Devotions

rosa rojaExpressing Our Love More Consistently

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God…” 1 John 4:7

There once was a comedian from Waukegan, Illinois named Jack Kublesky . We may better know him by his stage name, Jack Benny. When Jack was a young man, he was working in the same studio as a young lady he was attracted to. He thought she was beautiful, but he was too shy and embarrassed to ask her out. He couldn’t get up the courage or the nerve so he started sending a single, red rose to her desk every day.
Jack’s practice of sending the single, red rose continued for quite some time until finally, one day, the young lady asked the delivery man who had been sending her the roses. He informed her that it was “some guy named Jack” who worked in the same studio. After she sought out who he was, they began talking and Jack asked her out on a date. She thought that after they began dating the roses would stop. But they didn’t. They kept coming…a single, red rose every day.

Later they were engaged and she thought the roses would stop. But they didn’t. They even kept coming every day after the wedding! Each day a single, red rose would show up for Mrs. Benny.

This continued for five years, then ten years, and eventually lasted for several decades. Each day a single, red rose continued to show up. On the day Jack died a single, red rose was delivered to Mrs. Benny. Certainly, she thought, this would be the last. But it wasn’t. The deliveries continued until Mrs. Benny determined that it must have been some sort of error, and went to visit the florist to tell them that Jack had passed away. After making her request to stop the delivery of the single, red roses, the florist responded, “Mrs. Benny, you don’t understand. Jack made provision years ago to provide you a single, red rose every day that you are alive.”

May this story challenge us, with God’s help, to make provision to communicate our love to one another more consistently.

 

oso descansandoIdentifying Complacency

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“…I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked…” Revelation 3:16-17

The nice thing about complacency is that we don’t have to exert ourselves to show that we are sincere about it. However, the bad thing about complacency is everything else that it involves. We should be concerned about complacency creeping into our lives.

How do we recognize and diagnose complacency before it’s too late? The symptoms of complacency may vary but most frequently are manifested by things like: a decline in church attendance, a deficiency of concern for unbelievers, a lack of participation in things such as congregational singing, indifference to the needs of others, criticism of those around us - especially those who serve us, a failure to invest in the development of others and building for future generations.

When Christ rebuked the Laodicean church, it wasn’t for gross immorality or even doctrinal compromise. It was for complacency.
Complacency is a serious condition. It is a valid practice for any Christian to examine for the personal indicators of complacency that may be settling into their hearts. When identified, the issue of complacency is best addressed early on.

 

mentoringMentoring (A.K.A. discipleship)

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2

We are all limited in our ability to impact others. We simply cannot be all things to all men, nor can we be at all places at all times. However, with the Lord’s help, we can strategically determine whom we will influence given our limited reach. The activities and ministries of our church, however well-planned and organized, simply cannot replace the influential effects of bona fide relationships.

When Jesus engaged His three-year public ministry, He spent the lion’s share of His time developing twelve men. Perhaps the most striking phrase about the calling of Jesus’ disciples is the little phrase “with Him” (Mark 3:13).

This is where true mentorship takes place—in the context of people being together. Only as others view our lives in the ebb and flow of reality will we make the deepest impact in their lives.

The church should be a place where every individual is mentored (discipled), cared for, accounted for, and held accountable. Too many people slip through the proverbial cracks because the body of believers neglect to build real relationships with one another.

People have questions and they typically will make time to have their questions answered if somebody is willing to meet with them. Mentors must fill that void, standing in the gap, to make a difference in the lives of those around them. So instead of lamenting the “ones that get away,” why don’t we determine to invest in the lives of people that we just might have the chance of impacting for eternity?

 

orandoA Purpose & A Prayer

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“…I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap…” Ezekiel 22:30

1. L. Moody once said, “The longer I live the more I am convinced that godly men and women are not appreciated in our day. But their work will live after them, and there will be a greater work done after they are gone, by the influence of their lives, than when they were living.”

Where will we “stand in the gap” for God? What work will we be engaged in that will live past our sojourn here upon this earth? Often times what is accomplished through the life of the believer is far short of what God would have intended for His servant to achieve. This happens, quite frankly, because the average believer does not live his life on purpose for God.

The Bible instructs us in Psalm 37:4 that we are to “Delight” ourselves “in the LORD.” The word delight literally means “To pamper oneself in the habits of small things.” In other words, Psalm 37:4 instructs us to deliberately develop godly habits by indulging in the minute details of the things of God.

What are some small, but significant ways that we can purposely foster habits that will contribute to our labor and legacy? The list we could generate is most likely a long one but would certainly include things like: determining to walk with God on a daily basis, resting in God’s sovereign will for our lives, being content and thankful for what we have, demonstrating love and loyalty to our families, honoring our church body with steadfast faithfulness and solidarity, being personally engaged in evangelism and discipleship, and determining to DO what God has put in our hearts to do (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Therefore, with the aforementioned things in mind, may our prayer for the New Year be something like this: “Lord, I dedicate myself to You anew. Cleanse me and strengthen me. Guide me, guard me, and give me wisdom to navigate the challenges that will arise. Fill me with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Bear fruit that remains through me. Help me to trust You in, through, and for all things. Help me to rightly steward my time, my mind, my talents and gifts, my family, my money, and my part in helping build my church in view of standing in the gap for You today and giving account before You soon. In Jesus name, Amen.”

 

Boy Reading the holy bibleA Good Start…

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

It is the goal and desire of every Christian parent to raise children who will love them and, more importantly, love the Lord. This is no easy task and requires much prayer, grace, and deliberate effort.

In our desire to raise godly children we often study the Scriptures, look for principles, and seek the godly counsel of more seasoned parents. Doing these things is to be commended and encouraged. However, there is something else that dad and mom can do to help accomplish their goal of raising happy and well-adjusted children. It is something that is often overlooked in the search for principle and precept. That something else is for dad and mom to genuinely love each other. The starting place for a happy home and godly children is for dad to love mom, and for mom to love dad.

When the relationship between parents is good and filled with love, so many things are accomplished in the hearts of their children; they feel safe, secure, and have a sense of stability that cannot be established in any other way. Children desperately need to be taught right things and to be kept from evil, but they also need to see a loving and happy relationship between the people teaching them these things.

When dad cherishes mom and mom is honoring dad, the things they say will actually carry weight and credibility. When children can observe sincere apology, genuine forgiveness, selfless sacrifice, and true love in action, it is something they are much more likely to adopt for themselves. After all, the Biblical commands of Ephesians 5:22 and 25 do precede the command of Ephesians 6:1.

One of the greatest gifts that any dad can give to his son or daughter is to desperately love their mom. One of the greatest examples a mom can give to her son or daughter is to honor and respect their dad. Doing these things is a good start to training up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

 

calendar and clockA Fresh Start

Pastor Greg Wilt

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…” Hebrews 12:2

In our minds a new calendar year suggests a fresh start. But realistically, January 1 cannot obliterate the needs and burdens of the previous year. So, how can we practically renew our souls for the New Year? The answer is found in the text for our devotion - Look to the cross. There is no challenge in the Christian life that a look to the cross won’t give a fresh start to.

When we read the Gospel accounts of Christ’s crucifixion—His agony in the garden, His trial, the mocking, His scourging, His suffering, His separation from the Father, His ultimate sacrifice—we can always be renewed. In the unfolding drama of redemption we are reminded of His love, convicted of our selfishness, and re-energized by His grace.
Others may not know what challenges we are currently facing: discouragement, pride, a sinful stronghold, fleshliness, frustration, or weariness. However, if we want a fresh start on January 1, or any other day of the year, a look to the cross is a good place for it to begin.

 

virgen mariaThe Language of The Virgin Birth

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him” Luke 2:33

One of my favorite texts is Luke chapter two where Joseph and Mary take Jesus to the temple. They are met by Simeon, who cradles the Saviour in his arms and says, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29–32). What a wonderful moment in Scripture!

We can suppose that Joseph and Mary were amazed by Simeon’s response to meeting baby Jesus for the first time. In fact, the Bible goes on to say, “And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.” (Luke 2:33)
Interestingly Luke 2:33 is not only a record of Joseph and Mary’s response to the words that Simeon spoke, but a proof of the virgin birth and deity of Christ. Notice that this verse clearly expresses that “Joseph and his mother [Jesus’ mother, Mary] marvelled…” This simple statement demonstrates that Joseph was not Jesus’ father.

The use of a different word or phrase to describe Joseph as “Jesus’ father” or “His father” or “The child’s father” would only be a slight difference, but would absolutely weaken the doctrine of the virgin birth and, in the process, damage the deity of Christ by implying that Joseph was Jesus’ father.

The virgin birth is an important doctrine of our faith. Without a virgin born Saviour, we have no Saviour at all. Joseph was not “The child’s father” or “His father” or “Jesus’ father.”

The virgin birth is foundational to all that we believe. Therefore it is important that the language surrounding the virgin birth clearly communicate this truth.

 

praying hombreA Thanksgiving Day Activity for Family and Friends

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

There is no doubt that we can all be grateful to God for His many blessings. This year why not make some time on Thanksgiving Day to write down a list of things we are thankful for - as many things as we can in five minutes? Then, take turns sharing two of the items from our lists with family and friends around the table.

After the meal, before settling in front of the television to watch football, make another list. Only this time write down any trial or hardship we may be currently facing. Then, consider how we can thank God for the things on the “trial” list.

One of the things that separates the believer from the rest of the world is his ability to be thankful for trials. The world will typically observe hardship differently than with a spirit of gratitude. When the believer is able to be thankful despite his troubles, the world will see something different as well. That difference is Christ!

Begin to think about what we will write down on our lists in just a few days. What are we are thankful for? What trials are we facing?
As we enter in to the holiday season may our gratitude grow as we remember that we really can give thanks in every thing!

 

veterans 2A Uniquely American Gratitude

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” Psalm 68:19

On this special day of recognizing our veterans, it would be entirely appropriate for us to consider some reasons we can be thankful as Americans.
First of all, we can be thankful that we have the freedom to vote, to speak, to travel, and to live. We enjoy a level of freedom that people in repressed nations cannot even fathom.
We can also appreciate the fact that we pledge to a flag we can be proud of. The stars and stripes of Old Glory represent the courage, sacrifice, and patriotism of those who purchased our freedom.

Furthermore we can be obliged to have such a rich heritage of courage, faith, honor, and sacrifice. Not only do we have this heritage, but we have been raised in a nation that has taught us to be thankful for it.

We can be grateful that our government is branched for balance. Yes, it tips out of control at times, but our founding fathers had the wisdom to set three branches of government with checks and balances to encourage the government to serve and protect the people. We do not understand what it is to live under a harsh, repressive government.
Thank God Almighty that we are friends with Israel! In almost every administration, the United States has committed to stand as Israel’s ally. God promises to bless nations that bless Israel (Genesis 12:3).

We can be thankful that we have a strong military. We are grateful for those who stake their lives to secure our freedom as well as the freedoms of oppressed people groups around the world.
We can express our indebtedness for a culture that runs deep with Christian values. Not all of our founding fathers were born-again Christians, but many were. The strong Judeo-Christian heritage they set for us shaped our nation. Freedom, honesty, hard work, sacrifice, integrity, and generosity are still encouraged, and even applauded, in our present culture.

We can give thanks that we have liberty to worship and to witness. We not only can practice our faith, but we can freely share the Gospel with others as well.
We can be grateful that we enjoy such prosperity. Even in a lean economy, Americans have more than most people in the rest of the world. Even the poorest of us are considered wealthy in other countries.

God blesses America. Every area of thankfulness we have listed is a result of God’s blessing. Let us be thankful and pray that every American will perceive His favor.

 

gracias a DiosTwo is Greater Than Four

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

Unless we are completely mathematically challenged, the equation in the title of this devotion ought to trouble us. After all, even second graders understand that the number 4 is greater than the number 2. The label on this article is merely an attempt to help illustrate a profoundly simple principle about giving thanks.
When it comes to thankfulness, we tend to miscalculate in two ways. First, and most obviously, we simply are not as thankful as we should be. Call it what we will; entitlement, the “me first” syndrome, selfishness, or something else, but it just seems that there is an ingratitude pandemic in our present culture. Of course, there are variations of the gratitude disease. Some are carriers, some display all of the symptoms, and some are not infected by it at all.

However there is a second, more subtle error—the error of giving thanks for, without giving thanks to. Most of us are aware that the Bible emphasizes our responsibility to give thanks for all things, and that we are to give that thanks to God. A quick search will reveal that the Bible emphasizes thanks to God much more than it does thanks for stuff. Check it out sometime.

“Giving thanks” sometimes means little more than, “I’m really glad for what I have.” Or, “I’m really happy for what’s going on in my life.” We give thanks for our health, our family, our jobs, and our freedoms. The focus is all about for, sometimes without even a passing thought about to (as in, to whom the thanks belongs).
It’s as if we write beautifully crafted thank-you cards but forget to address them. Without attention to an intended recipient, the very purpose for giving thanks can become thwarted.

Giving thanks to God is much more valuable than giving thanks for what He does. To is greater than for.

 

abriendo BibliaWhat’s The Problem? You Be The Judge…

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God…” 1 Peter 4:17

We live in a time when hostility and intolerance toward Christian people is on the rise while, at the same time, the culture is unraveling. By and large, Christians themselves seem to be unconcerned—or at least unconcerned with what really matters.

Too many today are like the Christians that attended the church in Laodicea. We can read of how Jesus rebuked them in Revelation 3. It’s not that the Christians of that church were necessarily acting unrighteous, nor could it be said that they were behaving righteously. The problem was that they were exhibiting self-righteousness.

The city name Laodicea means “people’s rights.” Just like believers then, it seems as though Christians today are often more concerned with their rights or preferences than they are with what God thinks, wants, or feels. Do we not see a trend within our own ranks of worshiping work, working at play, and playing at worship? In many cases we are as those who Paul warned Timothy about, “…lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…” (2 Timothy 3:4).

To compound the problem, there is a lessening of doctrine. The church is supposed to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), but if Christians in the church are unwilling to hear and embrace sound doctrine over a watered down, feel-good message, they are neglecting a basic biblical responsibility. Timothy was warned of this as well in 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

Along with this phenomena is a lack of confrontational evangelism. The Gospel is not a friendly message. Jesus Himself said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword…” (Matthew 10:34). That does not mean that we have to be offensive in our presentation. However, part of the mission of the Christian soldier is to wield “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” (Ephesians 6:17). Swords are confrontational. Sadly, according to Barna Research, 48 percent of churchgoers say they have never even done something as non-confrontational as inviting someone to attend a service at their church!
So, what’s the problem? You be the judge.

 

pastorWhy I Love Being A Pastor

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“…If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” 1 Timothy 3:1

I read somewhere that October is “Pastor Appreciation Month.” I know this is not what people probably had in mind when they invented this special recognition, but it got me thinking on what I appreciate about being a pastor.

Unfortunately, it’s not difficult to find people who poormouth being in the ministry. I am not one of them. I think myself blessed to have been enabled to fulfill God’s call on my life for over twenty-four years with my precious wife and family by my side.
Why do I love being a pastor? There is not enough room on this bulletin to list each reason nor will this list be in any specific order, but for starters, I get to stand behind the sacred desk multiple times each week to break and share the Bread of Life. What an honor it is to “Feed the flock of God…” (1 Peter 5:2)! Every day, I get to study God’s Word and prepare messages for a church family who is responsive to God’s leadership through the pulpit. From my perspective, I get a front row seat in seeing the eternal Word of God transform lives.

In addition to that great privilege, I get to invest in and labor alongside people who love God and are serving Him. I love being part of a team that is on the winning side sharpening, equipping, and influencing this generation as well as the next!

Last, but not least, I get to shepherd people. Someone once asked me what I liked most about being a pastor and I told them “it’s the people.” What a distinction it is to be able to, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15). I do not possess a great deal of talent, intelligence, or ability. However, I have found that I can love people.
Yes, I love being a pastor.

 

steer wheelGod Steers Moving Vessels

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14

A ship that has propulsion is more likely to be directed on a proper course than one that is without. A vessel that is “dead in the water” is at the mercy of prevailing winds, currents, or both. In like fashion, the Christian who is doing nothing for God and mistaking the currents and prevailing winds of circumstance for being under weigh, is most likely not being led of the Lord. God steers those who have present momentum in His work and are laboring right where they are.

The idea that God steers moving vessels can be examined throughout Scripture. One example of this can be seen in the ordination of Paul and Barnabas when the Bible states it was “As they ministered” (Acts 13:2) that God changed their course.

Jesus taught the concept that God steers moving vessels. It is found in Luke 16:10 when it is recorded that He said, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” It is presumptuous for the believer to think that God will lead them to do some other thing, perhaps in some other place, when they are not doing anything for Him where they are.

Some may argue that, at times, we need to “wait on the LORD” to receive direction, and that is true. However, to wait does not mean to do nothing. It means to be serving, like a “waiter” at a restaurant. In this we see that even what the Bible teaches about waiting on the Lord carries with it the idea that God steers moving vessels - vessels that are content to serve right where they are.

Hebrews 10:39 says, “…we are not of them who draw back…” So, as the children of God, let us be of a mind to let out our sails in service to Him while we endeavor to be led by the Spirit of God.

 

reading the Bible in a groupThe Central Figure of the Local Church

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“…The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:47

The “infancy period” of the local church is fascinating to read about in the book of Acts. In just a few years’ time, local churches of saved, baptized believers were established in dozens of cities throughout the Mediterranean region.

They had no steeples or stained glass, no buildings, no organized Sunday school, no programs or media advertising. There were no gospel tracts or study books available for use. Their only “Bible” was the first five books of the Old Testament and a few letters passed from congregation to congregation via messenger.

In spite of their lack of many tools that churches enjoy today, notice what our text said happened, “…The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” To say something magnificent happened for the cause of Christ in the early churches is an understatement. It was a miracle.

The local assembly of believers did not have all of the “stuff” we are accustomed to having today yet they did have the power of God at work in their lives and in their church. Quite simply it was due to the fact that they kept Christ as the central figure of their church.
The disturbing trends we see in many churches today seem to indicate that they want to present themselves more and more like the world and the culture, the same world and culture that Jesus came to save people out of. We can certainly draw a crowd by putting on a good show but that is not what a Biblical church is supposed to be about.

The measurement of a church is not the size of the crowd, or its buildings, or its offerings. The true measurement of a church is found in its likeness to Christ.

 

praying handsEngaging Our Culture

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.” Acts 17:16

None of us live in a vacuum. We live “in this present world” and have been commissioned by God to declare the gospel in it. However, we have lost the culture and live in a post-Christian era. As a result, there are two extremes that Christians tend toward: embracing the culture to the point that the truth is swallowed up in it, or becoming fatalistic and doing nothing at all.

The Apostle Paul did neither, and it is especially noticeable in Acts 17 as he visited Athens. Sometimes we may not understand the godlessness of these first-century cities, so we lose the impact of what it must have been like when Paul engaged the people of Athens. Paul’s goal was not to reclaim the culture; it was to claim souls for Christ. Through his testimony, we see how the people of God should engage a corrupt culture.

Athens not only aroused Paul’s interest; it stirred his heart. He wasn’t stirred by their art, philosophy, or architecture; he was stirred by their need for Christ. Perhaps we fail to engage because we become enamored by the culture and have forgotten the eternal realities of Heaven and Hell.

Paul went to the heart of the Athenian culture and confronted pagan beliefs with gospel truth. He reasoned with them of Christ everywhere he went and in every opportunity that presented itself. Paul stood in the very center of this corrupt culture and preached—not acceptance, kindness, virtue, or a better lifestyle—but Christ.

It is important to note that Paul did reference an Athenian poet to help them understand the gospel message (Acts 17:28). He wasn’t afraid of their culture but his goal was not to show them that he identified with it; it was to help them understand the gospel message. Our goal should not be to prove we are culturally-relevant; it should be to proclaim the relevance of Christ in our culture.

Paul’s gracious, even conciliatory, way in Acts 17 is evident. However, make no mistake, he wasn’t there to get a city to like him; he was there to introduce them to Christ.
Like Paul, we can reach our culture for Christ without compromise. But we must engage in it.

 

walk w grandCarpe Diem

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord…” Romans 14:6

“Carpe diem” is a Latin aphorism, usually translated "seize the day", taken from book 1 of the Roman poet Horace's work, The Odes (23 BC).
It is easy to forget to pause long enough to embrace the moment in which we are living. This problem may be due to personality trait, culture, overloaded calendars, or even perhaps a lack of gratitude and contentment for what God is doing in the present. Whatever the reason, we are so often focused on the next thing that we fail to appreciate the company of God or those with us in the moment.

Moments are lost when we fail to seize them. When we become so hurried in our spirit that we approach our daily time with the Lord with a sense of rush, we miss out on hearing from God through His Word and developing a meaningful prayer life. When our homes become like truck stops where each member of the family brakes only long enough to eat and sleep we miss out on looking our loved ones in the eye, listening to what they have to say, and sensing their needs, wants, desires, and hurts. When we do not seize the moment, work can merely become about a project without remembering the people involved.

Whether in an area of ministry, or in a secular environment, the people we work with have hopes, needs, and goals. We must take time to see people and not just tasks that need to be accomplished. Sometimes we get so busy that we forget that the people we interact with have an eternal soul. We rush through an encounter with a store clerk or gas station attendant forgetting to so much as hand them a gospel tract. Often, we are so preoccupied that we do not recognize the Holy Spirit’s leading in moments He would have given us to share the gospel.

Each moment God gives us is a gift. Seize it to love Him, to love others, and to invest in those He places in our path.

 

three tear fountain2Filled With The Spirit

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” John 4:14

Picture a multi-tiered fountain and imagine that our lives are like that fountain with each of the levels representing our priorities. Let the top pool of this fountain represent our walk with God. When the top bowl gets full of water, it will naturally overflow into the next bowls; our spouse, our family, our work, our ministry, our friends, our recreation and so on. When we set our priorities they must always begin with our walk with God. If they do not, none of the other parts of our lives get filled properly and things can get stagnant.

Living inside every Christian, is the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). Being “filled with the Spirit” has nothing to do with how much of that Spirit we possess but has everything to do with how much that Spirit possesses in us. Our first priority must be our walk with God so that the Spirit will be able to properly overflow into the other the other areas of our lives that were mentioned before. Ephesians 5:18 shows us what that looks like: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” The moment someone places themselves under the influence of alcohol, it begins to make its presence known in other areas of that person’s life. Likewise, the filling of the Holy Spirit of God overflows into the other parts of our lives.

If the top of our fountain is not being filled properly, we will feel empty and unfulfilled in our souls and we will begin to have a sense of lethargy, sluggishness, and apathy in many other areas of our lives. The only way to keep this from happening is to focus on that top tier, seeking first the things of God and His glory (Matthew 6:33)!

 

Stock PhotoThe Foundation of Our American Freedom

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34

One of the primary reasons that the colonists left England was to relocate in a place that allowed the freedom to practice faith freely. In order to establish a new government that would allow religious liberty, the United States would need to put a policy in place that would never make it possible for the government to restrict its citizens from this God-given right.

As the states debated the issues in the Constitution, many representatives communicated that they would never agree to ratify a document that did not provide language that reminded the government that it could not infringe on the rights of the citizens. These statesmen came to an agreement when the amendments to the Constitution were added. In the very first amendment, they penned: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

It is important to note that the first amendment was intended to limit government, not U. S. citizens. It is also important to note that while the first amendment lists a few of our God given rights, it, by no means, was intended by our founders to number them all.
Our forefathers could never have imagined that the freedoms they fought to hold and protect would foster such immorality in America. Our second president John Adams said, “It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.” Because of the importance of morality upon a nation’s legal outlook, it is vital to fight for and pass along these Biblical values to the next generation.

 

ReadingThe Benefits of Reading

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“…Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Ecclesiastes 12:12

We ought to make good books a part of our daily routine. However, it is easy to get overloaded with the information in those books and lose heart in reading.
Reading that is directed at making us more spiritually, personally, and professionally competent over the course of our lives is of great value. Our habit of reading should start with our own personal Bible reading, a daily time in which we allow the Lord to challenge and inspire; a time to reflect on where we are in our own walk with the Lord. The Word of God should be the primary source that governs our thinking, informs our opinion, and directs our steps. Keeping God’s Word at the forefront will serve as a filter for everything else we read and keep us from becoming weary with information or developing an obscure world view.

Reading good books on subjects that challenge our thinking and cause us to grow is also important. There are dozens of books, both secular and Christian, which will help us greatly in life. For example, there is a book written by a Harvard professor who has studied the impact of how a person’s attitude and spirit impact and influence their success in life. By reading the book it is unclear whether the author is a Christian or not, but his research has led him to understand a host of principles (which happen to be Biblical) and articulates them in a way that provides a rich resource of illustration and application that challenges the reader to face life with greater integrity and joy.

If we have fallen out of the habit of reading or find ourselves needing to grow in that area of life, begin reading today. We must keep the Bible as our primary source of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. In addition to that, we can set out to read a book or two every few months as a discipline that holds the potential to greatly benefit and sharpen us.

 

dad and kids reading bibleNon-Toxic Masculinity

Pastor Greg Wilt

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity.” I Corinthians 16:13-14

General George S. Mallory once asked Major George C. Marshall what advice he would give a young officer going off to war. I think it is good advice for any man to adapt to his personal situation as he develops or refines his personal code of conduct. Below is an excerpt from the single page letter that Major Marshall drafted in response to General Mallory’s inquiry.

“To be a highly successful leader in war four things are essential, assuming that you possess good common sense, have studied your profession and are physically strong.
When conditions are difficult, the command is depressed and everyone seems critical and pessimistic, you must be especially cheerful and optimistic.

When evening comes and all are exhausted, hungry and possibly dispirited, particularly in unfavorable weather at the end of a march or in battle, you must put aside any thought of personal fatigue and display marked energy in looking after the comfort of your organization, inspecting your lines and preparing for tomorrow.

Make a point of extreme loyalty, in thought and deed, to your chiefs personally; and in your efforts to carry out their plans or policies, the less you approve the more energy you must direct to their accomplishment.
The more alarming and disquieting the reports received or the conditions viewed in battle, the more determined must be your attitude. Never ask for the relief of your unit and never hesitate to attack.

I am certain in the belief that the average man who scrupulously follows this course of action is bound to win great success…”

God help us to be men of God marked by indomitable optimism, selflessness, tirelessness, preparedness, loyalty, and courage!

 

ten commanmentsThe Key To Knowledge

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” Luke 11:52

The Ten Commandments are foundational statutes of God’s Law found in the Old Testament. These edicts are the key of knowledge to understanding why we need Jesus.
Galatians 3:24-25 states, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” In like fashion, the Law is the key that gives access to salvation through the Door, Jesus Christ (John 10:9). Once access has been granted, the key has served its purpose.

By their false interpretation of the Old Testament Law these “experts” of the Law whom Jesus was addressing in Luke 11:52 had taken away God’s intended purpose for the Law and hindered everyone else from understanding God’s purpose in the Law.

If there is any sin of special magnitude, it is that of keeping others in ignorance concerning the purpose of God’s Law; and few people are so guilty as they who by false instructions (namely man-made religion) prevent others from understanding the purpose of the Law.

Everyone is missing eternal life and righteousness when they are born. It is a spiritual birth defect inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve (Romans 5:12) and is evidenced by the fact that everyone has broken God’s Commandments (Romans 3:23, James 2:10). Therefore, let it be plainly stated that the purpose of the Law is to open our understanding that we are missing eternal life and righteousness and that we have need of a Saviour.

 

evangelismA Key to Effective Witnessing

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.” John 4:7

Building relationships is a dying art in our culture. Text messaging and social media are the preferred methods of communication even when the individuals engaged in electronic conversation are sitting two feet apart from one another! “Friends” are made by clicking a button on a website hoping that the other person reciprocates the request. Despite all of our technological advances, we are becoming more and more isolated.

In addition to this social phenomena we sometimes behave introvert, having no pressing desire to talk or interact with others unless it’s necessary. Needless to say, if we allow the current trends of isolationism to influence us too strongly or follow our natural tendencies too frequently, it will limit the impact that God wants our lives to have on others. Imagine if Jesus had been an introvert. What if He didn’t go out in public because He didn’t want to be bothered? What if He avoided eye contact with others so He wouldn’t have to speak to them?

Jesus was a relational person. He was always seeking others to introduce Himself to. If we hope to be obedient, effective witnesses we will need to be relational as well. We cannot hope to make a difference if we are not willing to develop relationships with people.
While Jesus spoke to multitudes, He changed lives one-on-one. The woman Jesus met at the well is a perfect example. He spent time with her developing a relationship and sharing the truth. Are there people that we need to introduce to Jesus? It begins with developing a relationship. It is important to note that it is possible to give the truth of the gospel to strangers. However, we place ourselves at a greater advantage with those whom we take the time to get to know.

Don’t be afraid to reach out! It may seem awkward at first but, in the end, the investment we make in others for the cause of Christ will be well worth it!

 

memrial dayThings to Remember on Memorial Day

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“…these stones shall be for a memorial…” Joshua 4:7

America was founded by men and women who believed in God, many of which identified themselves by the Christian faith. Furthermore, America was founded on the acknowledgment of God, His written Word, and the Lord Jesus Christ as the means by which a civil society could function and exist. Today, many Americans are attempting to forget God. Some are trying to rewrite history. As Christian Americans let us be careful to remember some things this Memorial Day.

REMEMBER VALUES. It is a fact that our Nation is far from perfect and that there are gross inconsistencies in how we have practiced the values that this Country was founded on. But we believe in values. So much so that we have been willing to go to war to protect them for ourselves as well as for others around the world.

REMEMBER COURAGE. 1.3 million Americans have given their lives for the cause of freedom and are heroes for their courage. They didn’t fight because a dictator forced them to advance his regime. They didn’t fight for utopian ideals. They gave their lives for the God-given right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That takes courage.

REMEMBER LIVES. Life is a precious gift from God, and to lay it down in the defense of others is an unspeakable benefaction. Remembering these lives with profound gratitude is the very essence of Memorial Day.

REMEMBER GOD. Freedom is a God-given right. Our American Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” Let us not forget to “Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.”

 

mama e hijoMother’s Day

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” Proverbs 14:1

As we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, our hearts and minds are filled with wonderful thoughts and memories of our own mothers. The Bible is filled with examples of great mothers: Hannah, Elisabeth, Mary, the Shunamite woman, Eunice and Jochebed.
Emerson once said, “Men are what their mothers make them.” Abraham Lincoln stated, “No one is poor who had a godly mother.” What a difference the right kind of a mother can make in a home, in a church, and in a nation! This world would never have known the ministries of Hudson Taylor, John Wesley, and Charles Wesley except they had godly, praying mothers.

We thankful for the prayers, instruction, and correction of our mothers. Moms teach their children by example and exhortation. They invest their time and effort in seeking to produce godly children. An old proverb says, “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.”

What power each mother has in the lives of her children! Each and every mother should take care to wield her influence properly being careful in both word, action, attitude, and amusement walking daily with the Lord in His Word and in prayer.

Mother’s, we will not notice everything that you do for us, and sometimes we will forget to thank you. However, one day you will receive your true reward. Until then please accept the meager expressions of our thanks and appreciation through flowers, candy, and cards.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

fake 2Fake News

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“These… things doth the LORD hate… a lying tongue… feet that be swift in running to mischief… and he that soweth discord…” Proverbs 6:16-19

Two of the greatest preachers that ever lived pastored in London at the same time, Charles Spurgeon and Joseph Parker. One day, Parker commented on the poor condition of children admitted to Spurgeon’s orphanage. It was relayed to Spurgeon however, that Parker had criticized the orphanage itself. Spurgeon blasted Parker the next week from the pulpit and, as a result, the story was printed in the newspapers making it the talk of the town.

People flocked to Parker’s church the next Sunday looking for a scandal and a fight. However, all they got to witness was Joseph Parker confronting the situation in meekness and humility. Parker stood before the thronged congregation and said, “I understand Dr. Spurgeon is not in his pulpit today, and this is the Sunday they usually take an offering for their orphanage. I suggest we take a love offering for the orphanage here instead.” Before it was over, the ushers had to empty the offering plates three times. Parker’s unostentatious handling of this situation resulted in the Lord Jesus Christ being glorified, the orphans getting fed, the critics being silenced, and the reconciliation of two preachers.
The sin nature loves a good scandal. Newspapers, magazines, radio programming, TV news, internet sources, and social media outlets are all filled with hyper-inflated fake news stories just like when there was this supposed fighting between Spurgeon and Parker. There’s never a lack of audience when the headlines are juicy and one could easily fill a coliseum with busybodies when a messy character assassination is about to take place. All too often there are “feet that be swift in running to mischief…”

Joseph Parker in no way suggested that the poor condition of the children was the fault of Spurgeon’s orphanage, yet, that was how it was reported. So, in a world where “Enquiring minds want to know” we must be wise to the fact that there are those who love to sow discord – false witnesses that live, and love, to speak lies. We must be discerning and remember that not everything we see, hear, or read (outside of God’s Word) is true.

 

rersucitó 2We Serve a Risen Saviour

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“… Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And… he was buried, and… he rose again the third day… he was seen of Cephas… After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once… After that, he was seen of James.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-7

The songwriter echoed the words of those who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Saviour, “I serve a risen Saviour, He’s in the world today, and I know that He is living whatever men may say… He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart. You ask me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart.”

Some say that all the major religions of the world basically say the same thing. However, Jesus declared “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” We can either take the words of One who lived a perfect, sinless life, who healed the sick, and raised the dead or we can believe the word of sinful, fallen, and fallible man. Consider the credentials of both sides and then decide who to believe.
The Lord Jesus Christ is, “the resurrection and the life,” (John 11:25). Jesus Christ conquered death, Hell, and the grave because He is “the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).

Though God-manifest-in-the-flesh was crucified and buried, on the third day He rose from the grave. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that will raise the believer from the dead: “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live…” (John 11:25)

Can you imagine the level of zeal and commitment unto death the disciples would have to have had in order to die for a hoax? Had they stolen Christ’s body away, as some would have us to believe, they, of all people, would have known they were representing a lie. Yet, because they had seen the resurrected Saviour firsthand, they gave themselves and all they had to proclaim this message of truth and hope.

Because He lives, we can face whatever He allows to come our way. By grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are more than conquerors. We serve a risen Saviour!

 

jesus amorAccepting God’s Love

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

We have all met people who think God is angry with them and blame God for a lot of things that aren’t His fault. Things like sin and death. Sin and death didn’t originate with God. He created the world without sin and death in it. In fact, God sent His Son, Jesus, to save us from sin and to destroy death. People who think God is angry with them simply do not understand the God of the Bible and the depths of His love.

Every one of us is ignorant from birth and lack knowledge and understanding concerning God. Ignorance by itself is not a sin, but ignorance of God and His truth can quickly result in sin. The amazing thing is that, despite our ignorance and sin, God is not mad at us and does not hate us. He cares for us! He sent His Son, not to condemn us, but to save us: “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” We see evidence in God’s Word that this is true because of what Jesus did during His earthly ministry. He reached out to everyone; the rich and the poor, the weak and the powerful, the sick and the healthy, the moral and immoral.

The focus of Jesus’ life was His death and resurrection. He said, “Because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19). The good news are that our Saviour rose from the dead and lives today. Because of that, we don’t have to live with feelings of condemnation or guilt.
We have been completely forgiven of every sin we have ever committed—past, present, and future. All that is left to do is to take God at His Word and accept His gift of love.

 

salvavidasWhat Do People Really Need in a Church?

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“…seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick…” Ezekiel 34:16

Church members are much like David’s mighty men who, according to 1 Samuel 22, were “…in distress… in debt, and… discontented…” The people who visit a church are much like its members, hurting people. Mark 2 records that Jesus Himself explained why this is true. He said, “They that are whole have no need of the physician...” We should keep this in mind as we determine how we are going to minister to those who attend our services.

I recently read the blog of a Christian millennial who lost her husband to cancer just this past Valentine’s Day. This is some of what she wrote… “I had the most difficult task of telling my children that their dad was not going to make it and the next day the doctor’s declared him dead… As I lay listening to my daughter sob uncontrollably I am not thinking about how trendy my church is… I don’t care about the graphics or the props… I am hurting in a way that almost indescribable. When I go to church I desperately want to hear the Word of God… A coffee bar in the lobby isn’t filling me up. A concert like setting is not providing healing. A trendsetting church is not what I need. I need Jesus… And a couch on the platform is not providing answers.”

