Don’t miss our Mid-Week gathering tonight (Wednesday). We will join as one tonight in the Sanctuary to watch our children’s music ministry present the premier of a Christmas musical titled “Fact or Fiction.”
We are in a season of giving to North American Missions with the Annie Armstrong North American Missions Offering. If you are a regular giver in our church, you have received a special envelope in March’s packet to give to this offering. There are also some envelopes in the pews for this offering. This offering supports Southern Baptist missionaries called and appointed to intentionally evangelize and plant churches in North America on behalf of Southern Baptist churches. Part of the money that is being returned to us to help pay our new Hispanic pastor’s salary comes from the North American Mission Board.
In addition to this offering, we have teams returning from a College Missions Event on the beach called Beach Reach and another team returning from India. In addition, we have another team leaving Friday to go to Alaska to work with an organization called Alaska Missions. We are blessed to have so many opportunities to partner with others for the Gospel.
At the end of the month, Saturday, March 29th, we all have an opportunity with our local missions day that we call “First Baptist Loves Lafayette” Day. Sign-ups are beginning for this community missions day.
Since I am preaching Sunday on the power of the Word of God, I want to give us a tangible opportunity to show our belief in the power of the Word of God. Usually, we receive an annual offering for the Gideons International. We did not do this at all in 2013, so I wanted to make up for that Sunday. For those of you not altogether familiar with this ministry, the Gideons are a group of lay persons committed to the ministry of the distribution of Bibles. At the conclusion of the service Sunday, you will have the opportunity to give an offering for the purpose of distributing Bibles across the world.
And, finally, don’t forget that Sunday is Spring Forward Day! Set those clocks up one hour ahead. Who knows, maybe Spring will arrive too!
Last week at the funeral of Mr. Wayne Young, the father of our church member, Rebecca Bell, something was said by his pastor that I haven’t been able to forget. It was a wonderful service in a lot of ways. I left there thinking that if a stranger walked off the street, he would have barely been able to recognize that it was a funeral. As a Christian’s funeral should reflect, it was joyful and hopeful, and centered on the promises of God’s Word. At the end, his pastor made the comment, “How can you have a funeral like this one?” I thought it was such a great question.
It was a great line because the service illustrated the assurance of salvation. Assurance of salvation makes a difference in the way that we view death. Yes, grief is still there, but it is a grief with a God-perspective. That’s why the Apostle Paul said this:
“We do not want you to be uninformed brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
Do you see what Paul said? He acknowledged that we would grieve, but our grieving would be different. Our grieving is with hope.
A few years ago, my secretary alerted me that I had a couple, not members of our church, who desired to see me. They lived down the street from the church. After a few minutes of conversation about who they were and common people that we knew, the woman pulled out a book, and asked, “Do you believe what is in this book?” The book was Charles Stanley’s Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure? I confessed to them that I had not read the book, but I knew who Charles Stanley was, and based on the title, I was reasonably sure that I believed what was in the book. This middle-aged couple went on to tell me that they had picked up the book in Wal-Mart simply because of the title. The woman had read the book in one evening. The husband had read enough of it the next morning, and now they were in my office. They didn’t know who Charles Stanley was, but the jacket cover said he was a Baptist, so they decided to walk down to the Baptist church on their street. To this point in their lives they believed it was impossible, even perhaps sinful and certainly arrogant, to claim eternal assurance. Now, this couple was eager to have the peace and joy that accompanies eternal security.
The Bible says that God wants us to have that assurance. The Apostle John, as recorded in 1 John 5:13 said, “I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
That assurance makes a difference in the way we live our lives from day to day.
For a more detailed explanation of “The Security of the Believer,” you might want to read my recently published article in the Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry. You can access the article online at www.baptistcenter.net.