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Old Town Hill

Baptist Church


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Reynolds Rap
Rejoice

Where do your thoughts go in the tough times of life? I try to be an optimist in those times. I would like to say I’m always successful, but not so much. The things of this world are so hard to live through, and quite honestly there are times I’m not sure how I’m going to get through them.

I then begin to sink into a very pessimistic way of thinking. I imagine worse case scenarios. Then my stomach begins to hurt, and the headaches come. Then all I really want to do is climb in bed, throw the blankets over my head, and just stop the world from spinning.

Let’s be honest, that is not the way a follower of King Jesus should think or act. In fact, the Holy Spirit tells us how we are to handle such feelings and thoughts. In Philippians 4:4 we are told to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, even when we do not feel like it. Then as if that weren’t enough, he tells us “Again: Rejoice”.

Paul is writing this and, honestly, it kind of ticks me off to have this guy telling me to rejoice when I really don’t feel like it. Who does he think he is? Well, Paul is the guy that has been beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, whipped, and thrown in prison for the sake of Jesus and His gospel. Yeah, I know. It makes me stop and look at my circumstances and ask what do I have to be so pessimistic about? In fact, I am reminded that our God is a Great and Loving God. He came to earth just for the purpose of redeeming my soul. How do I get to that thought when I am in such a horrible place mentally and emotionally?

V. 8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” I must get back to truth. What is the truth? Truth keeps me from focusing on the lie that the enemy wants me to focus on. By the way, the devil is a jerk. Don’t listen to him because he is a liar as well. Focus on the right, the pure, the lovely, the things that are admirable, and all the things that are excellent in our lives. We are called to dwell on these things.

I know this is not always easy. That is why the Lord gave us His church to have family come along beside us when we cannot do this on our own. I pray you belong to a family of believers that hug and hold each other in those difficult times so that you know you are never alone. “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” Amen

 

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Live

I understand there are days when we want to throw up our hands and quit. Let’s be honest, sometimes this world is just downright mean. To live as a follower of Jesus is even tougher some days, but can I remind you that we are called to live. I’m not talking about just surviving and wishing days away. No, I’m talking about a full-blown life that brings us fulfillment and has an impact on the world around us.

As a follower of Christ, the only way we can live such a life is to live it as He has prescribed it. Paul helps us out with some commands in this area. In I Thessalonians 4:3 Paul reminds us that it is “God’s will that you should be sanctified.” All that means is that our lives should be set apart from the world. The Holy Spirit then goes on in the next several verses to describe what that looks like. Then in verse 7 we read, “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.” We are called to live a life that has purpose, and that purpose is NOT to live like the lost world, but to have Christ live through us. Let’s be honest, as a believer there is no way we can really enjoy our life when we know there is a way we should be living, and we make decisions contrary to that truth. We can’t really live when we are trying to live a double life.

Paul goes on to tell us in v. 11, “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” So, as we live this life there is a call to live a quiet life. He goes on to say the way to do that is to mind our own business and to work with our hands. That means have a job with responsibility. This will keep us from putting our nose in everyone else’s business and uncomplicate our lives so that we can concentrate on what the Lord wants with us and from us. The point is to live. Live a life with purpose and joy. To sum that up we cannot live a life with purpose and joy if we live like the world; and we cannot live our life if we are trying to live in everyone else’s.

Paul then brings this around full circle in the beginning of verse 12 by telling us that by living this way “so that you will behave properly toward outsiders.” Let’s be honest, the world really has no idea what it means to live. The lost are just surviving and not very well if you ask me. But our lives should reflect the purpose and joy of truly living and that my friends can make a great impact on the hearts of the hurting.

So, go live. Nothing more, just live.

  

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Rest

Here we are right smack dab in the middle of the crazy season. Yep, it just snuck up on us like a prowling tiger. We have this wonderful holiday we call Thanksgiving where we, hopefully, will be with family and celebrate all our blessings. If you live in the United States of America, even as insane as it is getting around here, it is still the greatest nation to ever exist and that alone should cause us to be thankful.

It truly is a wonderful time to just stop and reflect upon the blessings of this life. But then the next day it happens. People rush out to celebrate peace and good will to all men by trampling on one another. All of this to get a deal on some electronic device that will stop working in about a year or at the very least be obsolete. We must get the house decorated and cookies made. It’s great! Okay, I’ll try to lay off the sarcasm for just a minute. Is it just me or do the holidays just wear us out? Thankfully around the end of January things seem to slow down, usually because it’s too cold to do anything anyway.

Life in general can wear us out. It can be overwhelming between work, kids, grandkids, ministry, chores, etc. Where do you go for rest? Many go on vacation and try to get away for a week or so. The problem is that we must come home at some point and life is always there waiting for us. What can a person do? Let me tell you what Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” I think we all understand that what the Lord is speaking of goes beyond rest from the daily grind of living life. NO, Jesus is speaking of the grind of trying to be right with the Father in our own strength; striving to please God which is totally impossible in the first place.

When we finally get done striving to be good people, to do good deeds, to try and make God love us, Jesus says STOP! Just come to Him, trust Him, for He is the only one that can give us true rest.

Oh sure, life will still get crazy. There will probably always be rushing around trying to get everything on our “to do list” done, but we can scratch trying to please God off the list.

As we draw closer to the wonderful days of celebrating Jesus may I challenge you with going to Him for the rest that you need. You have my permission to stop and breathe in the grace of your salvation, to stop and just be in Christ. There you will find rest for your very busy soul. Please, don’t let the demands of this world steal from you the joy of resting in Christ. Maybe we can rediscover the joy of the holidays and the whole reason we celebrate them in the first place. 

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Do You Smell?

Oh, the wonderful days of pre-teen life. The days when the body and attitudes begin to change and not always for the best. Then the day comes when your parents look at you, and in a nice way, tell you that you stink, and you need to start wearing deodorant. It is from that day forward that we are forever linked to a stick or can of spray just so people can stand to be near us.

Did you know that as followers of Jesus we are called to smell? For some of us that is great news because we have it covered well. In II Corinthians 2:12 Paul begins to write about the wonderful opportunity he had to preach the gospel in Troas. He writes it like this in verse 14, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” Paul likens the opportunity to spread the gospel to a sweet aroma. Then Paul throws out a challenge to all who would call themselves followers of Jesus Christ. In verse 15, “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” There it is-the call to smell. Okay, maybe Paul is speaking of something different here. Have you ever walked into a place that sells candles or perfume? When you walk in the door the smell immediately grabs your attention. Now for some it is a pleasant experience. There are those smells that remind us of the joy of the holidays, baked cookies, or evergreen. The smell transports us to a place or time that brings good memories.

As followers of Jesus that is exactly what our lives are called to do. For the fellow believer our fellowship reminds them of wonderful promises of God, the power of sweet fellowship, and the power of salvation. On the other hand, our lives do the exact opposite to those who are lost. Our lives remind them that there is something missing in their own lives. The aroma of our faith should speak very loud and clear that they are missing out on the greatest gift ever given, eternal life. It reminds them the grave still has power over them.

Let me ask the question. Do you smell? Do we have such an aroma other believers want to be with and around us? Does the way we live remind the lost that there is a Jesus that loves them and wants a relationship with them? Let us put on the cologne of Jesus. The sweet aroma for those of us who are saved and a reminder to the lost of their need of a Savior.

Until we see each other again, I’ll smell ya later. 

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Foolish

Back in the good old days at elite gatherings there was a character that was brought into the audience in order to bring laughter and fun, usually at a person’s expense. His title was the jester or the fool. People loved the fool, well they loved to make fun of him. Now I don’t think this position held any honor, but someone had to keep the people laughing. 