As we determine how we are going to “attract” people to the church we must keep in mind that they are hurting people. People whose future may be frightening, whose marriages may be crumbling, whose health may be failing, whose finances may be deteriorating, whose children may be rebelling, or whose spouse may have just slipped into eternity after a brutal fight with cancer. Hurt and broken people could care less about the flavor of the coffee and stage lighting. They don’t need graphics and gimmicks to get them pumped up. They, like us, need to see how Christ can change a person’s life, how the Word of God can be applied, how a broken heart can be restored, or that, despite our perception of needing nothing, we, in fact, do not “have it all.”

 

music sheetSunday Should Sound Different

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:16

Music permeates our life. We hear it at the store, in the restaurant, or watching our favorite show. Since we have been so saturated by music everywhere else, the power and effect of godly music can lose its potency and, if we are not careful, could have the potential of tainting our worship as a church. Therefore, we must make a conscious effort to remain individually engaged in the music and song service when we assemble. Something dynamically special happens when the church comes together and sings.

When we gather, we are gathering as the body of Christ. We are not coming together around a political cause, an economic agenda, or shared social interests. We are assembling with others who have come to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing like it on earth when God’s people unify in His name to express their love, passion, and praise through music.

Our song is the story of our salvation. Each of us has a unique testimony that led us to the same place, Calvary, and that is something to sing about! Fanny J. Crosby said it best when she penned the words to the chorus of that great hymn of the faith Blessed Assurance: “This is my story, this is my song.”

The church must be careful to remember that worship through music is not the responsibility of the musicians. Those who lead singing, play an instrument, or sing special music are not entertainers but rather ushers who seek to open the worshippers’ heart, giving God access to their conscience.

The music heard in our church should be unlike anything else heard around the world. May we follow the admonition of the psalmist when he wrote, “Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of the saints.” (Psalm 149:1)

 

readinessLiving a “Ready” Life

Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13

The verse above speaks of the need for Christians to be ready. Ready to live the authentic Christian life by being the salt and light that God intended for us to be in the world. Ready in all things that pertain to gracious Christian living while watching and waiting for the Lord to return.

How does the Christian live ready and remain focused in a world that is quickly moving away from God?

First of all, we must maintain a consistent daily walk with God. It is impossible for a Christian to stay focused on what is important to God apart from taking time each day to commune with Him in His Word and through prayer. Developing this habit is the very foundation of living a ready life.

Secondly, we must be faithful in our attendance to church. God designed church for believers to develop in the faith. A Christian who weighs the Word of God properly in their life will be of the biblical mindset to connect with God and be in their place when the body of believers assembles. Church is where many have experienced conviction of sin, the convincing of a need, and cry out to God for help. Church is the place where some of life’s most important decisions are made. Church is often where the closest relationships are developed. To live a ready life, be faithful to attend and be engaged in the ministry of the local church.

Lastly, we must be faithful witnesses for Christ. No matter where our day may take us, it is most likely that we will meet and be engaged with people who are unsaved—sinners in need of a friend and in need of a message that can eternally alter their destiny. In 1 Peter 3:15 the Bible speaks of being ready “to give an answer to every man that asketh” us “a reason of the hope that is in” us.

Are we living a ready life? If not, we can immediately begin to apply the above truths so that we can be ready for the imminent return of Christ.

 

loving handsLove

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“…we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children” 1 Thessalonians 2:7

When we are injured, we really don’t want someone inflicting unnecessary pain to the area that is hurting. We need something that will palliate and allow healing to take place. Love persuades the injured soul to receive the antiseptic properties of truth. God intended that truth and love be combined because together they provide the greatest amalgamation to bring about healing. Love without truth is a placebo, and truth without love is a heartless practitioner.

In John chapter eight, a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery was brought to Jesus by the scribes and the Pharisees. There was no doubt of her guilt, and her accusers were armed to the teeth with truth. She trembled at their demands for justice. Under the Law she should be stoned to death. The band of prosecutors thought they could force Jesus to choose between truth and love. He confounded them and chose both.
Jesus knew the truth. However, the Lord was equipped with something that the stone-throwers were void of, love. The woman went away changed that day because she was touched by both Truth and Love.

We must remember that how we approach people with the truth may very well determine whether they will receive it. The same scalpel that is used to perform a life-saving surgery, if placed in the wrong hands, can cause grave damage. God’s intended purpose for truth is to make people free—not destroy them (John 8:32).

This is not a call to compromise our stand on truth. It is a reminder that we should examine the spirit in which we deal with hurting souls making sure that the truth is being administered in love.

 

shinning handsA Shining Christian

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“…shine as lights in the world…” Philippians 2:15

Everyone appreciates light. It does not matter how small it may be. If it is shining, it can lead us out of darkness.

In several passages of Scripture, the Bible reminds us that God desires His children to shine in this present world! Philippians 2:14–16 is one example. As Christ-followers we would agree on the importance of letting our light shine. But it is sad how many Christians have let their light dim. Let us consider two practical principles from Philippians 2:14-16 to help keep our lives shining.

First, in verse fourteen we see that we must stop complaining to be shining Christians. It says, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” If anyone had reason to complain it was the Apostle Paul. He was in prison when he wrote the book of Philippians. His crime? Faithfully preaching the Gospel of Christ. Despite this hardship Paul selflessly instructs that if we are to shine, then we need to stop complaining.

Second, according to verse fifteen we are challenged to be “blameless and harmless.” Blameless is being free from fault. As a Christian, It is not possible to live our lives without sin so long as we’re wrapped in mortal flesh. However, the Bible clearly teaches that while we are alive we must strive to live our life without the dimming effects of sin.

All of the darkness in this world cannot extinguish one light. The fact is, we may be the only reflection of the True Light that our families, neighborhoods, workplaces, or community have. Therefore, we must let our light shine. One light can expel a lot of darkness so long as it is shining. This changing world desperately needs us to be shining Christians. So, with the enablement that we have been given access to through Jesus Christ, let us brighten the corner where we are!

 

Best Internet Concept of global business from concepts seriesThe Gifts That Keep on Giving

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“… Forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” 1 Corinthians 14:12

The Bible teaches that there are diverse gifts given to those who profess the Lord Jesus Christ as their only hope of a relationship with God in time and eternity. Not only do these gifts vary, but the way in which they are administered and operated can be different. That is where our God given personalities and the church body in which God has placed us become a consideration. Regardless of the gifts we individually possess, God intends for them to be gifts that keep on giving. The word translated “edifying” in 1 Corinthians 14:12 literally means “to build.” Therefore, the gifts, the way that they work out through our unique personalities, and how they fit into the direction of our church should bring glory to God, build the church, and benefit the community. We should excel in the use our gifts!

Regardless of the size of a church, when a city remains relatively unaware of the church’s presence among them, it is an indication that the church has not yet become effective as salt and light in its community. That is when the individuals that make up the local assembly must consider the way God intends for the church to grow and collectively steer toward the use of their individual gifts to be personally invested in and collaboratively involved with influencing the community around them. This process includes an intense approach to gift identification and utilization; witnessing and sharing the Gospel; mentoring and discipleship. The result will be a church that is making a real difference in the lives of the people in their community through involvement in things like community projects, volunteer programs, and many other creative outreaches that do not compromise their personal testimony, the direction of their church, or the autonomy of the local assembly.

May God give us a renewed awareness to the use of our gifts in being more actively, purposefully, and visibly involved in people’s lives for the glory of God, the growth of Liberty Lake Baptist Church, and the good of our community!

 

reapingSowing, Weeping, Reaping, and Rejoicing.

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6

The truths of Psalm 126:5–6 are touching. They stir us emotionally as we contemplate the context of the words that God chose to use in this verse like tears, weeping, joy, and rejoicing. However, and more importantly, they stir our conscience and the Spirit of God Who indwells us to be active in the harvest fields of the Lord.

Many have, throughout their lives, sung songs like, “Bringing in the Sheaves.” No doubt every believer who walks with God desires to be a part of God’s harvest. Everyone wants to be a part of the bringing in. However, there are some things to consider before we can reap the rewards of the harvest.

For example, there is a price that must be paid in preparation through prayer and weeping. We ought to shed some tears over the lost; lost fathers and mothers, lost husbands and wives, lost sons and daughters, lost family members and friends, lost co-workers and acquaintances, lost neighbors and even strangers. Our Lord Jesus suffered a horrible death on the cross. Surely we can shed some tears about that. Perhaps we see so little of the harvest because there is so little time spent compassionately petitioning God about souls that are headed to a literal, eternal, Godless Hell.
In addition to prayer and weeping, there must also be the sowing of seed. The seed is God’s Word. There is life and power in the seed. We must sow and spread it. Being a witness and sharing the Gospel must become who we are not just what we do. It must become part of our daily lives. We must broadcast the truth.

As we go, weep, and sow, we will reap. Not everyone will listen, not everyone will believe, and not everyone will profess Christ as their only hope of eternal salvation. However, even if only one does, it will be worth a lifetime of resources and effort.

Participate daily in the life-changing, life-saving efforts of the church. Take the opportunities we encounter throughout our normal routines and get involved in the lives of the people around us. Then, as we sow, weep, and reap, be prepared to rejoice in the rewards of God’s harvest!

 

cryingWhat a Mess!

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works…” Matthew 5:16

America is in a mess. For the first time in our history there are more unmarried households than married. Divorce is the new normal and scores of children are being raised in single parent homes without the guidance and direction of either a father or a mother.
To make matters worse, there are problems among the Christian community. Christian people seem to be dealing with the same issues as the unsaved world. Divorce is rampant, immorality flourishes, low choices in entertainment abound, and credibility has been destroyed.

Some Christians are either afraid, ashamed, or just refuse to take a stand for right for fear of reprisal from their church or the community in which they live and serve. Others are nothing more than hypocrites, children of the King acting like children of the devil.
When we think of the mess we are dealing with, we are reminded of the book of 1 Samuel where, in the first several chapters, we see dark moments in the nation of Israel. The spiritual leaders’ conduct was so unbecoming that, “Men abhorred the offering of the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:17). As a result God said that He was going to bring judgment on the house of Eli. The prophecy was fulfilled in a battle with the Philistines. Eli’s sons were killed in battle, and then Eli died when he received word that the Ark of the Covenant had been taken. Despite this mess, God was at work. In the midst of the darkness there was light that eventually brought the nation back to God.

In some respects, we are in similar circumstances. We are living in dark hours morally, spiritually, politically, and economically. But In spite of the darkness, there is light—the light of truth found in the Word of God.

We should be careful to not be fatalistic in our approach to the mess we find ourselves in. It is not time to sit back and wait for Christ to return supposing that all things must run their course. God has chosen us as vessels to do the work and His eminent return should motivate us to live righteous and holy lives. God can move again in this nation before Christ’s return.

We are either going to be part of the solution or part of the problem. By God’s grace, let’s be a part of the solution!

 

worksGreater Works Than These

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“…He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do…” John 14:12

This is one of the most startling promises in all of Scripture. The reason Jesus gives for these “greater works” is because He would soon be leaving this earth to be with the Father. In this passage Jesus also promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to reside in the heart of the believer.

Some may read this passage and think that the ordinary believer is somehow capable of actually doing greater works than God did when He was here in the flesh. But what is really being communicated is that the risen LORD, Who dwells in us by means of the Spirit, will do greater works through us than He did when He was on the earth.
What are these works? Obviously they can't be greater miracles. Can we think of anything greater than raising the dead? The only answer that makes sense is that these “greater works” must be works that are of greater significance and importance.

It is interesting to note when we read the account of Jesus' earthly ministry how the crowds followed Him when He made the blind to see, the lame to walk, and the dead to rise. Entire cities would turn out to hear His message, yet when we come to the end of His life, where are all the crowds? Only a handful stood at the foot of the cross. His miracles did not change people’s hearts, they merely touched the surface of their lives.
In contrast, notice those whom Jesus touched spiritually, namely the disciples. They went on to accomplish great works like preaching with such power that converts were added to the church by the thousands. When their testing came, these men and women were willing to be stoned to death, boiled in hot oil, face the lions, or crucified rather than to deny Christ.

These are greater works. They are spiritual accomplishments rather than physical. Spiritual work done in the heart of a person is of eternal significance; that which is done to the flesh is temporary. That is what Jesus meant by “greater works.” Let us do our part to fulfill this prophecy in our generation.

 

hopeHope for the Hopeless

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee” Psalms 39:7

As Christians, our focus should not be on the many negatives that this broken world offers. The psalmist aptly states, “And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee” (Psalms 39:7).
As Americans, we are known for our debt driven society. However, the greatest debt we have is to God who offers us spiritual life despite our just deserts of eternal separation from Him for our sin. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We can rest on His promise and place our hope in His payment for our sin.

The foundation of the American family is crumbling. A sense of community and of being a good neighbor is largely absent in our post-modern, self-absorbed society. Yet, when all others forsake us, we can rest on the promise of His presence. Hebrews 13:5 promises, “For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Families may split up and friendships can fade and even become hostile. Yet the one constant we can always hope in is the presence of God.

Our culture has created an illusion of what can be attained personally. The fact is, we will never be thin enough, tan enough, funny enough, rich enough, attractive enough, stylish enough, or worth enough in the eyes of this world. Following the trends of this world will not lead to contentment or peace. We will always come a little shy of the elusive happiness that is promised so convincingly by our secular world. However, there is an alternative. God loves us with all of our flaws, faults, and failures. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He cares enough about us to offer a plan for our life that will make us complete. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). Following the plan that God has for our lives will not always be easy, but contentment, peace, fulfillment, and purpose will be the end result if we do.

This Christmas, and in the coming New Year, let’s reflect on where our hope should be placed.

 

baby JesusHe’s Still Here

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23

Christmas is the time of year when we focus on the advent of our Messiah. God became flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ. Christmas is that time when Christ came to visit us, and we are eternally grateful that He did. Matthew begins his Gospel account by reminding us that Jesus is “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

But if the Gospel of Matthew begins with a heavenly announcement from the angel of the Lord (Matthew 1:20), let us never forget that the Gospel ends the same way (Matthew 28:2). And the same Gospel that begins with the wise men rejoicing over the star in the sky (Matthew 2:10) ends with the women rejoicing over the emptiness of the tomb (Matthew 28:8). And while it is true that Christmas is that time when Christ came to earth, let us never forget that Matthew ends his account by telling us that Jesus is with us always even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).

If Christmas reminds us that Jesus came, Resurrection Sunday reminds us that Jesus is still here! Although it was necessary for Christ to leave bodily (John 14:2–4), in Spirit, He came and never left (Hebrews 13:5).

So regardless of what else is going on this Christmas season, remember this—the One who came that first Christmas is still here. His mother and earthly father knocked on the door of the inn and found no admission (Luke 2:7). But He’s still here and still knocking at the heart’s door (Revelation 3:20). So, let Him in!

 

love neighbordsThe Royal Law

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself…” —James 2:8

James refers to the commandment “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” as the “royal law” and it is remarkable how important the Lord Jesus said this precept really is. In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said that the commandment to love our neighbor is not only a tenet of God’s law, it is one of two principles on which every law in Scripture is based! These two principles demand a love for God and a love for mankind. Men are to love their Creator with all their being. When they do this, it will follow that they are to love those that God loves. Perfect justice requires that we not only love our fellowman, but that we love him as we love ourselves!

The royal law has great significance today. The unbeliever has an idea of how Christians ought to live, but sadly it is often different from the expectations Christians have for themselves. Unbelievers look for Christians to be Christ-like. They think that a person who lives like Jesus will love his fellow-man and act like it. Inconsistencies in church attendance, giving, or worldly entertainment and indulgences hurt the credibility of a believer’s witness, but neglect of the royal law can destroy any confidence that a person is a follower of Christ in any sense at all.

The issue in the book of James that brought the whole subject up was the mistreatment of poor people when they visited the church meetings. The way we treat people is the whole point of the royal law. We should love them, and not hate them. We should respect them, and not denigrate them. We should reach out to meet their needs, and not pass over their problems without concern. If we would live like Christians, we must live by the royal law.

 

tell the truthBeing a True Friend

By Pastor Greg Wilt, Sr.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6

The best way to demonstrate friendship to those who have been lied to is to tell them the truth. We can do this with love and respect. We should not harass, demean, or degrade people who have been sold the devils bill of goods. We should remember that the choices people make concerning things like alcohol as a beverage, tobacco, low forms of music and entertainment, abortion, gambling, sexual orientation, same-sex marriage, gender identity, legalized marijuana, and assisted suicide are often made sub-consciously due to an agenda that is incessantly pushed to recruit and indoctrinate people to accept wicked behaviors and perverted lifestyles as normal.

Many people feel trapped with unwanted compulsions. To complicate the issue, they have been lied to that they were “born that way” and that it is impossible to change. Since neither of these things are true, the compassionate response is to accept them as souls for whom Christ has died while making sure to never condone, embrace, encourage, or validate their behaviors. Further, they need to know that they are loved and that there is a way out through the Lord Jesus Christ!

It is a simple fact that those who do not embrace biblical standards have a much greater prevalence of negative pathology than those who do. For example, anxiety, STD’s, violence, substance abuse, suicide, personality disorders, and psychopathology are found at alarmingly higher rates among those that do not employ biblical standards than those that do. In addition to bringing harm to the individual, not living by biblical standards degrades society by destroying families, victimizing children, demoralizing women, and a host of other moral atrocities. Strangely, many activists assign blame for these statistics to those who promote good biblical living by saying that the imbalance is due to shaming. However, in countries where unrestrained indulgences are widely accepted, there is no evidence to suggest that these negative statistics decrease.

Sometimes all it takes to turn the tide of engaging in, encouraging, or promoting low and lascivious living is to have the courage to be a friend, stand up, and speak the truth - in love.

 

orando-con-la-banderaThe Patriotism We Need Today

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14

More than the patriotism of a soldier, we need another kind of patriotism today. America is in a state of spiritual and moral decline that, frankly, is frightening. We seem to have lost our moral compass and our willingness to sacrifice for the biblical values of truth and righteousness.

