The Church as Pillar and Foundation

We are well accounted with the notion that the church is not the building. The church is the people. A people called the church could have no building at all in which to meet and still function as a church. However, when the writers of the New Testament were looking for analogies to point to truth about the church, one of the word pictures used is building. That’s why we can talk about the pillars and the foundation of the church.

In a primer on church work, Paul wrote Timothy as recorded in 1 Timothy 3:15-16—

But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to act in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16 And most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated in the Spirit,
seen by angels,
preached among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

In these 2 verses are 4 “Pillars” that every church can and should build. Think of these as 4 pillars of the church.

1. We are family. This means that we do things together that families do. We love each other. We represent God and each other to others outside the family. We encourage one another. And, yes, just as in families, sometimes we must correct one another.

2. Our founder is the Living God. I get a charge out of this phrase, “Church of the Living God.” We are no mere organization or club. We are the Church of the Living God. This ought to inspire us to the greatest goals and purposes.

3. Our foundation is God’s Truth. The main purpose of the letter to Timothy was to prepare him for false teaching that was to come. The Church must stand as a pillar of truth. Every Christian needs the church to stand for truth to help us first of all to clarify what is truth. Then after helping us to clarify truth, to help us not drift away from the truth. Left to our own desires, we will drift away from truth every time. The culture also needs the Church to stand for truth. Even when culture does not agree with us, culture still needs the Church to challenge and caution.

4. Our focus is Jesus. The hymn of verse 16 is not exhaustive of everything we believe about Jesus, but this hymn points us to Jesus. Indeed, as hymn writer Samuel Stone wrote in 1866, “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.”

(This post is based on the message “Pillars and Foundation” which you can watch at fbclaf.org/video)

Daniel’s Men

I have always loved the example of Daniel in the Old Testament. Daniel was a man of purpose. He purposed in his heart not to defile himself. He believed that some things were always wrong and some things were always right and he purposed to do the right things. Think of the trouble that we would save ourselves from if we just always acted according to that principle.

Daniel was also a man of prayer. Prayer was his habit. When prayer is our habit, we will pray when things are good, but we will pray when things are bad. We will turn to God in prayer when we need wisdom. We will pray even if we are told not to pray as Daniel did.

Third, Daniel was a man who had good friends around him or, as we men sometimes say, he had some good “podnuhs.” Men, we need other men who help us do the right thing. We need men to stand with against temptation. We need men to encourage us to be better husbands, fathers, and leaders. We need to build around us men who will pray for us. These men must be godly themselves and encouragers, men who know how to encourage us and not drain us.

635987626855804141-TDA20150703TommyBadon001-2All of this is why a group of men will meet tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast and a message. Our speaker tomorrow will be Coach Tommy Badon. Coach Badon is currently the Head Track Coach and an Assistant Football Coach at Lafayette Christian Academy. I played for him at Lafayette High a few decades ago.

I would love for all men to join us tomorrow, Tuesday, January 17, at 6:30 in the Fellowship Hall at First Baptist Church.

What’s Happening this Week at FBC?

Last Sunday was awesome! We had a great day of fellowship and Bible Study. Remember that this Sunday, we have the return of all Sunday afternoon classes and the Evening Worship service.

ccalled outSunday, I am beginning a three week series on the church. I am calling this brief look at the doctrine of the church—“Called Out.” “Called out” references the New Testament word for the church—ecclesia. Literally, ecclesia means the “called out ones.”

If you did not turn in a connection card last Sunday, I want to encourage you to do that Sunday, especially if you are looking for a place of service and ministry in our church. If you were not with us last Sunday, I invite you to go by the Information Center and pick up one of our Connection Guides that we have prepared.

Finally, let me urge all new members and potential members to join me Sunday afternoon for our First Look Seminar from 5:30-7:30 p.m. We would love to see many potential new members as well as our new members here.

Let’s be praying that Sunday will prove to be an awesome encounter with the Living God.

If you are looking for a Christian School in Acadiana, please consider us at First Baptist Christian School. This Friday, January 13th, is a great day to check us out. We will have an Open House from 12:00-2:00 p.m. Next year, we will be a Pre-K3 through 11th Grade school. Please come and experience what an education at FBCS could look like.

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The Other Lord’s Prayer

John 17 is a prayer. In a sense we are eavesdropping, through the miracle of the inspiration of Holy Scripture, on the prayer life of Jesus. There is another prayer that we refer to the Lord’s prayer. You know the one. It begins, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name…” But, here in John 17 is another model prayer. As one said, “John 17 gives us a glimpse into the heart of Jesus unlike any other chapter in the four Gospels.” (Gary Burge, NIV Application Commentary, 458)

H.C.G. Moule in 1908 commented this way about this chapter: “Let him who would presume to comment on this chapter prepare himself first, as it were, kneeling to worship at its threshold.” (As printed in NIV App Commentary, 458)

Contextual Clues that Guide our Interpretation:

1. We should acknowledge the purpose of the Gospel—The purpose is to point people to Jesus so that they might believe. This is done through the miracles and the “I am” statements. This purpose shows us the goal of this prayer.

2. We should acknowledge the timing of this prayer—The journey to the cross is beginning. This shows us the priority of the concerns of this prayer.

3. We should acknowledge the relationships referenced in the prayer.

· Relationship between God and Jesus (verse 21 represents this relationship best)
· Relationship between Jesus and the believers (verses 22-23)
· Relationship between believers and the world (verse 14)
· Relationships between believers and believers (verse 21)

This shows us both intimacy and separation. Intimacy with Him and others; separation from the world.

4. We should acknowledge the distinct sections of this prayer. Jesus prays for Himself, His disciples, and all future disciples. This shows us the specific nature of this prayer.

Let’s put all of this together.

We note 3 Priorities of Jesus’ Prayer:

1. The Glory of God—Even when Jesus prays for Himself, the priority is the glory of God.

2. The Holiness of His followers

3. The Unity of His followers—Please understand that this not unity for unity’s sake, but a unity focused on a spiritual relationship with Jesus.

So What?

Shouldn’t Jesus’ humility and priorities in prayer be our priorities?

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Two Things FBC Can’t Live Without

Yesterday was an exciting day at First Baptist Church, Lafayette. We called the day LAUNCH17. We really wanted to be intentional in getting off to a great start in 2017. Included in the day was lunch together as a church family.

My message came from an exposition of Zechariah 11. Indeed, this is an unusual text, but it points to things we cannot live without. In any generation the people of God, in order to go where God wants to take them, must have two things—the favor of God and the unity of the people of God.

When Zechariah, God’s prophet in a time where many people simply did not care what God and His Word said and contemplating how he would lead that people, was drawn to these two words: favor and unity. In fact, in a dramatic way, he took two staffs, and named them “Favor” and “Union.”

The Hebrew word translated “favor” expresses God’s “grace” or “kindness.” Psalm 90:17 provides good commentary for the thought being expressed. Psalm 90:17 says,

Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish for us the work of our hands—establish the work of our hands.

The church, like Old Testament Israel, must also be focused on the unity of the people of God.

The Book of Acts serves as a good example. Acts gives us the story of the birth and growth of the early church—the first disciples, the first people after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. The book tells us of the unprecedented favor of the Lord and unity of the people.

I am not sure that the early church knew how to hold a strategic planning meeting, but they sure did know how to have a spirit-filled prayer meeting. They knew that in order for God to do with them what He wanted to do, they must have the favor of God and the unity of the people of God.

So, what can we do? I challenged us to three specific actions.

• Entreat God for favor and unity.

I mean come with me and beg God for His favor and for the unity of the people.

• Encourage all that builds favor and unity.

Evangelism is one great example of that which builds favor and unity.

• Eliminate all that threatens favor and unity.

Can you see it? Our success is not ultimately tied to our strength, our skill, our intellect, our personality, our location, and certainly not our resources. In fact, God says that our victory will not be based on any of that, but on Him.

So I shepherded the flock intended for slaughter, the afflicted of the flock. I took two staffs, calling one Favor and the other Union, and I shepherded the flock. (Zechariah 11:7)

Favor and Unity! May it be so in 2017!

(This post is based on the message “Two Things FBC Can’t Live Without” which you can watch at fbclaf.org/video)

The High Purpose of Worship

Consider one more time what the writer of Hebrews maintains in Hebrews 10:19-25.

This text, specifically the three “let us” clauses of verses 22-24 helps us to see the high purpose of worship.

What are those purposes?

1. Let Us Draw Near to God—Worship brings us to God!
When we come, as the text suggests, with sincerity, full assurance of faith, and a clear conscience, we ought to be brought near to God. The Bible says, in James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

2. Let Us Hold Fast the Confession—Worship builds our faith!
When we worship through our thanksgiving, our singing, and our preaching, we are reminding ourselves that God is faithful.

3. Let Us Consider—Worship builds other’s faith!
Finally, we note in this passage that when the body of the local church comes together, we encourage one another. We build up each other’s faith. This can’t happen if we do not assemble.

As we enter this new year, be certain that there is no easier commitment than to resolve that you are going to be connected to the local church.

If you live in the Lafayette area and are not presently connected to a local church assembly, let me encourage you to join us this Sunday at First Baptist Church, Lafayette. We meet at 9:45 a.m. or 11:11 a.m. for public worship. We have Sunday School classes for all ages at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 a.m. This Sunday, we also have lunch planned immediately following both worship services. This Sunday would be a great day to check us out!