When it comes to the life of a follower of Jesus, we have forgotten that to the mind of this world we are the fools, the jesters of society. Maybe that is why many fear to proclaim Jesus, because they do not want to be known as foolish. I’ll let you in on a little secret. We are called to be fools for Christ. In I Corinthians 1:18, the Apostle Paul reminds us that “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” In fact, everyone that has ever lived or will ever live will be a fool for something. David Coverdale from the band Whitesnake was a fool for some woman’s loving. Laugh as you may, there have been many fools for the affections of another human being. Today we have fools in leadership that are fools for power and money.

To be a fool for something or someone just simply means to throw all inhibitions to the wind. To do whatever it takes to please and receive attention. We as followers of Jesus should be fools for Christ. To do whatever it takes to please Him, to bring Him the glory and honor that He is due. If we continue in I Corinthians 1:22-25 we would see that. “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

If we were to continue in this chapter Paul reminds us that we were fools to begin with. We might as well be a fool for Jesus. So, who or what are you a fool for? Is it something that is temporary? Or will we be a fool for the one who chose to die on our behalf that we may know eternal life? Listen, if I’m going to be a fool, I choose to be a fool for Jesus because that foolishness is the wisdom of God. That works for me. 


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Believe

It wasn’t that long ago, when the mall actually had stores, that there was a theme during the Christmas holiday. It was everywhere you looked. That theme was “Believe.” Now as I was rushing around trying to figure out what I was going to surprise my bride with that year I couldn’t help but notice that word. The question that I had was, believe what? What did this business want me to place my faith in? Because I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a whole lot of spiritual meaning to this. To ask someone to believe something seems to be a powerful request. You are asking someone to place their faith in you and what you say. That is an extremely brazen request unless you are one who can deliver.

In my devotions today I was in the book of Mark chapter nine. In that chapter we see the transfiguration. When the Lord came down from His mountain top experience the devil was right there waiting for Him. In this case there was a demon possessed boy. This demon had tried to destroy this boy for quite some time by trying to drown him and by throwing him in the fire. There was no help at all for this father and his son. Even the Lord’s disciples failed in trying to deliver this boy from the demon. Then came Jesus.

The man in his desperation cried out to Jesus what the problem was and what it was doing to his boy. In verse 22 the man finally cries out, “But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” I understand that this man was desperate. I’m sure he tried every means possible to help his son, but apparently, he doesn’t know who he is speaking to. In truth he is asking God if He can do anything to help. In fact, Jesus even repeated the question back to him in verse 23, “‘If you can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Do we really believe what Jesus just said? Is it true all things are possible if we believe? Believe what? What do we need to believe for all things to be possible?

We must believe that Jesus is God. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” The Bible speaks a lot about belief and faith and with it comes great opportunities to grow and see God work. In this man’s case he got honest with Jesus. Back in Mark 9:24 he replied, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” How did Jesus respond to such a comment? Sorry tough out of luck, you didn’t believe enough. No sir, not our Jesus. He understood the man was doing his best to believe but needed more faith.

You know, it’s okay to get honest with Jesus and tell Him you are having trouble believing. It’s okay to tell Him you are doing your best to believe but struggling. He knows. Can I remind all of us today that nothing is impossible for our Jesus? What is it that is making you struggle? Jesus can fix it. Do you believe Him? I know it’s hard at times. The mountain is so real, and Jesus seems so far away, but He is here, and He knows where you are. Believe! Believe that all things are possible. Trust Him today in a way that you’ve never trusted before. Allow Him to be God in your life. Believe! He will never let you down. That my beloved is a promise. 

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Judged

Let’s be honest, we live in a society that just loves to judge others. Like we have any right to stand over anyone and point fingers, but we do it anyway. Maybe it just makes us feel better about ourselves. If others are joining in and judging others, they’ll leave us alone. Yet, the truth is that as much as we as followers of Jesus try not to judge, we need to understand that we will always be judged. The question we must ask is what will we be judged for? 

