be gone, and we will live in a perfect world forever.

What’s God’s Christmas wish? To live with us in a perfect world. However, God isn’t just sitting around hoping it shows up under the tree. He is busily working to bring that dream about.

And that is the significance of Matthew 1:23, “they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Come visit with us Sunday, and see the blessings of “Emmanuel, God with us.” We meet for Sunday School at 10 a.m., Morning Worship at 11 a.m., inside the Early Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Incubator Facility at 104 E. Industrial, Early, TX, 76802.

God bless you this Christmas season,

Leland Acker, Pastor, Grace Pointe MBC.

Christmas Is About Hope

Christmas 2014Thanksgiving is behind us, and we survived the madness of Black Friday. At this time, we begin hanging our Christmas lights, and start a month-long celebration of Christmas. Every year, the retail industry celebrates their biggest sales months of the year, while Christians commemorate the birth of our Lord and Savior.

A more scholarly preacher might be tempted to lament that Jesus wasn’t really born in December, and that this celebration arises out of man’s traditions. I, on the other hand, prefer not to be a killjoy. While we don’t really know when Christ was born (some do offer good theories), the fact of the matter is that He was born. His birth was so important to God that He inspired Matthew and Luke to write about it. If God celebrated it in two different books of the Bible, and foretold it in the Book of Isaiah, then it makes sense that we should celebrate the birth of Christ today. Further, it makes sense that the celebration should last an entire month. In fact, it doesn’t really bother me that we begin rolling out the Christmas stuff in September… all the more opportunity to bring attention to our Lord.

When you read about the birth of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1-2, and in Luke 1-2, you will notice the writers pay special attention to pointing out the Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled by the birth of Jesus Christ. From that fact, we learn that Christmas is about God keeping His promise, and that we can draw hope from the Lord, knowing that God keeps His promise.

In Isaiah 9:6, the Bible says “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” In that verse, God made a promise to the nation of Israel, and more specifically, the southern kingdom of Judah. His promise was, though the nation was in decline due to sin and idolatry, He would send Christ, who would bring salvation, and restore the Kingdom. The birth of Christ is the beginning of the fulfillment of this promise.

So, every time you see a Christmas decoration, a Nativity scene, a banner proclaiming that “Jesus is the Reason for the season,” remember the promise God made, and kept.

Furthermore, Isaiah 9:6 is the key verse for our Christmas series this year, “And His Name Shall Be Called.” Join us as we learn of God’s promise and hope, by studying the names attributed to Christ around His birth. We hope to see you there.

Grace Pointe Missionary Baptist Church meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m., Morning Worship at 11 a.m., at the Early Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Incubator Facility, 104 E. Industrial, Early, Texas, 76802.

In Christ,

Pastor Leland Acker

Why Our Mission Involved The Early Pioneer Days

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Bro. John Melancon demonstrates Bible artifacts to a festival-goer at the Early Pioneer Days.

Saturday at the Pioneer Days celebration in Early, Texas, festival goers enjoyed angus beef hamburgers, kettle corn, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and balloon animals. As they strolled through the festival booths, they came upon our booth, featuring Bible archaeologist John Melancon. Bro. Melancon demonstrated the artifacts that he collected during archaeological digs in the Holy Land, related them to scripture, and then discussed Bible truths, particularly the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins.

Some may wonder  why a church would go through the expense, time and effort of hosting a festival booth at a local carnival, without the benefit of a fund-raiser. It’s really quite simple. It’s part of our mission at Grace Pointe.

The day is coming when we will all stand before the Lord, who will judge us and determine whether we are received into His Kingdom (Heaven), or whether we are condemned for eternity (Hell). He will judge us based on two criteria… (1) Have we broken God’s law? and (2) Has the penalty for our sin been paid?

We have all broken God’s law. We have all sinned. We have all told lies, we have all taken something that didn’t belong to us, we have all failed at one point in our lives to love the Lord and worship God. By the definition of the law given in the 10 Commandments, we are all guilty of breaking God’s law, and sinning (Romans 3:23). Scripture declares that the penalty for sin is death and condemnation (Romans 6:23). So, on that part of the judgment, we will all be found guilty (Romans 3:19).

The question will then be the status of your punishment. When Jesus died on the cross, He not only suffered for a cause, and stood His ground as a noble leader, He took the punishment for our sins from God. Isaiah 53:11 says “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”

While He was on that cross, Jesus endured the wrath of God that was caused by our sin. He took our punishment for us (1 John 2:2). The question is, whether that payment for sins has been credited to your account. Such a transaction happens when you repent of your sins, and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior (Romans 4). If you have been found to have your sins paid, because you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you will be received into Heaven. If the payment for sins has not been credited to your account, because you have not accepted Christ as your Savior, you will be condemned to an eternity in Hell (John 3:36).

It’s that last part that propels our public outreach at local festivals. We’re not there to ruin a good time, and we are not there to make a name for ourselves, or raise funds. We are there to get in touch with people we would not otherwise get to meet, so that we can warn all people to flee God’s wrath and be saved by trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior.

It’s our prayer that all who hear our presentation of the Gospel will repent and trust Jesus Christ as Savior.

Sunday morning, we will study Luke 16, and learn about Hell by expounding on the passage about the rich man and Lazarus. Service starts at 11 a.m. We hope to see you there.

Grace Pointe Missionary Baptist Church meets at the Early Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Incubator Facility, 104 E. Industrial, Early, TX 76802.