May 29th, 2020
“What God Has Promised”
Will this be the day? He promised He would be back and Jesus always keeps a promise. Remember when he looked at the disciples and said “Destroy this temple and within three days I will raise it up. They, thinking he meant the Temple that Herod had build, shook their head and wondered about his sanity. He meant something even more miraculous. Kill me, Jesus said, and in three days I will rise from the grave. He did just what he told them he would do. No more and no less. He Promised.
2 Cor 1:20 wonderfully states, "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us." The Apostle Paul reminds us that the promises of God found in our relationship with Jesus Christ are rock solid. If God said something, it will come to pass. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and believe him at his Word. God isn't a man, who can make mistakes, not follow through or even come to a place He is unable to meet our promises – his promises are guaranteed. He Promised.
Jesus meant it when he had Paul write Romans 8:28 about all things working together for our good. Sometimes life doesn't turn out the way we thought it would. At times, circumstances outside of our control enter our life and put us in a place of struggle or pain. Even bad things happen to the people of God, but Paul wrote "all things work together for good." whatever the enemy meant for evil, God’s love and power are enough to turn around for good. Thank God for the knowledge that everything that enters my life has been weighed & planned by God just for me. He promised.
The writer of Hebrews in chapter four verses 14 and 15 states that Jesus Christ has experienced all our troubles and temptations and overcame them. He now resides in heaven as our protector and intercessor. Hebrews 4:16 continues with, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." When we need mercy and grace his Word promises that if we draw near to the throne of God, we will receive and find it there. Prayer is our connection to God. He is ready to listen. He promised.
Jesus meant it when he declared in Hebrews 13:5 that he would never leave us nor forsake us. Isn’t it wonderful to know that at the loneliest times of our life that we can rest in the knowledge that God is by our side. He promised.
When life is at its worse, God will give us his best. You can trust Him. He promised.
God has not promised Skies always blue
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised Sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy and undying love.
-Annie Johnson Flint
Promises, Promises- and all of them are true!
May 26th, 2020
Christians by Choice
…let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith… - Heb. 12:1-2
Simon Peter. He heeds the Lord’s command to walk on the water, then at the point of despair, quits the ministry to go fishing; triumphantly facing his Master, he shouts, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”; yet, a few hours later, running, with a cursing blasphemous month, from the honest questioning of a small servant girl; or fearlessly standing with drawn sword, he dares the enemies of Christ to advance. Later, spinelessly removing himself from the fellowship of his gentile brethren, because of the attitudes of a few Jewish brethren.
Thoughtless, impulsive, outspoken Peter. Self-sacrificing, yet, self seeking. Courageous, but at other times, cowardly. Humble? Maybe so, but definitely a problem with pride.
We are no different. At times, we stand fearlessly fighting the good fight of faith, while at other times, we silently close the door, and roll in self-pity. We, as Peter shout, “He is the Christ” and we as Peter, remain silent before the accusations of the enemy. Peter could faithfully step from the boat onto the storm-tossed water, yet found it extremely difficult to walk faithfully for Christ on the land.
The troubled Christian must understand a priceless principle. God has not asked us to walk fearlessly on troubled water nor has He demanded that we face the prophets of Baal as we pray fire down from heaven. Our all-consuming task is not to face the enemies of Christ with drawn sword but to face Christ on bended knee, seeking His favor, His strength, His perfect Will.
To humbly walk 24-hrs out of every day as a normal everyday saint of God. To be faithful in the little things, those things within our control. Like keeping a Godly attitude in the midst of turmoil. Exhibiting the love of Christ to those undeserving. Consistently remaining true to biblical standards.
How do we accomplish this? Just like Peter did. As the boat gently rocked with the motions of working men, did Peter, from a heavenly guided breeze smell the tantalizing scent of fresh fish cooking on a fire. Looking up, from his work, he saw His Lord. I believe at that moment, he understood what life was about. Life did not consist of doing great things, extraordinary things. It consisted simply of going to Jesus. Trusting Jesus. Looking unto Him - the only begotten Son of the living God. Our Savior, our Mediator, our Lord.
Oswald chambers said it best, “A saint's life is in the hands of God as a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see; he stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says, "I cannot stand any more." But God does not heed; he goes on stretching until his purpose is in sight, then he lets fly. We are here for God's designs, not for our own.”
