We have an opportunity in the upcoming weeks to bless and reach some of the most important families in our community. This year, we have changed the way we are doing our school supply drive. Instead of just reaching out to the families at Lucille Moore Elementary, we are extending a hand to all of the elementary school age families in Bay County. On August 11th, we will be holding our school Supply Drive not at a school, but right here in our Kid Zone building. This gives us the opportunity to walk families through our building and talk to them about all the great things we have going on for children at St. Andrew. Our prayer is that God would use this drive not just for the sake of pencils and notebooks, but as a starting point for families who need Jesus, and a church home to help them walk with Him.
You may have guessed this already, but because we have extended this offer all over Bay County, we need God to come through in a big way. That’s where you come in!!! It may not seem like pencil sharpeners and erasers matter much, but if they give us a chance to reach these families, they have eternal importance. Through your Lifechange Group, we’ll be taking up school supplies the next 2 Sundays (7/29 & 8/5), and we are trusting the Lord to give us enough supplies to serve all of the families who show up on August 11th. As you shop for your supplies, please pray that God would use every last piece for His Glory, and that these families would come to know the love and peace of Jesus Christ.
Grace and Peace,
I want to tell you something the Lord has been doing in my heart over the last few weeks both through things going on at St. Andrew and things in my own quiet times. Simply put, I have been reminded of the importance of completely engulfing my day in devotion to the Lord. This started with our Holy Week services a few weeks back. Because it was so early in the morning, I was not able to do my quiet times first thing as I normally do. For that week, Holy Week service became my morning devotion and I moved my own personal time into the afternoons. The very next week, our young adults’ study through Exodus brought us to Exodus 29, where we see the consecration of the priests for the work in the Tabernacle. We saw that they offered two sacrifices a day; one in the morning and one at twilight. This was to be a symbol that their day began and ended in devotion to the Lord. We see that this was to be “a pleasing aroma” to the Lord (Ex. 29:41). This was to be a constant reminder that their entire lives were to be offerings to the Lord, that everything they did was to be pleasing to him. In the same way, Paul tells the church in Ephesus to “be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph. 2:1-2).
My prayer these last two weeks has been for God to remind me all day long, not just in my morning quiet times, of this fragrance I am to be lifting to him. That everything I do, whether at church, home, hanging out around town, or anywhere else, is an offering to him. I wonder if you would join me in that prayer. May God make us people who live lives pleasing to the one who has redeemed us.
Grace and Peace,
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,
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!
1 Timothy 1:18-19 (ESV)
18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,
The Christian life is hard. This statement was made a number of times as I sat with some dear brothers and sisters reviewing Bro. Rick’s Sermon from last Sunday. If you’ll remember, he preached on “A Shipwrecked Faith” and what we Believers can do to avoid the same fate that befell Hymenaeus and Alexander in Paul’s first letter to Timothy. He told us that we Christians will never automatically “drift” towards God but will always, without His grace, drift toward sin. As we talked about this truth, we begin to all realize just how many different disciplines of the Faith we were all trying to keep track of on a weekly basis. For some of us, there was the daily struggle of starting every morning reading God’s Word. For others, it was the courage to take a conversation from one of mutual interests to one with Gospel implications. Others still confessed an unwillingness to get uncomfortable in order to help others. These are just a few of the spiritual disciplines that we struggled with. Some of us admitted that oftentimes we will go through a season where we seemed to have conquered a struggle, only to notice months later we had drifted away. More than that, some testified to creating good habits in one spiritual discipline only to promptly recognize sinful habits in another.
Let me restate; the Christian life is hard. However, I left that night encouraged. I wasn’t encouraged because others were struggling, but because of how the conversation ended. Grace. At the end of all of our efforts and strivings stands the Grace of Jesus. The Grace of Jesus isn’t only applied in conversion, but also in every moment thereafter. We all left that meeting encouraged with the reality that the Grace of Jesus was just as strong in our lives today as it was on the day we turned our lives’ control over to Him. The reality of Romans 6:14 that teaches us that “sin will no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” God calls us to flee from temptation and from sin, but he does not just leave us to figure it all out on our own, but instead walks alongside us as we strive to follow Him. When we fail, James teaches us that He gives more Grace.
The Christian life is hard. That statement is true. God’s grace is greater than all our sin. That statement, praise be to God, is truer still!
Sheep who Shepherd: