You’ve heard the analogy or metaphor, “black hole.” I use it on a regular basis (hopefully not too much). Actual “black holes” are very mysterious and subject to much speculation in what people call ‘the field of science,’ perhaps astrophysics or astronomy. If you look at a dictionary definition, a basic one, you get one, “a region of space having a gravitational field so intense that no matter or radiation can escape,” and, two, “informal, a place where people or things, especially money, disappear without trace.” The metaphor is the latter. I use it for time. You look to where you will expend your time and if it seems like something just eats up time, you might call it a “black hole” as it relates to time. You put more and more in and it just eats up the time with what seems like very little to show for it. I believe that we can feel that way about serving the Lord. We do something for the Lord that takes a whole lot of time and it seems like there is very little to show for it. It seems that way, but it is not true. Whatever you pour into the Lord’s work has value, even if you don’t see any results. The actual black hole can be what you do in the world. It might not seem like a black hole, but it actually is one. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:58 that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Work for the Lord, right work and properly motivated, never goes into a black hole. None of it is loss.
Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA
The Apostle Paul writes and explains in Romans 6 why sin won’t have dominion over you any longer once you have been declared righteous, justified, by grace through faith. The first fourteen verses say you have a new life, which isn’t the same as the old, a righteous life, not a sinful life. Then verses 15-23 argue that we have a new master, the old master being sin and the new master being righteousness. If your master is righteousness, if Jesus Christ is your Lord, then you won’t live in sin any longer. You have a new master. With Romans 6 in mind, one should expect a believer, someone with a new life and a new master, to live for his new master. His life will be characterized by righteousness, that is, doing right, obeying the Lord. Sure, there will be a struggle, but he is not under the dominion of sin any more. He was in Adam, but now he is in Christ. He is an entirely different family with a new nature. An assumption of successful pastoring is that the church is made up of people with a new life and a new master. A pastor can’t get people without life and with the old master to obey righteousness and to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. He can help those who are already saved. They want to do what’s right. They aren’t by nature going to be indifferent to or fighting his righteous leadership. They will be fully cooperative, because that is who they are.
You’ve never met someone directly who had been to the heavenly throne room, standing before the Lord. Isaiah did all that, as you can read in Isaiah 6. Isaiah 6 is a microcosm for the entire, wonderful book of Isaiah, as to the reaction God desires to have from everyone. It is a saving reaction. It is expected by God. You can read it yourself and experience it yourself through the Word of God. That’s what God wants you to do with that chapter. Standing in the heavenly presence of God should be a life-changing experience. Nothing can top it. When Isaiah saw it, it transformed him. Maybe you’re thinking, if God would do that for me, then I would be changed too. You’re not going to have the same experience as Isaiah except through reading Isaiah, and you are supposed to react like Isaiah did, as if it was you who did experience it. I’m saying you experience it through scripture. You’ve been there if you read it and then apply it to your life. The essence of Isaiah’s reaction was humility and surrender. He said, “Here am I Lord, send me.” It reminds me of Paul seeing Jesus on the road to Damascus – similar reaction – “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do.” This is a believing response to the Lord, giving in to Him as God and as Lord. You know He’ll save you, but you’ve got to give Him your life. Is that true of you?
You’ll often hear me talk about how many things have to be going right at any given moment for any one of us to live physically. God is taking care of all of those things outside of our conscious credit to Him. He’s doing it anyway, despite not receiving the non-stop thanks and praise that He deserves. However, it is not going to last. We live temporal lives, but the earth itself is also disposable. We won’t be here very long, but the earth is on the clock too. God’s Word tells us what this time we have is all about. We know why we’re here. Sure, we’re supposed to be good stewards of what we have and do the best we can with what God has given to us, but the things of this life – the house, what we eat, what we wear, etc. – none of these things are going to last. God wants us to invest our lives in spiritual things, prioritize spiritual things. The church is all about that, about following the Lord in what He wants us to do. The little time that we spend here is all about the kingdom of God, which moves on into eternity. Almost everyone reading this in our church probably says that he knows that. Are you living like it? Is the truth of God what is vitally important for and to you? It is what is most important, but do you treat it as such? This is living by faith, trusting God and what He said. The ones who do that are believers and they move on into eternity with the Lord.
The terminology “law enforcement” brings many different thoughts this week; however, law enforcement assumes “law.” “Law” assumes authority and the comprehension of ordinary language. It isn’t a law if there is not controlling authority, which implies some type of consequence for violation. Laws are based upon ordinary language, yet we live in an age of linguistic relativity. Relativity starts with the denial of supernatural—naturalism—also called modernism, which didn’t fulfill its adherents, so it spun into postmodernism, where everyone can have his own truth, truth as a matter only of personal taste. This has paralleled with progressivism, which says that through naturalistic means mankind keeps progressing with the goal of reaching a utopian state. A strict construction of law takes a certain view of language where words must mean what they mean. God gave us language and His will is revealed to us in words. Naturalism by nature rebels against literal meaning with hope for a utopian society, which is to believe a lie. Only God’s Word is truth. The attack on truth requires an attack on meaning, so that laws become meaningless. Law begins with God because He is the highest authority. The attack on meaning is an attack on Him, on His power and goodness, by people who won’t submit to Him, because they don’t trust Him.
In many ways, one church service here at Bethel, the meeting of the church, is a microcosm of your entire life. What is your whole life about? It is about worshiping God, which is acknowledging God and giving Him what He wants. We are created for His pleasure and in this age, that is through the church. However, everything that occurs in the assembling of ourselves together here, although actually occurring and important in itself, is a model for what you are to do outside of the church. The meeting of our church is regulated by scripture. We pray, we read the Bible, we sing praise, we fellowship, we give, we preach, we listen to preaching, and we respond with submission to the Word of God. During the week, you take that model and live it out in your home, your work, and everywhere else. As that relates to hearing preaching and then passing along the Word of God that has passed through the church, we preach the gospel to every creature. That occurs in a systematic way. I believe every man should be involved in systematic evangelism, but also the spontaneous evangelism, where we live out the gospel with our life and lips. The latter very often doesn’t occur, because of the missing of the former. It’s not a more difficult commitment to go out with the men of our church to preach the gospel. What you do everywhere corresponds to that.
Perhaps you ask yourself the same question we read in Luke 18:8, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Of course, He will find faith on the earth, but so relatively little that it merits the question. Why can we say faith will be on the earth? It will be there, because God promised there would be (Matt 16:18). Some will depart from the faith (1 Tim 4:1), not all. God can make the promise that faith will exist on the earth, because God is working in a fashion that there can be. There would be none if He were not working. His “grace hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). That faith will be on the earth reminds me of 1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And, same chapter, 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” God is glorified for any faith on the earth, because He is the One Who ensures that it will be here. In the meantime, why would faith disappear? Next chapter, 16:13, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” We are commanded to stand fast in the faith. Whatever God is doing we should be cooperating with, which means standing fast in the faith. Each of you count for that. Everyone matters in this stand, like Philippians 1:27 says, “that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
I want to combine a couple of thoughts from two different verses from Paul’s epistles, and then consider some belief and practice from those thoughts from those verses. In Philippians 4:19, the Apostle Paul writes, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Paul is writing to the church at Philippi, which was in Macedonia, which had sent him a very sacrificial gift. He wanted them to know, that despite the loss that ensued because of that collection, they would be fine. God would supply all their need. Then in 1 Timothy 6:8, he writes to Timothy, both to him and to pass on to the church at Ephesus, “having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” God will supply all your need and then you need to be content with that. This promise goes to characteristically obedient children of God in His churches. How will God supply all one needs? He will do that by means of His providence. Providence is the work of God. The work of God by very definition is supernatural. However, God doesn’t do miracles to get that done. God uses the ordinary means to accomplish that task. We should be content with God using ordinary means to meet our need. He has promised He will do that to and for His obedient children. That doesn’t require a miracle and if we expect one anyway, we are discontent or covetous.
Jesus cares about your every day life, all the little things of your life. Overall, Jesus cares for you. However, how you interpret His care is important. His caring for you doesn’t mean that you will get everything that you want just like you want. It doesn’t mean that you won’t face difficult times, or if you do face them, you can count on Jesus ridding you of them if He really cares. He cares. Your interpretation of His care must be one of faith, where you trust that He cares, first, because the Bible says He cares. You know He cares because the Bible says so. Peter writes in his first epistle (5:7), “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” It really does behoove you to believe that. It isn’t a feeling, but believing it will produce one, one of calm or peace, and not so much stress. When you know He cares, you won’t complain as much. Complaining isn’t a good Christian testimony. The word for complaining in the King James Version is “murmuring,” but Paul writes in Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without murmurings.” It is disobeying the command, “rejoice evermore.” Second, you trust He cares by considering the goodness of God’s providence. You should actively notice what God is doing and recognize it. You can find enough good things that God has done and is doing to make you a thankful person, especially as a believer. God cares for you.
We are in the midst of a presidential race that seems to percolate in the background of all the activity of the nation. Many people make a living through comment and analysis on what the president does every day or on a regular basis. People try to explain why people like or support a certain candidate. You might hear that women want to break through “the glass ceiling.” Someone might say that the people’s incomes are diminishing and the middle class is disappearing. Very often the country is reduced to various special interests, each of which has a few issues important to the group and with votes for the candidate that says to or promises it. In so many cases, the issues revolve around what people want. Almost everything relates to one’s own personal well being. On the other hand, some say they want a president who will defend the Constitution of the United States, someone who will not function according to special interest, but according to the law. Whatever it is that people may say they want in a president, the process opens us up to the condition of the people of the nation and what they think is important. It reminds us that the kingdoms of this world fall, but the kingdom of our Lord will never end. We will always be fine if we submit to God and live for eternity. For believers, our God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory.