Jan 232013

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)

Last September, RBC began a new ministry called WeCare. The ministry was wrought in the hearts of Rebecca and Doug Collins following many years of giving constant care for Rebecca’s mother. Rebecca journaled her experience and published the work under the title, Diary of a Mad Care-Giver. It is a wonderful book and certainly encouraging for all who are experiencing the struggles of giving full-time care, or to prepare those who will in the future.

Our desire at WeCare is that the time would be a haven of rest and encouragement from the daily demands of care-giving. Most care-givers rarely get a break. They pour out their lives selflessly for a loved one and very often, to them, it seems no one really cares about them. It seems that no one really cares about their struggles with physical handicaps, doctor visits, cooking, and all that’s involved in daily living – not to mention the vast array of emotions that come into play. At WeCare we invite care-givers to come and enjoy a meal that they don’t have to fix! They can come and be strengthened and encouraged from the experiences of others and learn more of patiently trusting in our faithful God.

At WeCare, we desire to point these caregivers to the God who cares more than any of us ever could. From the text above, we see that the mark of humility is seen in the casting of our cares upon our Father. The main verb is “humble” yourselves. The participle, which modifies the verb, is “casting” your cares…” What do the humble do? They cast their burdens on the Lord! They trust the Lord with all their heart and lean not on their own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). They remove all trust in self-reliance and look to our Almighty Father. He is the One who cares for us! And like our text says, His hand is mighty! He can do all things! He grants abundant grace. He grants patience and peace. He provides strength for daily battles. We have His promise from His Word that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He is wise and true and His love will never fail!

God is blessing this ministry! Even now God is opening up several doors for us. Some in other counties are asking if we could record the meetings because they simply have no other support. The need around us is urgent. There are many possibilities of service. Please invite all care-givers to join us on the first Friday of each month. Our next meeting is Friday, February 1, 12 PM, at the church. Those planning to come should R.S.V.P. with Rebecca Collins at 745-2942.

“When I thought, ‘My foot slips’, Your steadfast love held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”
– Psalm 94:18-19

So, dear caregiver, and all the RBC family, let us learn to cast our cares upon the Lord. He cares for you. Let His steadfast love hold you up. His consolations are sweet, so let them refresh your soul.

Pastor Bill

Jan 162013

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?

1 Corinthians 15:56 (ESV)

Last Fall a dear friend of mine suddenly became a widower. In God’s wisdom and plan He took her to be with Him. I was with the man for a while the other day and the grief is still very fresh. The apostle Paul does say, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” Most assuredly, even as believers, we grieve the death of a loved-one. But believers in Jesus grieve with hope. Their sorrow is surrounded by the comfort of God’s promises. Through faith in Jesus Christ, God has granted eternal life, and death is only a gateway to experience God’s glory forevermore. As the title of hymn so rightly proclaims, “It is not Death to Die” (H.A. Cesar Malan, 1832); believers in Jesus will enjoy all the comforts of everlasting joy in heaven.

Only God’s Word and the promises therein can give comfort to my friend. So I pointed him to the text above and I point you to the same. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” Death cannot hurt nor can death destroy a Christian! Death has absolutely no victory over the Christian, for Christ their Savior has gained the victory over death. Christ is the First-fruits of all who will be raised. At death He will carry His children to be with Him where death has no authority. Death has no power over the Christian. Where once the reality of death loomed over us and would surely capture us in its grip, God in mercy saved us, by His grace, and granted to us eternal life. Upon God’s regenerating work and the fruits of repentance and faith, death lost its grip and we fell into the grip of another. And no one or nothing can snatch us out of that grip (John 10:28).

Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Death spent all of its strength killing Christ; and in killing Christ, it killed itself!” Death is now but a shadow. It might appear to loom large, but a shadow cannot hurt you. A lion can hurt you, but a shadow of a lion cannot touch you. Where once death was like a lion, for the Christian death is like a lamb.

I understand that even believers are weak and sometimes the prospect of death terrifies us. But the very ground of our hope can never be shaken. The shadow of death is just that – a shadow. A child may be afraid of the dark and does not want to be in his room, even though nothing is there. We try to reassure the child: “It’s alright, there’s nothing there.” Sometimes in our weakness we fear death like the child fears the dark. But remember, there’s nothing there that can hurt you.

Those who have not trusted Christ will find that all their earthly comforts will fail them on their day of death. Their foundation will be swept away and they will be consumed in God’s wrath. But God’s elect have hope in great and precious promises. Christ has conquered death once for all. Death has been defeated and it cannot hurt us anymore.

