The IBF Conference: Unity and Forgiveness
In Psalm 133:1 David, the psalmist says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
What David says here is what is said all throughout the Bible, and that is the emphasis of unity among God’s people. In John 17:21, Jesus prays to the Father “…that they all (Christians) may be one…” Peter said in 1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.”
Paul said to the church of Corinth in 2 Corinthians 13:11, “…Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” Paul said in Philippians 2:1-2 “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”
This past week, from June 25 through June 28, Grace Baptist Tabernacle hosted the 33rd annual Independent Baptist Fellowship. Preachers, pastors, missionaries, and laypeople from across the country came to this conference to be encouraged, challenged, energized, and changed by the preaching of God’s Word and the interaction with God’s people.
What took place at this conference was Christian unity and fellowship. There was unity because although each pastor was different from one another they all stood on the Word of God and the Fundamentals of the faith found in God’s Word.
The theme for the conference was “Cultivating the Spirit of Forgiveness” which came from Matthew 6:14-15. The theme itself promoted the spirit of forgiveness which always leads to unity. After the 4 days of preaching were over and 17 sermons on the topic of forgiveness had been preached, many decisions had been made for the Lord and many people got things right with God and with their fellow man when it comes to the matter of forgiveness.
Someone attending the conference told me “If you can sit through this conference and listen to 17 messages on forgiveness and still leave with unforgiveness in your heart, something is wrong.”
When we left the church for the final day of the conference I believe each person that was a part of the IBF could truly say as David said, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Is there any unforgiveness, grudge, or bitterness in your heart today? Get it right with the Lord first and then with that person or people. And Finally, if you are looking for men of God and people of God that stand on the Word of God, and you are longing for fellowship and friendships in the Lord, consider the IBF. Go to www.theibf.org for more information.
May the Lord bless you,
It is hard to believe that I have been the pastor at Grace Baptist Tabernacle for an entire year now. It is amazing how quickly time has gone by. But one thing I know for certain is that God is good. God has been good to Grace Baptist Tabernacle. He has blessed us in so many ways. We have seen him add several to the church over the past year and we’ve seen him save several people as well.
This past year has reminded me that the Lord is still in the saving business. But this past year has also been a reminder to me that without Him we can do nothing. I am fully aware that I cannot preach without the help of the Lord. We cannot sing without Him. We cannot teach without Him. We cannot give without Him. We cannot serve without Him. We cannot live without Him. We need Him!
As my wife and I enter into our second year at Grace, we would like to thank the church for all of the kindness shown and gifts given at the pastoral anniversary on August 6th. But we would also like to remind the church that when there is a victory, the devil will fight back. And we know that there will be battles this year because Satan doesn’t want to see the Lord use our church to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and he wants to make every person that is saved miserable. So with that being said, we are mindful that we need the Lord in every area of our personal lives and in every area of our ministry lives. We need him to stand and to withstand in this evil day. May the prayer for each member of GBT be “I Need Thee Every Hour.” Because if we take our eyes off Him, we will fall flat on our face in the next 365 days.
Remember that God is in Control!
In the day in age in which we live, we especially need to be reminded that God is on His throne and that He is sovereign over and in charge of all things. When we think about our government and our world leaders, we definitely need to be reminded of this truth.
The Bible tells us in Psalm 115:3 “But our God [is] in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.”
God is in control of everything. He puts people in places of position and He takes people out of places of position. Romans 13:1 says “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
Daniel made this point clear in the context of being under the rule of wicked Nebuchadnezzar. He said in Daniel 2:20-21 “Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding…”
The Psalmist tells us in Psalms 75:6-7 “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.”
The Lord is the one who is sovereign and will have the final word. He is the one with total power and authority. In John 19:11, Jesus even told Pilate before He was sent away to be crucified “…Thou couldest have no power [at all] against me, except it were given thee from above…”
We must remember that God was in control when Israel was in bondage to Egypt and Pharaoh and when they were taken away to Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar, and when they were under the rule of Rome and Nero.
That same God was in control with Bush, Clinton, Obama, and He will be with Trump. I don’t care who is in the White House because I know Who is on the Throne!
So what the church must do is pray for those that are in positions of leadership. Pray that God would save them, and in some cases, pray that God would change their heart and their plans. Again the scriptures tell us in 1Timothy 2:1-2 “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
But most importantly we must look to God and live for God and trust that He will work things out for His glory and for our good. And the only way to do that is to know that we serve a sovereign God who is seated on the throne of power and authority.