May 21st, 2020
May 21st, 2020
The Depth of Friendship
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends -John 15:13
One could not but be moved by the story of the soldier who asked his officer if he might go out into "No Man's Land" between the trenches in World War I to bring in one of his comrades who lay grievously wounded. "You can go," said the officer, "but it's not worth it. Your friend is probably killed, and you will throw your own life away." But the man went. Somehow he managed to get to his friend, hoist him onto his shoulder, and bring him back to the trenches. The two of them tumbled in together and lay in the trench bottom. The officer looked very tenderly on the would-be rescuer, and then he said, "I told you it wouldn't be worth it. Your friend is dead and you are mortally wounded." "It was worth it, though, sir," he said. "How do you mean, 'worth it'? I tell you your friend is dead." "Yes, sir," the boy answered, "but it was worth it, because when I got to him he was still alive, and he said to me, 'Jim, I knew you'd come.'"
Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times.” God’s intention of friendship is love. Friendship should be less about what we get out of it and more about how we can serve God and others through it. 1 Corinthians 13:13 reminds us that out of “faith, hope, and love... the greatest of these is love.”
Jesus reiterated the importance of love when he reminded His followers to love God first with all their heart and soul (Matthew 22:37) and then love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) When we put God first and model our friendships after his example to us, we will experience friendship the way God intended us to.
I am reminded of the story of Ruth and Naomi. The world around us can be overwhelming sometimes, and in the most desperate places of our lives, we are tempted to think about what anyone other than God says about us. Naomi was having a devastating moment such as this.
Naomi's life seemingly had been taken from her. First, her husband died. Within ten years, both of her sons died, too. (Ruth 1:3-5) Desperate and done, she left her land and set off towards Judah, "where she heard the Lord had come to the aid of his people.” (Ruth 1:6-7) She sent her daughters-in-law back to their mothers’ homes (Ruth 1:8-9) but “Ruth refused to leave her and the bible states "clave to her”. (Ruth1:14)
“Clave,” in Hebrew means “to stay close, to cleave, to join to, …”. What defines the faithful attribute God assigns to friendship is this: "to be joined together". Ruth joined together with Naomi in their hardships. Their friendship illustrates God’s faithfulness to those who will serve each other when placed together as an extension of His love here on earth.
Jesus reiterated the importance of love when he reminded His followers to love God first with all their heart and soul (Matthew 22:37) and then love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) Always put God first and I believe when we model our friendships after Him, we will experience friendship the way God intended us to.
I think that God will never send, a gift so precious as a friend,
A friend who always understands, and fills each need as it demands,
Whose loyalty will stand the test, when skies are bright or overcast,
Who sees the faults that merit blame, but keeps on loving just the same.
Who does far more than creeds could do. To make us good, to make us true,
Earth’s gifts a sweet contentment lend, But only God can give a friend!
A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in
your future, and accepts you today just the way you are.
May 19th, 2020
The Just shall live by Faith
God cannot hear prayer unless a heart of faith strengthens it. Words of Scripture are utterly barren unless read by eyes of faith. The Christian life is meaningless and empty unless viewed from eyes of faith. Thru faith earth is linked to heaven, Scripture becomes quick and powerful, and the Christian life becomes vibrant and fulfilled.
How do I receive help in time of need? By Faith! How do I conquer the many troubles of life? By Faith! Faith appropriates strength for the journey. Faith is the heavenly key to victorious Christian living. Thru faith’s strong door stand the riches of this life and the life to come.
In the Bible, “faith” means believing in God, and in what Christ has done for us to make our salvation possible–and then, by faith, committing ourselves to Him.
Faith has two parts to it, and both are equally important. The first part is belief–belief that God exists, and that He loves us and sent His Son into the world to save us. Faith isn’t a vague hope that God might exist; it is a definite belief that what the Bible says about Him is true. The Bible plainly says in Hebrews 11:6 that, "He that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
The second part of faith is commitment–a definite decision not only to believe in our minds that Christ can save us, but to put our lives into His hands and trust Him alone for our salvation. True faith not only believes Christ can save us, but actually trusts Him to do it. The Bible says, “For by grace are ye saved, through faith” Eph. 2:8.
The child of God that firstly begins their relationship with Christ through faith then lives their remaining days through faith. 1 Peter 1:5 wonderfully states that the Children of God, "…are kept by the power of God through faith…".
Faith ensures the host of heaven will be by my side. Faith moves the omnipotence of God on my behalf. Faith covers me with the awesome power of God. Faith lifts me above my enemy. Faith helps me defy the hosts of hell. By faith I stand victorious over sin, Satan and self.
