“We should prayerfully and persistently pursue the presence of lost people, then proclaim and persuade at the prompting and in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
- Will McRaney
When it comes to sharing your faith, time is always the issue. In my own conversion experience in evangelism I see this to be true. From time to time we may lead someone to Christ during the first conversation, but most of the time it is through a relationship that we build using different styles and methods of evangelism. If you want to lead people to the grace of Jesus in this postmodern context, building credible relationships that attempt to communicate the message of Christ is the way to go. However, if you are going to pursue a relationship you should know something: it’s going to be messy.
The reason it will be messy is because we as fallen people are messy. People come to Christ with a lot of baggage, and that can take time to work through. It takes time to see that Christ is the only possible way for our sins to be taken away. I would call it the messy work of evangelism because the way one goes about leading someone to Jesus is different almost every time. What works for one may not work for another. People get caught up in different excuses of why they should not follow Jesus. So, as you move forward don’t get stuck on just one way to lead someone to the grace of Jesus.
In my own experience in evangelism I have found service evangelism to be the most fruitful and rewarding. This goes right into helping lost people address their misconceptions/misperceptions regarding the gospel. Many people have a very misplaced understanding of what being a Christian is all about. Meeting people where they are and serving them is a great way to turn the conversation to Christ. Many people who don’t follow Jesus have a misunderstanding of faith that has been shaped by many things and most of those things did not come from the Bible.
Dear Follower of Jesus, keep doing the messy work of sharing your faith. I wish I could tell you a sure fire way to do it, but the reality is that there is no perfect way. But Jesus says, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” It is not by my power, but His. Jesus wants your faithfulness. It is through your faithfulness that the Holy Spirit moves so that others may know Him. God can use a believer who is ready to give an account for the faith that is in them to lead people to who Jesus really is.
“So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you."”
John 20:21 NASB
After His crucifixion and after His resurrection, Jesus appears to His disciples and speaks to their fears and gives them a glimpse into what is in store for each and every one of His disciples.
The disciples were being tossed to and fro on the stormy waters of doubt (where was Jesus - was He raised from the dead), fear (they killed Jesus, will they kill us), indecision (what do we do now that Jesus is gone) and disappointment (our leader, our king is gone). In the same way that He calmed the storm and the waters, Jesus calms the hearts of His disciples. Seeing and hearing Jesus the disciples were freed from their doubt and fear. The disappointment and the indecision are gone and replaced by Jesus' clear command - As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.
In this season of your life, are you in a storm? Are you battling waves of doubt and fear? Are the winds of indecision and disappointment buffeting you? Do you long to have peace? You need to hear from the risen One. The very One that longs to shepherd your soul desires to speak to your storm.
“When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."”
John 10:4-5 NASB
How can you hope to hear from Him in the middle of your storm if you don't know His voice? How can you hope to follow the Good Shepherd if you don't spend time with Him. Why not make a commitment now to daily spend time reading, meditating and studying the Bible - God's Word to us? Make the time, choose a plan, follow through and be prepared to hear Him speak to your storm. You'll find that God has perfect designs and plans for all areas of your life and when He speaks to your storm, be obedient. Follow the commands.
Follow the Good Shepherd. You need not fear the One who desires to lead you in paths of righteousness for His Names' sake. Follow the One that will lead you beside still waters and desires to pasture you in green pastures. The Good Shepherd protects, leads, provides, and walks with you even when the path leads through the Valley of Death. Let the Good Shepherd lead you in the storms of your life.
Passion 2017, what a week! Our church had the opportunity to take our college students to the Georgia Dome to spend three days with 55,000 other college students! Passion has been a great partner for SABC through the years because they spend that first week of the year teaching and encouraging students that God has a great plan for their college years. He is not waiting for them to get a degree to begin using them. In fact, God has no need for an expensive piece of paper from an accredited university, He desires willing hearts. This year was no different. Our students got to hear from church leaders like John Piper, Francis Chan, and Louie Giglio, as well as many others. The focus of the week this year was built around suffering; something many would not think would be a good idea for 18-25 year olds. It was clear that the Spirit was all over this, however, as we heard story after story from God’s Word as well as the testimonies of His people of how God has used what they thought was the worst trial of their life to become one of the greatest goods.
