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Old Town Hill

Baptist Church

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Reynolds Rap
Prepare for Action

I am going to let you in on a little secret about me. I absolutely love action movies. I always have. From James Bond to John Wick, I like to put myself into the role of the protagonist, to be the hero. I understand that they are fictional heroes, and I should probably find better things to do with my time. I have just always wanted to be the good guy, to be a hero ever since I was a little tyke. The question we may ask is what separates a hero from someone who may not quite be hero material?

I think I Peter 1:13 helps give me insight to how a hero thinks, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Peter tells me that a hero must prepare their minds for action. That means to spiritually be prepared for the battle that lies ahead. If you ever get the chance to hang with law enforcement, military, or even firefighters, they all have one thing in common, they train. They don’t just exercise, but they actually run training scenarios. If I go into this situation, how do I approach it, and if this happens how do I react? Already determining in their minds how they will react will hopefully keep them from freezing up in the middle of a real situation and save their lives and maybe even the lives of others. That is what heroes do, they prepare their minds for action. They don’t sit on the couch eating potato chips daydreaming; they prepare.

You see a hero does not have the luxury of being lazy or unconcerned. They must be alert and vigilant so they can react to a situation. As a follower of Jesus, we are called to be heroes for King Jesus, to leap into action at moment’s notice. To respond to someone who is hurting and in need of hope or to a neighbor who doesn’t understand their need for a Savior. To meet needs wherever they may arise. We must already be prepared to jump into action. We do this by preparing our minds and hearts to do what so many are unwilling to do.

Let me ask you a question, do you want to be a hero or a zero? To be a hero for Jesus let us prepare to jump into action. Look for ways to be a hero and go for it. Be in the word, be on your knees, and if you want to you can even throw on a cape. I don’t recommend it, but hey you do you. Just be you for the Lord. 

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It sure seems that wherever we look these days there is not really a whole lot of good news. In fact, it can get down right depressing when we hear that crime is up. There seems to be shootings every week in big numbers. This means that there are lives out there that are being destroyed in senseless violence. Then of course there’s the report of another variant of that wonderful Covid that we all love so much. I am sure if I had the time, I could list a number of problems and issues in our world and in our society that could send us into a nice depression.

The truth is that if we were to dwell on all of these things we really could get bummed out. How does the church respond to all of this? We have choices. We can simply ignore them and hope they go away, we can stay up all night scared to death of what lies ahead, or we can take courage and move forward with strategy the Lord has given us. What strategy? That we go out into all the world making disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It really depends upon what we want to keep our focus.

I love what the Psalmist had to say in chapter 46:1-2, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.” There my friends is the answer. We must remind ourselves that we have a Heavenly Father that is in complete control of everything. When we are afraid and need strength and help, we can run to Him for He is our refuge and strength. It is in Him that when we cannot seem to go on, He strengthens us to take that next step.

I do not know of anybody that has not had days where they wonder how they will even get out of bed in the morning for fear and pain of what the day may bring. That is when we must call upon the Rock of our salvation, our mighty fortress, The Great I Am. He my beloved, is still in the business of rescuing.

Let me remind you that this world cannot bring anything upon you that the Lord cannot handle. In fact, I have read the end of the book and it has already been handled. Now go in the strength of your Lord and God and conquer in the name of the King of kings and Lord of all lords, Jesus the Christ. It may be the darkest of night where you are in your life but let me remind you a new day is coming; the sun will shine again. So, let us climb together to the mountain top and shout out together the victory cry that comes from being a child of God. 

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I believe the ability and opportunity to serve is something we as followers of Jesus have taken for granted. Sadly, we are living in a society that has an entitled mindset and it shows by how we treat one another. I believe that is why when you go to a Chick-fil-A, and you receive your food and say “thank you” the words that you hear back (“my pleasure”) are so refreshing. They usually do this with a smile which makes me almost believe they are sincere with their words. It is like they are truly pleased to serve. Isn’t that a novel idea?

As a follower of Jesus, we should find pleasure in serving the King, but that is not what this topic is really about. NO, I want to look at the truth about why we are even able to serve the Lord in the first place. Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Isn’t it interesting that in this text the emphasis of the blood of Christ is not about our salvation, or the opportunity to live eternally in Heaven, but the emphasis is that the blood of Christ was shed so that we would be able to serve the Lord? The focus than goes from serving ourselves, to serving the Living God.

The sad thing is that before we come to Jesus for salvation, we cannot serve God because of the wicked creatures we are. No matter how hard we try, our acts of service would not have any value to the Lord. It is almost as if the writer is saying that the ability to serve God should be thanks enough for our salvation. Serving the Lord should be pleasure enough, yet, the Lord chose to not only allow us to serve Him, but to spend eternity with Him as joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Can I get an Amen?

So, the next time we are given an opportunity to serve, let us remember that if it were not for the precious blood of Jesus, we would not even be able to do that. Then look at the opportunities to serve our God as a gift not a punishment. Then with a sincere heart we can serve with the mind set of “my pleasure.” For it truly will be. 

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If you are like me, just the thought of running makes my legs ache and my lungs start to deflate. Then there are those who really enjoy this torturous act. Something is just not right with those people, but we must love them anyway. When it comes to being healthy though, I have not found any other exercise that can give the same benefits as running. I don’t have to like it; I just need to do it.

