Sunday, June 07, 2020, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
We love our graduating seniors and are so proud of their accomplishments! We would like to recognize them in a special way in an upcoming service TBD. If you are a 2020...
These past few months have been exhilarating and exhausting, confusing and critical, reinvigorating and refreshing, draining and desperate, and finally, it has forced innovation and creativity. This week will mark the first week Woodmont Baptist Church will have an on-campus gathering since moving online only a few weeks ago. As we move toward that gathering, I want to remind you of the faithfulness of our God from 1 Peter 1.
In 1 Peter 1:1, Peter addresses his letter to those “chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,” believers scattered or dispersed all around the known world at the time. Persecution scattered the early church, a virus has scattered the modern church. It has scattered believers from Woodmont Baptist Church to their homes in Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, St. Florian, Florence, Killen, Central, or maybe Hickory Hills, Oak Hills, Forest Hills, or maybe Sherwood, Underwood, Creekwood, or maybe Cypress Heights, Central Heights, Weeden Heights, Carver Heights, or so on and so forth. The point is, that the location of God’s people has a history of being described as “scattered”. When we gather together as a church this week, we will be a “scattered” body geographically, but Biblically, we are built upon the great Cornerstone, Jesus Christ. Whether you worship with us this week in person or at home, know that the greatest truth of the gospel is not what building you are in, but rather Who is in you.
The next truth to realize is the incredible costs that has been paid to make this a reality. 1 Peter 1a-2 says, “…chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ.” Look at the work of the Trinity in this passage. Chosen by the foreknowledge of God, sanctified by the Spirit, and purchased and cleansed with the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The work has been done by God and is being done by God and will be done by God. I hope this helps many of you rest, and gives many of you the freedom to wait if you need to wait before joining us. As Adrian Rogers once said, “You are not a citizen of earth trying to get to Heaven, you are a citizen of Heaven sojourning on the earth.” Your pastor, your staff, your friends, you church family all miss you very much. We all (hopefully) long for a full gathering, congregational worship, and a sweet fellowship with one another, but if you need to wait, please wait. Those leading at Woodmont have tried to be virtually creative, innovative, and intentional to lead you during this time to Christ and His Word; it is our desire to continue to try and deliver the best we can in everything we do.
Finally, the end of verse 2 says, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” This has been a prayer of mine for this body of believers since this virus started. I hope that you, being sanctified by the Spirit, would experience the grace and peace of Jesus Christ in a multiplied measure. One reason I have prayed this is because you and I both need peace and grace in all of our efforts, emotions, and engagements today. My fear in this season has been not that we are being separated socially, but separated spiritually from one another because of virus viewpoints, political viewpoints, or a daily barrage of new information (both true and false) and not renewing our mind in the Word of God. Grace and peace, I pray that we would be reminded how much grace and peace has been extended to us, but also, that we should always extend it to the believers with us! May we carry forth in the law of love as described in Romans 14, that we would extend mercy to those around us, and we would reflect the goodness, faithfulness, the grace, and peace of God. I look forward to seeing you Sunday. If you stay home this week, I look forward to seeing you soon!
On April 30th in Bro. Chad’s daily devotional, he spoke of when Joseph’s brothers rejected him and sold him into slavery. Then he reminded us that the Bible says “BUT GOD was with him and rescued him from all his troubles.”(Acts 7:9) Joseph later tells his brothers, “You intended to harm me, BUT GOD intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20) That same day I was driving to get my allergy shot and listening to a Christian radio station. The principal of a local Christian school was giving a devotional and his entire theme was focused on BUT GOD…. There are so many times in the Bible where life looks bleak, tragic and devastating. Then these situations are followed by BUT GOD… and oh what a difference He makes. In Psalm 73:26 we are encouraged by the words “My flesh and my heart may fail, BUT GOD is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” As God’s children, He is always looking out for our best, even when it may not seem that way at the moment. Hebrews 12:10 tells us that “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best, BUT GOD disciplines us for our own good in order that we may share in His holiness.” In sickness, God often intervenes as He did in the case of Epaphroditus. Paul tells the saints at Philippi that “Indeed he was ill and almost died. BUT GOD had mercy on him and not on him only but also on me to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.” (Philippians 2:27) The ultimate intervention by God was of course when He raised His Son from death to give us the gift of eternal life by trusting Him as our Savior. In Acts 10:39-40, Peter tells how, “They killed Him by hanging Him on a tree, BUT GOD raised Him from the dead on the third day and caused Him to be seen.” And Praise God, we are told in Acts 2:23b-24 that “you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. BUT GOD raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.” Hallelujah!!
