Who enjoys moving? As many of you know, we recently purchased a home. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed living in the Kings Way house but it was time to get a place of our own. Over the past several months we’ve been in the moving process. Although we’ve made the transition to the new house, we’re still moving. Moving is a process. Some things came with us and some things didn’t. We also had to buy some new things that we needed that we didn’t have. Moving is a process.
Moving forward with God is also a process. In Christ, we’re made new. The old has gone and the new has come. As we make that move, there are some things that need to go with us and there are some things that should not. Even though we have made the move into a new relationship with God through faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit is continually helping us see what we need to remove from the house of our lives. Maybe we need to remove a toxic relationship, maybe it’s a particular sinful behavior that we’ve packed up and brought with us from the old house, or maybe it’s a false belief about our identity or self-worth that we’re trying to find a place for in our new house. Moving is an opportunity to get rid of some things that you no longer need.
Moving is also an opportunity to enjoy some new things as well. In Christ, we are fully accepted by God. God has set His love upon us and nothing can make Him love us more or less. God has given us His Spirit to live within us to help us, teach us, convict us, intercede in prayer for us, and guide us, We have a new family in the church. These benefits and many more are new to us in Christ.
The challenges and blessings of moving are that it’s an opportunity to change. I want to encourage you to make the move into a relationship with God if you haven’t already. If you have made that move, then I encourage you to ask the Lord if there is anything that you’ve brought from the old house that needs to be discarded and replaced with something new from the Lord. Moving is a process. Let’s listen to the Lord in the process and become the people He wants us to be.
April is a full month! As we enter the first week of April, our city will be filled with guests for the Masters Golf Tournament! Kids and teachers will be enjoying a break from school and many people will be traveling. Then after spring break we enter into Holy Week. Palm Sunday is Sunday, April 10th. Our Maundy Thursday Service is Thursday, April 14th at 6:30pm. Our Good Friday Tenebrae Service is Friday, April 15th at 7pm. Then we will gather Easter Sunday for Sunday School at 9:45am and Worship at 11am. Then we will conclude the month with our Food, Fellowship, & Fun gathering on Wednesday, April 27th at 6:30pm.
I want to challenge you to make the most of these opportunities. Invite someone to come with you to one or more of these services. One tool you can use to invite them is the Facebook Event that we created. You can share the event on your Facebook page as well as invite your Facebook Friends to the event. Also, the most effective way to invite someone is through personal invitation. I know we’re all busy but let’s not let our busyness blind us to the opportunities God will give us to reach people for Christ. Holy Week reminds us of the self-sacrificing love of Jesus. Let us display that type of love to those around us by giving them the opportunity to come and hear the gospel at one or more of our services. I’m looking forward to how God will bless our steps of faith.
In the month of March, I’ll be going through a sermon series entitled “One Hit Wonders.” Each week we’ll study one of the shortest books of the Bible (Obadiah, Philemon, and Jude). Although these books are small, each containing only one chapter, they contain large truths. I encourage you to take some time and read each of these books before the sermons. Here is the order of the series.
Sunday, March 6th - Obadiah
Sunday, March 13th - Philemon
Sunday, March 20th - Jude
I’m looking forward to diving into these small books with you and discovering the large truths that God has for us!
I read this the other day. “Most people have birthmarks that are specific to them, whether moles or other kinds of unique identification marks, Designers are known by their trademarks. They have logos of various kinds that even if you don’t read the name, it becomes clear who made it. God likewise has established a mark, a very clear mark, by which His children who have been birthed by the Spirit ought to be known. Love is the birthmark of the Christian. Without the birthmark of love, other people really don’t know who you are.”
February is the month of love. But what is love? What is this birthmark mentioned above? In 1 John 4:8, we read that “God is love.” Paul tells us in Romans 5:8 that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If God is love and God shows His love for us by sending His one and only Son then what is the definition of love? However you define love, the definition must line up with the character of God because God is love.
