Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Get Ready! Get Set! Go!

Get ready! Get set! Go!

That’s the word I heard at the PORTA High School Baccalaureate service Sunday night for the Class of 2021. Eric Wagler from the band 10 Talents shared this message from the parable of the talents Jesus told in Matthew 25:14-30, weaving in his own life story as he related to the servants who had been entrusted with their master’s resources.

By the way, just a quick word of appreciation to the pastors and churches of the PORTA Ministerial Association for sponsoring this event, as well as special thanks to Mrs. McMahan, Mrs. Perez, Mrs. Reid, and Mrs. Owens for their varied and valuable help.

Two of the servants invested their “talents” well and returned a great profit. The master was thrilled with their work and rewarded them with even greater responsibility and boundless joy. The third servant, however, buried his talent and handed back only what he’d been given. Needless to say, the master was not pleased.

God is our Master, and He has entrusted to His servants the stewardship of His resources. And until Jesus returns, we ought to be faithful and wise to invest these talents not for selfish ambitions, but for the good of others and the glory of God.

What are you doing with the resources, gifts, and opportunities God has given you?

So get ready! How? Spend time listening to the Lord by hearing what He says in the Bible. Pray for guidance and direction, and wait for God’s instruction and counsel to teach you the way you should go.

Get set! Gather with a community of authentic believers who will encourage you, correct you, pray for you, love you, strengthen you in the faith, and help equip you for the ministry God has prepared for you. We truly do need each other.

Then go! Whatever God says to do, do it. Wherever God calls you to go, go. It might not seem to make a lot of sense to you. He probably won’t give you the whole picture at first. You might be inclined to doubt His ways as you look with your finite eyes and limited understanding. But your faithful obedience to the Lord will always reap great reward.

One of my personal favorite verses is found in Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (NLT).

Class of 2021, congratulations on all that you have achieved so far! Let me urge you to look to the Lord to get ready, get set, and go. Keep your eyes on Jesus and keep trusting Him all along the way, and you just might find that when you delight yourself in the Lord, He will not only give you the desires of your heart, but will do immeasurably more than all that you can ask or imagine.

Monday, May 24, 2021

An Anchor for Your Soul

If you’re like me and shaking your head at the constantly changing, uncertain, and often conflicting guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 health measures, aren’t you at least glad to know that the counsel of the Word of God remains unchanged?

Dr. Fauci may waffle back and forth week-by-week, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Even the “science” and the “data” consulted by the “experts” evolves (one presumes with political pressures and financial motivations – seriously, somebody follow the money on all of this and see where it leads), but “every word of God proves true” (Proverbs 30:5).

It’s foolish to build a house on the sand. The next storm is sure to wipe it all out.

It’s foolish to construct a host of mandates on shifting shadows. The next political cloud will undo every edict.

And it’s foolish to build your life on the unknown, the unsettled, the unsure. The next crisis, the next wind of doctrine, the next trend, the next appealing sound byte will quickly rock the shaky foundation under your feet and you’ll be tossed about like a jon boat in a hurricane.

But when your life is anchored to the rock of Christ Jesus, there is no storm that can capsize your faith.

My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness 

I dare not trust the sweetest frame

but wholly lean on Jesus’ name

On Christ the solid rock I stand

all other ground is sinking sand

all other ground is sinking sand

Friend, in a world that seems to be splitting apart at the seams, where seeds of discord are sown all around us, where sin gets applauded and right disregarded, come to Jesus and find peace in the midst of the storm. Come to Jesus and find joy in spite of the troubles. Come to Jesus and find hope as an anchor for your soul, “steadfast and sure while the billows roll”. Come to Jesus and find life unshakeable and eternal, abundant, new, and true.

“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Want to know more about this Savior who loves you so much that He laid down His life on the cross for you? Want to know more about this King who conquered sin and death and hell, the One who sits at the right hand of the Almighty and will one day come again?

I would love to talk with you. Call the church office at 217-632-2488, and we’ll open the Bible together and hear from heaven.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Privilege of Prayer

Women, wouldn’t it be strange if you said you loved your husband, but you never spoke to him? And wouldn’t it also be odd if you did talk to him, but you never bothered to listen to what he had to say? Men, I won’t ask you to comment on that! 

Well, whether or not those things are true in your marriage, unfortunately that’s a description of the way many people pray – or don’t pray. 

Prayer is essentially dialogue between God and His people. It’s communing in fellowship with our Father in heaven who loves us deeply, has chosen us in Christ, has adopted us into His family as sons and daughters, and who longs for us to draw near to Him, align our lives with His Kingdom’s purposes and will, and faithfully follow His perfect counsel. 

But even among Christians, many go about their day without ever giving a thought to communicating with the One they claim to love. 

Or for some, prayer is a one-sided conversation where we do all the talking but don’t really do any listening. And even at that, many prayers are pre-scripted or memorized (which is not inherently wrong, and can be very helpful), but the danger is that maybe all we’re doing is “saying our prayers” but we’re not really communicating with God. 

If we would truly know the friendship of God – a real love relationship with the Creator of the universe – then we must learn how to pray. 

Of course, the Bible is packed with the prayers of godly men and women to teach us how to call upon the name of the Lord. Whether in times of trouble and sorrow, to express our praise and thanksgiving, to intercede on behalf of another, to seek forgiveness for our sins, to ask for provision for our needs or guidance for decisions, or literally anything that pertains to life, God invites us to His throne of grace in the name of Jesus and promises that there we will receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). 

And the pattern of prayer that Jesus outlines for His disciples in Matthew 6 still works pretty well, too, as we engage our hearts and minds with our tongues in prayer to our Father. 

But let’s make sure that in our praying that we take the time to listen for God’s response. Let’s keep our ears open and actively seek to hear from the Lord. “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9). And let’s then do the hard work of waiting upon the Lord in faith. If we know that He hears our feeble, yet sincere prayers, and if we know that He responds for His glory and our good, then we would do well to trust Him to answer when and how He chooses to do so.

For surely, He is the sovereign, omnipotent King who reigns over all from His throne in heaven, and who invites us to “cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). He is the God who can move the mountains and part the waters to make a way where there seems to be no way. And He is our Father in heaven who delights in the prayers of His children. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!