Today, we need the kind of patriotism that Nehemiah of old embraced. Nehemiah’s nation was in desperate straits. The wall of Jerusalem was burned and broken down, and the enemies of the Lord mocked the city’s disgrace.

But when Nehemiah heard of the travail of Jerusalem, he made a decision to give his life to the cause of revival. He prayed with compassion and fervency. And he made it his purpose to seek the spiritual welfare of the city. He persevered through criticism, attacks, and discouragement. And in the end, he did what his enemies said couldn’t be done—he revived the stones to build a great wall around the city.

More than ever before, America needs men and women who—like Nehemiah of old—will be burdened to pray for our country with genuine compassion, and then have the passion and courage to seek the spiritual welfare of our God-blessed nation.
Yes, it will require personal sacrifice. But, as Americans, we value sacrifice more than enslavement. May we earnestly seek God’s face and give of ourselves for the cause of revival!

 

columnasThe Pillar and Ground
of the Truth

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:14-15

The Bible teaches us that the local assembly, the church, is “the pillar and ground of the truth.” Think of the imagery God uses when He makes that statement and what it implies. For our intent and purpose, this Scripture tells us that we, Liberty Lake Baptist Church, are “the pillar and ground of the truth!” We are to take the truth to the people of Liberty Lake in this generation and every generation to follow until Jesus comes. What a staggering responsibility!

Sometimes people assign responsibility to the local church that is not biblical. But in 1 Timothy 3, God quite clearly tasks the local assembly in saying that it is “the pillar and ground of the truth.”

In our world, truth has been traded for tolerance and millions refuse to have any fixed point of reference. In contrast, we, as the church, are to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” using the Word of God for our bearing on faith and practice.

In our world, there is no lack of know-ledge, but there is a great lack of truth. It is an age of information where people are bombarded, overloaded, and absolutely overwhelmed with know-ledge. However, it is truth that is needed. Therefore, as “the pillar and ground of the truth,” we have the awesome responsibility of lifting up the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). May God give us the courage, boldness, humility, and meekness we need to complete this task.

 

stop-watchUrgency

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” John 9:4

The urgency and passion with which Jesus carried out His ministry is readily evident. Throughout the Scriptures it is recorded that He spoke of musts, such as, “I must work the works of Him that sent me” (John 9:4).

As Christians, we know there is urgency to our labor, but we don’t always maintain it. The truth is, urgency is not our default mode; complacency is.
Strangely enough, it is often our “successes” that tend to feed complacency. It works like this: we become enriched, increased with goods, having need of nothing so we become prideful and then that pride, in turn, kills our urgency.

Too often, Christians become like the rich fool in the parable recorded in Luke 12:16-19. They receive God’s blessings and then settle in to just enjoy the fruit they have. Contrast the farmer in that parable with Nehemiah. Nehemiah not only sensed the initial urgency for the needs of Jerusalem, but he had a sustained urgency through both success and opposition.

Quite honestly, most of us think we have more urgency than we demonstrate. That is because complacency is difficult to see in the mirror. So how does a Christian with a sense of urgency for Christ maintain that urgency? The answer may seem over simplified, but it is really all about spending regular time alone with God—renewing our hearts for Him and asking Him to help us see specific challenges to overcome and goals to pursue for His glory.

 

family-readingFeeding the Spiritual Man

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 2

All of life is a stewardship. It’s not about what happens to us, but what we do with what happens to us. Of all the things we cannot control, there are two things we can—our mind and our mouth.

The simplicity and power of this God-given capacity must not be over-looked. As free moral agents, God has designed our lives in such a way that we are ultimately at the mercy of no one but ourselves and Him. We get to control what goes into and what comes out of our mind and our mouth.

We either live to eat or eat to live. As healthy food is fuel for the body, so are healthy thoughts for the mind. Snacks are not altogether wrong of themselves; it’s whether we make a steady diet of them. Some things we watch or listen to are not wrong of themselves, it’s how much of them we consume. A victorious Christian is one who has learned that they are what they eat—physically and spiritually—and has chosen a healthy diet for the mind and the mouth.

A life that is fruitful is a life that is disciplined. Sluggishness and lethargy come easy—eat whatever, drink whatever, watch whatever, listen to whatever. It’s the life lived on purpose that maximizes its opportunity and quality.
The nature we feed is the one that will flourish. May we take proper care of our bodies as the temples of the Holy Spirit and feed the spiritual man as we glorify God with our mind and our mouth.

 

booksProper Attendance to Reading

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“…when thou comest, bring with thee… the books, but especially the parchments.” 2 Timothy 4:13

The Christian who desires to triumph spiritually must be diligent in their attendance to the reading of God’s Word. Good books that propel them toward success in their walk with God are also important. Philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon wrote, “Reading maketh a full man.” In our current culture the practice of reading solid and rewarding literature, whether it’s classical or spiritual, is seriously wanting. Many are content to be spoon fed from a buffet of diluted, subjective sludge which can be readily found in outlets like mainstream media, YouTube, Wikipedia, and the like. This practice requires little exercise of the brain and seems to be the preferred method of study for an ever growing “low information crowd.” Interestingly, in an age in which people have more leisure time than ever before in the history of the world, many claim that they have no time to read. This excuse is never valid with the believer who desires to cross over into victorious Christian living.

Paul’s counsel to Timothy, “Take heed… unto the doctrine…” (1 Timothy 4:16), doubtless had reference to the scholarship of the Old Testament Scriptures. His injunction would have also been appropriate for other areas of reading as well. The books which Paul requested of Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:13 were likely a few choice works – Jewish commentaries about the Law and the Prophets, and perhaps some of the poets from which he quoted in his sermons and letters (Acts 17:28). Paul wished to spend his last days to the highest profit though the study of some of his favorite books. He understood the importance of reading and was a student to the end.
The power for good that a single book holds is impossible to estimate. On the other hand, who can measure the power for evil of a single book such as Hitler’s Mein Kampf? It has been said that the character of a man is reflected in the books he reads, “…for they are the outward expression of his inner hungers and aspirations.” Therefore it is imperative that we exercise discernment as we choose what books to read. We can afford to read only the best, and what will be most helpful to us in the fulfillment of our mission.

 

ardillaThe Wisdom of Saving

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.” Proverbs 21:20

The Bible teaches us that “the just shall live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38), but we need to put feet to our faith. In teaching the wisdom of planning for future needs, Solomon wrote (under the Divine inspiration of God), “Go to the ant… consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). The simple truth in these verses teach us to learn the wisdom of saving by considering how an ant gathers its food in the present season for the coming season.

Proverbs isn’t the only place in Scripture that teaches us the principle of saving for future needs. God revealed the meaning of Pharaoh’s dream to Joseph in Genesis 41. Knowing the future need (after seven plenteous years, there would be seven years of famine), Joseph advised Pharaoh to seek out a man that was discreet and wise to set aside twenty percent of the harvest during each plenteous year. The purpose of this was so that, “Food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine”(Genesis 41:36).

Unlike Joseph, we do not always know exactly what our future holds. What we do know is Who holds our future and, if He should tarry His coming, we will continue to age and perhaps experience hardships which may render us unable to labor or otherwise earn an income. Therefore, it is both wise and prudent to save “against that day” being careful not to foolishly spend up all of the resources that God gives us.

 

anuncio-de-carreteraContinue

By Pastor Greg Wilt

"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” 1 Timothy 4:16

Many saved, sincere, serving Christians have fallen off track along the way. Some ruin their purity, others do not handle their finances properly, and scores of them simply compromise good biblical standards which damage their testimony and influence. Why did these once-greatly used people of God not continue?

One reason why God’s people do not continue is because of the world. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:10, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” The world is desirable and it appeals to us. The world always looks good, but the world is deceitful. Can we name one person who, having obtained the worldly pleasures that they desired, was satisfied? The world has derailed many that chose not to continue.

Another reason why the servants of God do not continue is because of the “wisdom” of men. In Galatians 5:7 it says, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you..?” Notice that the Apostle Paul did not ask, “What hindered you?” he asked “who hindered you?” No believer has ever chosen too low as a result of taking heed to the wisdom of God’s Word. Instead, they followed the “wisdom” of somebody who persuaded them to choose something that was bad over something that was good, or, more often, something “good enough” over something that was best. And so, the “wisdom” of men has convinced some not to continue.

A final reason why the people of God do not continue is because of willfulness. In Matthew 26 it is recorded that Peter argued with the Lord, accusing Jesus of being wrong, and emphatically stating that he would NEVER deny Christ! Peter’s problem was that he listened to his own mind and followed his own will instead of surrendering to God. In the end we know that Peter was tremendously remorseful and, for a short time, did not continue (John 21:3).

Each one of us is capable of stepping into one or all of these pit-falls. Therefore, we must be mindful to do as our text instructs; take heed to ourselves and to the truths of God’s Word so that we will not be in the same ship as those who do not continue.

 

gente-formando-cruzBuilding a Strong Church

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“For we are labourers together with God” 1 Corinthians 3:9

How do churches grow and become strong? There are many factors, but the most significant factor for a church to become strong is longevity. Starting a church can be achieved quickly in a matter of months, but building a strong indigenous church requires hard work over many years.

The ultimate goal in planting a church is complete obedience to the Great Commission. This is accomplished by multiplying believers through evangelism, multiplying disciples through discipleship, and multiplying leaders through mentoring. The end result of these three things will be a strong church as well as the reproduction of more strong churches. Through obedience to the Great Commission, as we have described it, the gospel will make it to neighboring communities, to the rest of the world, and more importantly, to the next generation. This task is extensive, never ending, and certainly not accomplished in a few months or even a couple of years.

There will be many opportunities to quit, but anyone can quit. Quitting is easy. Staying requires courage, duty, and personal growth in the Lord. Every church member will face challenges and trials, and it is during these times that God will prove us and make us. Staying during difficult times will be the source of our growth in the Lord, personally and corporately, paving the way for the church to become stronger. Building a strong and enduring church will not be achieved overnight, it will require faithfulness for many years.

Staying faithful will prove to be the source of a strong, vibrant church. Faithful labourers will have the privilege of reaping fruit that they never would have seen otherwise.

 

pastor-and-beth-ann-july-2016-lake-chelan-retouchedA Good Thing!

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” Proverbs 18:22

When single, I thought I was doing just fine. It was a charmed life, but was definitely the epitome of why God determined, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18). After marrying my wife, I was amazed at everything I’d been missing out on.

Being married and sharing things with my wife makes life so much more meaningful. Not because of what she does, but rather because of who she is. Beth Ann makes the purpose in everything I do stronger and gives all of my work more value. She makes our house a home giving it greater significance. Even our free time has greater substance. As a single man, I was ignorant to the void that was inside me, but after being married, I quickly recognized the empty, shallow life I had without her. Being married to her is wonderful and my life has been favored, and flavored, by her existence.

As our text states, It is “a good thing” that God gave me a wife to spend my earthly life with, someone with whom I can share my experiences and dreams. My wife is an outlet for those things that mean the most to me, but more importantly, she is an input, a second voice, to help me see things in a different perspective.

My wife helps me to understand God better. She is a reflection of His grace, longsuffering and patience. Her love is unconditional. She offers me joy and peace despite the circumstances. She has taught me gentleness and goodness. The fact that I found her is “a good thing” and, because of who she is, I have obtained “favour of the LORD.”

 

praise-2Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:” Psalm 139:14

As the representative figure of God’s tri-unity, mankind is also three-in-one being comprised of spirit, soul, and body. Genesis 2:7 teaches us that “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground [BODY], and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [SPIRIT – what God thinks, wants, or feels]; and man became a living soul [SOUL – mind, emotions, will]” (Emphasis mine). We are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made” and must remember that we are a trichotomy when dealing with the issues of life.

Each part of our being and how they affect one another can easily be distinguished when we consider how our trichotomy works together on even the most routine matters. For example, our soul (the seat of what we think, want, or feel) concludes that we need a new pair of shoes. In response, God’s spirit (indwelling those who are saved) gives us peace about the matter, and our body mediates the desire. Our hand opens the door, our feet carry us to the car, and, through coordinated efforts, we drive to the store, purchase the shoes, etc. It would be quite a conflict if our whole being did not cooperate in these matters!

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made” is a miraculous truth, and we can see God’s marvelous reasoning for the order He has established in us. God made the body to be servant to the soul and God made the soul to be servant to the Spirit. It is all too easy to sabotage God’s intended process when the body is allowed to become the dictator of the soul or when the soul no longer submits to the Spirit. That is why we are admonished in Galatians 5:16-17 to “… Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” We must exercise caution and wisdom to be sure that the systems God has designed to be our servants do not become masters that keep us in bondage.

 

watering-2Staying Faithful In The Lord’s Work

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“…Occupy till I come.” Luke 19:13

In Luke chapter nineteen, it is recorded that the Lord Jesus shared a parable about a certain nobleman who went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and return. As the nobleman got ready to depart, he called his servants and delivered unto each of them a certain sum of money and commanded them to “Occupy till I come.” The word occupy means to invest with the intent of increase. They were not commanded to simply to keep the money safe. However, it is revealed in Luke 19:20 that one of these servants kept his sum of money in a napkin (a safe place) until his lord returned. That foolish servant was severely rebuked and ended up losing his reward altogether. The wise servants who invested what was given to them were commended, rewarded, and given greater opportunity for continued success.

Romans 12:6 teaches us that we as Christians have been entrusted with gifts to be used for the Lord. “Having then gifts differing according to the grace given unto us.” We too are to “occupy.” We are to invest our time, talents, treasures, and opportunities for the Lord so that God’s work advances.

We may not be physically able to serve in the same capacity throughout our entire lives, but we must never have an attitude of regression, retreat, or retirement from the Lord’s work. As long as God leaves us here, He has a plan to use us in some way for His glory. If we are not careful, we could buy into the notion that it is too hard in our current culture to be faithful or decide that, “I’ve done my part, let someone else get involved.” The devil would like us to believe that our labor is in vain and it won’t matter if we take our hand off of the plow.

What a tragedy it would be to stop serving the Lord just before His imminent return. Let us determine that, when He does appear, we are going to be engaged in the battle “occupying” till He comes!

 

subiendo-montanaMaking Stepping Stones out of Stumbling Blocks

By Dr. Curtis Hutson
Dr. Curtis Hutson (July 10, 1934 – March 5, 1995). Renowned Pastor & Evangelist from Decatur, Georgia.

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” 1 Peter 2:2

A young boy was leading his baby sister up a rugged hill. “Come on,” he said. “Follow me. I’ll lead you in the path.” After a while it seemed like the path completely disappeared and was filled with nothing but stones. Stumbling and falling, the little girl began to cry and said, “This is no path at all!” To which her confident brother replied, “The stones are for climbing!”

When some people run into stones along life’s pathway, they complain. They seem to think they’re the only ones who’ve ever had problems. Others not only complain, they kick against the stones to their own hurt. Some get discouraged and refuse to carry on. They sit down and stop altogether. And sad to say, some not only complain, kick against the stones and refuse to carry on, but go back, giving up all progress heretofore made. But some precious souls discover that the stones are for climbing and one by one put the stones under their feet and rise higher and higher.

The story is told of a man’s horse which fell into a deep pit. The man tried everything he knew to get the horse out, but with no success. Finally he decided to cover the horse with dirt. One shovelful at a time he threw dirt down into the deep pit. But instead of being buried, the horse shook the dirt off, and it fell beneath his feet. Little by little the horse began to rise; and when the hole was filled, the horse was standing on level ground. He had risen by the things he had put under his feet.
Remember, the stones are for climbing!

 

bibliaMaking Time to Grow

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” 1 Peter 2:2

Strong Christian lives are not built in a day. The steadfast Christian who builds a habit of consuming the Word of God will begin to see slow and subtle yet powerful changes in their life. Their thinking, language, habits, and desires will slowly conform to what God wants them to be. Temptations that once were certain to knock them down, now find resistance. When they do fall, they rise more quickly with a fresh determination to win the next engagement. The fire of God’s Word burns in their soul gradually intensifying. Over time, the Bible establishes root in a person’s heart and they become fortified in Christ. It just takes time.

Many question where to begin when studying the Bible. Like a buffet of deserts, it is all good. Unlike a buffet of deserts, you can never get too much of the Bible. One may want to start in the book of John or the book of First John. Psalms and Proverbs declare the glory and wisdom of God. Matthew, Mark, and Luke will build a love for the Lord in a person’s heart. The Old Testament is full of stories that will encourage a person to take a stand for God. It is all good. It just takes time.

If we are to grow, then the Word of God must rule in our hearts. We just need to be sure that we are making time for it. A good illustration of the importance of making time for the Bible was illustrated by a young soldier in Iraq. PFC Brenden Schweigart left for his first deployment with a promise to his mother saying he would always go into battle with his Bible. True to his word, he made time prior to each patrol to place his Bible in a spot that covered his heart. One hot afternoon a sniper opened fire with Schweigart’s heart in the cross-hairs, but the bullet missed. That Bible was just enough to deflect the bullet’s path, keeping it away from Schweigart’s vital organs. For Schweigart, that Bible was a physical protector. For us, the Bible is a spiritual protector. It just requires time for it to get put into the right place.

 

lighthouseLetting Our Light Shine in a Sinking Culture

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

It is obvious that our world is confused about what is right and wrong. It is no wonder that this is the case when we consider the eroding moral base and lack of biblical standards held by the average Christian in the church. What is going on in the culture is a direct reflection of what is going on in the church. What we are observing is really just a continuation of the effects of a faith that looks so much like the world that the world can’t tell the difference.

It is a disappointment that many churches and the Christians that make them up have chosen to conform to the culture. Isn’t it hypocritical that many Christian conservatives want their political party to be bold and take a stand for conservative values yet they are unwilling to take a stand for conservative biblical values in their own personal lives and homes? What’s more, isn’t it a shame that the average pulpit in America is sadly silent on this subject?

What should we do? Should we continue in the current trend? No! We should humbly bow before a Holy and Righteous God, confess our sin, and plead for His power, blessing, and direction to establish sound biblical conduct for our lives. We should be bold in the witness of our lips and the testimony of our lives for Jesus Christ. Consider the success of first century believers in living their lives and maintaining a faithful witness during one of the darkest and most powerfully corrupt cultures in world history, the Roman Empire. They were influencers that changed the culture; they weren’t spiritual chameleons. Acts 17:6 records that they were referred to as, “…These that have turned the world upside down…”

Now more than ever the people of God need to “step it up” in their spiritual lives. Now is not the time to blend in, quit, or retreat! Now is the time for spiritual boldness. Now more than ever, we must let our light shine before men!