Take faith away and it is impossible for me to receive anything of the Lord. Let not him that wavered expect that he shall receive anything of God! Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.
Doubt sees the obstacles, Faith sees the way!
Doubt sees the darkest night, Faith sees the day!
Doubt dreads to take a step, Faith soars on high!
Doubt questions, “Who Believes?” Faith answers “I!”
Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.
Faith is not believing that God can, but that God will!
May 18th, 2020
“It’s All For Jesus”
During a missionary service in a church, the adults were asked to contribute money to help feed some starving children in India who had been placed in a Christian hospital. The boys and girls in the congregation were urged to give a favorite toy. When the time came for the offering, one little girl began crying as though her heart would break. In her arms she clasped a well-worn doll, her only doll. Everyone could see that she was having quite a struggle in parting with her cherished possession. Then all at once a smile broke through her tears as she almost ran down the aisle to the front. Holding up the doll, she said, "I'm sorry I cried, Mr. Missionary. I forgot for a while--it's all for Jesus!"
This wonderful story reminds us that every trial, every battle, every sorrow, every sacrifice is to be faced with the realization that “It’s ALL for Jesus!”.
I therefore so run, not as uncertainty; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
but I keep under my body; and bring it unto subjection: lest that by any means,
when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Cor 9:26-27
May 16th, 2020
The Christians Choice - “To Always Rejoice”
Some years ago, in Tyler, Texas, a tragic automobile accident left Katlyn White, a beautiful 16-year-old girl, a quadriplegic. She was faced with a difficult choice at an early age. She could let this circumstance ruin her or use it to reign with Christ. She chose to look to God's Word and made Job 23:10 her life's verse: "He knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold". For 40 years she has been confined to a wheelchair, but the chair does not define her. The suffering and loss of mobility are not her focus. She learned, even with diminished strength, that she could reach out to children and adults and minister Christ's love to them on the telephone. With a specially made device, she is able to hold the receiver and share the good news. Clowns at area circuses carry her phone number to give to homeless children. Many people call with the names of kids who need help. She spends untold hours on the phone talking about Jesus.
She has been hammered and forged, passed through the heat of affliction and pain again and again, but the product is finished, polished, and ready for each delicate task God gives her. Her success has come through brokenness, which she turned around for the glory of God. She chose to draw near to God in her physical tragedy."
Victor Franklin wisely said,
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—To
choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, is to choose one's own way."
Hated, betrayed, and forgotten by his friends, Joseph chose to praise God for His goodness. Beaten and wrongfully enslaved in prison-Paul and Silas chose to sing the choruses of heaven. Rejected, beaten and hung on a cross to die, Jesus looked upon his self-proclaimed enemies and pleaded, “Father forgive them”- then in joyous expectation shouted, “It is finished”.
Christians today would do well to live out Paul’s admonition to the distressed believers at Philadelphia, “Rejoice in the Lord alway and again I say rejoice”. You always have a choice…
The Psalmist declared that no matter the circumstances we face nor our standing in life...let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice.- Ps 68:3. Choose today to fully rejoice in the Lord!
“Keep smiling - It makes everyone wonder what you're up to.”
May 13th, 2020
“In His Hands”
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; & lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, & he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Nature teaches us much about God and His wonderful providence. For instance, He supplies the animals and the fowls of the air with innate abilities that help them survive in a hostile environment. They are guided and preserved even though their intelligence is limited. Some birds would perish if they had to stay all year in areas, which have extreme variations in temperature. So the Lord has given them migrating instincts.
Studies indicate that the small indigo bunting (a member of the finch family) apparently steers his way 2000 miles south every year just by looking over his shoulder at the northern sky. Steven T. Emlen of the University of Michigan says this night-flying bird does not seem to rely on any one star or constellation for his direction. Instead, he recognizes the whole geometric pattern of the heavenly bodies within 35 degrees of the North Star. He can be confused only when that area is entirely obscured by clouds. Then his flight is instinctively discontinued until he can once again get a clear view of the sky.
What a tremendous lesson for the child of God. Our lives also have times when our direction or interests are obscured by clouds. These shadows of our lives often steal our joy, dampen our faith, and sap our life and strength, sometimes to the point we feel we can’t go on. If we willfully place our trust and love in Christ the clouds will be removed and God’s strong presence and help will be experienced again.