The Bible speaks to our journey as followers of Jesus as a race; Paul speaks of it in his writings as well as the writer of Hebrews. The bottom line to running and running well is endurance. It is the will to keep going when you just want to quit. I totally get this. When I am on a treadmill, I have a goal, I want to run 3 miles within thirty minutes. Lately I have been able to accomplish that goal several times, but there are more times that I do not quite make it. The reason? I quit. I let the fact that breathing becomes difficult and the aches in my legs, hips, and every other part of my body convince me that I just need to stop.

There are so many similarities in the Christian walk. When we first get started walking with Jesus it is exciting and we enjoy the adventure, but then life sets in. The job stinks and begins to suck the joy we once had right out of us. Then there are family issues. Whether it is a relationship with parents, children, or even our spouse it takes its toll. Let’s face it, following Jesus is not easy. In fact it is downright difficult at best. So how do we endure? How do we keep going when we really just want to throw in the towel?

The writer in Hebrews chapter 12 gives us some encouragement. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Heb 12:1-3) First, remember that we are being cheered on by not only those around us, but also those who have gone on before us. I don’t know if people in heaven know what is going on in our lives, but I know if they did, they would be cheering at the top of their lungs “keep going, it is all worth it.” Second, know that if you are serious about running this race that there are some things in our lives that need to be cut loose. We all have our little pet sins we keep around just because we enjoy them. We also know those little sins will keep us from being all we can be for Jesus. They hinder us from running well. Third, look to Jesus. He has already run this race perfectly. He wants us to run the race the best we can, and He is the only One that can help us accomplish the task. Pray to Him; ask Him to give strength and endurance.

Lastly, I am running right beside you, keep your eyes up and never give up.

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Holy Army

Living this life is difficult. Being a follower of Jesus Christ and trying to live a life that glorifies the Lord is very challenging at times. I think what we really need to remember is that every aspect of our lives is spiritual. We have a habit of just looking at things with our physical eyes and trying to make sense of situations. Today I want to challenge us all to ask the Lord to open our spiritual eyes to the world around us.

In II Kings chapter 6 Elisha was being pursued by the king of Aram because the king knew that Elisha was informing the king of Israel about his comings and goings. The king of Aram sent a huge force of soldiers and chariots and surrounded the city where Elisha and his servant were staying. You can imagine the look on the servants face when he woke up in the morning, looked outside, and saw a huge army coming for Elisha and him. The servant cried out a question I think we all cry out when our lives seem to be out of control, when it seems the enemy of our soul has us outnumbered. “Oh, my Lord, what shall we do?”

I love Elisha’s response. In verse 16, “So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Now If I’m the servant it would not be too hard to look at Elisha and myself and do a quick count and then look at the army and quickly decide that maybe Elisha hasn’t quite rubbed all the sleep out of his eyes. The servant knew that by a quick glance the odds were not in their favor. They were probably going to be captured at best, but probably die.

Have you been there? Have you had circumstances that were so bad you had no idea how you were going to get out of them alive emotionally, mentally, and maybe even physically speaking? I am here to tell you that if you are in Christ, you already have the enemy out numbered. Jesus + you = victory. You are in the Lord’s army and in this army the war has already been won. Remember there is power in the name of Jesus. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we have the power and authority to have victory in all things. Remember there are more with us than will ever be with the enemy. Praise God. 

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I don’t know about you, but I know for me there are people that I would love to meet and sadly, will probably never be able to. I would have loved to have met John Wayne, but alas a little before my time. There are probably others I would like to meet, but they escape me for now. What I do know is that for many of those I would like to meet I will probably never have a chance unless I am given an invitation and I’m pretty sure that won't happen. There was probably a day I would have liked to have met the President of the U.S., but not lately. Again, even if I wanted to meet such a dignitary I would have to be invited. I don’t think that I

can just go up and ring the doorbell and be let in the White House.

Did you know that there was a day when people were not allowed to just go into the presence of God? It’s true. Sin kept humanity from being allowed to come before the Heavenly Father. There had to be priests that would do that for you. Even the thought of being able to pray and go before the Great I Am seemed incredible to even think about. Talk about the inability to approach someone. You think getting an audience with a politician is tough. Then something amazing and wonderful happened. Out of eternity Jesus, the God-man stepped into our world and took our sins and with His own death put to death every single sin man will ever commit. Now, if that isn’t amazing enough Jesus’ death and resurrection also opened the doors of heaven so that we now have access to be able to go

directly to the Father. Ephesians 3:12, “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

We now get to go anytime, anywhere before the Father and speak to Him directly. The sad thing is how we really do not take advantage of this great opportunity. I think maybe we have lost the wonder of being able to talk to God. Prayer may have lost priority in our lives. I guess my challenge today is to remember that there was a day when that wasn’t even possible and that we should take advantage of having the Father’s ear. Let us approach the One who was at one time unapproachable.

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Service Times
Sunday School
Sunday, 9:00 am
Sunday, 10:00 am
Sunday, 6:00 pm
Wednesday Bible Study
Wednesday, 6:00 pm
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