 

margaaritaSimple Concerning Evil

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“…I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” Romans 16:19

The book of Proverbs is full of warning and admonition for the simple person. For example, in Proverbs chapters 22 and 27 it is recorded, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” However, in the book of Romans, we see an occasion when simplicity is actually encouraged! The Bible says, “I would have you… simple concerning evil.”

There is great virtue in remaining simple concerning evil. The minds of the general population have become so filthy and maleficent that everything they see, hear or experience can be twisted into some sick perversion. We see evidence of this every day in our depraved world.

There is something incredibly refreshing about innocence and naivety, like that period in life when innuendo and wickedness allude the mind of a child. Sadly, it doesn’t take long for us to lose our blush. Much of this is due to the fact that we are incessantly being flooded with a deluge of smut which is forcibly pumped into the forefront of our daily lives. Any more, we are mocked when we establish boundaries to keep ourselves, and our loved ones, “simple concerning evil.”

We may feel it is too late for us to be simple concerning evil, but it’s not. It is entirely possible to regain sensitivity in areas where we may have become calloused. This is accomplished by having a zero tolerance policy toward evil, starving all wicked influences (no matter how insignificant they may seem), and replacing them with wholesome ones. Romans 12:9 puts it this way, “…Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”
The blessings of being “wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil” can be found in Romans 16:20. They are the blessings of peace and victory over the adversary.

 

chilesA Somber Warning

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:” Luke 22:31

God doesn’t need the majority, and He doesn’t need a consensus. Often He is just looking for one who is willing to do right. One man, one woman, one young person, one family, or one church.

When the whole world was sick with sin, one person, Noah, found grace in the eyes of the Lord. When the prophets of Baal numbered in the hundreds, one person, Elijah, took his stand. All through the Scriptures God reminds us that the only thing He needs to change the course of humanity is for one to stand up and do right. God is looking for one.

Satan has a similar strategy. If he can destroy one person, he can often destroy a family. If he can destroy one family, he can often destroy a church. If he can destroy one church, he is well on his way to being able to destroy a nation! In the presence of destruction we have a tendency to seek broad explanations for catastrophic breakdown. A more careful look would probably reveal a much more subtle failure, a failure of one. One man, one woman, one young person, one family, or one church. Satan is looking for one.

We are correctly alarmed by statistics and movements that increasingly forsake God and His Word. It is important to see the big picture, but we must not overlook the intimate details. It is recorded in Luke 22:31 that Jesus warned Peter, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” That is most often the way Satan accomplishes his most despicable achievements, sifting individuals one by one.

Hence, God places a somber warning in the Bible. It ought to be a wake-up call for every child of God. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” 1 Peter 5:8.

 

cruz-y-banderaCelebrate Liberty

Dr. Paul Chappell, Pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church, Lancaster, CA

Two-hundred forty years ago, our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence—a document that shaped the future of the American colonies, setting their destiny as a mighty nation. By signing this document, courageous men boldly stated the value they placed on freedom. And they proved it with their lives and fortunes in the ensuing war for independence.

Freedom isn’t free; it comes with a price tag. But only a few are willing to pay that price. Freedom rings where men are willing to sacrifice. And liberty is valued where people surrender their lives to its preservation.

Two thousand years ago, Christ proclaimed a different kind of freedom: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). And then He paid the price for our freedom with His own blood (Revelation 1:5). When we trusted Him as our Saviour, He “Delivered us from the power of darkness” and “translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).

Our national freedom was costly, paid for by the blood of American soldiers who treasured freedom. But our spiritual freedom was paid for with, “The precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19).

One of the greatest treasures of our national freedom is the liberty to tell others of the Son who can make them free indeed. Do you value this freedom? Will you courageously declare it to others? Remember, freedom rings where men are willing to sacrifice. In what ways do you need to sacrifice that others may experience the freedom from sin and death that Christ can give?
Celebrate liberty by telling others of the freedom already purchased by Christ.

 

pendiente-de-cruzOur Purpose as Christians

“… Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

It is so easy to overcomplicate the Christian life. We are prone, and often prefer, to keep lists and develop “how to” formulas in our forming our philosophy about what our purpose is. Lists and formulas may be helpful, but our purpose in life is actually quite simple – “do all to the glory of God.”

The word “glorify” means “to reveal or make clear.” Simply stated, our purpose is “to reveal God more clearly to others.” God should be more clearly seen in others’ eyes by the way we live and by the way we speak. What a privilege we have as believers! There is no higher purpose than that!

Consider the contrast between our purpose as Christians and the purpose we see promoted in our post-Christian culture. The message of the world is, “Glorify self!” This purpose idolizes mankind, over-amplifies pleasure, and disproportionately focuses on self-indulgence.

Romans 1 describes the Gentile world during the period of first century churches. It is a culture strikingly similar to our own. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” (Romans 1:21-23)

Today’s world view, which is formed to a great degree by liberal educators, perverted Hollywood producers, morally depraved fashion designers, and reprobate musicians, is not concerned with glorifying God at all. In fact, as a whole, they are “willingly…ignorant” of God (2 Peter 3:5).

Sadly, in the “Christian” realm, there is much popular teaching about self-promotion and the development of a personal platform. The danger in such teaching is its inertness, it is neither righteous nor unrighteous. The problem is that it is self-righteous.
For those of us who know God and who have believed on Christ, may it be our hearts’ desire and sole purpose to glorify Him by making the Lord Jesus Christ more clearly seen in all that we do.

 

Things-not-to-do-on-fathers-dayFather’s Day

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.” Proverbs 17:6

A teenage girl from Spokane, Washington is credited with being the founder of Father’s Day. Her name was Sonora Smart. At six years old, Smart’s mother died leaving her father to raise her along with five younger brothers on a farm in Eastern Washington.

Eleven years later, after hearing a Mother’s Day sermon at church, Smart suggested that Fathers should receive equal recognition. Eventually, with the help of her pastor, her idea was endorsed and plans for the first Father’s Day celebration were underway. Smart suggested her father’s birthday, June 5th, be established as the day to honor all Fathers. However, more time was needed to prepare, so June 19, 1910 was designated as the first Father’s Day and, because word had spread through the ministerial community, sermons honoring Fathers were presented throughout the city of Spokane.

It was years, however, before Father’s Day gained national prominence. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge recognized Father’s Day and urged the states to do likewise. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation calling for the third Sunday in June to be recognized as Father’s Day and requested that flags be flown that day on all government buildings. Finally, in 1972, President Richard M. Nixon signed a proclamation permanently observing Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June.

Today it is believed that Father’s Day is celebrated from Antigua to Zimbabwe in over 50 countries around the world. Happy Father’s Day!

 

ballot-boxHow Should I Vote?

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8

We are six months away from the next United States presidential election and it is probably safe to say that millions of American Christians are trying to decide how God would have them vote. Some are probably even considering whether they will vote.
As believers we must be careful that all of the noise being generated by this political tug-of-war doesn’t distract us from a more significant ongoing battle that is occurring this season, the competition of worldviews. This rivalry is not new, but it is more apparent as we listen to the views of the candidates.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that secularism is growing in America. A secular worldview is indifferent toward God or just excludes God from the thought process completely. Therefore, when we consider the views of candidates, we should look to discern their specific worldview.

In determining whether the candidate’s thoughts come from a biblical worldview, a secular worldview, or a combination of these two contrasting worldviews, we should not necessarily look for them to tell Bible stories or quote verses. Rather we should ask ourselves the question, “Is there anything about what they are saying found anywhere in God's Word?

God's Word is absolute truth. It is the only truth that has been true, is true, and will be true for eternity. Therefore, we need to be intimately familiar with God's Word so that we can properly evaluate everything going on in the political scene, as well as in this world. It is incumbent on us as believers to not check our Christianity and biblical worldview at the door when we participate in the political process afforded us in America. Staying surrendered to the Holy Spirit while keeping our observations within the framework of biblical authority and filtering everything through the absolute truth of the Scriptures will always lead us to the right conclusion.

 

constitutoinWhen the Government Goes Against God

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“…We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

In Romans 13:1 it says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” But what are we to do when the government we have been admonished to obey mandates the enabling of ungodly, sinful behavior such as abortion, homosexuality, recreational drug use, or the abrogation of our responsibility to protect our families (and society in general) from those who would do moral, mental, emotional, or physical violence?

Mandating the enabling of perverse conduct, which is what the transgender restroom issue is all about, is indicative of a government that has failed morally and is forcing its citizens to participate by, among other things, providing tax support. When this happens, we as Christians have the option of disobeying the government and working nonviolently within the laws of the land to promote righteousness.

A good place to begin our civil disobedience and promoting righteousness is to follow God’s command to pray for our leaders and ask God to intervene in any ungodly path that they may be pursuing (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Our prayers should then be followed up by a consistent pattern of right living (Matthew 5:13-14) coupled with an obedience to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). History has shown that when God’s people get serious about doing the things that have been previously described, they gain influence. This influence affords them the opportunity for effective political involvement which, for example, can be used to install new government leaders that will promote legislation that does not conflict with God’s Word. May God grant us boldness and courage in this endeavor!

 

Memorial-DayMay We Never Forget

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“And the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God…” Judges 8:34

The Bible is rich with the miracles of God’s deliverance and replete with the miseries of spiritual forgetfulness. Israel’s history can, and should, serve as a memorial to us of what happens when a nation forgets God.

Our American history is rich in leaders who knew the Lord and whose heart’s desire was to establish and maintain a nation in which the Gospel of Jesus Christ could be freely propagated. They recognized that at the heart of the need for freedom is a need for every person to have the liberty to know and worship God. Many of these leaders sealed their desire for this sort of freedom
with their own blood.

Ronald Reagan said of George Washington, “The image of George Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow is one of the most famous in American history. He personified a people who knew it was not enough to depend on their own courage and goodness; they must also seek help from God, their Father and Preserver.”

May we never forget the sacrifice of those who gave their last full measure in defense of the liberties we so often carelessly enjoy. More importantly, may we never forget the God who has “made and preserved us a nation.”

 

fish in sandChristian Vacationing

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

God points the believer to His Word and calls upon them to make prayerful, Biblically informed, thoughtful decisions in all that they do.
When planning for a vacation, a person may decide who they are going to see, what they are going to do, where they are going to visit, when they are going to go, and how they are going to get there. In making these decisions about a vacation, a Christian may also want to consider the following questions: is there a good church in the area to attend? Will anything in this vacation distract their attention away from the Lord? Will anything about this vacation cause others to stumble in their faith? Does this vacation promote right living (as opposed to worldliness)? Does this vacation have the potential of harming their testimony or influence as a follower of Christ?

The answer to these questions may vary from “yes” to “no” to “maybe” while some of the questions may be accurately determined neutral. If the Christian is unsure about any of the answers, they could consult with someone who is a godly influence in their life or just follow the old adage, “When in doubt, don’t.”

As we approach the season in which we all have more availability to “Come… apart… and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31) let us not forget to make prayerful, Biblically informed, thoughtful decisions that glorify God in all that we do.

 

SBB logo_outlinesDealing With the Temptation of ‘Lowering the Bar’

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“…there shall not an hoof be left behind….” Exodus 10:26

The word “compromise” could be defined as, “the partial waiving of principle for the sake of reaching agreement.” Regardless of how we characterize it, we must be careful that consenting to compromise never leads to lowering our standard.
A classic example of the progressive temptation to lower the standard through compromise can be seen in the Exodus contest between Moses and Pharaoh. When Pharaoh encountered Moses’ inflexibility of taking Israel out of Egypt to worship God, he used just about every subtlety he could conjure up to try and get Moses to lower the standard. The first suggestion was, “Just worship God here.” When that approach failed, Pharaoh proposed, “If you think you must leave, then just don’t go very far away.” When that failed, Pharaoh played on natural affection suggesting, “Let the men go, but think of the inconvenience for the women and children. Leave them here.” Moses wouldn’t budge and so, having faced resistance to all of his other recommendations, Pharaoh’s final attempt was an appeal to their materialism, “Go, but leave your flocks and herds in Egypt.”

Would to God we were so wise to the subtleties that the devil uses in getting us to consent to lowering our standards. May we, like Moses, see through each superficially plausible temptation with clear spiritual insight, and stand firmly entrenched in the confidence of God’s Word, decisively rejecting the opportunity to ‘lower the bar.’

 

baby-handThe Powerful Influence of a Mother

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” Proverbs 14:1

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Men are what their mothers make them.” Abraham Lincoln stated, “No one is poor who had a godly mother.” Evangelist Billy Sunday preached, “I don’t think there are enough devils in Hell to take a young person from the arms of a godly mother.” What a difference a godly mother can make in a home, in a church, and in a nation! God’s Word teaches us in Proverbs 14:1 that the power to build up or to destroy the home belongs to the wife and mother. Truly, “The hand that [most often] rocks the cradle rules the world.”

I am so thankful for a mother who never wavered in her faith, her prayers, or her love for the Lord and for me. There were many occasions when I was not worthy of her time and affection, but I am glad that she never gave up. There is no doubt in my mind that any good that I may have accomplished in life can be attributed to the prayers of my faithful mother.

If you have the special privilege of being called “Mother,” We hope you will realize the influence you have on this world. I once read that “An ounce of mother is worth more than a pound of clergy.” May God give us mothers who will not give up the battle for right! We need mothers who will pray for their children, give them a pattern to follow, and cheer them on to do great things for God.

Although we don’t always remember everything our mothers do for us, a godly mother can be assured that “…God is not unrighteous to forget….” (Hebrews 6:10). Someday, she will receive her prize; a reward for every prayer, sleepless night, tear, encouraging word, and expression of love that she has shown. On that day the flowers, candy, and cards she receives on Mother’s Day will pale in comparison to the honor that she will be given by the One who does not forget her “…work and labour of love….” Thank you mothers and please don’t forget the power of your influence.

 

cross and BibleWhich Church is the True Church? (Part Two)

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church….” Matthew 18:17

Matthew 18:17 records the second time that Jesus referred to the word that is translated “church” during His earthly ministry. In this case it was when Jesus was teaching on how to deal with offences and forgiveness. Jesus gave a three step plan. First, go alone, telling the person their fault. Second, if the offender refuses to acknowledge the fault and make it right, go with one or two other witnesses. Thirdly, if the matter is still not resolved (here comes the word “church”) then Jesus said, “…tell it unto the church.”

Another mark of a true church, in addition to one that has the Gospel of Christ as its sole foundation, is one that takes seriously the responsibility of acting in a way that demonstrates what it means to authentically follow Jesus as disciples of Christ. We can’t do that when we, among other things, are unforgiving and act nasty toward each other. According to 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, the church is a body. We can’t have a healthy body without some discipline. Therefore a true church is serious about discipleship, even the intense form of discipleship through loving, forgiving, Biblical discipline.

When it comes to identifying a true church, we are not looking for perfection. Nor are we looking for cool music, or a pastor who is a mix between Charles Spurgeon, Billy Graham, Josh Olsteen, David Jeremiah, and our favorite preacher that we podcast on our iPhone. We are fundamentally looking for a church that preaches Jesus Christ crucified, risen, and coming again and that is serious about being, and reproducing, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

stain glass cross

Which Church is the True Church? (Part One)

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church;” Matthew 16:18

In the New Testament, Jesus is recorded to have only referred to the word that is translated “church” two times during His earthly ministry. The first occasion is seen in the text for our devotion. Peter had confessed that Jesus is the Christ (Matthew 16:15-16). Jesus responds and calls him by a kind of nickname. Previously he had been Simon, but now, after his confession, he was Peter, that is, Rock. Then Jesus went on to say, “…upon this rock I will build my church….”

When Jesus made the statement “…upon this rock I will build my church….” He was referring to what Peter said, not who said it. This can be concluded because of what took place immediately following this verbal exchange. After having confessed Jesus as the Messiah, Peter then goofs up big time and rebukes Jesus for saying that He was going to die on a cross. Jesus then looks at Peter and says, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” (Matthew 6:23). If we say that Jesus was referring to Peter himself, not what he said in verse eighteen, then we would have to say that was true for the second time also in verse twenty-three. With that line of thinking the deduction would be made that Peter moved from “the rock upon which Jesus would build the church” to “the embodiment of Satan himself.” Not a bad afternoon’s work for a recalcitrant disciple. Instead, it is far more likely that in the second instance Jesus meant the same as He did in the first. That is, in both instances, Jesus was talking about what Peter said.

In truth, Jesus was saying that Peter’s confession of faith is the foundation upon which the church is built, the Gospel. The Gospel is the message of the vicarious death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). A true church is the one that has the Gospel of Christ, and Christ alone, as its sole foundation.

 

bible with lightIs Preaching Important?

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God… For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:18, 21

Preaching is important because it is the public method by which God chooses to communicate His Word to His people. I once read that, “Preaching is the God-ordained means by which He meets with His people through His Word and by His Spirit in such a way that His people’s eyes are opened to see Jesus and be captivated by Him.” From this we should conclude that preaching is important because Jesus is important.

Preaching is not only an information download. Preaching is teaching, but it is more than teaching. Preaching is motivation, but it is more than motivation. It is, when genuine, God addressing us through His Word, the Bible, to show us His glory, His love, the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to help us be captivated by who He is.

We should come to hear preaching not merely with a desire to learn more stuff, but with a desire to encounter Christ. We do not listen to find out whether the preacher is saying something new or more exciting than the other preacher we heard on the TV, radio, or the internet, but we are listening as if we are trying to discern what it is that God wants to communicate with us each and every service. Thinking this way will forever change our attitude toward preaching.

We should leave from having heard Biblical preaching with a desire to do something about what we have just heard. There is no point in being shown Jesus in all His beauty, being moved to embrace Him anew, and then doing absolutely nothing about it. In fact, we may be better off without the opportunity to hear, be moved, and then, by our actions, reject what we have heard.

We should advocate for and ensure that there is enough time, space and resources for preaching and the continued development of excellence in preaching. The church was not meant to be led by trendy geniuses who fancily market programs for all ages, the church was meant to be led by Christ through His Word. That means, preaching is important!