I believe a simple and accurate definition of love is seeking the good of another. God is love and therefore He acts in a way that seeks our ultimate good. In Romans 8:28 we’re told, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God works for the good of His people. Love is seeking the good of another.
In 1 John 4:19 we learn that “we love because he [God] first loved us.” This means that the only way we can truly, fully, and consistency love both God and man is by understanding and experiencing God’s love for us through Jesus Christ. Love requires that we forgive. Love requires that we show grace and mercy. Love requires that we speak truth. Love requires that we speak up when we see injustice. Love compels us to share the gospel. Because it’s only through a relationship with God that people can become who God created them to be. It’s only through faith in Jesus Christ that we truly know what love is. During this “month of love,” let us put the love of God on full display toward one another and those in our city!
While the people of God were in exile during the ministry of the prophet Isaiah, God spoke to them and said:
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19)
The people of God were probably discouraged and their hope for a return to the land God had given them was most likely diminishing. As their grip was slipping on the rope of hope, God assured them that He was present and at work. He told them, “I am doing a new thing.” This reminder that God is at work in the present just as He worked in the past offered hope to His weary people.
If you’re like me, you may be entering 2022 weary. It has been a challenging two years. Like the people in Isaiah’s day, we need to be reminded that God is at work in this very moment to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). As we move into the new year, let us allow the Word of God to strengthen our grip on the rope of hope. One way we can do this is by reading through the Bible.
I want to invite you to join me in reading through the Bible this year. I’ve included the reading plan for January in the newsletter. Also, there is a printed copy in the vestibule of the Sanctuary. I’ll include the reading plan each month. It is so easy to forget what God has done and what He continues to do in the world. Let’s allow the daily reading of God’s Word to strengthen our faith this year!
We have all heard the news that people are becoming more secular and less interested in Jesus. I’m sure there is truth in that statement but a recent Lifeway Research poll revealed that people are especially open to Christianity during Christmas. Not only did the poll reveal that almost 80% of people believe Christmas should be more about Jesus, but over 60% also said that Christmas should include attending a church service. That means that two out of every three people you know are most likely going to attend a church service in December. This is a great opportunity to invite your friends, family, and neighbors to join you for one or more of our worship services. Remember, Jesus came into the world to save us and enable us to go into the world to reach others! Who can you reach this season?
This month in our daily Bible reading we’re going to be reading verses about giving thanks to God. I encourage to read along with us and be challenged to “give thanks in all circumstances” as the Apostle Paul exhorts us to do. Speaking of giving thanks, we all know that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. As you know, last year our Church Family Thanksgiving Dinner was canceled due to Covid. Thankfully, this year we are bringing it back. We will gather for our Church Family Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday, November 21st at 5pm in the Social Hall. We will enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal followed by the Lord’s Supper.
Since we're still dealing with the virus in our city we will be implementing some changes in order to gather as safely as possible. One change we will be implementing is that we will be catering the entire meal. So instead of asking you to bring a covered dish, we are asking you to make a donation toward the cost of the meal. Feel free to invite your friends and family to join us! We will need you and anyone you plan to bring with you to RSVP by November 17th. You can RSVP through our website by going to www.thehillbaptist.com and clicking on Thanksgiving RSVP. I’m looking forward to gathering with you!
Before we exit November we have one more special event planned. The first Sunday of Advent is Sunday, November 28th. We will have our Hanging of the Green Service that evening at 6pm. I look forward to this service every year! For me, it marks the beginning of the Christmas season. I hope you will plan on attending. Also, this is another great opportunity to invite your friends and family to join you! I’m looking forward to gathering with you on these special occasions!
In October we have two great opportunities for outreach and discipleship! First, let me tell you about an opportunity to grow as a disciple of Jesus. On Wednesday evenings we are offering a men’s Bible study and a women’s Bible study.
The men are going through a study entitled “A Man and His Traps.” We are meeting in room 207 from 6:30-7:30pm.
The women are going through a study on Psalm 23. They are meeting in room 206 from 6-7:30pm.
These are two great studies that will help you grow as a disciple of Jesus.
The second opportunity I want to make you aware of is an outreach opportunity. This opportunity will help us continue to implement the B.L.E.S.S. practices that we learned.
On Wednesday, October 27th from 5:30-7:30pm we will host a Fall Festival. There will be food and fun for all ages. This is a great opportunity to invite someone you know that doesn’t know Jesus or isn’t connected to a local church.
If we’re going to grow we must take steps of faith! I want to challenge you to take a step of faith and participate in these two opportunities!
As we conclude the B.L.E.S.S. sermon series, I want to remind you what the five missional practices are that will help you be a blessing to those around you. Here is how the authors of the book entitled B.L.E.S.S. - 5 Everyday Ways to Love Your Neighbor and Change the World summarize each practice.
B - Begin with Prayer
“When Jesus started His earthly mission, Luke 6 tells us that He went out on a mountain and prayed. Prayer is both how you discover your mission and how you live out the mission. Over and over again, we see Jesus retreating to pray. If you’re not sure who God is calling you to bless or where God is calling you to go to be a blessing, you can begin with prayer. And if you know the people you want to bless, begin praying for those people now.”
L - Listen
“Asking questions and then listening was central to Jesus’s life and teachings. Consider the blind man in Luke 18. Jesus didn’t assume the blind man wanted to see. First, He asked, ‘What do you want me to do?’ Then He listened. In the Gospels, Jesus asked more questions than He answered. Of the 183 different questions He received, Jesus answered only a handful. Any relationship starts with listening to someone’s words and life. True listening may be the kindest and most loving gift you can give someone.”
E - Eat
“Jesus liked to eat! Over and over, as in Matthew 9, we find Jesus with tax collectors and sinners…doing what? Eating! There is something about sharing a meal together that moves any relationship past acquaintance toward friendship - faster than just about anything else we can do.”
S - Serve
“Jesus told us straight up, ‘The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve….’ (Matthew 20:28). He modeled for us that once you begin with prayer, listen, and eat with someone, there is a good chance that you’ll discover how you can best serve the person God is asking you to bless."
S - Story
“When people were ready to listen, Jesus would share His story. Like when doubting Thomas came to him asking, ‘How can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:5-6). When you befriend and bless people, they feel relationally safe and want to know your story. Then, and only then, you can tell them how the love of God and Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection have changed you.”
I want to encourage you to continue to put these into practice. We have been blessed to be a blessing. The best way for us to fulfill the mission of loving people and making disciples of Jesus Christ is to be blessers. I’m looking forward to meeting the people you’re praying for, listening to, eating with, serving, and sharing your story with!
Over the past few years, you’ve heard a lot about infrastructure. The past two presidents have talked about the need to improve the infrastructure of our country. One website defines infrastructure this way:
Infrastructure is the general term for the basic physical systems of a business,
region, or nation. Examples of infrastructure include transportation systems,
communication networks, sewage, water, and electric systems. These systems
tend to be capital intensive and high-cost investments, and are vital to a
country's economic development and prosperity.
If you have adequate infrastructure then you’re able to grow. Imagine a community that is seeing more people move into the area. In order to adequately serve the growing population, the community will need to expand roads and other public services. If the community fails to improve its infrastructure, not only will growth not happen but the current residents will experience the congestion of services.
Our church is like the community in my example. We want to see more people “move to our area” meaning we want to see more people become disciples of Jesus and worship with us. However, our current infrastructure can only handle so much. In order for us to improve and increase our services, we must expand.
The way we expand our services to those within our church and community is by our members, you and me, serving in specific ways. During the month of August, you will have the opportunity to sign up to serve and help us expand our infrastructure. We have several different ways that you can be involved in helping us fulfill our mission to love God, love people, and make disciples of Jesus Christ. Whether it’s working with children, running the audio-visual system, playing an instrument, teaching a Sunday school class, planning short-term mission trips, spearheading our senior adult ministry, working with our teenagers, or wherever you may serve you will help us improve and increase the ministry of The Hill Baptist Church. I want you to pray about where God is leading you to sign up to serve!