A very sick, British preacher Charles Simeon smiled brightly and asked the people gathered in his room, "What do you think especially gives me comfort at this time?"
When they all remained silent, he exclaimed, "The creation! I ask myself, 'Did Jehovah create the world or did I?' He did! Now if He made the world and all the rolling spheres of the universe, He certainly can take care of me. Into Jesus' hands I can safely commit my spirit!"
Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission, in the closing months of his life said to a friend, "I am so weak. I can't read my Bible. I can't even pray. I can only lie still in God's arms like a little child and trust." Both Simeon and Taylor knew that the almighty God who created the universe was holding them in His hands.
Job 37:14 states, “Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God”. In Psalms 46:10, this thought was continued, “Be still, and know that I am God…The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
Child of God always remember that you can, "Cast your care upon Him for He cares for you."
I hope the words of this wonderful song, "Hand in Hand with Jesus" written by Johnson Oatman, blesses you as it did me.
Once from my poor sin-sick soul Christ did every burden roll
Now I walk redeemed and whole Hand in hand with Jesus
Hand in hand we walk each day Hand in hand along the way
Walking thus I cannot stray Hand in hand with Jesus
In my night of dark despair Jesus heard me and answered my prayer
Now I'm walking free as air Hand in hand with Jesus
Hand in hand we walk each day Hand in hand along the way
Walking thus I cannot stray Hand in hand with Jesus
When the stars are backward rolled And His Home I shall behold
I will walk those streets of gold Hand in hand with Jesus
Hand in hand we walk each day Hand in hand along the way
Walking thus I cannot stray Hand in hand with Jesus
Rejoice always…especially in times like these!
May 11th, 2020
“Completed by Another”
…every man has his gift from God, one after this manner and another after that. - I Corinthians 7:7
I remember several years ago of watching, with great interest, a national track event sponsored by the University of Tennessee. I was amazed at the physical diversity of the athletes. Runners, jumpers, pole-vaulters, hurdlers, throwers of discus, javelin and many others. Men and women who were superstars in their specialty event, yet, who probably could not be remotely competitive in any of the other events.
I watched records being set in the shot put, by superstars who had built extreme muscle mass in their upper bodies, muscle mass that would hinder and embarrass them if they decided to compete in the high jump. Yet each excelled in his specialized area.
Is this not the vision that Christ had for the Church as given in I Corinthians chapter 12? This wonderful chapter tells us that, at the time of salvation, the Holy Spirit has uniquely gifted each individual Christian. He purposely made us different, that together, we might fully accomplish His will; glorify the name of Christ, and working together fully meet the needs of His Church.
Our diversity, which is often the source of great controversy, is not our weakness but our strength. God never intended for any person to be a complete, comprehensive package, able to do everything. He said at the beginning, “It is not good for man to be alone.” The individual can only accomplish a small part, together, we can complete the whole. I’m made, I’m gifted, I’m conditioned for my event.
Our prayer should be that the Father would give us the wisdom to know our gift and the courage to wisely use it for His glory. To fully, through His mercy and grace, appreciate it and not be envious or critical of others and their gifts. Together we can fully accomplish God's will.
Then, and only then, will be reach our potential and ultimately, together, bring the body of Christ to full maturity. What a display, for all to see, of God's glory working in and through each of us.
- Pastor Rudy
May 05th, 2020
The Importance of Redeeming the Time
This letter was written by an 83-year-old woman to her friend. The last line says it all.
I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting in the yard and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden.
I’m spending more time with my family & friends and less time working. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern for experiences to savor, not to endure. I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.
I’m not “saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, or the first Amaryllis blossom. I wear my good blazer to the market. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries. I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties, but wearing it for clerks in the hardware store and tellers at the bank. “Some day” and “one of these days” are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now. I’m not sure what others would’ve done had they known they wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow that we all take for granted.
I think they would have called family members and a few close friends. They might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think they would have gone out for a Chinese dinner or for whatever their favorite food was. I’m guessin; I’ll never know. It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew my hours were limited. Angry because I hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband and parents often enough how much I truly loved them. I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives.
Every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift from God…People say true friends must always hold hands, but true friends don’t need to hold hands because they know the other hand will always be there.
with all my love,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise,
but understanding what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5:16-18
My family and I wish to thank everyone for their prayers, gifts of love, and gracious support as together we try to fulfill God’s will for our lives. Each of you have been a wonderful encouragement and blessing.
Have a great day and God bless!
Pastor Rudy Oakes