 

flower-arrangementWhy Join and Attend a Local Church?

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Unto him be glory in the church….” Ephesians 3:21

R. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky has stated that, “The New Testament simply has no category for a Christian apart from a church.” He is right. The New Testament has no example, not a single one, of a Christian who was not a participating member of a local assembly, an actual local church.

According to the Bible, the church is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). That means that each Christian is supposed to be a functioning part of that body, a local body of believers. When Paul, the author that God used to write the church at Corinth, said that the Corinthian Christians were the body of Christ, he was not talking about what some term “the universal church.” He was referring to the actual church in Corinth.

In the early chapters of the Book of Acts when it is recorded that many became Christians, not only did they place their faith in Jesus, but they joined the actual church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:47). The two go together. There is no Biblical distinction between being a Christian and being a participating member of the local assembly. It should be understood, as it has been for thousands of years, that a true Christian, part of the body of Christ, should be a participating member of a local assembly.

The assembling of the body of Christ is God’s chosen method of equipping His people for evangelism, discipleship, and leadership (Ephesians 4:11-12). This privilege belongs to the local church. Again, the New Testament has no example, not a single one, of a ministry that was operated any other way. That is why the Scripture instructs us to, “Not forsake the assembling of ourselves together….” (Hebrews 10:25). How can the body of Christ, the local church, operate as God has intended it to, if all of its members are not participating? The simple answer is, it can’t.
That is why we should join and faithfully participate as a member of a local body of believers.

 

shaking handsDealing With Offences

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“…It is impossible but that offences will come….” Luke 17:1

It is inevitable. Family members, church members, Christian friends or co-workers will wrong others by harsh words, inconsiderate actions, vindictive spirits, or manipulative ways. To make matters worse, they may not seek to make it right and, after the offence has been made, they may act as if nothing ever happened. These hindrances to love and fellowship in the body of Christ should be addressed.

When somebody has wronged us, there is a God-honoring way to deal with the offence. In order to deal with it spiritually and scripturally, the offender must be confronted in meekness and humility so that they can apologize for their fault and so that you can grant forgiveness, thus restoring the relationship (Luke 17:3, 4).

Granting forgiveness to others begins with actions that we take in relation to God. This process includes the surrender of our assumed right to demand “payment” (Matthew 18:21-35) and praying for the offender’s good (Matthew 5:43-48). After we have taken these steps toward God, we should be in a better spot to rebuke the offender in meekness (Luke 17:3). Remember, the purpose of dealing with the offence is to “…gain thy brother….” (Matthew 18:15). Someone who has been offensive should be given the opportunity to see their failure so that they can make it right with God and with the person they offended.

It is important to remember that, if the offence is personal, seek the offender privately (Matthew 18:15). If they refuse to deal with it privately, take another person with you. This should be somebody who has clearly witnessed the offence or somebody like a pastor, deacon, supervisor, parent, or teacher.

If the offender sees their error and apologizes, forgive them. Keep things at the lowest level possible. Spiritual people make big problems small, unspiritual people make small problems big. When offences come, we must be willing to spiritually and scripturally rebuke, reconcile, and rebuild the relationship so that true Christian love is our testimony to the world around us (Ephesians 4:32; John 13:35).

 

empty tombHe Is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed

Luke 24

“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest…. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus…. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him…. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed…."

 

couple-at-breakfastRestoring Broken Relationships

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1

Of all people, believers and true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ should be experts in the area of restoring broken relationships. After all, that is what the Gospel is all about – the restoration of a broken relationship between man and God.
A similar word to restoration is the word reconciliation. To “reconcile” means that an exchange has taken place. The estranged parties have exchanged a previous relationship of animosity for a whole new relationship of friendship, kindness, peace, and good will. The new relationship is to be more than just an agreement “to get along” or a mere boundary-setting exercise. It should bear all the hallmarks of our relationship with Christ in that “…old things are passed away;” and “…all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The offences that divide one person from another may be best understood as a two-part wedge. God expects each party in the relationship to examine their own heart and initiate action that deals with their side of the wedge (Matthew 5:23-24;18:15). Quite often, when one party deals with their side, it encourages the other to do the same. It takes two to start contention, but it only takes one to stop it. Once the wedge is removed, the relationship is to be reinforced and enhanced to such a degree that it reflects to the world the identity of each party as disciples of Jesus Christ (John 13:34-35).
When we are spiritually minded enough to restore broken relationships with a heart of meekness, it brings a peace to our soul, a testimony to our world, and glory to our God.

 

st-patrick-day-A Goodly Heritage

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“…Yea, I have a goodly heritage.” Psalm 16:6

Saint Patrick’s birth is believed to have been around 387 A.D. somewhere in modern day Scotland. When Patrick was sixteen years old, he was kidnapped, carried to Ireland, and sold into slavery. Patrick came to faith in Christ during this awful time of his life. After six years in captivity, Patrick succeeded in escaping. After returning to his family the Lord began to burden Patrick’s heart for the pagan country of Ireland, calling him back to the Emerald Isle as a missionary. Over the span of his time in the ministry, it is estimated that Patrick, with his own hands, baptized 12,000 converts (by immersion) and founded 365 fundamental churches, training and ordaining a pastor in each one of them.

In the past century scholars and historians have successfully unmasked Patrick’s history of the Romish fables that classify him as a Catholic. It is interesting to note that Patrick’s time was before the Roman Catholic church’s “authority” was generally recognized. There is not a shred of historical or archaeological evidence that sustains the popish claims to Patrick’s life and ministry. In fact, throughout his life, history shows us that Patrick acted wholly independent of Rome.

The pastor, Dr. John Summerfield Wimbish, was so passionate about the true Christian heritage of Patrick that he preached a sermon "St. Patrick was a Baptist" at the Wednesday evening prayer meeting of the Calvary Baptist Church of New York City on March 12, 1952. It was just a few days before the famed New York City St. Patrick's Day parade. Word got out, and that sermon was used of God to mobilize over 95,000 Baptists who marched in the parade that year “up New York's fashionable Fifth Avenue.” It is estimated that 1.5 million spectators “lined the streets including Cardinal Spellman and other church leaders who witnessed the spectacle from the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.” It has been recorded that the reviewing stand on Fifth Avenue bore such dignitaries as the Mayor of New York City, several city and state officials, as well as many military and church leaders. That same day, Pastor Summerfield offered his “St. Patrick was a Baptist” sermon to a world-wide radio audience. A written transcript of that message, with footnotes and a bibliography of primary source materials, can be viewed at www.reformedreader.org/history/patrick.htm.

 

Rainbow over coastline, Haena Beach, Kauai, Hawaii, U.S.

Finding That God Is More Than Enough

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content… I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:11, 13

True wealth in God’s scheme of life is a godliness that is mature enough to produce contentment. Consider what the Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Puritan preacher and author Thomas Watson wrote, “The doctrine of contentment is very superlative; and till we have learned this, we have not learned to be a Christian.”

Watson also wrote, “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” Simply put, the essence of contentment is satisfaction with things as they are because God is more than enough. It is not a passive resignation. We do not talk ourselves into this frame of mind by human logic but rather we submit ourselves into it by affirming Divine truth. It is inconceivable to a thoughtful and surrendered Christian that he should ever lack anything for his present happiness.

The enemy of contentment is covetousness. Covetousness says, “Who God is and what He has supplied does not satisfy me. I must have something more.” The root of this line of thinking is unbelief. If God is not enough to satisfy us, then nothing will ever be enough for us. On the contrary, the root of contentment is believing what God has said about Himself. If God is the biggest thing in our lives, we won’t need anything else, nor will we want it. Therefore, in order for us to be content, we must know God well enough to be satisfied that He, Himself, is enough for us.

 

dados

The Disorder of Unbelief

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Romans 1:21

I once read that “unbelief is a ‘disorder’ because it accepts the reasoning of fallen man over the revelation of God.” Romans 1:21 describes it as “vain imaginations.” Could it be that some of the psychological and physiological “disorders” of our day are rooted in unbelief? Scripture certainly seems to support the idea. For example, in Numbers 20:1-13 we see that the source of anger was unbelief. In Mark 4:40 it was fear that sprung up as the result of unbelief. Despair is described in Hebrews 12:3 as the product of unbelief. In each case a fleshly response to bad circumstances can clearly be recognized. However, we can also see that God does not deal with the fleshly response, but rather He soundly rebukes the unbelief.

The fantasy of unbelief is “We need something more, more than what God is doing for us, and more than what God is for us. God is not enough.” It is our tendency, because of our flawed, frail, and faulty nature, to interpret what we know about God from our experience instead of in light of what is true about God from the Scriptures. All that there is left to do when we reject the truth about God is to live in a fantasy world of “vain imaginations” because the world we are choosing to live in does not exist. A world where God does not love us personally does not exist! A world where God is not in control of everything does not exist! A world where God is not working for our good and His glory does not exist!

The disorder of unbelief comes from musing on thoughts that communicate “If only I had,” or “I should be,” or “I should have,” or “I don’t like…” These thoughts are dangerous because they reflect “the lust for more” which is the basis for every temptation in our hearts (James 1:14). We should make a habit of looking for the fruits of unbelief in our lives like guilt, anxiety, anger, and despair diligently tracking the thoughts that led up to them. Thoughts like “if only,” “I should,” and “I don’t like” so that we can recognize the onset of unbelief and then deal with it by turning over our legitimate concerns to God and, in the light of the truth about God, surrender the results to Him.

 

Smile to a new day copy

Renewal

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“…Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

It is important that we deal with the pressures we face in life properly. The persistence of unresolved or wrongly handled pressures place a strain on our soul and body that can have negative effects on what we think, want, and feel as well as physical ramifications.

A disciplined soul and body have a greater ability to withstand pressure with fewer debilitating effects on either the soul or the body. It’s like reinforcing concrete with steel rods. A disciplined mind approaches pressures with purpose and structure. A disciplined body is healthier because it receives adequate and consistent amounts of nutrition, rest, and exercise. These elements give our being a measure of endurance. However, reinforcement for the purpose of being able to endure pressure more efficiently is not the answer. We need renewal. That can only happen when we deal with pressure the way God intends us to.

God never intended for us to be able to handle the pressures of life on our own. This is true even if our mind and body are disciplined to the highest possible human level. The truth is, most of us do not discipline our bodies like we should and we tend to be selective in the areas of life which we maintain discipline over what we think, want, and feel. The results can be seen in lives of sporadic productivity and limited effectiveness in honoring the Lord.

If we are to handle pressure Biblically, then we must eliminate the pressures God does not intend for us to bear. That means eliminating sin (1 John 1:9) and responsibilities we have assumed outside of the will of God (Matthew 11:28-30). This, combined with the disciplines of adequate rest, a nutritious diet, and regular exercise, will enable us to truly enjoy a renewed mind, a mind renewed by the Spirit of God with the truth of God.

 

paloma-con-ramita-olivoTruth

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” 2 Peter 1:2-3

According to Romans chapter one there are some things every man understands to be true through creation and his own conscience (see verses 18-21, 25, 28, and 32). The definition of truth is “that which pertains to reality.” Nothing can be true and untrue at the same time, nor can something exist and not exist at the same time. To live outside of truth is to live in a fantasy.

Belief is what we accept to be true and, like it or not, we are always believing someone or something. Nonbelief is nonexistent. However, unbelief is very real. Therefore we must labor to find out what is true according to God, resolutely rejecting any deviation from it and clinging to the things that are true about God no matter what is going on around us or what is happening to us. Rejecting the truth about God is a highhanded insult against God that initiates the process of our own disintegration (Romans 1:21-32).

Unbelief robs God of His glory which tarnishes our view of His unique excellence (Romans 1:21). He becomes, in our minds, no better than the creatures He made – weak, untrustworthy, unloving, unkind, and unwise. Sadly, the temptation of our sinful hearts is to “[exchange] the truth of God [for] a lie” (Romans 1:25).

The truth is, God is more than enough for us in every way. He is always great and He is always good! That means He is always in control of all things, always present with us, always the same, always trustworthy, and always wise. He always meets our needs, forgives our sin, works in our lives for our good and His glory, loves us personally, and gives us the grace that we need. We should be studious to find verses in God’s Word that teach these truths, meditate on them, memorize them, and encourage others with them (2 Timothy 2:15). We should test every stray thought of our hearts by these truths (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) being mindful that rejecting them is to live a lie in a fantasy world of unbelief.

 

prayingPeace

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you…” John 14:27

Noise is produced by creating a disturbance. The noise we hear in the physical realm consists of waves, but the noise we feel in our soul consists of thoughts. Therefore, in order to identify the disturbances in our soul, we must track our thoughts not our feelings.

The noise that disturbs our soul and robs us of rest and peace “sounds” like anxiety, discouragement, anger, bitterness, lust, or guilt. The source of these disturbances come from thoughts of worry, hopelessness, hurt, injustice, illicit pleasure, remorse, or embarrassment. These disturbances are further complicated by distorted thoughts of responsibility, rituals, self-imposed demands, or secrecy and external sources like TV, music, news, sports, video games, travels, or adventure. The collective noise of all these “sounds” is deafening! Spiritually we become alienated from God and the physical manifestations of these collective disturbances is deadly. Stress related illnesses like gastrointestinal disorder, cardiac difficulty, sleep disorder, autoimmune and endocrine system dysfunction result because of unrestrained and unbiblical thoughts that keep the autonomic nervous system activated. How different this is from God’s desire for us to enjoy the peace that only the Lord Jesus Christ can give.

What is God’s cure for “noise in the soul?” Look away from self and look to God for direction, strength, and hope (Proverbs 3:5-8; John 15:4-5). We must be willing to be governed. The godfather of noise in our soul is pride. This pride is fueled by our fight to go beyond God ordained limitations and restrictions in an effort to gain or regain supposed control over our lives. To quiet the noise in our soul, we must purpose to surrender to the conforming work of God in our lives which, according to His Word, will result in peace, “not as the world giveth,” which only Christ can afford.

 

rest and peaceRest

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Being overworked, overloaded, and overstressed are common experiences for all of us. Too much month left over at the end of the money, health problems, relational struggles, and work-related pressures lead to dysfunction in all three areas of our trichotomy. How do we deal with the “rat race?” How can we get a sense of well-being and peace in our souls?

The Lord Jesus Christ has the answer if we will take time to find out what He means when He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” and then find out how to obtain it.
The first step toward the rest that Christ describes in Matthew 11:28 is taking an inventory of what is keeping our souls restless. Our culture teaches us that the source of our emotional discomfort is stress, circumstances, or chemical imbalances. God has an entirely different view of our distress. Scripture indicates to us that the restlessness we have inside begins with unbelief.

Our temptation is to believe things that are not true of God and reject things that are true about Him. When we yield to that temptation, we choose to live in a fantasy world – a world where things do not exist as we choose to believe they do. The tragic outcome of unbelief is all around us and within us in the form of anxiety, anger, and despair.

The truth is, God promised to never give us more trouble than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). Therefore, our problem must be in the way we perceive and respond to pressure. If we are to experience the rest Christ spoke of, then we must labour to know what is true about God, repenting of and rejecting any deviation from those truths, and clinging to what we know to be true about God (as it is recorded in the Scriptures) no matter what is happening around us.

 

25445617_s

Spirit, Soul and Body

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23

God is a Trinity. He is One, yet He manifests Himself in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
God made the first man (Adam) in His image and after His likeness (Genesis 1:26; 2:7). Adam interrupted that cycle by disobeying God and passing on a spiritual “birth defect” to every person that would be born into the world after that (Genesis 5:3; Romans 5:19). Those that place their faith and trust in Christ are re-birthed as three dimensional persons in one. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 clearly identifies that the believer has a spirit, soul, and body.

The Christians that made up the church at Thessalonica were just like any other believers who make up local churches in this day and age. They were flawed, frail, and faulty people who had problems. The Apostle Paul was praying that the people of the church at Thessalonica would surrender to God’s work of sanctification (the believer’s sin nature vs. God’s provision to overcome it) in all three dimensions of their lives – spirit, soul, and body.

Whatever the flaw, frailty, or fault is, its root cause needs to be identified so that it can be properly treated. A physical solution will not help a spiritual problem, a spiritual solution will not help a soul problem, and a soul solution will not help a physical problem. Surrendering to God’s provision in overcoming our flaws, frailties, and faults involves allowing God access to all three areas of our being and letting Him make us more like Christ in our spirit, soul, and body.

Lest we become discouraged through this process, it is important that we not lose sight of the sweet and sure promise of the verse following the text we used for this devotion. It says, “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

 

20902346_sFaith

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“But without faith it is impossible to please him:” Hebrews 11:6

The phrase “by faith” appears fourteen times in Hebrews 11, a chapter that is often described as the “Hall of Faith.” This portion of Scripture briefly chronicles the testimonies of many Bible characters as they lived and walked by faith: Abraham, Moses, Enoch, Joseph, Noah, Joshua, and even Rahab.

Their faith was in a God who was able to do all that He promised. This gave them courage to obey and take action believing that, in the end, everything would turn out right. As a result, they pleased God and found Him to be all that they needed in every circumstance or trial.

For the believer, there is a stirring of the spirit of God in our hearts when we read of people who believed God and followed Him. We recognize that this is what God intends life to be for His people. He desires that we believe Him and trust Him regardless of what challenges or obstacles we might face remembering that He is still God and always in control of all things.

It pleases our Heavenly Father when, by faith, we follow Him, leaving our insecurities and fears behind to go, do, and speak as He is leading and directing. The question we should ask ourselves is, “Am I pleasing God by my faith?”
May God help us, by faith, to see what He has for us, embrace His will with a spirit of trust, and believe that what He has promised He is able also to perform.

 

Candle in hand

Rekindling The Flame

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“… His word was in mine heart as a burning fire…” Jeremiah 20:9

As believers, do we still possess the “burning fire” of our salvation as we once did, or has it somehow been extinguished? If so, how and when? Furthermore, how and where do we go to rekindle the flame? Can we effectively spread His great salvation to a lost world if we no longer enjoy it ourselves? If we could, would we? Do we? If we do, why bother? These questions beg for answers when we, as believers, are working hard to stay on fire for God but are failing to experience the flames of passion for Him.