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Making Public Worship a High Priority in 2017

Read back through what the writer of Hebrews maintains in Hebrews 10:19-25.

I guess it is possible to maintain a vibrant spirit-filled, Christ-honoring, God-abiding spiritual walk without maintaining a relationship with a local church, but I have never met anyone who did. I’ve known some who have tried, but I have never known anyone who succeeded. I’ve met some who said that they were going to succeed, but I have never known anyone who did. The local church, including ours, with all of her problems and at times hypocrisy and inconsistencies, is still the best way to help you in every other area of life. Maintaining a growing relationship with Christ when we are connected to the church will never be easy, but I maintain that it is nearly impossible to maintain that relationship without the Church.

So, as we begin this new year, I urge you to commit yourself anew to Christ and anew to the Church. I urge you as a sign of your commitment to pledge your faithfulness to the “assembling of ourselves together” each week.

Notice in the Hebrews 10 passage the high priority of worship.

1. Our Condition Before Salvation—The first thing that ought to compel us to worship is our condition before our salvation in Christ. The context of Hebrews gives several ideas to consider. The writer of Hebrews leads up to the “therefore” of verse 19 in this way:

1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

In a phrase, we were separated from God, before salvation, but now, Christ has made the way. As a result, shouldn’t worship be a priority in our lives? Someone will quickly say, “So, you’re saying you can’t get to Heaven without going to church.” No, I am not saying that. We can get to Canada without a train, a plane, or an automobile, but why would anyone want to do that? Likewise, why would anyone want to be saved (be a Christian) and not worship the God who has brought that salvation?

2. Our Confidence to Worship Almighty God—The Hebrews should have understood this. To this point, they had this belief that though all could worship God, only the priests could go to that place where the Spirit of God resided. Only the elite of the elite could go into that Holy of Holies where the presence of God dwelt. So, in that arrangement, their worship was dependent on someone else. Now, in Christ, they could worship for themselves. Think about it. We are invited to worship the God of this universe. He invites our fellowship. He invites our relationship. Why would people not be standing in line to, in a public way, bring their offering of worship before the LORD? The confidence that we have to worship the LORD should be motivation enough to make worship a high priority in our lives.

3. The Contamination of the World in which We Live—The third reason that worship should be a high priority is the condition of the world in which we live. We are not certain of all of the reasons that the Hebrews were neglecting their assembly. It probably was the persecution alluded to in other places of this letter. There is, however, indication that by the early second century, Christians were forsaking public gatherings of worship because of the simple preoccupation with business affairs. The fear is that neglecting the worship assembly would cause them to be soon absorbed by the world. Let’s face it—we live in the world all week. All of us need to prioritize setting aside time to get out of the pace of the world and worship.

4. The Climactic Times in Which We Live—“As you see the Day approaching,” verse 25 says. We live in climactic days. We live in challenging days. The Day is all the more reason to give great attention to our worship habits!

5. The Lord’s Command—I have given you four reasons already, but let me give you the conclusive reason. The Lord commands that we “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” Now someone might say, “Well, the text does not give us how often or how many services of the church to attend.” You’re right! I think the idea is that we assemble enough to be connected to the Assembly.

If you live in the Lafayette area and are not presently connected to a local church assembly, let me encourage you to join us this Sunday at First Baptist Church, Lafayette. We meet at 9:45 a.m. or 11:11 a.m. for public worship. We have Sunday School classes for all ages at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 a.m. This Sunday, we also have lunch planned immediately following both worship services. This Sunday would be a great day to check us out!

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What’s Happening This Week at FBC?

We are beginning to get back to a regular schedule this week after a couple of weeks of different schedules because of Christmas and New Year’s Day. Tonight (Wednesday), we get back to a regular schedule including the Fellowship Meal beginning at 4:45 p.m. For our Wednesday evening Bible Study this year, I will be leading us through a chapter by chapter study of the book of Genesis. I hope to see many of you with me tonight.

launch-logo-date_300We have an extra special day planned for this coming Sunday. In addition to a return to our normal Sunday morning schedule of all Sunday School classes and both worship hours, we will have lunch Sunday. Lunch will be served in shifts according to your regular Sunday School and Worship schedule. Plan to go to Sunday School and Worship according to your normal schedule and then head to the Fellowship Hall immediately following for lunch.
We trust that Sunday will be an incredible day of Bible Study, Worship, and Fellowship. We absolutely hope that everyone will stay for lunch.

Sunday is a day to introduce you to the many ministry options that our church offers. One of our goals for this year is to increase the number of people who will be actively involved in at least one ministry.

We have prepared a brochure for Sunday that describes various ministries of our church. In this brochure, you will find a description of various ministry opportunities. Some of you will be ready to immediately get involved. Others of you might have some questions before making a commitment. We pray that you will find your connection point. We pray that you finding your connection point will help you to be a more committed follower of Jesus and help others grow in their relationship to Jesus.