The truth is no one likes to be judged. I know when I mess up, I really don’t need a lot of people standing around pointing fingers. It’s really embarrassing and just makes me feel bad about myself. It’s not like looking in the mirror isn’t bad enough.

I’ve concluded, if I am going to be judged, let me be judged because of Jesus. Poor Paul was constantly being judged, even by other followers of Jesus. The Jews really didn’t like him at all. In Acts 23 it was the day after he got beat up just for being in Jerusalem. In his defense this is what Paul said, “I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” Paul had put his hope and trust in that this life is just the beginning. For those of us who follow Christ we have a whole eternity waiting for us. Is there something wrong with that idea? I think most of society is okay with that, until we bring up the point that only through Jesus can we have eternal life. Watch the faces go red and the finger pointing begin. Why do people get so upset when we mention the name of Jesus? I can talk about Muhammed or Buddha or any other pagan figure and that seems to be just fine but mention the name of Jesus and watch the wind get sucked out of the room.

My point is this. People are going to judge me; they are going to judge you. If I’m going to be judged, let it be for Jesus. Let me be judged because I had the courage to proclaim Jesus as Lord. That there is no other name under heaven in which men may be saved. Let me be judged because I place my hope and trust in Jesus Christ. Let me be judged because I have the courage to stand on the truth. Let me be judged for the One who was judged on my behalf. I want to get to that place in my life when I really stop caring what the world thinks of me and all that matters is what Jesus thinks of me. I’m just thinking, if the church can get there the world better watch out because it may just get turned upside down once again.  

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Behind the Curtain

Let’s be honest, we all like to be in control. We want to guide and direct things the way we want them. It is a scary thing to think that things in our lives are out of control. Can I let you in on a little secret? The truth is that we never had or will ever have control of anything. The End! Have a great day. Okay, so where am I going with this wonderful bit of news? The good news is that even though we do not have control of anything, Jesus has control of everything.

In my devotions I was once again in the book of Acts 8-9. I love chapter eight because right in the middle of a great movement of God in Samaria, the Lord sends the evangelist Philip from there to some road out in the middle of nowhere. Philip was obedient and while he hung out on this road a eunuch from Ethiopia came riding by in a chariot.

The Holy Spirit told Philip to run up to the chariot and when Philip did, he heard the Ethiopian reading the book of Isaiah. We all know that Philip then began to explain the scripture and thought that the man came to know Christ. I love this event because it shows the Lord’s love for the individual. He does not see us as a crowd of people or some mob, but for who we are. He finds every one of us valuable. That is amazing, but if we continue to chapter nine, we see this in verse one. “Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” The NIV says it this way, “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.”

The Lord gives us a peak behind the curtain. While people were coming to Christ there were still bad things that were going on. This is a man who hated the followers of Jesus so much he was willing to travel to have them arrested and even put to death. This is something that caught my attention. There are times of great blessing and other times there are the valleys that we must go through. Now what we know, but the people of that moment did not, is that the Lord was about to do something amazing in the one who was persecuting His people. Jesus was going to call Saul to be one of the world’s greatest church planters and spreaders of the Gospel.

Jesus took one of the enemy’s greatest warriors and turned him to be one of His greatest warriors. I leave you with this thought. We live in the moment. We have no idea what all we go through means but let me remind you Jesus is still on the throne and He is always up to something behind the curtain. You and I win; just hang on for the ride. Be faithful and know there is nothing too difficult for our God. 

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Stubborn

When you hear the word stubborn what comes to mind? Better yet, who comes to mind? The idea of being stubborn seems to have taken on a negative connotation and I’m not sure it is warranted. In fact, in this blog, I would challenge that as followers of Jesus we need to get more stubborn. For many of us that may be good news. Don’t get too excited yet. The mentality of stubbornness is only good if the purpose for which we are being stubborn is good.

