Oak Street Baptist Church
Thursday, September 20, 2018
A Friendly Place to Visit - A Family Place to Belong

Faith Page Articles

 
 
    Pastor Jerry has written numerous articles for the 'Kingman Daily Miner,' 'Portraits Magazine,' and other Southern Baptist publications. Below are several articles written for the 'Daily Miner.' 

Facing Uncertainties with Certainty

 
    While visiting with a close friend, he shared with me his concern about the uncertainties of his employment. Due to severe financial problems, the company for which he worked had announced massive layoffs. Some who were not laid off would be transferred to other cities.
     My friend was quite worried, as anyone would be in such circumstances. He felt that because of his age, he would not be desirable to other companies where he might seek to gain employment. A change in career  was out of the question because of his lack of skills. He confessed, “I feel as though my world is caving in around me!”
     The psalmist David expressed confidence in God during the times of uncertainty in his own life. He prayed: “Preserves me, O God: for in Thee do I put my trust.” (Psalm 16:1)
     Trust is confidence, pure and strong. Yet, it is born out of simple childlike faith. Whenever we come up against problems such as unemployment, and its resulting trauma, there is no one who can support and strengthen us like our heavenly Father. He knows our every need even before we share them with Him. Therefore, it only stands to reason that He also has a solution for the problem at hand.
     In the face of trials, we can do one of two things. We can worry, fret and fall apart; or, we can wait patiently before God.
The psalmist David continued in verses 8-9: “I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices: my flesh also shall rest in hope.”
     In the spiritual warfare we fight every day, Satan tries to convince us that God no longer cares for us. He wants us to believe that God will fail to meet our needs. When we believe Satan’s lie, we begin to look around us for worldly solutions, and trust in the strength of our flesh; but, when like David, we fix our eyes upon God and focus in on His love, power and might, our trust is placed in the Him.
     David declared that while his eyes were fixed upon God, his heart was glad. God gave him a sense of peace and security that none other could give. The world had not given this piece to him; therefore, the world could not take it away. David also declared that his “flesh would rest in hope.” He had placed his physical being into the very hands of God. It mattered not what God would do to him, or where God would lead him, for David knew that God had only good thoughts toward him. Knowing this is also true for us, should we not place all our trust in God? With certainty, even in the midst of uncertainties, God will preserve us!
 
 

Let God Blossom the Rose

 
     A little girl delighted in helping her grandfather tend his rose garden of many beautiful and rare species. Daily, he gave such attention to the roses, and was accompanied by his granddaughter whom he taught to admire and enjoy the beauty of each blossom. One favorite rose was still tightly held in the bud, and the child and her grandfather waited patiently to see it in full bloom.
     One morning, when the grandfather had come into the garden to inspect the choice rose, he found it torn open with all the soft pedals broken and laid-back. The grandfather, asking the little girl what had happened, received this reply. “I just couldn’t wait any longer, so I blossomed it myself.”
     The child, in her inpatients, tried to do something that only God can do, and that is bring forth into full bloom the beauty of a completed rose.
     How often we make the same mistake! In our immaturity and impatience we try to do what only God can do, and that is make a spiritual rose blossom before it’s time.
James, in his general epistle, writes to believers who are suffering under persecution. There is no doubt but they had grown impatient, questioning the workings of God. They desired to be patient and wait on the Lord, but had become weary in doing so. James said: “But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4)
     Patience is nothing short of simply waiting on God. In our weariness from waiting we have a tendency to help God. Using our muscle, money, influence and abilities, we try to ’blossom the rose’ ourselves. However, when we do, like the child, we destroy what God has intended.
     I think of the children of Israel. It was said by the psalmist: “They limited the Holy One of Israel.” How can any man limit God? Simply by getting in His way, by running ahead of Him, or by refusing to follow where God leads.
     If we would enjoy the beauty of all that God tries to do in our lives, we must learn to wait upon him. The psalmist also said: “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
     Many times we have heard it said: “God is slow, but He is never late.” So, let us wait on Him, remembering that time spent waiting before God is time that is never wasted. In His presence we will find strength to sustain us; and the result of our waiting will be an object of beauty far above our expectations, because it will be borne out of God’s love for us, His children.
 
 

He Makes Me Lie Down

 
     A close friend of mine is a workaholic. He devotes a minimum of 120% of his energy and time to his job! Though his doctor and family had often told him, “Slow down! Take time to relax! Don’t overdo it!” he just kept right on going until finally the inevitable happened. He had a heart attack.
     Fortunately (and all glory goes to God), the attack was a mild one. Yet, it was severe enough to keep him flat on his back for several days. Arriving at the hospital and finding that my friend was not critical, I walked into his room and said, “Stan! I have but one thing to say: He makes me to lie down!”
     The 23rd Psalm is a beautiful picture of God’s love and care for His own. Drawing from scenes of his childhood as a shepherd, David recalled leading the sheep out to the hillside for pasture. After the sheep had walked some distance, he, as the tender shepherd who cared greatly for his sheep, would lead them into green pastures and make them to lie down to rest. Occasionally he would have to help the more stubborn sheep, who persisted on walking further, by lifting them up, bending their legs, and forcing them to lie down.
God, our Father, in His infinite wisdom, often does the same to us. Sometimes we refuse to rest. We want to overdo, and in the process fail to focus on Him. So He leads us into situations where we’re forced to lie down. Surely, such a situation may not be what we want; and we may even think that such a situation does us harm; but God always knows and does what is best for His own.
     Notice what follows in David’s picturesque Psalm. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures…” (...a place of feeding.) “He leads me beside the still waters…” (…a place of refreshment.) “He restores my soul…” (...He gives needed rest to build our strength for the journey.)
     “At first,” my friend, Stan, told me “I could not understand what God was doing in my life. A heart attack, though mild, was a devastating thing. Then, when I had nothing but time on my hands, I read my Bible, prayed and discovered new spiritual truths, as I drank from the spiritual well that refreshed my soul with new fellowship with God. Actually, the heart attack was just about the best thing that ever happened to me!”
     Is that not always true? When the adversities of life bring everything to a screeching halt, we must not ask “Why?” but, “What?” Knowing that God allows only what He will for a predetermined plan and purpose because He loves us. So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by adversities, know that God is in control only when we release our control into His hands.
 
 
 
Limiting God
 
     The Scriptures declare the Omnipotence of God! He is the Great I Am, the Almighty, the All-Powerful God! There is nothing impossible to Him, or for Him; He is able to do all things He purposes to do.
     How comforting to know that our heavenly Father is able to conquer every foe, to heal every disease, and to provide for every need and to answer every prayer. God is not bound by time or space; nor is He limited by resources. God is all sufficient, for His sufficiency is in Himself.
     In the 78th Psalm there is a verse that many would find startling in light of what they know to be true concerning the power of God. The verse reads, “Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.” (Psalm 78:41)
     Israel, as a nation, was God’s chosen people. He had lavished upon them His blessings; providing for them, protecting them and leading them through the wilderness with His visible presence as a pillar of fire by night, and a cloud by day. The truth remains that God would have blessed them even more, but they often rejected His leading, refusing to believe and obey Him. Thus, they limited God in what He wanted to do for the people He loved.
     Today, we might ask ourselves this question: “Do we often limit God in what He desires to do for us?” If so, in what way?
     Do we not limit Him by our failure to pray? God has set forth certain specific conditions in the matter of prayer. If we would realize the power of answered prayer, we must meet those conditions. Then, too, we often fail to pray altogether.
     James, the half-brother of our Lord, wrote to Christians suffering under persecution. There is no doubt but that many times they questioned the providential care of God, such as many have asked, today, in light of recent tragedies that have plagued our nation. They may have asked such questions as:
     “Does God not care that we suffer?”
     “Where is God when we need Him the most?”
     “Does God still love us?”
     “Is God even aware of my need?”
     The answer to every question is a simple “Yes!” God certainly does care. He loves us and is always aware of our hurts and needs. So we must ask, “Do we have not, because we ask you not?” (James 4:2)
     Our Father is a generous God who delights in bestowing blessings on His children; though there are many times He waits to bestow those blessings unto we ask of Him. So, what are we waiting for? Could it be that we think God is unwilling to answer our prayer? Perhaps we question whether or not God would even be concerned with our request? Well, He is!
     Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but prayer is laying hold of God’s willingness. In the midst of life’s storms, never doubt that God loves you. He is willing to come to you, deliver you and see you safely to the other side. May your prayers be answered according to God’s will, and may you discover just how much God wants to give to you, if you will not limit His work in your life.
 