We have three fires to fuel so as to remain aflame for The Light of the World (Matthew 5:14). Spiritually, we have a fire that must be fed through prayer, the study of God’s Word, church attendance, giving, and being a faithful witness. We must also keep the flames of our “inner-personality” burning. This fire helps to warm our influence with others through godly character and biblical magnetism which aids in the effectiveness of building relationships with loved ones, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers. Physically, we also have a fire. It is a metabolic fire that gives us energy, keeps excess weight off, and provides health and well-being. We will burn hottest and brightest when all three of these fires are being fueled properly.

While inspecting our spiritual, personal, and physical fires we must keep in mind that lasting fires are produced by the quality of the fuel and not the quantity. Therefore, when selecting what to fuel our fires with, it is imperative that we choose what is best even over that which is good so that the flames of our trichotomy will burn hotter, brighter, and longer than they ever have before!

 

48244758_sTimes and Seasons

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1

We are ministering in a post-modern society that has trouble defining marriage, cannot balance budgets, worships the creature more than the Creator, and engages in every unrestrained indulgence like the pagans of the Roman Empire. If the Lord should tarry His coming, the next generation will minister in a culture that has further abandoned all that is good and godly. We are ministering in the last days.

The “seeker-sensitive” movement with all of its authors, mega-churches, and trendy innovation is failing. In our last presidential election, more than twenty-five percent of people who would align themselves as Bible believing, evangelical Christians voted for the most liberal president we have ever had. Things like this serve as an indicator of the drought of good doctrine and lack of Biblical conviction found in places of worship all across America.

As we pass into yet another new year, we must recognize that now is the time for change. The season is upon us. Now is the time for a generation of believers after God’s own heart. Now is the time for the older to invest in the younger admonishing them in doctrinal integrity, a passion for God, and a passion for souls. Now is the time for every believer, everywhere to seek God for repentance and revival in our land!

 

31336064_m

Wise Men Still Seek Him

By Julie Carro *

 

 

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in the days of Herod the king,
There came from the east to Jerusalem, wise men with gifts to bring.
Saying, Where is He that is born, this precious King of the Jews,
For His star appeared in the east, to announce this glorious news.

And, lo, the star which they saw, went before them on their way,
Till it came and stood over the place, of this wondrous holy day!
With exceeding great joy and praise, they entered into the place,
Where they saw the young Child with Mary; Jesus, face to face.

They fell down and worshipped the Saviour, in complete humility and awe,
Bowed in pure amazement, of all that they heard and saw,
This King had no grand arrival, no trumpet announcement of birth,
No fancy attire to clothe Him, with the inheritance of his worth.

Yet, as they beheld this Child, they began to see His fame,
For He was clothed in Mercy and Truth, by the power of His Name.
He wore a crown of glory, and righteousness became His robe,
His kingdom spanned the universe, beyond the earthly globe.

Yes, this Child was royalty! They could sense it in their soul,
As they opened up their treasures, of frankincense and gold,
Laid before the King, they presented Him with their best,
Rejoicing in the blessing, to be His honored guests…

Now Wise Men Still Seek His Face, as they did in days of old,
To give the Lord their hearts, more precious than silver and gold.
For the King still lives today, and invites men to His side,
To reign with Him in glory, as His Beloved Bride!

* Used with permission. © 2006 by Julie Carro 8095 Kings Highway, King George, VA 22485

 

jose-y-mariaMore Than a Story

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.” Luke 1:28-29

To the actors in the original Christmas drama, Christmas was something far larger than a story. When Gabriel first saluted Mary with the glad tidings that she was selected to give birth to the Messiah, it was not only a dream come true; it was a complete life change. This wasn’t something Mary read once a year before ripping into the presents stacked under the tree—this was reality. Christmas was more than a story to Mary. It was her life.

Somehow, through the grace of God, Mary made three timely choices as life spun out of her control into the sovereign prophecies of Scripture. The choices Mary made are within the reach of every child of God. In fact, they are vital.

Mary’s decisions began with the simple choice to trust God, which she expressed through submission to His will (Luke 1:38). She continued the path of trust by choosing to rejoice, remembering God’s goodness and favor instead of complaining about the difficulties of her new ‘normal’ (Luke 1:46-47). Ultimately these choices were stabilized in her heart as she quietly made the choice to ponder, meditating on the wondrous events that were unfolding before her eyes (Luke 2:19).

We, too, can make these choices and allow Christmas to become more than a story.

 

treesGrowth

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18

As believers God intends for us to grow. Just as the seed in a pine cone is designed to become an evergreen tree, so the Christian is designed to be conformed into the image of Christ. This growth is intended to be regular and consistent displaying vitality, life, and health all year round. An evergreen tree may grow faster in some seasons than in others, and so goes the growth of the believer.

Therefore, our focus should be on the health of our growth and not necessarily on the growth itself. The question, “am I growing spiritually?” may not be nearly as important as asking ourselves, “Is my spiritual growth healthy?”

Often times, a lack of growth in our spiritual lives is due to poor spiritual conditions. There are far more factors that prevent us from growing like we should spiritually than those things which contribute to healthy spiritual growth in our lives. As wise Christians we must learn to recognize these “growth killers” that prevent us from becoming what God desires for us to be. Recognizing and addressing them are critical to our spiritual growth. Failing to remove them will result in an indifference to the things of God and most likely end in spiritual decline.

Addressing these “growth killers” requires patience, courage, wisdom, honesty, and endurance. Anything that presses forward is bound to experience resistance, so we should expect some opposition when we try to break through the barriers that would keep us from healthy spiritual growth. With a proper view of God in the face of resistance, we can treat opposition as an opportunity to grow instead of an obstacle to growing.

 

nativityFocus on the Gold

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us….” John 1:14

Do you ever feel frustrated with the Christmas holiday? The commercialization, the restrictions on religious terminology, and the frantic pace of the season can leave us worn out!
Consider what John 1:14 says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us….” The word ‘dwelt’ in this verse means ‘tabernacled’ and it draws our minds back to a wonderful picture in the Old Testament.

God desired to dwell with His people and instructed Moses to build a tabernacle. The boards of the tabernacle were made of wood as was the Ark of the Covenant. In both cases the wood was overlaid with gold. In Scripture, wood speaks of humanity while gold typifies the Divine. This is a beautiful picture in the Old Testament which foretold the coming of the God-Man, Jesus Christ.

As the children of Israel looked at the tabernacle or saw the ark, they knew that it was made of wood, but all they saw was the gold. When people in the first century met Jesus they knew that He was a Man in the flesh, but they could not deny, by all that He said and did, that He was indeed Divine!

So, when you start getting frustrated with the bustle of Christmas, focus on the “Gold.” Yes, we are all going to have to deal with the “wood” of Christmas—long lines, jammed schedules, haggling, tired kids, and empty bank accounts. But when the depressing holiday spirit starts to get to you—focus on the “Gold.”

 

family-of-childrenKeep it Flowing

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“…freely ye have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8

There is an old adage that says, “Faith is the intake and love is the outlet of the soul.” If that is the case, then it is important that we keep both the intake and outlet open.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:8, “…freely ye have received, freely give.” We receive by faith, and we give because we love. Giving is an expression of love. Missionary to India Amy Carmichael said, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” The greatest illustration of this truth can be found in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave…”

It is important to remember that we are not owners, we are stewards. Whatever we have – whether it be time, abilities, talents, money or possessions – it was entrusted to us by God, and we are expected to be good stewards of it all. Therefore, if we have received freely, then we ought to freely give allowing the intake and the outlet of our souls to remain open.
The Dead Sea is ‘dead’ because it only receives. It has no outlet. It never gives. So is the soul that only receives. Sooner or later, in a sense, that soul dies. It is important then that we ‘keep it flowing’ so that we may maintain a freshness and vitality in our lives as well as in our walk with God.

 

7099803_sGratitude

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” Ephesians 5:20

Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. said, “Gratitude is the loveliest flower that grows in the garden of man’s soul… when gratitude dies on the altar of a man’s heart, he is well nigh gone.” Gratitude doesn’t cost anything, and it says a lot about our character. A great southern preacher named Curtis Hutson wrote, “Of all the great men I’ve known personally or read about, I’ve never known one who was an ingrate.”

We should say “thank you” often and mean it! Say “thank you” to the waitress when she brings tea, coffee, or tops off our glasses with water. Say “thank you” to our friends when they do something special for us. Say “thank you” to our loved ones for the routine tasks they perform that benefit us. We should never take things for granted and always be ready to express our gratitude.
Jesus told of ten lepers who were cleansed but only one turned back to say, “Thank you!” If Christ thinks gratitude is important, then a heart-felt “thank you” is always appropriate.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This passage teaches that not only are we to be grateful for all things as taught in Ephesians 5:20, but also in all things – in every situation, no matter what the circumstances may be. The only way that we will be able to do this is to remember and apply the truth of Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When we begin to truly understand that God is always working in our lives for our good and His glory, we will not find it difficult to express our gratitude to Him for all things as well as in all things.

 

arrepentimientoPraise the Lord

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1

The Psalms have much to say about praising the Lord. For example, in the short chapter of Psalm 150 the word ‘praise’ is found thirteen times in its six verses. The last verse in Psalm 150 concludes with, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.”

When we speak of praising the Lord, we do not want to limit our adulations to public expressions of praise. The Bible teaches that praising the Lord is something that begins in the heart and may, or may not, be expressed outwardly. This truth is illustrated by Mary as the events of the Advent came to pass. The Scriptures relate to us that, “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them [literally meaning that she contemplated these good things and conversed with God about them] in her heart” (Luke 2:19). True praise is not shallow emotionalism and is more of a heart-attitude than it is an action.

When we have prayed about a very important matter and God answers our prayers, we should praise Him for it. When we are reminded of His blessings in the various areas of our lives, we should take time to praise Him. Some of the most joyful moments of our lives can be spent in solitude with God offering genuine, heartfelt praise for who He is and all of the wonderful, wonderful things He has done for us. “Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.” (Psalm 146:1)

 

lolLOL

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine….” Proverbs 17:22

Medical studies have been conducted which indicate laughter aids in the process of healing. I once read of a hospital that performed a study on patients they considered to be terminally ill. During the experiment, select individuals were exposed to things that were humorous (old Amos and Andy radio broadcasts, Three Stooges movies, etc.). It was discovered, over a period of time, that those who included “laughter therapy” as part of their daily regimen showed signs of greater, more prolonged improvement in their health.

Of course, we know the Bible is right; and if it says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” we can rest assured that laughter is good for the body, soul, and spirit.
Clean, wholesome humor will relax tension and relieve a difficult situation more than anything else. It is of priceless value both for what it does for the person who is able to stand outside himself or his circumstances to see things in lighter perspective and laugh, and for the use it can be in his interaction with others.

Charles H. Spurgeon was once criticized for introducing humor into his preaching. To justify this practice he wrote, “There are things in these sermons that may produce smiles, but what of them? The preacher is not quite sure about a smile being a sin, and at any rate he thinks it less a crime to cause momentary laughter than a half-hour of profound slumber.”

A good test of the appropriateness of our humor is whether we control it or it controls us. We should learn to appreciate and enjoy laughing at good clean fun. We should learn to laugh at ourselves. And remember, some of the funniest things in life are things that really happen!

 

washing feet

The Way Up is Down

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“... whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:” Matthew 20:25-27

In the realm of politics and commerce humility is a quality neither coveted nor required. There the leader needs and seeks prominence and publicity. But in God’s scale of values the way up is down. Self-effacement, not self-advertisement, was Christ’s definition of greatness. In training His disciples, He told them they must not be pompous and overbearing like “the princes of the Gentiles,” but humble and lowly like their Master (Matthew 20:25-27). The greatest servant will choose the less traveled pathway of obedient and sacrificial service for the approval of his Lord over the flamboyant assignment that draws the enthusiastic accolades of men.

In the early days of his ministry, one might have concluded that the greatness of John the Baptist lay in his fierce denunciation of the evils of his day, in the burning eloquence and blistering words which pierced and exposed the hearts of his contemporaries. But the secret that made him the greatest is to be found in his revealing affirmation, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Our humility should be an ever growing quality. A good example of that is to notice the Apostle Paul’s advancement in the grace of humility with the passing of years. Early in his ministry he stated, “I am the least of the apostles” (I Corinthians 15:9). Sometime later he volunteered, “I am less than the least of all saints” (Ephesians 3:8). Then, at last, when his life was near its end he mourned, “I am the chief of sinners” (I Timothy 1:15). May we mature in like fashion ever keeping in mind that the way up, is down.

 

orandoPurpose

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory….” Isaiah 43:7

God has designed us to glorify Him. The word “glorify” literally means “to make look good.” This purpose requires a collective effort of every part of our being. We, as Christians, function with three parts – spirit (that which allows us to have a relationship and fellowship with God), soul (the ‘seat’ of our mind, emotions, and will), and body. If we are going to be successful in accomplishing our life’s purpose, then all three parts of our being should be synchronized in the effort of glorifying God. If one part of our being is willing to glorify God and the other is not, then we are going to have a hard time fulfilling the intentions of the One for Whom we “…are and were created….” (Revelation 4:11). For example, if our soul (what we think, want, and feel) chooses to reject God’s persuasive prompting of our spirit, then the soul will exert its freedom to choose and maintain control over the body. Such a choice does not have the stamina to make God look good, no matter how religious or well-intended our behaviors may be for it is not God doing the work, but the soul of man that is in control (“…all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;” Isaiah 64:6). God can only be truly glorified or “made to look good” through a willing and yielded soul.

As stated before, a God-honoring trichotomy (three-part being) requires full cooperation of all three parts. Our body should not control our soul and our soul should never control our spirit (what God thinks, wants, and feels). However, our spirit, under the influence of God’s Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), should be in control of both body and soul. The only way for us to feel complete and lasting satisfaction of purpose in our lives is for all three parts of our being to be working in willing, collective, and unselfish submission to the Spirit of God within us.

 

35811691_sFriendship With God

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“…he was called the Friend of God.” James 2:23

The answer to loneliness and the foundation for all friendships begins with God. We ought to be the friend of God just like the Bible refers to Abraham in James 2:23. No earthly relationship can ever begin to meet the needs of our hearts or fill the void we sometimes feel like a close relationship with the Lord does.

Throughout Scripture we can read of individuals who depended upon God, seeking His presence, coming before His throne, and encouraging themselves in Him. This dependence must be every Christian’s first “friendship” priority.
A famous actor was once the guest of honor at a social gathering where he received many requests to recite excerpts from various literary works. An old preacher who happened to be there asked the actor to recite Psalm 23. The actor agreed on the condition that the preacher would also recite it. The actor’s recitation was beautifully intoned with great dramatic emphasis for which he received lengthy applause.

The preacher’s voice was rough and broken from many years of preaching, and his dictation was anything but polished. However, when he was finished, there was not a dry eye in the room.

When someone asked the actor what made the difference, he replied, “I know the Psalm, but he knows the Shepherd.” Draw close to the Shepherd. When you truly know Him, all other friendships will pale in comparison.

 

verse-bibleMaking Good Decisions Well

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“…in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14

Making a decision well is as important as making a good decision, and when making a decision it is a good practice to clearly define the issue. Wise decisions are informed decisions. Once all the factors are known, the available options can be further evaluated or eliminated.

The process of evaluation and elimination begins with prayer. As we pray, it is important that we ask for wisdom ("...If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God..." James 1:5) recognizing that the wisdom we need to make a decision well is found in God’s Word. God’s will and God’s Word never contradict one another, so we must be sure to see what the Bible has to say about the decision we are making. Some decisions are easy if there is one clear choice consonant with God’s Word. When there is not a clear choice, God has provided us with another fundamental aspect in making a decision well, seeking godly counsel. Proverbs 11:14 (above) and Proverbs 15:22 communicate similar thoughts.

Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” Sometimes, consulting with a godly friend or family member is enough. At other times, consulting with your pastor or other trusted voice can make the difference between a bad decision and a good one.
When we have done everything in our power to make a decision well, it is important to trust the Lord with the outcome. In other words, if we’ve “bathed” our decision in prayer, obtained wisdom from the Scriptures, and sought out godly counsel, then we should leave the consequences of our decision to God being sure to give Him the praise for any success that may come as a result of making our decision well.

 

boy-prayingPrayer

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all… prayers… be made…. ” 1 Timothy 2:1

In no other area of our walk with God should we excel more than in the realm of prayer. The quality of every other area of our Christian lives is in direct relation to the quality of the time that we spend in prayer. Each of us is keenly aware of the possibility of endless development in our prayer life yet none ever feels as if they have “already attained.” C. J. Vaughn once said: “If I wished to humble anyone, I should question him about his prayers. I know nothing to compare with this topic for its sorrowful self-confessions.”

Prayer has been described as the most ancient, most universal, most intense expression of the religious instinct. It is so simple that infant lips can employ its use yet so sublime that it reaches into the very throne room of Almighty God. It is “the Christian’s vital breath and native air.”

Why is it, then, that most of us are plagued with a subtle aversion to praying? Frequently we do not naturally delight in coming to the “throne of grace” except “in time of need.” We know that expressing our delight and affirming the potency and value of prayer is the right thing to communicate. We are certain that prayer is an indispensable part of a mature spiritual life. We know that prayer is repeatedly enjoined and exemplified in Scripture. But all too often, we fail to pray!

Let us take encouragement from the great leaders of the Bible who, being of like passions with ourselves, conquered their natural reluctance to prayer. They were not great leaders because of their brilliant minds, inexhaustible resources or magnificent refinement, but because they were great at praying, and “by the power of prayer, they could command the power of God.” [E. M. Bounds]

 

juego de teEnjoying Good Things

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” 1 Timothy 6:17

Generally speaking, there is nothing wrong with having good things. In Matthew 6:33 it is recorded that Jesus said, “…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Here the Lord does not speak prohibitively of things but rather the place those things occupy in our lives.

When we live only for things and not the character and control of God in our lives, our priorities are wrong. However, if we keep our priorities right, there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying good things. For example, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing something we will enjoy, so long as that purchase does not keep us from paying the tithe, or harming our testimony by not being able to take care of the needs of our family or previous obligations we have made.

How sad that we should go through life without enjoying things! 1 Timothy 6:17 teaches that it is God who gives us these things “…to enjoy…” Sometimes it seems we have the impression that in order to be good Christians we have to be miserable. The truth is we should be the happiest people in the world! Dr. John R. Rice once said, “A long face is a poor signboard for Jesus.”

