Ashley Steelman • July 23, 2020
I grew up listening to classic rock. WKQQ out of Lexington basically supplied the soundtrack to my youth. One of my favorites was Stevie Ray Vaughn. Nobody plays guitar like Stevie.
In the 80’s Stevie Ray Vaughn was at the top of his game. But his personal life was spiraling out of control because of issues with drugs and alcohol.
At some point, Stevie stumbled out of a bar and ran into Eric Clapton(another favorite). Clapton had himself also battled with addiction. It almost took his life. He later became passionate in helping others and established a rehab center and foundation.
Eric tells the story that when he saw Stevie in the state he was in, he looked him in the eyes and knew he was not in a place to receive advice. Clapton said that he knew nothing he would have said would have had any effect on Stevie at that time and place.
Stevie also acknowledged that he was not ready then. In fact, it would be years later, when he almost died, that he would finally get clean.
It’s hard to see someone that desperately needs help and to know that even if you offered it they wouldn’t take it. It's sad that so often people have to get to the point of dying before they will get the help.
It’s also hard when we see people around us dying spiritually, and it seems there is little that we can do. It’s hard to be in that place where you know that nothing you say will move them, or may in some cases make things worse?
Hebrews 3:12-15 Christian brothers, be careful that not one of you has a heart so hard that it will not believe and will turn away from the living God. 13 Help each other. Speak day after day to each other while it is still today so your heart will not become hard by being fooled by sin. 14 For we belong to Christ if we keep on trusting Him to the end just as we trusted Him at first. 15 The Holy Writings say, “If you hear His voice today, do not let your hearts become hard as your early fathers did when they turned against Me.”
We must have the Spirit awareness to know when to push and when to be quiet. The beauty for us is that the Holy Spirit is the one who convicts, who pushes and prods, who softens hard hearts, and who ultimately will bring the soul toward a decision. Our job is to pray that their hearts will become tender and to speak encouragement and truth.
Not everybody will be ready to hear about Jesus, this does not in any way mean we don’t still sow the seeds of the gospel. In the parable of the sower, the seeds are thrown everywhere, despite the fact that they might fall on soil with barriers to growth.
We keep sowing into every part of the garden, we pull weeds, prune thorns, chuck out rocks, and keep watering every little sprout to help it grow.
Don’t get bogged down in frustration when that person seems to want little to do with Jesus. Just love ‘em, stay consistent in your life and theirs, and pray that the Spirit will soften their heart and open their ears.
Never give up.
Ashley Steelman • July 16, 2020
The Sky is falling.
Once upon a time there was a little chicken, and everybody called him-- Chicken Little. And one day while he was out walking, up in the sky a bird flew over and it dropped an acorn, and the acorn fell down and-- bip-- bopped him on his head. Chicken Little said “AWK! ” and looked up, and didn’t see anything, and he looked down and didn’t see anything. So he said “Help, help the sky is falling! Help, help the sky is falling! I have to tell the King!” And he went running down the road, looking for the King. As he was running he met Henny Penny. And Henny Penny said, “Buk Buk Buk BUK! Hello Chicken LIttle. What’s wrong with you?” And Chicken Little said, “Oh Henny Penny! Haven’t you heard-- the sky is falling! I’m looking for the King.” And Henny Penny said, “Oh my, how exciting. Buk buk buk BUK! Can I go too?” And they went down the road together, shouting “Help, help the sky is falling! Help, help the sky is falling! We have to tell the King!” After a while they met Goosey Loosey. “Honk! Honk! Hello Chicken Little, Hello Henny Penny. What’s wrong with you?” “Oh, Goosey Loosey, haven’t you heard? The sky is falling! We have to tell the King!” “Honk Honk! That’s terrible! Honk honk. Can I go too?” And they all went down the road together shouting “Help, help the sky is falling! Help, help the sky is falling! We have to tell the King!”
The sky is indeed falling. Amidst political agitation and social disintegration, what are believers called to do? Do we just roll with the tide we all see flooding in? Do we buy up a bunch of guns and groceries and hunker down on our little piles of dirt? Or do we run to tell the king?
What do we do?
The truth is we only have the word of God as our guide and rule of faith. Scripture tells us that in the early church the Holy Spirit and the Gospel of Jesus were everything. When turmoil came, when they faced incipient persecution, they most definitely ran to tell the KING.
Acts 4:23-31 Peter and John left the meeting of Jewish leaders and went to their own group. They told the group everything that the leading priests and the older Jewish leaders had said to them. 24 When the believers heard this, they all prayed to God with one purpose. They said, “Master, you are the one who made the sky, the earth, the sea, and everything in the world. 25 Our ancestor David was your servant. With the help of the Holy Spirit he wrote these words:
‘Why are the nations shouting? Why are the people planning such useless things?‘The kings of the earth prepare themselves to fight, and the rulers all come together against the Lord and against his Messiah.’ 27 That’s what actually happened when Herod, Pontius Pilate, the other nations, and the people of Israel all came together against Jesus here in Jerusalem. He is your holy Servant, the one you made to be the Messiah. 28 These people who came together against Jesus made your plan happen. It was done because of your power and your will. 29 And now, Lord, listen to what they are saying. They are trying to make us afraid. We are your servants. Help us to say what you want us to say without fear. 30 Help us to be brave by showing us your power. Make sick people well. Cause miraculous signs and wonders to happen by the authority of Jesus, your holy servant.” 31 After the believers prayed, the place where they were meeting shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak God’s message without fear.
The background to this verse is in Chapter 3. Peter and John heal a lame man right out in broad daylight. It falls to Peter to give an explanation of what the heck just happened and he gives an exceptional history lesson.
Peter reminds God’s people of who God is. And then he shares the gospel in a nutshell,, “26 God has sent his special servant Jesus. He sent him to you first. He sent him to bless you by causing each of you to turn away from your evil ways.”
This is Peter! The same one that denied Jesus now speaking boldly and eloquently about the Gospel all under threat. And people are being healed. People are coming to Christ!. Don’t you think he is aware of the fact that what is happening here is that the promise of Jesus concerning the Holy Spirit has come to fulfillment?