 
 
Remodeling the Temple
 
     My wife and I are fortunate enough to live in a house which is on the Historic Registry of places in Kingman. Built in 1910, the house was once the home of the J. Duffy Brown family; former residents of Canada who came to Kingman to open a mine.      
     The home, which has always been beautiful, recently received a badly needed coat of paint. Being that it has four different colors as a part of its craftsman style, the project took three weeks to complete. The painters were meticulous in their work, and we are more than satisfied with the result.
     Prior, the paint had been oxidized, faded and chipped. The outer beauty of the house had been brought into question; but, now, the house has been restored to its former beauty and character.        
     As I pondered this in my mind, I could not help but think of man, himself. Created by God as perfect in beauty and character, man, through his disobedience became stained and worn by the presence of sin. Adam’s sin and disobedience to God was passed upon all men. Thus, all men, by our very nature are in need of forgiveness and salvation. Through faith in His name, Christ Jesus covered us with His precious blood that we would appear as new, again.
     As children, we often played games of various kinds. If our performance was poor, and we failed to excel, we would cry out “Do over!” A second chance to do our best was thought to be in order. We did not want to be thought of as a failure.
     Now, as adults, we make mistakes and long for a “do over.” A second chance to get life right is the desire of our heart, as we don’t want to be known by our peers as having failed. An unknown author wrote this verse, saying: “No man can go back and start life over again; but any man can start today and give his life a brand new end.”
     God, as a God of mercy and grace, has allowed man the opportunity to experience salvation and forgiveness of sin. He has given us the opportunity to not be seen as sinful and unrighteous men, but to be cleansed and appear before Him as holy and without blame through His love. Paul, in writing to the believers at Ephesus encouraged them with this fact. “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4)
      Just as our love for an old house motivated us to do what we could to make it the very best it can be, so God, in His love for mankind, may a way for us to be pure and holy in His sight through His incomprehensible love.
 
 
Delighting Ourselves in God
 
     How many times have you secretly wished for an ‘Aladdin’s lamp,’ complete with a magic genie who could make your every wish come true? He could fill your pockets to overflowing with money, your treasure chest with jewels. He could park luxurious automobiles in the garage of your dream home that has been furnished with expensive furniture. There would be nothing that you could not have; because, as everyone knows, storybook genies have unlimited power to grant wishes of men.
     All too often men look to Jesus with the same sense of longing, not unlike many of whom we read in the Scriptures. These were emotional followers of Christ, who followed for the many things they hoped to receive from Him. They were drawn by the miracles of healing and by the feeding of the multitudes, for they saw Jesus to be One who could heal every hurt and be an endless supply of bread. To some, Jesus had become a god of utility; a kind of Aladdin’s lamp to perform miracles on behalf of anyone who should desire to summon Him.
     Many people today see Christ in much the same way! They know in their hearts that He is God; and as God, He has unlimited power. There is nothing that He cannot do, yet they are disappointed in Him when they do not receive the many things for which they ask.
     Why shouldn’t we, as followers of Christ, realized the fulfillment of our desires? After all, do we not pray? Yes, but we must clearly understand that answered prayer is not according to our dictates, but according to the will and the purpose of God.
     One of the most abused, misinterpreted, and wrongly claimed passages of Scripture is found in the book of Psalms. The psalmist David wrote: “Delight yourself also in the Lord; and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord: trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalms 37:4-5)
     The obvious secret to receiving the desires of one’s heart (which is actually no secret at all) is to delight yourself in the Lord. The word ‘delight’ clearly means to make God the focus and joy of your life. Meditate upon Him; commune with Him; walk with Him; talk with Him; and make Him a vital part of everything you do! After all, as a believer, you are indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit, and that makes you inseparable from Him.
     Without question, God is a generous God who bestows gifts upon men. He delights in giving to those who delight themselves in Him. However, may I also suggest that when we truly delight ourselves in the Lord, the desires of our heart will be different than when we do not! For when our hearts and minds are fixed upon Him, our desire will not be for the temporal things of this world, but rather for the spiritual things of God.
     As we delight ourselves in Him and come to know Him in the fullness of His power, we will surely want to know Him more. As we experience the joy of spiritual cups filled to overflowing, we will not be satisfied with anything less. So today, may your desire not be just for the material blessings, the tangible things that rust, wear out, fade away and lose their appeal, but may your desire be for the fullness of the knowledge of Him who loves you and desires to delight you with His Divine presence.
 
 
 
Waiting Patiently On God!
 
        In his second epistle to the believers suffering under severe persecution, the apostle Peter wrote concerning trials that result in our spiritual growth and development. He said: “And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you are neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)
         As I give careful consideration to the list of character building qualities that every believer should develop in their life, I have no problem with adding such things as knowledge, brotherly kindness and love. But, patients! Patients will require some real effort and concentration, especially for me, because as a Christian who is still under construction, I am as one who cries out, “Lord, give me patience. Right now!”
         One of the most difficult things for me to do is wait. It does not matter on who, what, or for what reason. I am not good at waiting. And, I do not say that with a sense of pride, but with simple honesty.
         The psalmist declared: “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
          In the day-to-day trials of life, we are often tempted to run the head of the Lord. It may seem to us that God is asleep or unaware of the very present and pressing need. So, we take matters into our own hands to do whatever we can to remedy our adverse situation.
          I am reminded of the children of Israel as they approached the swelling waters of the red sea. Before them lay a watery grave, should they enter into it; and behind them was the entire Egyptian army, fast approaching in a cloud of dust. Death was imminent, either way; the people felt helpless; but Moses, there God called-leader and deliverer said, “Fear not, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” (Exodus 14:13).
          For some of the people, “standing still” was easy. Early on, they had learned to trust the God of their fathers; for others, “standing still” was next to impossible. They wanted to the run in fear for their lives, or else get ready to fight their enemy in the strength of their own flesh. Many of us, today, are the same way. In the face of adverse situations, standing still is the last thing we want to do. We want to either run or fight, but heaven forbid that we should stand still, for we are afraid of the uncertainty of what might happen next.
          We must heed the words of the psalmist. “Be of good courage, trust in the Lord.” Know that God is bigger than anything that troubles you! Know that even though God may appear to be slow, He is never late!
          Waiting often seems to be a waste of time. Whenever I am tied up in traffic or waiting in the checkout line, I can always think of a number of things I could be doing. But time spent waiting before God is never wasted. Rather, it’s time invested in a relationship of learning as one comes to know, understand and trust God.    
 
 
Be Not Afraid!
 
         Twenty-nine years ago, in the ravaged and war-torn country of South Vietnam, I found myself hiding beneath a table in the air terminal at Cam Rahn Bay. My first day in that country, and already I was experiencing the frightening possibility of death as incoming enemy rockets exploded all around us. Crouching under that table, and longing for the safety of a small Texas town, and elderly Vietnamese woman smiled at me and asked, “G. I. Want to go home?” Obviously, the expression of fear was written all over my face!
          Many are the fears that we have in this life, and death may be the least of all fears for some people. There are literally hundreds of phobias which crippled men emotionally. Though such phobias may seem strange, and even ridiculous to some, they are indeed real to others. Some people are afraid of fire; others, sickness and disease; or the germ which caused them. Some are afraid of crowds; others are afraid of being alone.         
           The psalmist David, described as a man after God’s own heart, also experienced fear. He was oppressed by enemies on every side, and in the face of such trial he expressed the fears which enveloped him. Yet, in expressing his fears, he did not surrender to them; nor was he rendered helpless because of them. Rather, he recognized that God was greater than any problem or any enemy, which might come against him. Therefore, David took his fears to the Lord. In the light of his discouragement, David wrote:
           “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears…The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” (Psalm 34: 4; 7)
            Often, in the midst of fear, we cry out in anguish of heart and soul. Our cry is nothing less than a cry of despair. Where do we go? To whom shall we turn? The answer, of course, is God! For, as the psalmist declared, “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” (Psalm 34:6)
            Many times we hesitate to call upon God as though we are afraid that God is unwilling to answer. We may even feel that God should not be bothered with such insignificant problem. But the one thing we must understand in order to develop a greater confidence in God is this: Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance! Prayer is laying hold of God’s willingness! God wants to aid us. He wants to deliver us from our fears in a mighty display of power. We simply must be willing to let Him as we call upon Him for His help.    
           God, our Father, loves us. He understands us. He is sympathetic to our hurts, and to every need. He is willing to minister to us of His enabling and sustaining grace, as we call upon Him.