Then we can agree with the song writer and say:
There are things about tomorrow That I don't seem to understand But I know who holds tomorrow And I know who holds my hand.
Around this time of year, in February, we like to think about love. But love didn’t start at Valentine’s Day. Love originated with God. 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. No matter where you are at in life, and no matter who loves you and who doesn’t love you, one thing is true: God loves you.
Think about God’s love in 3 ways and it should encourage you today.
First of all, God’s love is unconditional. That means that it is a love without any limitations or conditions. This can be seen from the fact that God loved us when we didn’t love Him. The Bible says in 1 John 4:9 that “We love him, because he first loved us.”
Romans 5:6-8 says “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t wait for us to be good but He loved us in our sins.
And after salvation 1 John 1:9 says that even when we sin if we confess it to Jesus He will always forgive us and continue loving us. That is unconditional love. His love is not like our human love. He doesn’t change or waver in His love for us no matter what.
But secondly his love is a sacrificial love. John 15:13 tells us “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus died for us! His love involved self-sacrifice. Again Romans 5:8 says “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
1John 2:2 tells us that “…he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world. The word propitiation means that he was the atoning sacrifice for the sin of all men. He gave His life for you. That is how much that He loves you. And we know that He rose again on the third day so that by His life we shall be saved. He didn’t have to die for us but because He loved us He did and He is the ultimate sacrifice and the only sacrifice that can truly forgive all sin and save all men.
His love is an unconditional love, it is a sacrificial love but thirdly His love is an eternal love.
Romans 8:35 asks the questions “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” And then Romans 8:38-39 answers the question and says “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In Jeremiah 31:3 God says “…Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love…” He will always love you. Nothing can separate you from His love. His love is eternal. He loved us in eternity past, he loves us today, and He will love us for all eternity. The only way you can truly experience this love of God is to turn from your sin and self and turn to Jesus in faith.
Then Joh 3:16 can truly be applied to your life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
His love Gives to those that put their faith in Him, eternal life. His love will keep you on this earth and it will take you all the way to heaven for all eternity.
Think about His love. Think about His goodness. Think about His grace that’s brought us through. For as high as the heavens above so great is the measure of our Father’s love. Great is the measure of our Father’s love.
1 Corinthians 4:2 says."Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."
If you are saved you are a servant of God. More specifically you are, what the apostle Paul calls, a “steward.” The word “steward” literally means the manager of a household or of household affairs. In-other-words God is the owner and you are just taking care of what belongs to Him. He is the boss and you are His supervisor.
What 1 Corinthians 4:2 is saying is that as a Christian you must remember that what you have is not your own but God’s. Your possessions are not yours but they belong to God. Your money is not yours but God’s. Your talents and abilities are not yours but God’s. Your very own body doesn’t even belong to you but to God. The Bible says in 1Corinthians 6:19 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
So, if God owns everything that you have including your very body then that means He has the right to tell you what to do with everything that you have and how to manage everything that you have. And that is where being a steward comes in.
Since the Bible calls the Christian a steward (1 Peter 4:10) we are to be managing well that which our Master puts into our hands. Again, the Bible says that a steward must be found faithful. Being faithful means being trustworthy or reliable. It speaks of consistency and loyalty.
The Bible didn’t say that you must be gifted, famous, well-known, charismatic, strong, or intelligent. It just says to be faithful!
The question for you today is “Am I a faithful steward to my Master, Jesus Christ? Am I faithful to read His Word and pray? Am I faithful in being obedient to His Word? Am I faithful in coming to the house of God? Am I faithful to lead my family in the way of God? Am I faithful to the Lord in the matter of finances? Am I a faithful witness for the Lord? Am I faithful to Him with the possessions, talents, and abilities that He has given me?”
The key to the Christian life is faith and faithfulness. The Bible says in several passages that the just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). We are told that we are to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). And then we are told to be faithful to the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58). When this life is over and the Christian stands before Jesus at the judgment seat of Christ, He will say to those that have been faithful, “Well done thou good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).”
Do not be mistaken, He will only say that to you in heaven if you’ve been faithful to Him on earth. So, examine your life today and say as David said in “Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if [there be any] wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
The Lord will show you if you are a faithful steward or not. If you are not then turn to Him and ask Him to help you to become a better steward of the things that He has given you and as you look to Him He will help you do just that. Make the choice to be faithful to the Lord and He will bless you. What the church needs today is not more preachers, singers, programs, talent, or even money but more faithful stewards of God. Every one of us can be and should be a faithful steward. God has been more than faithful to us and we should be faithful to Him.
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