Christianity ain’t philosophy. It’s not a pocket full of religious ideas. No, these people of the early church were propelled into the streets of Jerusalem not by fear, but in light of the fact that they knew that Jesus was alive. If Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead, why would Peter be out here preaching like this? It makes no sense. Peter gives the history lesson to remind God’s people of who he is and all He has done. Christianity is grounded in facts. It’s grounded in history. We can share the Gospel without fear because it is the TRUTH.
Many people believed because of this. It messed with the status quo and the agenda of the elite. And so this group of leaders decided the best thing to do was to shut them up and send them to jail. But the whole thing backfires and the number of believers increases from 3000 to 5000. This is what the Gospel does. This is why we run to tell the King.
God is in control of all things including the events happening around us.
You see, fam, unless we understand that God is a sovereign God, then it is almost inevitable that we will be buffeted and bowled over by the events which are clear evidence of opposition and coming persecution in relationship to the Gospel. Don’t misunderstand all that is unfolding these days as being explained in terms of race or gender, left or right, or any other thing.
Man as man is set in opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and particularly when evidence of that gospel is undeniable.
That was what was up back then and I suggest to you, that is exactly what is happening now: that the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers set themselves, against the Lord and against his chosen. The sovereignty of God —a God who is unfolding his purpose from all of eternity—that stands over His word to see it performed- is at the very heart of it all.
That's why these early believers prayed the way they did. They prayed big. They prayed Biblically. They recognized this amazing tension between God, who is in control of all things, who has all the power, who created all things, and the responsibility that was there in the leaders of the day.
28 These people who came together against Jesus made your plan happen. It was done because of your power and your will. 29 And now, Lord…
“And now Lord…”
How will we finish that statement? “Get us out of here, Lord?” “Lord, please keep us from persecution?” “Lord, please remove the threats?” “Lord please help me keep all my stuff?”
No- The early church said “And now Lord…”They are trying to make us afraid. We are your servants. Help us to say what you want us to say without fear. Help us to be brave by showing us your power.”
So back to my question. The sky is falling, what do we do? We run to tell the King. We pray. We pray this prayer. We pray for Spirit-filled, Christ-centered boldness. “Help us to say what you want us to say without fear.”
Paul warns us in 2 Timothy: “Remember this: There are some terrible times coming in the last days.
In Ephesians 6:12 he says “Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places.”
In 2 Corinthians 10:4 The weapons we use are not human ones. Our weapons have power from God and can destroy the enemy’s strong places.
With that in mind, this is what I think: this is not just a time to fill our pantries and gun cabinets but a time to remind ourselves of what it is we’re doing as a church, small c and big C. To remind ourselves who the enemy is.
Who the enemy is.
Paul makes these statements to encourage the people he is writing to. And then he calls for his readers to pray “at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
In other words, to pray big—and to pray, he says, “for me also.” Why? “So that I won’t be persecuted?" “So that I will not have to be beaten, or spend time in jail?" No: Ephesians 6:19 “ Also pray for me—that when I speak, God will give me words so that I can tell the secret truth about the Good News without fear.” It’s the same prayer we see in Acts 4.
The story of Chicken Little really ends terribly. Chicken Little and his friends get led off their course by a sneaky old fox. They never make it to the King.
Do you realize what a great temptation it is to the church at this point in our country to deviate from course, chasing down all kinds of notions and ideas? Am I the only one who gets sucked into the anger and frustration surrounding the conversations about masks, and covid, riots, the presence of financial insecurities, the threat of a cashless society and so on? That’s why we need to pray. Because we’re living in a culture of an incoherent mix of opinions and tensions.
There are foxes everywhere trying to get us off track.
The whole gospel has been given to the whole church to reach the whole world. So whether you’re an engineer, a farmer, a lawyer, or a momma at home with her babies it doesn’t matter; the charge of God is to speak his word, the gospel, without fear. Our job is to go out and say, “ I am proud of the Good News, because it is the power God uses to save everyone who believes—”
I’ll finish up with Acts 4:31-35 “After the believers prayed, the place where they were meeting shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak God’s message without fear.
What do we do? We pray. We pray and ask for boldness to share the gospel. We pray to be prepared to say, “This is Jesus. He died for our sins but is now alive. He is who you need.” We pray that the Lord would keep us from inaction, from a wrongful sense of anxiety over the future. Pray that we would have a childlike trust, taking God at His word and believing that what He has promised He will do.
The sky is falling. We must run and tell the king.
Ashley Steelman • July 09, 2020
When we started this year off it was just too good not to think that this year’s word was gonna be “Vision.” But then it seemed the word would actually be something more along the lines of “chaos” or “Division”
Here we are seven months in, and I feel like I should watch things play out with my hands over my eyes and peeking through my fingers. The world is a train wreck right now! But in this week’s email, Pastor asked a question that I think brings us full circle. “What do you see?” He says,
“It is amazing how our perspective and attitude determine what we see in life.”
There's a theological term -progressive revelation. It means that while God never changes, our understanding of him unfolds over time. Not necessarily chronologically, but as we experience different things in our life, we come to see God in different ways.
Paul says it like this “Open the eyes of their hearts, and let the light of Your truth flood in. Shine Your light on the hope You are calling them to embrace. Reveal to them the glorious riches You are preparing as their inheritance” Ephesians 1:18 (VOICE)
For all appearances our nation is goin’ to hell in a hand basket. It looks like all hope is lost. Or is it? What if I look at things from a different perspective? What if I pull my nose out of Facebook and Twitter, quit reading fake news, and start looking to God’s Word instead? What if I look at this world with spiritual eyes flooded with the HIS truth? What if God has a purpose for everything that is happening and I’m just not seeing things clearly yet .
You know what’s so awesome about the Bible? It’s full of God’s promises. When God makes a promise He always keeps it. The Bible says that when His word is preached and proclaimed and talked about and spoken out loud- that it never returns void.
Do you know what that means? That means that when you share God’s Word with your friends, when you text scripture, when you talk about the Bible, when you talk about what God has done in your life and you use Scripture, it does something.
God’s Word always does something, it never does nothing. God's Word never returns void.
You should get out a pen and write that down in the front of your Bible or scribble it in sharpie and hang it on your fridge where you can see it every morning when you reach in to get the cream for your coffee.
For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment. Luke 1:37 AMP
Regardless of what we see with our eyes, we have the hope of our salvation!
