Hope

The Life of Abraham

Abraham’s life was summed up in Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness.”

Many people regard Abraham as a righteous man, however, it was his faith that berthed his righteousness. God saw Abraham’s faith, and therefore regarded him as righteous.

Abraham’s faith guided his actions. It was his faith that motivated him to obey God, and to believe His promises.

So, to learn what we can from the life of Abraham, we first have to have a proper understanding of faith. Faith simply means a deep-rooted trust. You not only believe in God, but you believe God! You take Him at His word, and thus you obey Him.

That faith, that belief is what saves you. It’s what gives you hope for the return of Christ. It’s what you express when you give to God. And that’s what Abraham’s faith was all about. We explore those issues in this episode of The Point podcast.

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Buying a New Life

WP_20150406_001Have you ever been burnt out? Tired of the same ole struggle, the same day-to-day routine? Need a change of scenery?

We all get burnt out. We all get tired, and we all want a new life. Why else would one of the top-selling singles from the Rock band “Everclear” be named “I will buy you a new life?”

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they want to hit the “Reset” button. Many actually ruin their lives in search of that reset button. They leave their families, file for divorce, leave a steady job and lose opportunities as a result. Many a regret were born out of restlessness.

The secret, however, is that new starts, restarts and resets do not come from the afore mentioned options. All those options do is add problems to your current struggles. That said, is it possible to hit the reset button on life? Is it possible to buy a new life?

The short answer is yes, it is possible to hit the reset button, and it is possible to get a new life, but Art Alexakis of Everclear is not the one who is going to buy it for you. Your new life was already paid for, 2,000 years ago, by Jesus Christ.

Now before you roll your eyes and click away, hear me out. You cannot get a new life simply by running from the one you are in. You get a new life by changing the one you are in. That change comes through Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says “If any man be in Christ, He is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.” The first key to a new life is to change yourself. Become someone greater. Become something more. Become the great individual that God intended on you being. It’s a change that no one can make on their own. It comes by turning from sin, trusting Jesus Christ as your savior, and by allowing Him to work in your life to form you into the person He intended on you being.

The initial change happens at the point of salvation. The continued change happens as you live out that new life. Romans 6:4 says “that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” So, if you are a recovering alcoholic who has repented and given his life to Christ, don’t live the rest of your life the way an alcoholic would. Live your life with your new dream and your new purpose. It’s a conscientious choice you must make daily.

The continued change happens as you allow the Lord to work in your life. Romans 8:28 says “We know that all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Accepting Jesus Christ as your savior does not mean that you will no longer have problems. It simply means that your problems are no longer pointless. They now serve a purpose, whether it be resolving an ongoing conflict, strengthening you for the journey ahead, building your testimony to reach others, or placing you in a position where God will later bless you. All of it will set you up to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

So, at this point, God has changed the core of who you really are, and He has forged a hope and faith within you through the circumstances in life. But chances are, when you signed up for a new life, you weren’t looking for conditioning, but rather, a new adventure.

May I welcome you to your new life. If you center your life around the Lord as He forges your faith and your character, new opportunities that once seemed impossible will open themselves to you.

When I was saved, a retired pastor told me that my life would never be the same. I doubted him. After all, I still had a job, I still had bills, and I still expected to go to work at the same place and continue to do so until I die.

Today, I still have a job, and I still have bills. However, God has opened the door for me to play a part in the planting of a new church, and this opportunity has opened doors of which I have never dreamed… from the people I meet, to the radio talk show that I do, to the places I have traveled along the way. Back in November 2002, God literally blessed me with a new life. I am a new person, in a new place, with a new mission. The same can happen for you.

Do you want a new life? Repent and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior. Have you been saved, but a new life never materialized? Rededicate yourself to the Lord, center your life around Him, live out your faith, and watch what happens. May God bless you along this journey.

The Old Coot at the Temple

What seemed like a normal day must have taken a strange turn when the old man approached the young couple to adore their baby. Mary and Joseph were on their way to the Temple to present Jesus to the LORD, as required by the Law of God, when Simeon approached them to praise the newborn Son of God.

We don’t know much about Simeon. This was his only appearance in the scripture. All we know about him is that he was just and devout, and was told by the Holy Spirit that he’d live to see the birth of Christ.

Often, we get so excited reading Luke’s account of the birth of Christ that we dismiss Simeon as just an old coot at the Temple. However, Simeon actually holds theological significance. He shows us exactly who we are to be in Christ.

The Bible says in Luke 2:25 that Simeon was “just” and “devout.” He was just in that the Lord had forgiven his sins based on the future crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He had been declared not guilty because God would cleanse him of his sin. He was devout in that he was devoted to the Lord, and he diligently worshiped Him. Like Simeon, the first thing God wants from us is that we trust Him for salvation. If you haven’t turned from your sins and trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, nothing else matters. Without salvation, everything you do is temporary. If there is any doubt in your heart about your salvation, or your eternal destiny, it’s a good time to do what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:10, to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” Repent, ask forgiveness, trust God for salvation through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Questions? Email me at LelandAcker@gmail.com.