We are living in chaotic, perilous times right now with COVID-19 at the forefront of our thoughts, emotions, decisions, and day to day existence. Life is different, BUT GOD is still God. Nothing that has happened or will happen is beyond His knowledge and control and nothing, even all the tragedies, frustrations, and inconveniences associated with this pandemic can separate us from His love. People have lost jobs and can’t afford to pay rent, electric bills, buy medicine or food. BUT GOD has placed compassion, generosity, and love in the hearts of the members of Woodmont Baptist Church, and you have packed, donated and delivered food, donated money, handed out lunches to children, and sewn masks beyond anything I could ever have imagined. There are no words that truly express my gratitude and appreciation for how awesomely you have been the hands and feet of Jesus.
Let us all remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
This past weekend Jordan and I ventured to the beautiful Sipsey Wilderness at Bankhead National Forest. After getting a little lost, we anxiously arrived in an official parking area and jumped on the first trail we could find. Our intended search was to find some of the pretty waterfalls we had seen in our google searches of the area. We enjoyed our hike through the lush greenery, winding along tiny dirt paths of downed logs and lost leaves, while listening to the birds and feeling the breeze. We found weird bugs, animal footprints, and were genuinely enjoying our time together and then we saw it. A huge rattlesnake about 5 feet long and 6 inches wide. He saw us about the same time and let us know by warning us with his eerie sounding rattle. We looked at each other and without words decided to make a break for it in the opposite direction. After running several yards, we turned around and realized the big scary snake wasn’t following us. We were safe. Relief came flooding in as my heart rate tried to calm back down. And then, as we headed back to our car, an overwhelming sense of gratitude filled my heart. Thank you Lord that we saw it before continuing on the path! Thank you Lord that your timing was perfect in that encounter! Thank you Lord for your provision and protection! Thank you Lord for being Sovereign over your Creation. The gratitude overflowed.
Berkeley University in California has done a lot of research on Gratitude. In one article they state that, “Gratitude can make people happier, improve their relationships, and potentially even counteract depression and suicidal thoughts….Some studies have associated gratitude with a whole slew of benefits—from fewer aches and pains to improved sleep to better cardiovascular health.” In Psalm 100:4-5, David encourages us to, “ Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
The truth is, no matter what circumstances we are in, we have a lot to be thankful for. When we focus our thoughts on the greatness of our God, the smaller our problems become. Our world is slammed with many uncertainties and avenues of fear right now. But what a privilege to have a personal relationship with our Good Creator who is the Sustainer of all things. In this unique season Let’s challenge ourselves to see our ordinary daily provisions as divine acts of love and respond in thankfulness. As we continue to practice this attitude of gratefulness, our perspectives and our lives will be changed. Love you and praying for you church family!
Berkley Article (“Is Gratitude Good for your Health?” Greater Good Magazine.) Found at: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/is_gratitude_good_for_your_health
Desiring the Word
(1 Peter 2:1-3)
I want to share an outline of a sermon I preached a few years ago. I believe with all the extra time we have at home in isolation, we should use it to grow closer to our heavenly father. We do so by spending time with Him in prayer and also by hearing what He has to say to us in His Word. I want to talk about desiring the Word of God. 1 Peter 2:1-3 speaks specifically to that.
Do we desire to read God’s Word? Do we desire to hear from God? Or are we only interested in hearing from God when we really need something?