I am asked frequently, “How do I get more involved in ministry at First Baptist Church?” For me, that answer is easy. Your first step is to join and get deeply connected to a small group Sunday School class. As you get more involved in our Sunday School, ministry will almost always flow very naturally out of that connection point.

As you and I begin 2017, make 3 great commitments.

1. Make a great commitment to regular worship.
2. Make a great commitment to active participation in a Sunday School class.
3. Make a great commitment to at least one other ministry in our church.

If we all do these three things, we will experience great numerical and spiritual growth.

Let’s start this Sunday on LAUNCH17 Day!

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The Day Drew Brees Did Not Come to Worship

Ten years ago this coming Sunday, I began my sermon this way:

Before I preach this morning, I have a special guest that I want to introduce, who will say a word of greeting and testimony. Would you believe that I had something interesting that happened to me yesterday? I was out with my family and I thought I recognized this gentleman. I wasn’t sure it was him, and though I don’t usually do things like this, I went up to him and asked, “Are you who I think you are?” He said, “Well, who do you think I am?” “Well,” I said, “I think you are Drew Brees.” “I am,” he said. For those of you who don’t know—Drew Brees is the first-year quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. Of course, as most of you know, he will be leading the Saints into the play-offs next week. He is off today, because they had such a good year they have a bye in the play-offs. Well to make a long story short, Drew asked me what I did, so I told him. One thing led to another, and well, Drew agreed to come this morning and share a brief word of testimony with us. Drew is right outside those doors, so help me give a loud Lafayette greeting to the quarterback of our play-off bound New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees.

The place went wild. The exuberance was far more than anything we had experienced in the opening moments of our worship. Drew Brees was not right outside the doors, so then I said:

No, Drew Brees is not with us this morning. If you were listening carefully, I said at the beginning, “Would you believe?” I made all of that up to make a point this morning about worship. The truth is this: Some of you were more excited about seeing Drew Brees here this morning than hearing from God. Maybe for you it is not Drew Brees who you would like to see, but it is someone else. And that attitude is our first obstacle to authentic worship.

I then commenced to preach that morning on the authenticity of our worship.

As we begin this new year, today is a great day to think about our worship. One of the easiest goals that you can make that will have long-lasting results in other areas is your habit of regular worship. Actually, it is not just regular worship that we need, but authentic, meaningful worship.

Think on the words of the writer of Hebrews.

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh), 21 and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. 23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25 not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:19-25)

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I Like this Prayer Better than Black-Eyed Peas and Cabbage

A lot of people yesterday had a New Year’s lunch of black eyed peas and cabbage or greens. Though origins of these traditions are varied, the common reason is tied to good luck, health, and financial prosperity. One tradition is that the Union troops left the black eyed peas in their victory march South believing the crops only for animal consumption. Folks in the South considered this to be good luck that they had such good food to eat after the war.

John in writing to his friend Gaius shared his prayer blessing. I think it is a good prayer to pray over our friends as we begin this New Year.

Dear friend, I pray that you may prosper in every way and be in good health physically just as you are spiritually. 3 For I was very glad when some brothers came and testified to your faithfulness to the truth—how you are walking in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 2-4)

A Good Prayer

Here’s how we can pray for our friends.

· That you will prosper in every way.

The abuse of the so-called “prosperity preachers” have perhaps made us timid to pray for God’s favor over our lives. But here is how I understand the difference in what they do and what we seek to do today as guided by this Scripture. Rather than asking God to make us prosperous, I understand that all that we have comes from God. I need God’s blessing over my life. I need God’s favor over my life. I need God’s blessing not because I deserve His blessing, but because I am doomed without His favor.

· That you will physically be well.

We have so many in our fellowship that need God’s hand of healing. I am not ashamed to ask God to help us be well. Again, this shows our dependence upon Him.

· That you will prosper spiritually.

But, here is what I want for all of us in 2017. We pray today for all of us to walk in the truth—to be faithful to the truth this year. We pray for this year to be a year of spiritual growth. To be prosperous in all things and even be physically well, but be in spiritual decline is to waste 2017.

So, we get a great question.

A Great Question

Hear what John is praying. He prays that Gaius’ prosperity and physical health will be in proportion to his spiritual health. What if the same is prayed for you? Are you willing to accept that people pray that your well-being in all things including your health will be in proportion to your spiritual health? In this proportional equation we have two things we really can’t control totally in proportion to the one thing that we can control. Is it that simple? No! There are lots of things we cannot understand, but here’s the prayer: I pray that you may prosper in every way and be in good health, just as your soul prospers?

Are you ready for your friends to pray this prayer for you?

(This post is based on the message “My Prayer for 2017” which you can watch at fbclaf.org/video)