Simeon also set an example for us in that he was devout. He diligently worshiped God, which means he placed priority on worship, and he put his energy and concentration into his worship. Often, we can fall short in this regard. Many times, church becomes something we go to if nothing else is happening, and often, when we are in worship services, our minds are elsewhere. Then, we leave, wondering why we didn’t get anything out of it.

God honored Simeon’s devotion by immortalizing him in scripture, allowing him to see the newborn Christ, and then giving him eternal life in the Kingdom. If we are devout, if we place priority on worshiping God, and do so diligently, God will honor that. God wants us to worship.

The last lesson we learn from Simeon is that we, too, ought to look forward to the return of Christ. Luke 2:25 tells us that Simeon was “waiting on the consolation of Israel.” He was looking forward to the arrival of Israel’s deliverer, their comforter. He was waiting on the arrival of Christ.

Scripture also teaches us to be looking forward to the return of Christ. In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul wrote that the Lord would not only give him a crown of righteousness, but also “all them that love His appearing.” Faith can be measured by how much you are looking forward to the Lord’s return. Those who desire the Lord to return soon trust that He will establish His Kingdom on earth and bless us forever. Those who wish the Lord would delay are worried that Jesus will get in the way of something happening in the here and now.

Don’t make the mistake of placing the here-and-now before Christ. Look forward to the arrival of Christ, because his arrival will make your salvation tangible. It will set everything right. We look forward to the day when “the struggle” is over and we can live in peace and prosperity in His paradise.

So, let’s take a few lessons from Simeon. Settle your standing with God, worship him diligently, and eagerly await the return of the Lord. Do those three things, and watch God do big things in your life.

Sight Unseen

Before the oil boom began to expand into West Central Texas, houses in rural communities could be purchased at ridiculously low prices. A man in California, hammered by housing costs, saw a local listing online, called the listing agent, and bought a two-bedroom house “site unseen,” for only $11,000. He didn’t visit, or inspect the property, but he paid cash. He didn’t have to see the house to know it was there, and he didn’t want to risk it being sold from under him by making the trip to inspect the property. While the home did need some repair, he was ultimately happy with his decision.

One of the unique things about the Christian faith is that we believe that which we have not seen. While all religions require the belief in something that has been unseen, the Christian faith requires faith in that which is unseen. What’s the difference between belief and faith? Belief carries the notion of accepting a truth without really trusting it. Faith means you trust something, or someone.

1 Peter 1:8-9 refers to Jesus Christ when it says, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”

The Christian faith is all about trusting someone you haven’t seen. The Christians Peter wrote to had never seen Jesus Christ in the flesh. They were not likely living in Jerusalem, or even alive at the time Jesus carried out his ministry on Earth. Yet, Peter spoke not only of their faith in Jesus, but their love for Him as well. That was what Peter said resulted in their salvation, and their unspeakable joy.

Jesus, Himself, knew that this would be an issue for many people. That’s why He told Thomas, “You believe because you have seen, blessed are those who, having not seen, still believe.” Faith in Christ is rewarded for us because, even though we didn’t get to see Him in the flesh, we still trust Him to save us.

None-the-less, some still challenge this sightless faith. “If God wants us to believe in Him, why doesn’t He just reveal Himself to the world?” That question sounds an awful lot like the Pharisees, who, in Matthew 16:1, demanded that Jesus (who had already healed the blind and disabled, cleansed the lepers, fed the multitudes and raised the dead), provide a sign from Heaven. Jesus said, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.”

The Bible teaches that those who will not take God at His word won’t believe, no matter what signs are given.

The Christian faith means taking God at His word. Those believers to whom Peter wrote came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through the study of the Old Testament (the New Testament was still being put together.) Mainly, their studies showed how Jesus fulfilled the words of the Old Testament prophets, and as a result, they accepted Him as Savior. That’s what Peter referred to in 1 Peter 1:10-12:

Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

The prophets wrote the prophecies God gave them to write, and while they didn’t always understand, they knew the Word was about Christ, and the salvation that would come through Him. Those prophecies, being fulfilled by Christ, made a lot more sense to the Christians in the New Testament, and thus their faith was strengthened by their study of the scriptures.

Romans 10:17 tells us that “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If you will get into the Bible, read it, and accept it, your faith will grow. However, you must be willing to take God at His word. That is what trust (faith) is all about.

Finally, Faith means looking forward to the return of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 says “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” To gird up the loins of your mind, and to be sober, means to be alert. It means to be aware of what’s going on, and knowing how current events play into the return of Jesus Christ. Our hope, our confident expectation, is the coming of the Lord Jesus. It’s something we look forward to, and something we long for… because it’s his return that will put an end to the struggles that we face. We look forward to the return of Christ the same way a kid in school looks for the return of his parents to take him home.

So, how about you? Do you trust the Lord? Do you take Him at His word? And are you looking forward to His return?

Grace Pointe Missionary Baptist Church meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m., morning worship at 11 a.m., every Sunday at the Early Chamber of Commerce, 104 E. Industrial, Early, TX, 76802. 

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

On the Passing of Robin Williams…

In the 1998 song, “Everyone’s Free to Wear Sunscreen,” Baz Luhrmann said, “Don’t worry about the future. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.” Things happen that catch us unprepared, like learning that a celebrity that you looked up to passed away suddenly, without warning.

As I type these words, the world is coming to grips with the passing of Robin Williams, who brought Mork (from Mork and Mindy), Mrs. Doubtfire, and Genie (from Aladdin) to life. His stand-up comedy was as raunchy as it was funny. His on-screen roles could have you rolling on the floor, laughing, or could have you wiping away tears from your eyes. 

This is a man, who, legend has it, was kicked out of Julliard for being too brilliant. Right now, the social media sphere is mixed with mourning for Williams, and remembrances of his performances. In times like this, sadness can overtake a person.

Yet, it’s in times like these that we are reminded of the hope we have as Christians. The mind of Robin Williams was brilliant, a testament to the animation that God has given us. Some say that the world evolved to what it is today by the slow progression of evolution, yet that explanation cannot explain the animation of the human spirit. No other species is creative, nor does any other species build upon past accomplishments. This animation is unique to mankind, because the Bible teaches us that God created us in His image. The mind of God is brilliant and creative, and He blessed us with that same quality when He created us. Genesis Chapter 2 records that God breathed the breath of life into man… unlike the animals, which were merely spoken into existence. 

God created us for His honor and glory, a glory that will be fully realized when we enter into His Kingdom. It’s true. One day, all who know Christ as Savior will enter into His Kingdom and live forever.  It has to be true, otherwise there is no hope, no point to life. 1 Corinthians 15:16-19 say:

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:  And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

But 1 Corinthians 15 goes on to say that Christ is indeed risen from the grave, and we have hope that one day we will be reunited with Him in His Kingdom. 2 Corinthians 5 tells us that to be absent from the body (dead, or asleep in Christ) is to be present with the Lord. This is the hope that we have as Christians, and this is what keeps us going. 

Therefore, in times like these, we need to have faith in the place… Heaven.

Furthermore, in times like these, we need to have faith in the man. Jesus Christ died for our sins, taking the punishment we deserved, erasing our guilt, and then rose again so that we can live with Him eternally in His Kingdom. 1 John 2:1-2 tell us that Jesus Christ is the propitiation (payment) for our sins. Romans 5 tells us that we access that salvation by faith in Christ. Those who wish to be saved, and to be received into Heaven must give up the notion that they can somehow live up to a standard, and be welcomed into Heaven based on their merit as a good person. The Apostle Paul (the greatest missionary in history) wrote in Romans 7 that “in me dwells no good thing.” If the Apostle Paul couldn’t be classified as a good person and be received into Heaven on his merit, the rest of us don’t stand a chance.

To go to Heaven, you need to look to the Lord Jesus Christ. He paid your way into Heaven, and He’ll gladly receive you into Heaven, you just have to trust Him. Isaiah 45:22 says “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”  That’s all the Lord wants… you’re repentance, and your faith. He wants you to trust Him. All who believe will be saved, and will be received into His Kingdom forever.

Now this assurance for our own salvation, and our hope for things to come is all well and good, but our mind often drifts back to the current situation in which we find ourselves… mourning the loss of a friend, mentor, family member, or celebrity hero. To cope with this, we must have faith in the plan. God has set the events of human history into motion, and did so long before any of us walked on the face of the planet. Everything He is bringing about in our lives is setting the stage for His Kingdom coming to this Earth, and for us to live with Him in that Kingdom eternally. So, as these things happen, we need to remember that God is working all things to our good (Romans 8:28) and the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to God’s glory (Romans 8:18). 

It’s okay to mourn, it’s okay to cry, but as you do, remember that God has a plan, He is working that plan, and He holds you in the palm of His hand… if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

If you don’t know Christ as your Savior, then you haven’t accessed this hope that God has made available. Turn from your sins, and trust Jesus Christ to save you based on his death on the cross, and you will be saved. If you have any questions, you can email me at GracePointeMBC@gmail.com.

May God bless you, and comfort you this evening.

Sincerely, 

Leland Acker, pastor of Grace Pointe MBC.

Where Did Heaven Go?

Whether you sing the hymns and choruses in church, listen to the pastor, or tune into radio and TV programs, you may have noticed that modern theology has gotten away from teaching about Heaven. While there is some great preaching and teaching on salvation, repentance, family life, Jesus Christ, and the attributes of God, it seems that modern teachers have gotten away from the topic of Heaven. 

One of the primary reasons for this is the hectic pace of today’s lifestyle. Competent preachers and teachers realize that they only have their congregation’s attention for a short amount of time. Seeing the limited opportunity, the preacher will focus on salvation, discipleship, and issues that the Christian and seeker will need to see their lives changed.

However, to overlook Heaven is to overlook one of the main reasons for our hope. You see, Christianity is not just about being saved from God’s wrath. Christianity is about being welcomed into God’s Kingdom. The promise of salvation is that we will not only be delivered from the condemnation of sin, but that we will also see our pain and suffering ended, and will see the glories of Heaven that will erase the memory of any pain we had here on Earth.

How often do you think about life after death? Do you know what eternity holds for you after this life is over?