Sunday, January 6, 2019

Backstage Pass

What goes on backstage at a performance?  What does the artist expect before the act goes on?

 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 

 All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor f all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. 
--Acts 2:41-47  (NIV)

Characteristics of disciples of Jesus Christ
 
1.  Regularly practicing spiritual discipline
     Am I regularly reading the Bible?  Am I praying regularly?
2.  Obeying God
     Am I listening and obeying what I hear?
     When was the last time your life actually changed in response to the voice of God?
3.  Being transparent.
     Am I real?  Do I have someone in my life to whom I can confess?  Scripture says confess your
     sins one to another.
4.  Building relationships
     Who are my people?  Do you have a community of like minded people who are helping you become the person you are meant to be?
5   Giving time, talents and resources
     Am I blessing people with the gifts God has given me?  Am I content with what I have?
     Am I using what I have to further advance the Kingdom of God?
6.  Serving others
    How often do I put my faith into action?  Do I have a heart of compassion driving me to take steps
    of action?
7.  Exercising faith
     Am I taking new and exciting steps in my walk with Jesus?
     Am I taking steps to become the disciple Christ wants me to be?

All of these characteristics can be seen in the scripture lesson.
  
Over the next few weeks we will look behind the scenes to see how God prepares us for discipleship. We will have a backstage pass!
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Pastor's Testimony

Pastor asserted that he had had a roller coaster 2018.  He believed that he was led to share some of his thoughts on his experiences which included the death of his father, the celebration of 20 years of marriage, and the wedding of his eldest child.
Are you drowning in despair and frustration?  Are you experiencing a crisis of faith?

1.  Learn to let things go.
     Pain can replace the security blanket, our trust in the Lord.  Let it go.
     Many good things.  Though many questions arose, God has brought amazing people into my life.
2.  Learn to let people in.
     Who has my back?  Who would believe the best of me even though they had heard the worst?
     Are we really bad at receiving gifts of compassion?
     Throughout the Second Book of Samuel the writer speaks of David's mighty men, men who knew David's strengths, who knew his short-comings yet men who were always there for him.
3.  Learn to trust Jesus as the Lord of your life.
     He is in charge; He knows what is best for me.


In 2 Timothy 1 we read Paul's testimony.  He is saved and called to the ministry of the Gospel; he suffers for the cause, yet nevertheless, he writes, "I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.."  (2 Timothy 1:6-14.  Read it.)

Feelings may get in the way, but know that He knows what is best for you.  He loves you with an unending love.

Pastor concluded the message by singing the song which has become "the anthem of his heart."

"I'd Rather Have Jesus."
I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold I'd rather be his than have riches untold
I'd rather have Jesus than houses or land
Yes I'd rather be led by his nail pierced hands
Than to be the king of a best domain and beheld in sins dread sway
I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Terms and Conditions Met


Today's message is the final in this series. Everything has terms and conditions. And so it is that our relationship with God has terms and conditions as well.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? --Micah 6:8

In the Old Testament we see that worship and service to God was overwhelming, what with all its rules and rituals, hence there was a continual disconnect between the people and their God..
BUT
 Jesus changed the game!
 The foundational question is: What do you require of me?  What's the catch?  He has shown you.
JESUS IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF LIVING THIS OUT.

1.  Jesus was perfect in His humility.  (When we don't get what we deserve.)
     And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. --Philippians 2:8

2.  Jesus was perfect in mercy.  (When we don't get what we do deserve.)
     He in mercy takes our punishment.  His compassion fails not.  God delights in mercy. 
     (Micah 7:18,19)

3.  Jesus is perfect in justice.  God is holy and there is no holiness without justice.
Justice always demands a penalty for wrongdoing.
Jesus, perfect in justice, paid the penalty for us!
HALLELUJAH!

Those are the terms and conditions   (Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 53:5, John 3:16)
The terms and conditions must be met, and Jesus met all the requirements!
NO STRINGS ATTACHED!
    Believe that He is Lord and you will be saved!

"We are really bad at accepting gifts."  --Johnnie Blair.*

Do not fail to accept the gift of salvation. 
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

*Some time ago vanilla addressed the issue of receiving gifts here and here. 

 


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Love Mercy

Pastor continues to unpack Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.


Submit to God's will.  Eliminate pride; God will not tolerate it.  Pray for a humble heart.  Serve others expecting no return.

To love mercy one must first experience the love of Christ.

Forgiveness is a huge component of mercy.  Only when we walk with God can we be truly merciful.

Lost and hurting people are all around us; love them unconditionally.

TO SHOW MERCY
    1.  Extend His peace, not our judgment.
    2.  Share His forgiveness, not blame.
    3.  Share His patience, not our irritation.
    4.  Share His kindness, not our harshness.

Mercy:
Forgiveness and Compassion 

Click *here* to listen to the message. 
 
Pastor Marc Watkins
Sunday morning

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Terms and Conditions

The message is drawn from Micah 6:8, "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

What is the point in claiming to be a Christian if we don't walk humbly, act justly?
     We are called to walk humbly.  The test of a truly great man is his humility.
     Serve God, serve people.

"Take pride out of the equation, let God take over."

Faith without deeds is useless.  James 2:14: "As the body without spirit is dead, faith without deeds is dead."
We are called to take action.
     To talk the talk is pointless if we don't walk the walk.

Be and then Do
     Romans 12:2  Transform the mind, become a new person.
     The way we think will be changed, and that will change the way we do.

Do justice, Love mercy, Walk humbly
1.  Confess our pride.
2.  Pray for a humble heart.
3.  Serve others. 
 Pastor Brandon Shroyer
Sunday morning

Sunday, November 25, 2018

For and To the Glory of God

Review of lessons in the series.
     1.  It is for and to the glory of God.
     2.  It is His mission.
     3.  We are commissioned to "go," to connect people with Jesus.
     4.  This congregation is to send people out with the Good News.
     5,  The promise: "I will be with you."

Is this overwhelming?  It is a BIG deal.

The scripture reading is Acts 1:3-8

We are commissioned to go, but first we are directed to wait for the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit who equips us and empowers us for the mission.  If we do not have the authority of the Holy Spirit none of the goals of ministry will be accomplished.

We need revival.  How?
     1.  Mature in our faith.
           For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. --2 Peter 1:5-9 (NIV)

     2.  Mobilize our efforts.
          Jesus' call is a call to go.  Everyone of us is being sent to someone.

     3.  Make and multiply disciples.
          Disciples make disciples.  Every true and faithful disciple will pour his life into the life of others.  We have tried to professionalize discipleship, expecting our leaders to do the job.  This approach has always failed and always will.


Each Christian will give an account of how he has made disciples.



Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Here am I. Send me.

As an introduction to this continuation of the message series, "Witness," Pastor read Isaiah 6:1-8.  Isaiah confesses he is a man of unclean lips, the angel lays the coals on his lips, the question is asked by the Lord, "Who will go for me?" and Isaiah responds, "Here am I. Send me."
Why do we witness?
     1. It is to and for the glory of God.
     2. It is God's mission.
     3. It is to build and expand the Kingdom of God.
He has commanded us to go.  We are to spread the Gospel message, connecting people with Jesus Christ; we are to grow in our relationship with Jesus, sending people out with the Good News!
The promise:  "I will be with you."
Acts 1 relates the giving of the Great Commission and the Ascension of the Lord.  This is the turning point of the Scriptures. We are responsible for bearing the message to those closest to us. 
What are we doing about it?
We are responsible for bearing the message not only to those closest to us, but to those who are "not like us."  What are we doing about that?  Who are the "Samaritans" in your life? They are your neighbors.  Within a radius of 25 miles from Tipton there are more than 80,000 people who do not know Jesus.
"A hurting world need the love of Christ, and what are we doing about it?" --JB

Luke 4:18,19:  Jesus reads from the Scriptures:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,      
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Again, The Great Commission, Acts 1:8
What's your excuse?
 Too old?  Abraham and Sarah; too young?  David and Samuel; baggage too heavy? Paul; cat got your tongue? Moses; not "educated" enough? too scary?  Which excuse is a good excuse?
 John Wesley said, "It is my duty to declare to all who are willing to hear, the message of salvation."
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Great Commission

The lesson is taken from Matthew 28:16-20.  16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (NIV)

The level of engagement

When the disciples saw Him they worshiped Him  (v.17a)  This is the point at which the disciples were "all in."  They are fully engaged.  Recognition and acknowledgement of who Jesus is; but also the recognition of who they themselves are.

"But some doubted. . ." (v. 17b) The disciples were all in but some followers on the fringes had doubts.  A true disciple is all in, will do anything to follow Jesus.

How engaged are you to the call of Christ to His mission? 

Jesus recognized that the disciples were ready; He gave them the Great Commission. (vv. 19,20)

What does it mean to be fully engaged in Christ's mission?

1.  Connect people with Jesus (v.19)  People are hungry for a relationship with Jesus.

2.  Growing in our relationship with Jesus. (v20)  Christ accepts us but wants us to become more like Him.  
We are called to live Holy lives.

Each person is responsible for his own spiritual development.  Make self available to the means of grace provide by Jesus Christ.  Spiritual growth is best nurtured in community.  The scriptural imperative beginning "you" could best be interpreted "y'all."  We are in this together.

3.  Sending people out with the Good News.  The imperative "Go." (v19)  We are sent. Every disciple is called to be a missionary.  The Holy Spirit will equip every disciple to actively share his faith.

Pastor Johnnie Blair 
Sunday morning

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Witness

We are to be witnesses for Jesus Christ.  That  is the crux of the matter.

Some things are perplexing, baffling, and at the same time amazing.  Pastor enumerated some things which fill the bill for him, among them ventriloquism, acrobatics, and the persistence to persevere in the face of defeat, to grasp victory from its jaws, so to speak.

How much more should the moving of God amaze and perplex us!

"The church is God's primary vehicle for bringing His message of salvation to the world."  Amazing (and perplexing)!

Man has tried to eradicate, defame, and persecute Christianity.  Even so the message thrives and proliferates.  Amazing--  and baffling!   Yet He has entrusted the message to us.  Now is that not amazing and perplexing?

It is amazing that God would send His only begotten Son to die on a cross to save us from our fallen and sinful state.  How amazing that a Holy God would do such a thing.

The message still brings hope in the most hopeless of situations.

Read Ezekiel 38:23, 39:21  "I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in many nations, then they will know that I am the Lord."

The Earth is groaning to be redeemed, even in the shadow of the end times.  God is our hope.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  --Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8)
This is the Great Commission.

"I believe God wants to show His greatness again. That will amaze and baffle us.  We are in a very pivotal moment in Christianity.  I believe we are set up for another Great Awakening.  God wants to truly transform lives.  Chains will be broken, we will see people released from bondage and set free in Christ.
"If this is to be, let it begin in me."

May our desire be to witness His greatness. 

We may be tempted to pursue our own fame, our own agenda; we may be tempted to pursue earthly pleasures, seeking to build our own kingdom. 

God forbid.  These do not fit in with what God wants to do.

EVERYTHING WE DO IS 
1.  to and for the glory of God.
     The purpose of the church is to bring Him honor and glory.  Ephesians 1:6, 1:12,14, 3:10.
     Worship will last forever.  Adoration and praise to God is the point.  Hebrews 2:14
2.  God's mission.
     The calling is owned and appointed by God.  All we do is for Him.  It is His mission.  We receive power (Acts 1:8) to do His mission.
     God has a mission.  He gives the vision and the plan.  He .reveal the next step at the right time.  God supplies every provision.
3. to expand God's Kingdom.
    Whether we are known is of no consequence so long as we make Jesus known!

We shine not for our own sake but for the sake of Christ and to connect people with Jesus!

 Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning
 To hear this message click here

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Me to We

"We are called to build bridges and tear down walls; we are not called to put up fences." --JB

Continuing the study in the Gospel of Mark we see that the disciples are selfish, always about self and missing what Christ wants from them as a group.

"They had argued about who was the greatest."  Mark 9:34

THE COMPETITIVE FENCE
The disciples desired that Jesus would put a stop to one outside their circle who was casting out demons in the name of Jesus.  --We are greater mentality.  A fence.

Jesus said, "Whoever is not against us is for us." (v. 40)

THE SECTARIAN FENCE
Those who are not part of our group surely cannot be right.  No,
All born-again followers of Christ are members of the Body of Christ.

 "Whoever wants to be first must be slave of all." --Jesus, Mark 10:44

THE EGOTISTICAL FENCE
The overzealous spirit wants to distinguish itself, puts its own agenda ahead of what Christ wants done.
"People just do what comes naturally."  --Dennis Kinlaw

FROM ME TO WE
There is something we MUST grasp:  We are called to DO together.
When we are for the self we are missing what Christ has for us:  To build the Church.

For the disciples the Shift from Me to We occurred at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them. 
 *****
Too many people like the idea of following Jesus, but are not loyal to each other.
We are to be bonded to each other in Christ. 
"To belong is as important as to be."  --JB
IF YOU LOVE HIM YOU WILL LOVE EACH OTHER.

YOU WERE MADE FOR COMMUNITY

  "This is my command: Love each other." --Jesus (John 15:17)

Action plan
     1.  Get involved in small group; connect with the Body of Christ more than once a week
     2.  Become a member so you can be more actively involved.
     3.  Find a way to serve along side the brothers and sisters.
     4.  Pray that God will send us people who are not like us and that He will send us out to people who are not like us.
     5.  Commit to a weekly time of worship with the group.
     6.  Submit to the authority of the Church.
     7.  Spend a significant amount of time praying for the needs of others.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning
 Like to hear this message?  Click here.

"It is places of crisis and community where God will work a change in you."