A love for and delight in God’s Word has always been a mark of the truly saved
In a day and age where people deal with so many doubts this is one way to know. Do you truly want to know what God’s word has to say?
John 8:31-32 Jesus says “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”
We want to look at five truths this scripture has to offer, the first one is to simply:
1. Remember God’s saving power
This word therefore is referring back to chapter 1:23-25 where Peter tells shares the great truth that “because you have been born again, -- not of perishable seed but of imperishable – through the living and enduring word of God. For all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever”. Peter reminds us to remember that saving power of God’s Word as the basis for our ongoing commitment to Scripture. Remember to hold on to the hope of your salvation.
The next thing Peter tells us is to:
2. Get rid of your sins
Putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, (2:1b)
Malice- Desiring to harm someone; sin referring to general wickedness.
All Deceit- Dishonesty, falsehood, tricking someone; translated Greek literally means “bait” or “fishhook”
Hypocrisy- Saying one thing and doing another; not genuine or consistent with what one believes or says he believes; (has the meaning of an actor wearing a mask)
Envy- resenting others’ prosperity, desiring to have something someone else has (quality or possessions); this leads to jealousy, grudges, bitterness, hatred, and conflict.
Peter is mentioning just a few but making the point that these all represent evil and calls the readers here to confess and repent. Put it aside. Reject it. Like taking old dirty clothes off. You can’t be holding on to sin and desire God’s word. Sin will drive you in the opposite direction. If a real transformation has occurred we will want to put aside anything that would hinder us from fully desiring God’s word.
3. We have a NEED
Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, (2:2a)
We need God’s Truth like a baby needs milk. Babies cry for milk because they need it. When he tells us to Long for- Peter is commanding believers to strongly desire or crave the Bible. An example of this would be the strong desire a husband or wife has for their spouse, the strong physical craving that accompanies extreme hunger, or the intense desire a Christian parent has for a child that’s lost. Then we have Pure milk of the word- which means unadulterated or uncontaminated. Nothing needs to be added to the Bible. Peter is focused on a foundational need. Believers need a deep continuous longing for the Word of truth! If we don’t have a longing for the Bible, we will not pursue anything else in the Christian walk.
4. Spiritual Growth
So that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, (2:2b)
How do you grow physically? You eat or take in food that nourishes your body. How do you grow spiritually? By taking in the truth and the Holy Spirit grows you. We should never be satisfied with where we are in our spiritual walk. We should always be longing for more. We should always be motivated to grow more and seek to know God more. Nothing but God and His Word can satisfy us
5. Remember our Blessings
If you have tasted the kindness of the Lord (2:3)
You have seen firsthand how good and gracious and kind the Lord is. Psalms 34:8 says “O taste and see that the Lord is good”. If you are a believer you cannot deny how good the Lord has been to you. He saved you and if he did nothing else that alone would be more than we could ever ask for. We should count our blessings. Remember how many times God has answered our prayers. All the times he has touched our lives with his kindness and mercy.
And because of this we ought to LONG for the word…and put away our sins
I want you to look below at the symptoms of anorexia and the symptoms of someone who is experiencing spiritual malnutrition and I hope this makes sense to you.
Occasional Binges- followed by vomiting or an enema to get all the food you just ate out
Hyperactivity or Excessive exercise- to prove you are competent and healthy
Depression- inability to deal with issues in life
Social Isolation- Fear of getting too close to people. Scared that they may find out your condition
Occasional overdoses of exposure to the Word of God- truth is generally eliminated w/o any application or nourishment… doesn’t have any effect on your life…goes in one ear and out the other
Hyperactivity- Church activity or staying busy replace true spiritual growth
Spiritual Depression- Because there is no victory over sin…keep struggling with the same things
Spiritual Isolation- Don’t want to have any fellowship w/ intimate true believers because fear of being exposed. Afraid people will find out you are just putting on an act.
Both of these can be diagnosed the same way… by EATING…. We are to DESIRE THE WORD AND FEED ON IT!