Knowing these truths should cause us to take great risks for Christ’s Kingdom. We should pray today for an American pastor who is being tortured in Iran right now for proclaiming the Gospel. His trial is set for January 21. Let us pray for his wife and children, that they would remain strong and look to Christ and His Gospel. Let us remember what it will take to carry the Gospel to the lost. But let us also remember that God’s promises are sure. So let us encourage one another with these words (1 Thess. 4:18). Death’s grip is gone and it can’t hurt us anymore! Hallelujah!

Jan 012013

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. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.

Isa 43:19-21 (ESV)

The New Year presents an opportunity to reflect on our lives. This is not something I am always eager to do, and that would probably be true of most of us. I think back to all my failures and the things that do not seem to improve (which seems to be the first thing I do) and I cannot see how it all fits in God’s plan. I know God is working all things together for my good, to conform me into the image of Christ, but sometimes it hurts. Yes, today begins the New Year, but things in my life do not seem so “new”. Well, one thing changed when I woke up this morning: I am told that I am falling down a fiscal cliff! But all in all, I woke up still trying to fight the good fight of faith. I know God holds the future, but I struggle to trust. Maybe that’s your story today also. Today was just the continuation of the “same ol’ stuff”.

I am very blessed and I do have much for which to be thankful. I really don’t want to sound like I’m in a “downer” frame of mind, but I am. I know I have so far to go; and besides prayer and Bible reading, I don’t always know where to start.

This last Sunday I was able to attend the church I attended as a child. I was blessed to see my childhood pastor and his wife, Rev. and Mrs. Tom Sizer. I only had one pastor from age 5, when we moved to Cincinnati, until age 18 when I went to Toccoa Falls College. Pastor Sizer faithfully taught and lived God’s Word before us. Mrs. Sizer was my Sunday school teacher when I was a teen. There were many Sundays when I was the only teen there and Mrs. Sizer prepared and taught like there was a room full. I still remember many of her lessons from 1 Peter! Yes, Mrs. Sizer, you taught me to hope in God!

Pastor and Mrs. Sizer came to Calvary Chapel Alliance Church in the infant stages of the church. They gave themselves for the work of the ministry and labored there for 31 years! They are faithful to ask my father, who still attends the church, of my well-being and the well-being of the new work that I pastor. But this Sunday, Mrs. Sizer was able to ask me in person how things were going. I told her that I and the church have many ups and downs. There are good days and bad days. My emotions go from very excited, as I see things moving forward, to very helpless, as I see the effects of sin and the brokenness in this world. I see physical distress and I think, “How can I help and encourage this one?” I see financial stress and I pray, “O God, please prosper your people and provide for their needs and give them grace to trust.” I see broken relationships, broken promises, friends moving away, and rejection.

Mrs. Sizer told me of the many struggles they had in the infant stages of Calvary Chapel. They started with 25, and by the end of their first year there were 17. But then, Mrs. Sizer pointed me once again to our God of hope. She said, “Look at the church now!” By God’s grace, Calvary Chapel is full. To the Sizers, it was worth all the sacrifices and all the financial strains and all the trials. God is faithful and I know he will care for me and RBC. God knows my heart and my motives. My one desire is that the lost will hear the Gospel and be saved and that the members of RBC will grow to full maturity in Christ.

God is doing a new thing. First, He is doing it in me and you. We may not perceive it, but He is working in ways I cannot always see. Secondly, He is working in RBC. Again, we may not perceive it, and it might appear otherwise, but God is doing a new thing. He is making a way in our wilderness and he is providing rivers in our desert. Christ is building His Church and God is working in the hearts of His people to cause them to honor Him. He will give drink to His chosen people. He knows we need refreshing and He is faithful to quench our thirst for more of Him.

I am thankful today that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. God’s promises are “yes” and “amen” in Christ. Christ’s yoke is easy and His burden is light. Jesus came to rescue pitiful sinners like me and you. Without Him I have nothing. So let us pray for Christ to be glorified in our lives and in our church. This Sunday begins prayer emphasis week. The sermon, Lord willing, will come from Isaiah 59, particularly verse 1: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear.”

Through all the adversity and trials that were still with us when we woke up this morning, let us hope in God. Let us not throw in the towel of defeat, in spite of our failures. Let us press on trusting in the kindness of Savior.

Trusting only in His sovereign plan for us,

Pastor Bill