Romans 8:24-30 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) 26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
We have hope because God, Himself, stands over and watches over His own Word, making sure it is fulfilled.
In Jeremiah 1:11, The word of God comes asking the prophet “What do you see?” He answers that he sees something pretty ordinary: an almond tree. Words are the tools of a prophet. God uses this ordinary sight to give him an extraordinary message.
Jeremiah 1:12 AMP says, “Then said the Lord to me, You have seen well, for I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.”
- The KJV says, “For I will hasten my word to perform it.”
- The NKJV says, “For I am ready to perform My word.”
- The NIV says, “For I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”
- The ERV says, “I am watching to make sure that my message to you comes true.”
We can be confident that all of God’s promises for His people will come to pass because He will bring it to pass. God does what He says. Keep that word fresh. Believe it. Proclaim it. Intercede over it. And wait for it – it will surely come!
We have Hope because God’s Word endures forever.
24 The Scriptures say, “Our lives are like the grass of spring, and any glory we enjoy is like the beauty of a wildflower. The grass dries up and dies, and the flower falls to the ground. 25 But the word of the Lord lasts forever.” And that word is the Good News that was told to you. 1 Peter 24-25
God’s plan is at work in our everyday lives. There is no space, no matter how big or small, where the Word of God is not already at work. Our job is to watch the Word and obey it. “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” Romans 10:8.
The connections between the plans and purposes of God running through our lives and all creation are countless and amazing. We just have to learn to “see” them. We may see sin, evil, and suffering in this world, but we don’t have to lose hope. Jesus is our hope. The Lord will fulfill his promises. He is watching over his word to perform it. And because God is faithful, not one word will fail.
God’s Word always does something, it never does nothing. God's Word never returns void.
Ashley Steelman • July 02, 2020
I love a good personality inventory. Myers Briggs, Enneagram, even those stupid things on Facebook – I’ve spent a chunk of time over the years selecting answers from multiple-choice questions and gauging my responses on a scale of 1 to 10. For the most part my results have always felt spot on and, at times, even eerily accurate.
Identity is a tricky thing. In our culture identity has become all tangled up and messy. Over and over, dozens of times a day, we are invited to question our identity. Now, the Supreme court gets to weigh in. I think it is all part of the enemy’s plan. His main point of attack seems to be upon man as image bearers of God.
WE DON’T HAVE TO LOOK ANY FURTHER THAN THE VERY FIRST CHAPTER OF THE VERY FIRST BOOK OF OUR BIBLES TO FIND THE INS AND OUTS OF OUR TRUE IDENTITY
“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them…” Genesis 1:27-28
“Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good.” Genesis 1:31
So here’s the thing. You will never know who you are outside of a revelation of who God is. When you are in the presence of God, He reveals who He is, and as He reveals who He is, you get a revelation of who you are. And once You have a revelation of who You are, You get to find out what You are called to do. We have many names the world calls us but God calls us by our true name.
Watch this- Matthew 16:13-19 13 Jesus went to the area of Caesarea Philippi. He said to his followers, “Who do people say I am?” 14 They answered, “Some people say you are John the Baptizer. Others say you are Elijah. And some say you are Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 Then Jesus said to his followers, “And who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered, You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah. No one taught you that. My Father in heaven showed you who I am. 18 So I tell you, you are Peter. And I will build my church on this rock. The power of death will not be able to defeat my church. 19 I will give you the keys to God’s kingdom. When you speak judgment here on earth, that judgment will be God’s judgment. When you promise forgiveness here on earth, that forgiveness will be God’s forgiveness.”
When we begin to declare who God is over our life then he declares to us who we really are. And here's the great thing- It’s not dependent on what the people of this world do or say, it’s dependent on the promises of God.
We have the option to shake off the labels the world places on us. We can ditch the lies. Our primary identity as forgiven, restored, complete, equipped, righteous sons and daughters of the Creator, ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom, stands firm. This eternal identity is not dictated by how many “likes” we got on our last post, or the number on or our Enneagram wing. Cultural identity may shift like sand but identity in Christ is rock solid.
Ashley Steelman • June 25, 2020
For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of armies is His name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth shall He be called. ISAIAH 54:5
All we see portrayed in the media right now is hate and division. But existence is a love story ...or it was meant to be a love story. We are called the Bride of Christ in Scripture (men don’t check out- this is for y’all too).
The bride is a picture of what we each were created to be. That's why we can never be complete in ourselves. That's why, deep down in the middle of us, in the deepest part of our heart, we seek to be filled. For the bride is made to be married.
Song of Solomon 2:16 My beloved is mine and I am his.
Have you ever felt that there was something more out there for you? Have you ever felt like there was a big ol’ hole runnin’ in the middle of you- an emptiness that sometimes seems to burn? Why do we go to such extremes to find meaning in life? Why is there such confusion on who we are? Why do we take gap years to go “find ourselves”? Why do so many turn to drugs and alcohol and prescriptions to dull that ache?
Only to find nothing works.
That emptiness, that hole- ain’t never gonna be filled outside of God. We can never find our completion until we are joined to the one we were created for. And that is why we go through our lives trying to join ourselves… to whatever we think will fill the longing of our hearts- to people, stuff, money, beauty, power, a movement, or whatever.
The bride was created to be married, and she can never rest until she is. None of those things ever work because NONE of those things are the Bridegroom.
The Bridegroom of our souls is God, we were created for Him. It's not enough to find God. You’ve gotta join every part of your life -your heart, your soul, your hurts, your dreams, everything- to God.
When we think of weddings, proposals, and brides, we have a kind of standard image in our minds of what those things look like. But for just a minute I want to shift our perspective.
As little girls most of us dream of our wedding day and all that it entails. We even have an idea of how our fella will propose to us… maybe over a candle lit dinner, or down on one knee in a field full of wildflowers- or on a beach…
The one place you wouldn’t think of would be at a public execution. There’s just something about that setting that doesn’t seem to jive with asking somebody to marry you. But that is exactly the setting God used to propose to us. God chose to show us the true nature of his heart, and the love that he has for us, when he proposed his intentions to having a lasting relationship with us at the cross.
Instead of getting down on one knee, he was raised up on a cross. Instead of a wedding band made of gold, he had cruel iron spikes that they drove into his hands and feet. Instead of a wedding party, He had an angry mob and fair weather friends ready to mock him and abandon him.
But that was our Dowry Price and He willingly paid.
Now think about this. When the pressures of courting with all that goes with growing up are over and it is time for the bride to present herself to her groom, she doesn’t come a-hobblin’ down the aisle in a dirty pajama top, missing the heel off her right shoe, with bed head, smeared lipstick, and mascara runnin’. No way! She is breathtaking. She spent the extra time to make sure every hair was in place, and her dress was gorgeous. She pulled out all the stops to prove that her groom is getting a prize- that she is a treasure.
So much emphasis has been put on the stuff that we face, that the beauty of the bride has been muted in our minds' eye. Solomon's temple, the law, the children of Israel all were glorious. I think if we were able to see the awesomeness of the temple of that day we would be amazed. But Haggai 2:9 talks about how when Jesus comes the Glory of the latter house will be greater than the former.
Jesus brought the church to manifest in us, and He said it’s more glorious than the first temple.
We gotta change our perspectives… You are far more than some wobegon, shotgun bride. You are a prize. The body of Christ (the bride) should and will be a matchless gift to the King of Kings.
We gotta live up to the honor that has been given us. In this moment, we need to live in such a way that people actually want what we have. Instead of just going around telling people what life should be- we gotta get outta our comfort zones and actually model what it is -we gotta love one another with so much compelling persuasiveness that people are drawn to who we are because of Jesus.
But we also gotta LOVE God. We gotta do the work he has called us to. We have to repent and strive for obedience. We have to connect and abide in Him.
This week Pastor asked the question, “How bad do you want it?” We say we want revival but do we want HIM? He wants all of us. Do we want all of Him?
I know we all know this. But it don’t hurt to say it again. We are his bride and he promised he is coming back for us. Are we gonna be ready?
Ashley Steelman • June 18, 2020
I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions. Joel 2:28
Martin Luther said “The world is like a drunken peasant. If you lift him into the saddle on one side, he will fall off again on the other side. One can’t help him no matter how he tries. He wants to be the devil’s.”
Everybody is yelling. Everybody is fighting. It is rare to see measured conversations. We have the virtue signalers, the antifa thugs, CHAZ, the Dems, the GOP, the woke-left, the far-right, and all manner of divided groups. Hop on social media and you can always find the guys and gals who have an opinion (that they just thought up five seconds ago) and they are really mad that nobody else sees just how right and how smart they really are.
There is more than just a little bit of Cain reflected from behind our eyes right now. James says it is because we are not faithful to God. The reason we have fights with our brothers and sisters is because we are at war with the God who made us. How can we be at peace with each other if we aint at peace with God?
The Book of James paints this picture for us.
Do you know where your fights and arguments come from? They come from the selfish desires that make war inside you. 2 You want things, but you don’t get them. So you kill and are jealous of others. But you still cannot get what you want. So you argue and fight. You don’t get what you want because you don’t ask God. 3 Or when you ask, you don’t receive anything, because the reason you ask is wrong. You only want to use it for your own pleasure. James 4:1-3
Our nation as we know it is crumbling- falling in big chunks all around us. Confusion, division, and outrage are the order of the day. I don’t know about you but my heart has been crusty y’all! I had lost my focus for a minute. I was sinking fast.. But I WOKE-UP Sunday morning with the word “blood bought” on repeat in my mind. It woke me up- literally. I remembered whose I was and who I am in Him.
I am a Christian. I am a praying, blood bought, Spirit filled, Tongue Talking, Bible Thumping, Devil Stomping, Overcoming, Jesus Praising, From The Dead Raising, Greater Works Than These, Redeemed by The Blood of the Lamb, Saved, Sanctified, Child Of The One True and LIVING God!
There are churches on just about every corner in America and millions of professing Christians. It is past time to be salt and light. We are not powerless. We may be chased by our enemies and fearful of the giants in the land. But right now -in this moment- we need lots of Christians to become WOKE Christians.
We need lots of squeaky clean, God is good all the time, hand-shakin’, back-pattin’, Sunday mornin’ folks to meet Jesus in a dark alley and have Him rough ‘em up a little.
In the first century, Christians faced enormous pressure from two opposing sides. Most of the time they were on the losing end of the struggle for power and influence. Sound familiar? But that kind of power was not the weapon of our king.
We have access to a different kind of power. We have the Gospel.
God created us with a mouth. James points out that it is like a flamethrower, rocket launcher, a deadly weapon. But this is a feature and not a flaw when we allow Jesus to redeem these weapons and turn them loose on the dark forces trying to split this world in two. We were made to speak. We are spirit filled believers. We have the responsibility to speak life.
WE HAVE THE GOSPEL.
God’s word is alive and working. It is sharper than the sharpest sword and cuts all the way into us. It cuts deep to the place where the soul and the spirit are joined. God’s word cuts to the center of our joints and our bones. It judges the thoughts and feelings in our hearts. Hebrews 4:12
When the book of Hebrews was written, the church faced a very strong possibility of persecution. The author was warning them about the temptation to deny their faith so that they could live more “comfortably.”
It’s a tough world out there today, just as it was then. But, the same Word that confronted the church during this time is the same, unchanging, infallible Word that confronts us today. It is living. It is active. It is convicting.
IT IS THE POWER GOD USES TO SAVE EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES.
It is possible to scorn unbelief, pray for judgment, and share the Gospel without being a crusty grubby mess, and cussing the media under your breath. It ain’t just possible- it is essential.
James points us to the Prophets.
James 5:10-11 Brothers and sisters, follow the example of the prophets who spoke for the Lord. They suffered many bad things, but they were patient. 11 And we say that those who accepted their troubles with patience now have God’s blessing. You have heard about Job’s patience.[a] You know that after all his troubles, the Lord helped him. This shows that the Lord is full of mercy and is kind.
The prophets married harlots. They walked around town naked. They proclaimed droughts. They called out politicians and religious leaders. They foretold judgement. They spoke the word of God with every breath and deed.
Name a prophet that wasn’t constantly in conflict with the enemies of God? Think about Elijah- He was called the “troubler of Israel”. But He turns the tables: Elijah answered, “I have not made trouble for Israel. You and your father’s family caused all the problems when you stopped obeying the Lord’s commands and began following the false gods.”
James points out Job specifically. I don’t reckon I had ever looked at Job as a prophet. But James sure does. And I think it’s because of his straight forward, patient, endurance. Job suffers but doesn’t slip.
The book of Job is the original Twitter war. Job speaks the truth and refuses to back down and then You have these three dudes who think they know better than Job -giving him their advice. Just apologize, admit you are wrong... and his wife! I can’t even deal with her right now.
If we are to follow the example of the prophets, then we understand that when godly men and women get worked up, there's a way to do it in a godly way. It means we don’t lose perspective, we don’t lose sight of Jesus. We don’t lose sight of the goals set before us.
We need to fight in the prophetic. We have to speak the word of God. We have to fight like the prophets by resisting evil rulers with patience and joy.
WE HAVE THE GOSPEL.
So what do we do? Where do we turn? We turn to Jesus. We cry out to our Savior, our God, our King. We ask Him to pour out the Holy Spirit on us. We need to be filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit. We need to unsheathe the sword of the Spirit. We need to wield the sharp edges and pointy parts of Scripture.
Depending on who your talkin’ to we either live in the Bible Belt or on the Bourbon Trail. When they make whiskey it gets watered down when they bottle it. The alcohol content of the whiskey in its cask varies but is known as “barrel proof,” referring to the strength of the liquor coming straight out of the barrel. We need that- we need the undiluted intensity of the gospel to burn our throats and kick us in the guts.
We need a barrel-proof gospel.
We need to let the actual words, the actual story, the actual characters, confront us, shape us, scare us. If the Church is to rise up in this time- to rise up full of people who don’t give a rip about anything but the glory of Jesus and His Kingdom, we must eat, sleep and breathe the Gospel.
Jesus claimed all authority in heaven and on earth. He claimed all of it, and sent His apostles to announce that claim in the words of the gospel. Jesus comes with the life of God for the world, and the world is dead and dying and for all appearances demon infested.
WE HAVE THE GOSPEL.
We can’t be wrathful or divisive. We can’t sound like the world. We must fight like a prophet. We have to speak the Word of God. We should not find ourselves retreating on every cultural battlefield. We gotta understand in our guts and bones the difference between Christ-like troublemaking and our flesh. We can’t constantly keep second guessing ourselves, afraid of stirring up strife, apologizing for speaking the truth, caving to the pressures of popular opinion.
A prophet is a special witness for Christ, testifying of His divinity and teaching His gospel. A prophet teaches truth.
The theme of Acts is that every believer receives the power of the Holy Spirit to be a prophetic witness (Acts 1:8).
John says, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
Paul says, “Love should be the goal of your life, but you should also want to have the gifts that come from the Spirit. And the gift you should want most is to be able to prophesy. 2 I will explain why. Those who have the gift of speaking in a different language are not speaking to people. They are speaking to God. No one understands them—they are speaking secret things through the Spirit. 3 But those who prophesy are speaking to people. They help people grow stronger in faith, and they give encouragement and comfort. 4 Those who speak in a different language are helping only themselves. But those who prophesy are helping the whole church.
WE HAVE THE GOSPEL. FIGHT LIKE A PROPHET.
16 I am proud of the Good News, because it is the power God uses to save everyone who believes—to save the Jews first, and now to save those who are not Jews. Romans 1:16
Ashley Steelman • June 10, 2020
The Greek word for apocalypse means "revelation", "an unveiling or unfolding of things not previously known and which could not be known apart from the unveiling", “to uncover.” So an apocalyptic event or vision reveals things as they really are.
What we are seeing now is, I believe, an apocalyptic event — not as in “the end of the world” apocalypse but in the sense that it uncovered or revealed cracks in our social and political landscapes many of us did not/do not want to face.
We are a deeply divided nation. We live in a climate of neo-Manichaeism. What is the way forward? How can we as believers in Christ respond in a way that leads to healing and increased unity? Is it even possible at this point?
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.Romans 12:21
I feel out of step. I’m emotional and conflicted. I feel helpless and hopeless. I see people I love defending the indefensible based on loyalty to political parties and causes. Others remain deaf and dumb.
Voicing any opposition to the mob or its current agenda has become social taboo or can even be interpreted as betrayal. With people quick to jump to conclusions and even quicker to air their grievances on social media, the idea of “cancel culture” is a breeding ground for toxicity that hides behind fake moral righteousness. The victimology on the far left and the triumphalism on the far right makes me sick to my stomach.
I find myself struggling to find the words to make sense of what is happening around me, the means of resistance to imitate, and the encouragement for pressing on.
Revolution is in the air. But revolution is not what we need. We need revelation.
Our only option is to turn to God and His word.
God is so good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. 2 But I almost slipped and lost my balance. I almost fell into sin. 3 I saw that wicked people were successful, and I became jealous of those proud people.
4 They are healthy. They don’t have to struggle to survive. 5 They don’t suffer like the rest of us. They don’t have troubles like other people. 6 So they are proud and hateful. This is as easy to see as the jewels and fancy clothes they wear.
7 If they see something they like, they go and take it. They do whatever they want. 8 They make fun of others and say cruel things about them. In their pride they make plans to hurt people. 9 They think they are gods! They think they are the rulers of the earth.
10 Even God’s people turn to them and do what they say. 11 Those evil people say, “God does not know what we are doing! God Most High does not know!”
12 Those proud people are wicked, but they are rich and getting richer. 13 Clearly, then, I gain nothing by keeping my thoughts pure! What good is it to keep myself from sin?14 God, I suffer all day long, and you punish me every morning.
15 I wanted to tell others these things, but that would have made me a traitor to your people. 16 I tried hard to understand all this, but it was too hard for me. 17 But then, God, I went to your Temple, and I understood what will happen to the wicked.
18 Clearly, you have put them in danger. You make it easy for them to fall and be destroyed. 19 Trouble can come suddenly, and they will be ruined. Terrible things can happen to them, and they will be finished. 20 Then they will be like a dream that we forget when we wake up. You will make them disappear like the monsters in our dreams.
21-22 I was so stupid. I thought about such people and became upset. God, I was upset and angry with you! I acted like a senseless animal.
23 But I am always with you. You hold my hand. 24 You lead me and give me good advice, and later you will lead me to glory. 25 In heaven, God, I have only you. And if I am with you, what on earth could I want? 26 Maybe my mind and body will become weak, but God is my source of strength. He is mine forever!
27 God, people who leave you will be lost. You will destroy all who are not faithful to you. 28 As for me, all I need is to be close to God. I have made the Lord God my place of safety. And, God, I will tell about all that you have done. Psalms 73 ERV
“I tried hard to understand all this, but it was too hard for me. But then, God, I went to your Temple, and I understood what will happen to the wicked.”
Revelation is a far greater force than revolution. We can not continue to say, act,or do as we see fit. Man is the only creature who refuses to submit to the revealed will of his Creator.
We sow the very seeds of our own sorrow!!!!
We know exactly what the Lord has revealed and exactly what he expects of us as a result. But we continue to play around with concocting all sorts of half-baked notions that maybe we have misunderstood His meaning or His commands in the hope of somehow avoiding them -OR we just flat out ignore Him in arrogance, anger, and pride. All that comes of it is pain.
14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ Acts 26:14
The wickedness we see now is an outward display of what is hidden inside. The things that need changing ain’t out there y’all. The things that need changing are right in our own hearts. Until we get on our faces we are just kicking against the goads.
We don’t need revolution. We need revelation.
Ashley Steelman • June 04, 2020
“16 He pushed my teeth into rocky ground. He pushed me into the dirt. 17 I thought I would never have peace again. I forgot about good things. 18 I said to myself, “I no longer have any hope that the Lord will help me.”
19 Remember, I am very sad, and I have no home. Remember the bitter poison that you gave me. 20 I remember well all my troubles, and I am very sad.
21 But then I think about this, and I have hope: 22 We are still alive because the Lord’s faithful love never ends. 23 Every morning he shows it in new ways! You are so very true and loyal! 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my God, and I trust him.” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him. He is good to those who look for him. 26 It is good to wait quietly for the Lord to save them.” Lamentations 3:16-26 ERV
I am wondering about our chances for surviving 2020. At first it was fear of economic collapse brought on by the shutdowns due to Covid-19. I have been aghast at divisive liberal politics that seem to be intentionally ripping this country apart. And then I watched a Minneapolis “peace” officer kill a man named George Floyd, in broad daylight, without batting an eye.
This was not the panicked pulling of the trigger and killing someone in a surge of adrenaline. This did not leave us in the usual state of debate and division about motive. No, we are all in agreement.
Watching this man put his knee on George Floyd’s neck elicits a deeper reaction than seeing someone die from a split-second decision to pull a trigger. This was decisive, prolonged.
All death is tragic. But the death of George Floyd revealed a deeper darkness.
The cry for justice and response of protests was to be expected. I am down for peaceful protests that can lead to positive change- and at the very least create conversation. We need to be having some big conversations! Some that should have been had long ago.
However, the rioting, the further loss of life, and mass destruction that has followed in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death and the liberal driven, media fueled narrative of division that continues to plague our nation is painful to see and adds new layers of complexity in trying to resolve an already horrific situation.
We are all united in calling this act evil. But what is occurring across the nation now is just as wicked. I watched George Floyd be murdered on the news and was sickened by it. I have also now watched another man be beaten by rioters into a twisted mess and ultimately die. A 77 year old retired police chief was murdered. The list of needless death is growing.
It feels like a giant wave of darkness and wickedness has crashed over us. 2020 is too spiritually heavy for me. If I dare watch the news I wrestle with rage or find myself drowning in hopelessness.
“No justice, no peace.” That’s the phrase being chanted across our nation.
There is another phrase that seems to keep tumbling out of my mouth on the regular as of late. It’s the little idiom used to express surprise, shock, anger, disgust, etc.
WHAT IN THE WORLD?
What in the world? is a rhetorical question. That means it is actually a statement: In this world (in actual reality) there is nothing that could explain what is happening.
This is one of those expressions that is so old that when you look up it’s origin, you find out it is almost literally translated from Latin as "Nulla in mundo pax sincera" ("In this world there is no honest peace.") Which makes it even better for expressing what I am feeling at this moment.
In this world there is no honest peace....
Until I remember God is present and at work in this world.
The story of the people of God throughout history, in large part, is a call to remembrance.
“Remember God” – is a common sentence in the Old Testament. The children of Israel would follow and praise God, but then life would ebb and flow and they would take their eyes off him, drift away and forget his goodness. Before long a generation has passed and everyone has completely forgotten who God is. Everybody does what is right in his own eyes.
I reckon during this time the same is also true of us. We have all but chucked God out of our nation and then wonder “what in the world?”
There ain’t no peace without God. There ain’t no justice without God.
Riots are not gonna bring the peace and change we desperately need. Politics and military might won’t either. Policy reform and new laws will be meaningless if we don’t have the moral underpinning for them to be founded on.
WE NEED GOD!
We need him in our personal lives, in our homes, and in our communities. There is a major disconnect between heaven and our current culture, yet the Bible—and history—are full of examples of the people of God coming together to effect great change.
The church has been asking God for a spiritual awakening, but we are quickly realizing that a reckoning—and repentance—must precede an awakening. We’ve gotta pray that God, by His Holy Spirit, would guide us through this era of history and use it as a launch pad to lasting peace.
We need to remember God.
The Lord’s Message of Freedom
61 The Spirit of the Lord God is on me. The Lord has chosen me to tell good news to the poor and to comfort those who are sad. He sent me to tell the captives and prisoners that they have been set free. 2 He sent me to announce that the time has come for the Lord to show his kindness, when our God will also punish evil people. He has sent me to comfort those who are sad, 3 those in Zion who mourn. I will take away the ashes on their head, and I will give them a crown. I will take away their sadness, and I will give them the oil of happiness. I will take away their sorrow, and I will give them celebration clothes. He sent me to name them ‘Good Trees’ and ‘The Lord’s Wonderful Plant.’ Isaiah 61:1-3 ERV
Ashley Steelman • May 28, 2020
6 So be humble under God’s powerful hand. Then he will lift you up when the right time comes. 7 Give all your worries to him, because he cares for you.
8 Control yourselves and be careful! The devil is your enemy, and he goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to attack and eat. 9 Refuse to follow the devil. Stand strong in your faith. You know that your brothers and sisters all over the world are having the same sufferings that you have.
10 Yes, you will suffer for a short time. But after that, God will make everything right. He will make you strong. He will support you and keep you from falling. He is the God who gives all grace. He chose you to share in his glory in Christ. That glory will continue forever. 11 All power is his forever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11 ERV
Ask just about anyone what they think is most important in a relationship- whether business, friendship, or romantic- and somewhere very close to the top of the list will be TRUST.
It explains why so many people today are done with the institutions in our country. We are done with fake news, misleading advertising, politics, propaganda, and big tech platforms. We want to connect with people and institutions who genuinely care about us, that share our same values, that we can identify with. But in this day and age it’s hard to know who or what to trust.
Only it’s not.
Pastor’s message this week in The Journey series was from 1 Peter 5:6-11. In this passage, Peter is writing to fellow Christians during a time of intense persecution by the Romans and Emperor Nero. One of the ways Christians were martyred was to be “Condemned to the Beasts.” Being condemned to the beasts was a particularly grisly end. It meant that you and your companions would be exposed in the Colosseum arena to a variety of wild and ferocious animals, such as leopards, boars, and yes, lions. The crowds would then watch as these poor souls were hunted and ripped apart before their eyes.
Peter describes Satan as a lion on the prowl, looking for someone to devour. It is a picture the people of the day would have understood clearly (and I'm not talking Nat Geo here). It would definitely impress upon their minds that as great as the threat of persecution for the Christian is, the threat of the spiritual attacks of Satan are just as great.
Peter doesn’t sugar coat anything for these new believers. In fact, he goes on to write , “yes, you will suffer” at the hands of Satan during their life here on earth.
That’s honesty. God’s Holy Spirit guided the writers of the Bible to be completely honest with what the cost of following Him will be. He doesn’t try to make it look prettier or easier than it really will be. The struggle is gonna be real.
He’s up front with us. He lays it out in four little words. “Yes, you will suffer.”
We serve a trustworthy God. And if He’s honest about the suffering, then we can trust He’s honest about the promise. “Yes, you will suffer for a short time. But after that, God will make everything right. He will make you strong. He will support you and keep you from falling. He is the God who gives all grace. He chose you to share in his glory in Christ. That glory will continue forever. ”
Pastor said “Martyrdom is not being devoured by the devil. Being devoured by the devil is believing my unbelief instead of God. Being devoured by the devil is acting on my fears, retreating from mission, careless living, allowing the pressures of the world to be internalized and move me away from Christ.”
It is hard to know who and what to trust in in today’s world. Only it’s not. We have a trustworthy God. There are times our faith must outlast the circumstances we find ourselves in. I have the promise of an almighty God who is in total control, who rules over my life.
If I humble myself under His mighty hand, find rest in the shadow of His wings, run to Him as my refuge, I find new strength and mount up with the wings of eagles, and feast in the presence of my enemies!
I have the blessing of His presence now and the promise that I will be with Him soon!
I’ll close with one last quote from Pastor’s message. “The devil and world powers think they are in control. All they can ever have is temporary power, temporary money, temporary thrills. Each and every moment the clock is ticking. Their kingdoms are failing as they, like dogs in a junkyard, fight over bones and garbage.”
Ashley Steelman • May 21, 2020
16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. 1 Peter 2:16-17 (NASB)
5 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him. Ephesians 6:5-9 ESV
I think starting off, it is important for us to understand that Peter and Paul are not writing just to the man or woman on the streets, but that they are writing to believers.
I point this out mainly because it is very possible to come to any portion of the Bible in such a way as to miss the fact that the purpose of the Bible is ultimately to introduce us to Jesus.
It is only in our awareness of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done that we are then able to come to the places of application and recognize that this is not just a form of moralism —“Do this and do that and don’t do this and don’t do that”
It ain’t just behavioral modification. It is the dynamic work of the Spirit of God, quickening us and enabling us to become what God intends for us to be.
All that to say this- Pastor’s sermon “Free At Last” made me a little mad. I was so happy to be at church for in-person service and then he starts preaching and I start feeling like sour grapes. It’s not that he didn’t preach truth, it’s that he did -and sometimes the truth hurts.
An excerpt from this week’s sermon notes said:
“I have the right to disagree with political leaders, but I do not have the right before God to treat them with dishonor. Like the counsel that Peter gives to wives in chapter three, even if they have an unbelieving husband let their lives be such an example that they win their husband, without speaking a word. I must tread carefully when I start denouncing people, calling others names, even political leaders. I am not saying there is no room for political dissent, certainly, there is. But the attitude that is displayed in that dissent must be one of honor. “
Ugh! I wanna be mad and ugly in response to what our current leaders are doing. I wanna get on Facebook and rant and rave and share posts that reflect what I feel is right and true. I wanna protest!
But am I called to?
That’s the question that popped into my head during Pastor Neal’s message and it burned me down. So I’ve really had to sit with this and process through what Peter is saying. What is hilarious, is that normally I would much rather read Peter than Paul. They both have basically the same message here, but for whatever reason I have always been able to swallow it better coming from the words of Peter. I think Paul always seemed so bluntly honest in his delivery that any conviction I felt from his words felt harsher. (lol! Oh mercy, the way my brain works!) But in this case, I have found myself looking to Paul. So for this blog I’m gonna hang out with Paul as a means to process what we are learning in 1 Peter. Bear with me folks!
Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free. Ephesians 6:5-8 The Message (MSG)
When the Holy Spirit comes to live in the life of an individual, it changes everything. And it changes particularly the way a person thinks—That is the point.
The gospel changes our view of things wonderfully but radically. We often quote C.S. Lewis. He said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe in the rising of the sun, not simply because I can see it but because by it, I can see everything else.”
The gospel changes our view of marriage, changes our understanding of what it means to be a wife or a child or an employer or an employee. It changes how we operate and function in our community and the world. It changes how we think about everything.
The reason Paul says what he says is because he is thinking properly. And the way we need to approach challenging issues like those we are facing now is by also thinking properly. We have to think in terms of what the Bible teaches.
Paul is not driven by pragmatism here. He’s not guided by practical experience or observation. He’s steered by his theological convictions.
What is a foundational conviction for Paul? It is this: that God has entrusted to him and to those who serve with him the message of reconciliation. So, for example, when he writes to the Corinthians, in 2 Corinthians 5, he says, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself …. We are ambassadors for Christ …. [And so] we implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
Paul is concerned first and foremost with man’s relationship to God. That is the great issue, always! That the condition of man before God in light of eternity is and always will be the driving force of proclaiming the gospel.
That’s why Peter, in 1 Peter 2, says, “I appeal to you as pilgrims and as strangers.” The great issue is not what is going on politically around me. It’s not this wretched virus. The issue is: God is holy, man is sinful, man is separated from God. The message that we’re given to share is that God reconciles men and women to himself through Jesus.
Time is short. We’re not here forever. We are pilgrims and strangers. That means the issues of this world, as significant as they are, are not the great issues.
The great issues of the world relate to the reality of our separation from God, of the provision that God has made for us in that need, and of the fact that we are here for just a short time.
I have so lost focus… I have gotten so hung up in politics and social injustice, fear of communism, and of what’s to come- that I lost sight of what is really important.
Paul recognized that. That’s why in 1 Corinthians 9 he says, “My great concern is to win as many as possible.”
To win as many as possible. So if he had taken on the social injustices of the time, and under Nero there were many, he would never have won hardly anybody at all! Because all he would have been talking about all the time was, “You know, this shouldn’t be happening.” Of course it shouldn’t be happening! But that wasn’t the message he had been given to preach.
Why is the church in the world today? We’re not in the world to reform the world. Our mandate in the world is not political, it’s not social, and it’s not economic. The fact is that we are living in a period of time in the United States where the social, political, and economic concerns have increasingly encroached upon the minds of those who should know better and have begun to take on virtually a life of their own. Where we have begun to be seduced by the idea that these really are the issues—that if we could just fix A, B, and C... then we would be fine.
But we were never invited to fix these things. The calling of the church is to proclaim the gospel.
In researching, I came across this statement from Martin Lloyd-Jones who makes this amazing observation. He’s speaking to a congregation, probably in the 1940s, or ’50s, “We hear so much today about defending Western civilization [from] attack. That is all wrong! As a Christian I am not primarily [concerned about] Western civilization, I am interested in the Kingdom of God; and I am as anxious that men [and women] behind the Iron Curtain should be saved as that men on this side of the Iron Curtain should be saved. We must not take up a position of antagonism towards those whom we want to win for Christ. If we spend [our whole] time talking against them we [will] never win them.”
This is at the height of the Cold War. What is Lloyd-Jones saying? He’s saying, “The whole world is preoccupied by the threat of Communism. Many of you want me to stand up and keep talking about Communism. Communism is a real problem, and the Communists are doing this and the Communists are doing that. But I’m not going to do that. Why? Because I want Communists to hear about Jesus.”
Now, you can apply it in any way you want. The movement towards socialism, the woke left, the liberal extremists, whatever.
If I write “You know, what’s wrong with the world today is fake news, and the woke left are shredding our constitution, the gender issue is upside down, and marriage has gone to pot, and abortion is promoted by our governors.” So on and so on. People may get fired up and get excited? I might get a few likes on Facebook, but to what end? What has happened in terms of people being converted or lives transformed? Very little!
Because it’s not the issue.
You see, the great concern—the great concern—is that the gospel might frame our thinking. And it is the gospel which frames Paul’s thinking. Because Paul recognizes that the gospel works everywhere. The gospel works in jails. The gospel works in politics. The gospel works in science. The gospel works in the children’s ministry. The gospel works in the nursing homes. The gospel works!
And so Paul, as he is addressing these Ephesian believers, is speaking to them in the social context in which they find themselves. And his responsibility is not to disrupt that environment, but instead to show them the difference that the gospel makes.
He’s talking to slaves and masters. The gospel is the answer to slavery. The gospel is the only answer to anything. The gospel is the answer to human trafficking, to government corruption, to social injustice.
The gospel is the only answer to the morally upside-down world we find ourselves living in.
The reason we are dealing with all the problems in this world is man is sinful, man is selfish, man is self-centered, and man needs a Savior. So how will man get a Savior? Only if people share the gospel.
I want you to know that I care passionately about abortion. I care passionately about racism. I am exercised beyond measure regarding what is happening politically. I am livid at the thought of forced vaccinations. I want everyone to be safe and healthy. Fake news and big tech censorship drives me to distraction.
But this sermon series, these scriptures, framing things within God’s word, has brought me full circle. Because at the end of the day, the real transformative work in a nation is the transformative work of the gospel.
Why is America as ungodly as it is? ’Cause there ain’t enough Christians! We need more Christians. How do you get more Christians? By preaching about the issues of the day? No. By preaching the gospel.
The more Christians, the more Christian thinking. The more Christian thinking, the more Christian action— in science, in politics, in media, in education, and in medicine. But if I get sidetracked into thinking that these issues are the main thing, I risk neglecting the message of God’s Word which really is the main thing.
If you read history, and alongside it church history, you’ll find out all kinds of fascinating things—and with this, I’ll close.
All through history It’s those that just simply, day by day, share Jesus with those they encounter, It’s the apparently insignificant work that goes on in a little church in Lebanon where the pastor proclaims to his people the unsearchable riches of Christ, It's the woman who used to be an addict that shares her testimony with someone she met in the grocery line, It’s actions like these that are what yielded and what yields today, righteousness and transformation.
Think about all the work that is going on unseen in small congregations with faithful pastors just sticking with the gospel.
We believe that the greatest need of man is not a vaccine, or an economic bailout, or one more social program. We know the greatest need is to be reconciled to God. When God reconciles us to himself and changes our way of thinking, then that man, that woman, will engage in the privileges and opportunities that are there for them to effect real change— That’s how we change the world.
Because the gospel works everywhere, and works through individuals whose lives have been embraced by it and who in turn are embracing others.
Father, thank you that we can trust that you are present and working in our lives. As we are confronted by these complex and uncomfortable times, we ask that you will help us to do as Paul has done, as Peter has done, as our Pastor has done, and to frame things in light of your Word. We ask that we receive the enabling of the Holy Spirit to speak and to hear, to understand, to believe, to figure things out, to obey and accomplish your purposes, In Jesus’ name -Amen.