There are some things that we should not give up on. Don’t tell anyone, but I can get stubborn from time to time. The challenge for me, and I suppose for all of us, is to get stubborn about the right things. Let us be reminded that the Lord has given every follower of Jesus a great assignment. This is to be the focal point of our lives. Now some assignments are temporary, while others are lifelong assignments. In either case, we have to be careful that our eyes are not taken off the goal of our assignment. In other words, we must be stubborn.

Nehemiah had been given a huge task by the Lord. To rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. To prepare the city for the return of the exiles. If you remember there was a group of people that were not real excited about such a project. They wanted to halt it to the point they were willing to put a halt to Nehemiah himself. Nehemiah had to stay stubborn. In chapter six the bad guys tried to get Nehemiah to stop working on the wall by asking him to come to a “very special meeting.” But Nehemiah knew what they were up to. Since the bad guys could not convince Nehemiah to stop, they would stop him permanently. Nehemiah had to be stubborn. Check out his reply in chapter six verse 3, “So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?"

Nehemiah understood and where I think many followers of Jesus fail is that he knew his purpose and that he was a part of a “great work.” Family, have you forgotten that you are called to a great work? Nehemiah understood that this had to be accomplished so that lives would be saved. We have all been called to draw people to Jesus that they too may be saved. The enemy is always beckoning you to come off the wall and to forget about the work that needs to be done, but I challenge you to be stubborn.

Don’t you dare come off the wall. Don’t you dare listen to the voices of the evil one that beckons you to stop. I get there are times when the battle is real, and you do not know how you can continue. That is when you dig deep and get stubborn and you pray as Nehemiah in 6:9, For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, "they will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done." But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

Let that be our prayer, O God, strengthen our hands and help us to be stubborn. We will not come off the wall. We will finish that which the Lord has given us. 

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Ungrateful

As we look around the world these days it seems like more and more there is a feeling of entitlement. There is a sense that we deserve things. I don’t know about you, but what I have found is that I am thankful I do not get what I deserve. The Lord has blessed me with wonderful grace and love. Many times, I wonder if I take for granted such blessings.

Today in my devotions I was in Luke 17 and in verse eleven we read the account of Jesus on His way to Jerusalem at the border of Samaria and Galilee. He was confronted by ten men with leprosy. They cried out to Jesus for pity and mercy. These men were suffering from a horrible and painful disease that would eventually take their lives as their flesh slowly rotted off their bodies. In the meantime, they were separated from those they loved. Jesus was their only hope.

Jesus, when He heard them cry out for mercy just spoke the words, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” Now going to show themselves to the priests meant that healing had to have occurred. This is where it gets interesting. One of the men, when he saw that he had been healed turned around and fell at the feet of Jesus praising God “in a loud voice.”

That is so cool. Jesus asked him questions, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” A great miracle of healing was given to ten men, but only one was willing to come and give thanks and worship to the One who had healed him. And this guy was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked a great question, “Where are the other nine?” I come into a sanctuary every Sunday that is barely half full.  I wonder, are there not more who have been forgiven of all their sin and trespasses against the God of creation? Aren’t there more who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, who have been snatched from the gates of hell? Where are the other nine? Where are those who recognized the miracle that has been granted to them by the grace of an amazing Savior? Where are those who would cry out with a loud voice in worship for what Jesus has done for them? Are they okay with just staying home and feeling good about their salvation?

Where are the other nine who would be willing to go out in the highways and byways proclaiming the love of a Savior? Where are the other nine who would be willing to serve that others may share in what they have received? Have the other nine become numb to the miracle that has cleansed them from the dreaded disease of sin and death? II Timothy 3:2 tells us of the heart and attitude of the world in the end of days. One of the attributes of the people in “those days” is that they will be ungrateful.

I am sure I am not the only one wondering where the other nine are. I am sure Jesus is still wondering the same thing. 

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