Use the good china, silverware and stemware instead of letting it sit in the cabinet for years! Buy a good mattress and wake up without such a bad back ache that it slows you down for the Lord! If God enables you to afford a nice car, enjoy it! Enjoy the good things God has given us!

 

familia-y-cruzBuilding Relationships

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” That is a good maxim to consider as we endeavor to influence others into a personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. It was certainly something the Apostle Paul was aware of who made himself, “…all things to all men…” for the chance at saving some.

There is a prevailing philosophy that afflicts many of us. In fact, it is more of a fear than a philosophy. We fear that reaching out to help a sinner in some way excuses the sin. This is not true. The purpose of reaching out to a sinner and providing a measure of love and aid is not to justify, excuse, or ignore the sin, but to provide them with hope. Hope to have a purpose in Jesus Christ our Saviour. If reaching out to a sinner and providing a measure of love and aid is done properly, it will do exactly the opposite of communicating that we are excusing their sin.

Our objective in building loving, caring relationships is to help the sinner become sensitive to the truth by speaking the truth in love. However, we cannot speak the truth in love if we do not believe the truth is love. If we believe God’s Word is truth then we ought to be able to deal with sin in the light of Scripture without compromising the truth that “…God so loved the world…” In reaching out to them, we will not be “harboring a fugitive” from God’s justice, we will instead be encouraging them to face the Almighty Judge and come to repentance.

 

8272647_sMinistry

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10

The ministry is not reserved for evangelists, pastors, and Bible teachers. It is the duty of every believer. The evangelist, pastor, and Bible teacher are gifts to the local assembly for the purpose of equipping the Saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). Although it is the duty of the evangelist, pastor, and Bible teacher to equip the church corporately for this work, the most effective ministry will flow from individual hearts that walk with God in private.

Every Christian ought to live with an awareness that the work of the ministry is a holy calling – it is a life separated and distinct, designed to be an example to believers and unbelievers (Ephesians 4:1, “…walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called…”) If Satan is successful in ruining the testimony of one person, he can negatively impact the whole church family, the entire community where they minister, and beyond. Ministry is influence. When God gave us the privilege of ministry, He entrusted us with influence for Him. Along with that influence comes some very clear and vital responsibility.

If we desire God’s fullest blessing upon our ministry, we must submit to what He thinks, wants, and feels in every situation, align ourselves with the mandates and principles of the Bible, and commit to the work of the ministry “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10).

 

36173893_s

Impartiality

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin….” James 2:9

Many are familiar with the narrative of Jacob’s undiluted partiality toward his son Joseph in Genesis 37. Whatever the reason was, the fact stands out in bold relief that Jacob loved Joseph more than his other children. Not only did Jacob show foolishness in being partial, but he was still more foolish in the way he displayed it by making Joseph the famed “coat of many colours” (Genesis 37:3). Jacob himself was reared in a home where partiality was shown. He was his mother’s pet and together they conspired to deceive his father, Isaac, and Jacob’s older brother, Esau.

It seems partiality is a sin that is not often mentioned. When is the last time we heard a sermon devoted to the topic of partiality or its antonym, impartiality? Yet think of how much favoritism creeps into relationships in the world, the workplace, the church, and the home.

Unfortunately, partiality does some of its deadliest work in the church. What a tragedy! Notice what James recorded in his epistle concerning this awful sin: “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” (James 2:1-4) ““But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin….” (James 2:9) These are strong and pointed words regarding this very common transgression!

The Bible teaches we should never compare ourselves with others because it is not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12); neither then should we compare people with other people. Each person has certain strengths of character. Each one excels in some area. Each person is important and valuable to God. Each person has a contribution to make to the world.
Jacob was wrong in showing partiality and we must be careful to see to it that we do not do the same.

 

Cappuccino cup "Web"

Timeless or Trendy?

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” John 17:15-16

Places like shopping malls, restaurants, and coffee houses are trendy. Being trendy helps increase “the bottom line” for businesses that thrive on the cutting edge of our ever evolving culture.

With the forceful current of constant change in trends sweeping over every other part of our lives, we have the need to connect with something more enduring and firm. That is one of the reasons God established the church. The church is the earthly representation of the Eternal Kingdom and the ageless truths of God and His Word. Because of this, there is no need for the church to imitate the trends in culture.

In this day and age, many have put a great emphasis on creating an atmosphere in church that mirrors the current likes and dislikes of society. Rather than basing our worship on what society dictates perhaps it would be better for us to adopt an “in the world but not of the world” mentality and take some time to prayerfully consider what God thinks, wants, and feels when it comes to worshiping Him.

The Bible teaches that the believer is to “…keep himself unspotted from the world….” (James 1:27). Believers make up the church and so it only follows that the assembling of the church should be different than other places where people gather in the world. Church should feel like church. It shouldn't resemble a rock concert, comedy club, or motivational seminar. The place where the church assembles is commonly referred to as a sanctuary. Church is a safe haven, oasis, and retreat from the world. That does not mean that church is "old-fashioned," it's more like "timeless" – as timeless as God and the truths of His Word.

 

TriatlonPersonal Discipline

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:28

Personal Discipline is the outworking of the more basic principle of doing right. On a practical level, doing right is doing as we ought to do. Personal discipline is the engine that pulls the train of character, and, in the specific case of the believer, the engine that pulls the train of Christian character. We will rarely do as we ought to do until we discipline ourselves to do what is right.

There are various “small” compromises which can effectively ruin a believer’s influence. A large portion of those “flies in the ointment” (Ecclesiastes 10:1) are directly related to a lack of personal discipline in the various aspects of a believer’s life.

One of the ways that the principle of personal discipline is illustrated in the Bible is in the comparison of the Christian life to a marathon (1 Corinthians 9:24). To run 26-plus miles requires a tremendous amount of personal discipline. Marathoners must work out strenuously on a consistent basis for an extended period of time preceding the big race. They must discipline their eating habits. They must discipline their minds to resist pain and exhaustion. In the final hours before the race, they must discipline their sleep, hydration, and carbohydrate intake. It is self-inflicted torture for a vast majority whose goal is not to win the race but to simply finish the course.

Personal discipline is necessary in a believer’s intent, attitude, and actions. It is the invisible secret to good Christian character in general, and finishing the course with joy in particular.

 

runner corrGoing the Extra Mile

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”
Matthew 5:41

When the above passage was written, the nation of Israel was under the bondage of Rome. Because of this, a Roman soldier could compel a Jewish boy to carry his pack for one mile. It has been said that these Jewish boys would go out one mile in every direction from the areas they frequented and mark the spot so that if a Roman soldier came by and forced them to carry the pack, they would take it to that spot and drop it as if to communicate, “There, that is it! That is all I am required to do!”

Jesus was teaching in Matthew 5:41 that this was not the attitude that a follower of Christ (a Christian) should have. Think of the value that Christ’s ‘second-miler’ attitude brings to a person’s life and those around them. The ‘second-miler’ builds the strongest influence and maintains the best relationships.

Frequently the margin between having a good testimony and having the best testimony is determined by going the extra mile. Therefore, if we desire to have the fullest blessing of God on our lives, we must go the extra mile. If we desire to have the strongest influence in our homes, community, and places of employment, then we must go the extra mile. ‘Second-miler’ attitudes and actions will help make us indispensable to those we come into contact with.

 

perlaOne Pearl of Great Price

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“… the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46

Matthew 13:45-46 records the parable of “one pearl of great price.” This parable speaks of the work of Christ and what He came to do. It is all about the Lord Jesus Christ purchasing the church with His own blood. The pearl is not Christ, but the work Christ accomplished.
This parable also speaks of His church. Jesus Christ is the “merchant man seeking goodly pearls.” The “one pearl of great price” is His church. When He found this one pearl, He gave all that He had and bought it (1 Corinthians 6:20). The Bible says in Ephesians 5:25 that Christ “loved the church, and gave himself for it.”

These evoking thoughts raise some questions. What do we value? What is it that we are giving our lives for? Is it transcendent in its value or is it something that is corruptible by moths and rust having such eternal insignificance that it is not even worth stealing?

Having the privilege of a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ carries with it the concomitant responsibility of making and taking time to walk with Him and talk with Him learning to value what He values. Doing this will most likely change the way we think about our time, talent, and treasure resulting in a response that is much like the merchant man in Mathew 13:45-46 who “sold out” for something of true and lasting value.

 

ajedrezChoose Your Battles Wisely

By Pastor Greg Wilt

"I have fought a good fight…” 2 Timothy 4:7

In his book “Lessons for Leaders” General George Patton said, “Never fight a battle where nothing is accomplished by the victory.” That is very good advice. Most of the conflict, disagreements, and fights we engage in are not worth having because nothing of significance is accomplished by the victory.

When the Apostle Paul was facing execution he wrote to Timothy, “I have fought a good fight…” I don’t think Paul was implying that he had fought well. Even if that was the case (and I think we would all agree that it was), it wasn’t for Paul to say. That was for God to decide. Rather, when Paul stated that he had “…fought a good fight…” he was communicating that the cause for which he had fought was a good one.

When choosing how we will expend our time, resources and energy let us make sure, absolutely sure, that what we are going to partake in is for a transcendent purpose and may we never involve ourselves in a cause where nothing will be accomplished by the victory.

 

flag and constitutionTrue Liberty

By Pastor Greg Wilt

"...the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound..." Isaiah 61:1

On July 4, 1776 a document was signed in this Nations infancy which dissolved the political bands between the Colonies and Great Britain. This document is known as The Declaration of Independence.

Religious freedom was among the reasons that colonists felt it necessary to separate from England. However, even after Great Britain had been defeated and political independence came these patriots still found themselves at odds with each other in the religious realm and it would be another fifteen years before the United States Government adopted an amendment that stated, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

The First Amendment came about on the backs of men and women who knew first-hand what it was to fight and gain religious freedom yet there is a greater liberty to be possessed beyond what mortal man can tamper with. It is the true liberty spoken of in Isaiah 61:1, liberty that can only be found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

presente y pasadoLive One Day at a Time

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:34

As finite human beings we have a tendency to live one of two ways, and maybe both ways at times. Sometimes we live in the past reflecting and longing for how things used to be in “the good old days” or sometimes we live too much in the future always dreaming and thinking about how good it is going to be when we get there. There is certainly nothing wrong with reminiscing or dreaming so long as in doing it we don’t loath the present and miss life altogether!

Concerning this topic Matthew 6:34 admonishes us to “Take therefore no thought for the morrow...” It has been said that worrying is using today’s strength on tomorrow’s problems. Psalm 127:2 says, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows…”

Think of it this way, “Yesterday is a cancelled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have, so make every penny count.” As believers we are on our way to Heaven, so let’s enjoy the trip and live one day at a time!

 

son hugging fatherDon’t Let Failure Discourage You

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“ The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23, 24

One of the hardest things for a man to accept is failure. One of the hardest truths to embrace is that we will probably not succeed without it. The more we attempt, the more we have the potential of failure. However, the more we fail, the more we learn and the more we put into practice what we learn, the more we will succeed. Failure is the opportunity for improvement. When we discover something will not work, we should try something else and, if that doesn’t work, try something else. Sooner or later, we will find the solution. There are many examples of men who, while having experienced the greatest successes, have also known the greatest failures. As an old man David wrote Psalm 37. In it we see the wisdom he had gleaned from years of walking with God in failure and in success. Thomas Edison is responsible for more than 1,100 inventions which we enjoy today, including the light bulb. Edison made 700 attempts that failed to produce a light bulb. A friend asked him, “Mr. Edison, you have failed 700 times. Why don’t you quit?” Edison replied, “I have not failed 700 times; I’ve discovered 700 things that won’t work in a light bulb!”

We must not let failure discourage us. It is the stuff of which success is made!

 

compassStay the Course

By Pastor Greg Wilt

"...I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize...." Philippians 3:13-14

In late 2012 I went through what would be one of the darkest times of my life. It was awful and, unfortunately, I let circumstances dictate my attitude and my responses to a difficult time. After lending me a sympathetic ear and allowing me to wallow in my troubles, a wise and courageous man communicated to me some of the most sensible and sensitive, clear and helpful counsel I have ever received and for which I will be eternally grateful. In essence, he said, "Stop feeling sorry for yourself, never underestimate the power of God, and STAY THE COURSE."

Staying the course is easy when there are fair winds and following seas but what do we do when the weather changes? It makes sense to determine what we want our attitude toward adversity to be well in advance of adversity because that's when staying the course becomes most difficult and important.

Philippians 3:13-14 teaches us about "staying the course." To stay the course we must understand what God is trying to do. He is making us more like Jesus. If we understand that, we will never fail to be successful. To stay the course we must also have a passion to progress. Get rid of all the excuses why we can't press on, make the sacrifices necessary to endure, and don't worry about becoming tired or uncomfortable. We should consciously avoid reminding ourselves why we can't and start focusing on why and how we can. The more we focus on what we do have, the more positive we become in our overall outlook. To stay the course we must allow God to change what needs to be changed and not wait until something is broken to do it. Above all else, to stay the course we must be a dreamer, have a vision. Set goals, work diligently to achieve them, and keep coming up with ways to take it to the next level.

 

climberSuccess

By Pastor Greg Wilt

"And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered." 2 Chronicles 31:21

2 Chronicles 31:21 is a summary of King Hezekiah's success. I have long thought that a person is not successful until those that he has influence over are a success. Without a doubt, Hezekiah's success was Israel's success. To be a success you must be disciplined and totally unselfish. I think you can see Hezekiah's discipline and unselfishness in the verse above.

Unfortunately, toward the end of Hezekiah's life, he became undisciplined and selfish which ultimately led to his failure. In 2 Kings 20 the Bible records that Hezekiah turned into a "show off." He became prideful, undisciplined, and selfish and the pending result of his failure would not show up until after he was dead. When Isaiah brought word to Hezekiah of God's judgement for his failure, Hezekiah anemically responded, "...Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?" (2 Kings 20:19) With no regard for future generations, Hezekiah stopped succeeding and started "maintaining." There's no reason to celebrate when you maintain. The truth is you're either getting better, or you're getting worse.

The real shame is that Hezekiah's success did not have to end in failure. Success does not come to those who sit around doing nothing because they are undisciplined, selfish, or have encountered failure. Defeat is a great teacher. Don't be afraid of failing, be afraid of not trying. You learn practically nothing from victory. So be unselfish, be disciplined, and ride your failures to success!

 

memorial DayRemembering

By Pastor Greg Wilt

"...a memorial... forever." Joshua 4:7

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a day in which our Nation calls to remembrance those who have given their last full measure in the pursuit of liberty and freedom from the tyranny and oppression of men and governments for the people of the United States of America as well as for those of countless other countries. In light of this special day, I think it fitting to write concerning the subject of "remembering."

The concept of remembering is carried throughout the Scriptures. Its virtue seems to have no value in our culture and it appears that we have lost the art of memorializing. This is probably due, in part, to the "end time" trend of unthankfulness (2 Timothy 3:1-2) and I fear that, as the saying goes, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

1 Corinthians 10:11 states, “Now all these things..." That is the 'things' recorded in the writings of Moses, "...happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." This Memorial Day, in addition to remembering our war dead, may we be careful to bring to mind what God's Word says concerning the weakness of men, their liability to fall into sin, and their need of Divine protection and government using what we learn for ourselves and for the admonition of the next generation.

 

man in sunsetGrace in The Midst of Trials

By Pastor Greg Wilt

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

It is a normal occurrence in the life of the believer to occasionally experience less than desirable circumstances. 1 Peter 4:12 tells us to, “...think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:" It becomes important then that, when faced with adversity, we act accordingly.

As we have dealt with trials, my family and I have learned how important it is to have a close, intimate walk with God if we are to act spiritually when trouble comes our way instead of reacting emotionally. Every human being needs the Lord’s grace. We are all weak, finite humans. As you go through a trial, you have to keep that in mind. There are too many Christians who have crashed and burned in their own strength when they could have conquered and bloomed in the Lord's. We cannot find grace in the midst of trials if we are living in our own strength.

Realize that God is always working in your life for your good and His glory and that He will always give you the grace that you need. Embrace the trial and let God do His perfect work in you through it. Rely upon His grace to escort you to the end and rejoice in the refinement that the trial brings.

 

668602_mMy Mother’s Legacy

By Pastor Greg Wilt

“...we spend our years as a tale that is told.” Psalm 90:9b

Several weeks ago when I visited my mother, as she was losing her battle with cancer, I noticed that she seemed to be bothered by useless conversations. My mother usually spoke what was on her mind and she, most of the time, took great enjoyment from getting the last word and giving us advice. That’s how she was. On this particular visit I was truly inspired by listening to her reflections. One day I was sitting next to her bed trying to carry a conversation about every day topics. After an awkward silence, she looked at me very solemnly and quietly, not because she was disconnected but because she was facing the end of her life, and she said to me “None of this matters. Doesn’t matter what car you drive; doesn’t matter the house that you live in; doesn’t matter how great of an education you get; how much or little money you have. None of this matters.” I realized then that my mother was coming to the end of her life and she was beginning to realize what really matters and what’s really important, and, like Solomon, my mother had recognized that all of life is just a bunch of vanity. So I began talking to her and addressed her with those questions. I asked, “Mom, so you’re agreeing with what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:2?” And she said, “Yes, I am”. As we continued our conversation I wanted to know what she thought was really important in life so I asked; “Mom, what is the conclusion of life?” And she looked me dead in the eye and said “Fear God and keep His Commandments.” There, in a few words, with a confidence that can only come from God, my mother left me her legacy.

That is what God was communicating through Moses in Deuteronomy 31:19-22. This is what you need to teach to your children: fear God and keep His commandments. That’s your life. Any other life that slips outside of that realm is vanity. It’s emptiness and it means nothing. You can’t take your wisdom or your riches to the grave. All that matters is how you influence those that are left behind and the impact that you make on their lives; everything else is vanity.

Our lives should be about honoring God and glorifying Him. We should live a life that is worthy of the vocation to which He has called us so that it impacts the lives of others, so when we get off the merry-go-round of time, and it keeps turning, others are influenced and impacted by how we’ve lived our lives. So, what’s your story going to be?