Something that has become typical of Passion events is the challenge these students send to the world with their generosity. Owning the term “poor college student” these students come prepared to give what they have to a cause. This year that cause was children around the world living without sufficient food, housing, and education, in some of the world’s poorest countries. Through Compassion International, these college students gave to children in El Salvador, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Indonesia. This wasn’t just a one-time gift either. This was a commitment to care for that child from now until they become an adult. They didn’t just give to some of the children in these countries however. By the power and Grace of God, Every child in the Compassion program in all four of these countries was sponsored at passion 2017. That’s over 7000 Children whose lives were forever changed because of the generosity of college students. This was the largest number of children sponsored from a single event in Compassion’s history. God is Good! And He is using “poor college students” to show His goodness to children around the world.
Let the testimony of our college students at SABC challenge you in two ways. First, be challenged and encouraged to know that God is good even when times are hard. Many times, God uses the hardest times in our lives to teach us the most about Him. Let’s not waste our suffering. Secondly, Be challenged as I was that if a college student can give extravagantly off of a part-time wage, my excuses to do so are probably pretty feeble.
Praise God for what he has done in our college students this past week, as well as what he has done in tens of thousands of college believers all around our nation.
Grace and Peace,
Christmas Eve is a special time. I love how society shuts down and people are abounding with anticipation for what is to come. With traditions of many kinds, some look forward to family gatherings, some eagerly await the giving of gifts, and others just enjoy a break from their often relentless and sometimes burdensome schedules.
Whatever you long for, know this;
There is a family for you to gather with – the church,
there is a gift worthy of our anticipation – eternal life,
and there is One who can give you true rest – Jesus Christ.
As for traditions, our family has come to love spending Christmas eve with our Church family. Our girls love coming dress in their PJs. We love being able to worship together, and it is always a blessing to hear what that night might have been like through Bro. Mike’s dramatic monologue of characters around the nativity.
Join us at St. Andrew Baptist Church as we celebrate the promise of God delivered through the birth of Jesus at our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. It’s the perfect way to center your heart by remembering the miracle of our Savior’s birth through song, a biblical character monologue, and of course the glow of our candlelight tradition.
Mark your calendar for Christmas Eve from 5-6pm in the sanctuary. This event is for the whole family, the whole church, and the whole community. Come celebrate Christmas with us!
Last night I went onto the Samaritan's Purse website and ordered my 4th grade Sunday school kids' "shopping list" of items they chose to buy with their missions bake sale money. They bought a cow/ox for a farmer. They paid for a child's entire cleft palate surgery. They donated food, clothes, shoes and blankets to refugee families and those affected by natural disasters. They contributed to children's literacy programs, bought hot meals for a child in a school/orphanage, and provided a week's worth of life-saving nutrition to 4 starving babies. They gave a family a household water filter system and chipped in to a village's clean-water project. They provided soccer balls and sports equipment for evangelistic athletic programs, donated money to help a child receive heart surgery, helped renovate a mission hospital, provided Bibles and Christian literature to churches and paid the postage on 4 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes whose donors couldn't afford to. Last but not least, 3 rural families somewhere in the world will be getting flocks of baby chicks. And in all these projects, the Gospel will be shared.
2,000 years ago, Jesus fed a multitude with 5 loaves and 2 fish that a boy was willing to give. Our kids had a table of brownies and cupcakes to give...and a multitude of people around the world will be blessed by their work and the generosity of our SABC family. $1,100 total!!!
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.“”
John 10:27-30 NASB
In Chapter 10, John relates what Jesus said about Himself and about His followers. He said that He was the Good Shepherd, The Door, and when asked confirmed that He was the Christ and that He and the Father were one. He left little to the imagination in this chapter.
He also left little to the imagination when it came to His followers.
MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE - I know my wife's voice well because I've spent time with her. I've been with her when she's been happy, sad, mad and scared. I know her voice when she is stressed and when she is not. You get the point - spend time in The Word so that you'll know when The Lord is speaking to you.
AND I KNOW THEM - I think that this speaks to a relationship, don't you? A real sheep doesn't just know about the Good Shepherd, he knows Him and the Good Shepherd, in return, knows the sheep. This intimate relationship begins when one makes Jesus Lord of his life and chooses to believe that He is the Christ.
AND THEY FOLLOW ME - a characteristic of Jesus' sheep is that they follow Him. They obey His commands. They are doing what He has commanded in The Word. There should be spiritual fruit that clearly indicates that you are His.
AND I GIVE ETERNAL LIFE TO THEM, AND THEY WILL NEVER PERISH AND NO ONE WILL SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND - the benefits of being His sheep are eternal life and unending security.
These benefits are ones that we want our family and friends to participate in and cause us to go to great lengths to see that they have opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel.
I hope this precious story will remind you again how amazing our God is!
Sunday morning January 10, 2016 started in a startling way.
While Rebecca David was on her way to pick up Claudia Fowler and her preteen son Nickolas,
she received a call from Nickolas that something was wrong with his mother. Rebecca arrived soon, and called 911.
The paramedics arrived quickly and began CPR. When Rebecca left the apartment, the EMT’s continued trying to revive Claudia.
Rebecca brought Nickolas to church and talked with Mike and I. She was shaken, because she realized that Claudia's condition was serious.
Rebecca was torn about what to do but we encouraged her to go up to the hospital. Nickolas was at home in the Kid Zone and one in her class would step up to lead. And of course their class spent their morning praying.
Nickolas went with me to worship that day. Just before we left for worship, I had a text from Rebecca that Claudia died at the hospital. I wanted Rebecca to be back before Nickolas heard about his mom. So standing by Nickolas in worship with my arm around his shoulder I was praying without ceasing for him. The next song we sang was "The King of Glory." When we sang the phrase "Who makes the orphan a son or daughter..." My tears flowed. God was going to take care of Nickolas! And oh how He has!
A few months back, Claudia and Nickolas had fallen on hard times so Rebecca had invited them to live with her. They lived there for several weeks until they were able to rent their own apartment. So, through that time, Rebecca had gotten very close to them and them to her. Looking back at that I stand in awe of God and His amazing provision. He knew what was coming and He was getting things in place for Nickolas.
After worship Rebecca and Nickolas went to my office and Rebecca told Nickolas about his Mom. It was so precious to hear Rebecca remind Nickolas of the time she had gone to their temporary hotel room to meet with his mom. She asked Claudia how she (our church) could help. She expected her to ask for a material need because clearly there were many. However, Claudia said "I need to get right with God." That night she prayed to receive Christ and to live for Him. Rebecca was able to tell Nickolas that we could know for certain where his mom was. Even to a young boy (age 10), whose heart was broken because of his loss, it was clear that this truth did bring much comfort to him.
He went home with Rebecca and for the next few weeks they worked through their grief, finding other relatives, understanding what the law was, and deciding that the best place for Nickolas was with Rebecca and her family who already knew him. He already felt at home. So many friends stepped up to help Rebecca get Nickolas everywhere he needed to be so she could continue to work. It's a beautiful thing to watch the body of Christ at work. Every need was met!
Later I learned that Rebecca’s daughter Jennifer, a nurse, was working at the hospital the morning Claudia came in. So, together, Rebecca and Jennifer laid hands on Claudia and promised that they would take care of Nickolas until God showed them the right path for him. Soon, Jennifer and her husband Casey became a huge part of Nickolas’ everyday life and quickly fell in love with him. Though there were many legal hurdles to jump, Jennifer and Casey Morefield were able to adopt Nickolas on September 14, 2016!
Needless to say they hosted a celebration party and praised the Lord for what He had done! Nickolas knows how very much he is loved by his new family, his church and most of all by God. Nickolas has now become a Christian too and was Baptized this past Sunday. We should never doubt that even in our darkest hour God is in control. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He is able to do "above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us...to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph 3:20-21)
This past Sunday, our Pastor preached on James 1:17 that says:
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
In his sermon, Bro. Mike challenged us to think back on all of the good gifts our God has given us. While there were many options for me to choose, one particular thing came to mind. Chelsea missed the sermon as she was traveling home from out of town so I filled her in on what she missed and asked her the same question I was asked that morning. Her answer was the exact same event I had thought about in my pew that morning. We spent the next few minutes marveling at how good our God has been to our family. I wanted to share our story with you.
When Chelsea and I were married in 2013 we rented an apartment. It was a great deal in a part of town that we loved and we jumped on it. As it turned out, there was a reason it was so cheap. Over the first two months of our living there, we witnessed a number of different things that convinced us we needed to get out of that place the first chance we were given. After prayer we felt that we were being led to buy a home in Panama City.
So we started looking.
After looking at every home in our price range in Bay County with little success, one came on the market that we felt was perfect for us. My wife was in love! She wanted that house so badly. Every day when she got off work, she went by the house, which was vacant, and prayed circles around it, pleading with the Lord to give us that house as a part of His plan for us. After a couple months of prayer circles and anxiety, we found out we didn’t get the house.
Chelsea was devastated.
It took about 6 months for her to agree to even look at houses with me. She was so discouraged about finding a house that we continued to live in our apartment past our lease agreement.
Fast-forward 2 years.
God has blessed us with a house that is 10,000X’s more perfect for us than that house back then. It is perfect for the family we hope to have. It is perfect for our ministry at SABC. It is a perfect location for people from all over the county to come join us for dinner and Bible Studies we host. God has been good to the Gambles’!
In those days following our missing the first house, we saw no blessings, only vacancies. It was only when we had the whole picture that we knew God was asking us to wait on His timing.
I tell you our story with the hopes that it will remind you of how the Lord has blessed your family. Your story may sound similar to ours, it may sound completely different. I can assure you however, that the gifts are there to find. If we will only think back upon what the Lord has done.
With that being said, I want to challenge you in the same way our pastor challenged us this past Sunday to think on your life. Once you have done that, praise God for the gifts He has given you, big and small. Share your story with someone as a praise to the Lord. I can promise you that you will be encouraged. I can promise you that because I woke up this morning with great encouragement that God was taking care of me, because He always has.
Click the player below to listen to Bro. Mike’s sermon if you missed it!
“[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings.
And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. As it is written, He [the benevolent person] scatters abroad; He gives to the poor; His deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever! [Ps. 112:9.]”
2 Corinthians 9:6, 8-9 AMP
There are laws of the harvest that should help us understand how we should live, give and serve.
YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW. Duh, right? We've all heard this but it bears repeating. You are gonna get what you plant. You don't plant corn and hope that squash comes up. How can you expect a harvest of righteousness when you are scattering acts of unrighteousness?
YOU REAP LATER THAN YOU SOW. Another physical law of the harvest is that you sew and then you wait for the results. When you live, give or serve others the results do not sprout up right away. The results come weeks, months and sometimes, years after the act of sowing.
YOU REAP MORE THAN YOU SOW. You sow a seed of corn and you will get a stalk of corn with many ears and many seeds. The same is true with the righteous or unrighteous acts that you commit. You WILL reap more than you sow.
My friend, sow sparingly and you will reap sparingly. However, generously scattering seeds of kindness and righteousness will cause a great harvest to return to you. These laws work in the fields as they do in your home, in your business and in your church.
Maybe this has been your practice for sometime. If not, then start today to benevolently sow seeds of righteousness. Sow a thought - reap an action. Sow an action - reap a habit. Sow a habit - reap a life. Be careful what you sow.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
Galatians 5:25 NASB
A Christ-follower's walk, the evidence that Christ lives within him/her, should be characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. Paul held these actions up against what the flesh produces as proof of the superiority of living and walking in the Spirit as opposed to living in the flesh.
Here is a modern version of what Paul said: “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.”
Galatians 5:19-21 MSG
To my shame, I admit that I can see myself in this list in times past. Knowing I'm capable of living in the flesh, I want to know what it means to Walk by the Spirit.
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS A WORK OF THE SPIRIT. I've tried and tried, (maybe you have too!) to make resolutions and improve myself and do good things. However, the fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Spirit and not by our efforts. Salvation (living in the Spirit) leads to sanctification (walking in the Spirit).
READ AND FEED. The fruit of the Spirit is a result of the Spirit living in you. Paul says it like this in Col 3:16, Let the word of Christ richly dwell in you. Apart from a daily time of reading God's word and feeding upon God's word, how will we know how to walk? What does it mean to feed upon God's word? Good question. I believe it to be a systematic reading of the Bible to find how we should live. Feeding on God's word means that we will allow the Spirit of God to quicken the Word of God to our minds as we read it. When we do that we will find that we are allowing the Word of God to control how we live. To say it another way, to Walk in the Spirit is to be controlled by the Word of God.
PRAY AND OBEY. As we read and feed on God's Word, we will find specific instances and ares of our life that are in conflict with God's Word. To Walk in the Spirit will require that we agree with the Word of God and allow the Word to control how we live. The Bible has a word for agreeing with God and allowing the Spirit to control us - it's called repentance. We read and we feed. God quickens His word to our minds and we agree with Him and ask the Holy Spirit to help us walk in His way. We pray and we obey.
I pray that we will all see that improvement in our own power is empty and vain thinking. Living a life in union with the Spirit of God produces a desire to read His Word and obey His commands. It is called walking in the Spirit.
Please Join Us This Week!
9:00am Small Group Bible Study (for all ages)
10:30am Worship (Interpretation for Deaf)
4:30pm Library Open
5:00pm Adult Discipleship Classes
5:00pm Preschool & Children's activities
5:00pm Youth Praise Gathering
4:45pm Family Dinner
6:00pm Preschool & Children's Activities
6:00pm Youth Rush Hour
6:00pm Adult Bible Study & Prayer
6:00pm Young Adult Service
7:00pm Choir & Orchestra Rehearsal
St. Andrew Baptist Church
3010 W. 15th Street
Panama City, FL 32401
Map & Directions