Why God Tenderly Instructs Sinners - Josh Grover
Why God Tenderly Instructs Sinners - Josh Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • April 03, 2021

Why God Tenderly Instructs Sinners - Josh Grover


“Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.” Psalm 25:8

  

What are the attributes of God by which He helps and guides sinners to learn His ways? My first thought to such a question was that it would be His mercy or grace or forgiving nature. Afterall, if He comes to me with all of the goodness and righteousness that He possesses, wouldn’t He have to judge me for my sin rather than help me escape it? And isn’t that when He would have to exercise His mercy so that He could still maintain His goodness and righteousness and still rescue me out of my sin? So, in my mind, I can think that God’s mercy is somehow up against God’s goodness and righteousness. Mercy has to enter the room otherwise God’s goodness and righteousness will ruin me for my sin. Yet this is not the case. In Psalm 25:7, David asks God not to remember David’s youthful sins but rather to remember him according to God’s steadfast love. Why? For the sake of God’s goodness. Then in verse eight David says that God is good and upright. How then does God display these attributes? He instructs sinners in His way. In other words, God cares for sinners because God is good and upright. God’s goodness, righteousness and mercy are not “opposing” virtues at all. Mercy doesn’t have to rush to the side of God’s goodness and righteousness and ask it to calm down before it wipes out all who are sinful. Rather, the goodness and righteousness of God is the catalyst for His mercy! His goodness and mercy exist in a cause-and-effect relationship. God’s goodness and righteousness tends to His mercy. How then does He display these? He displays His goodness and righteousness by teaching sinners His ways. Thus, to despise the teaching of the Lord is to despise His goodness and righteousness. To rejoice in the Law of the Lord is to rejoice in them. God is good, and we as His people respond correctly to His goodness when we cling to the Scriptures through which He leads us. Oh, that we would praise Him, for His goodness and mercy will pursue us all the days of our lives, and we will dwell in His presence forever!

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Someone Named Walter - Anne Phillips
Someone Named Walter - Anne Phillips

Maranatha Baptist Church • March 10, 2021

Someone Named Walter - Anne Phillips


I had been on the phone all morning trying to find a human being to help me change my car lease from Leo’s name to mine. This had to be done so I could buy a current license sticker and be ‘legal’ again. I had a deadline. I was frantic.


Getting the number for the Toyota Leasing Company was easy. Finding a human being there to answer the phone was another matter. The first automated voice gave me a menu of nine options. The option that seemed most promising gave me nine more options and so it went.


I was just about to give up in tears when a voice said, “Hello. My name is Walter. How may I help you?” 


“Oh, Walter,” I gushed, “If you are real, May God bless you! I’ve been hours trying to find a human being. I’m desperate!”


“Calm down, lady. We’ll get through this together. What do you need?”


Then I proceeded to tell him my tale of woe in far more detail than he needed to hear.

“And it all has to be done by December first.” I sobbed.


“Well now, see there! You were meant to talk to me,” cooed Walter in a voice . . . “because December first is my birthday!”


Somehow this bit of inconsequential information made all the sense in the world to me just then. Of course God put Walter there for me in my hour of need. It was so obvious. “Oh, Walter you are an Angel sent from God.”


Walter laughed, but did not deny it. While I calmed down and he did the necessary paper work, we chatted about the weather and wondered why no one had created ‘pre birthday’ cards for people who like to think ahead. Four months later I was able to get my license sticker.


I would not be surprised if there was never a Walter employed by the Toyota Leasing

Company. In any case I will mentally wish Someone named Walter ‘Happy Birthday’ on December first.

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The Key to Faithfulness - Josh Grover
The Key to Faithfulness - Josh Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • March 03, 2021

The Key to Faithfulness - Josh Grover


“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation (lifestyle). Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. Be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines…”

Hebrews 13:7-9a

 

The writer calls for his audience to remember their leaders who have spoken to them the Word of God, to consider the outcome of their lives, and to imitate their faith. The author then declares that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, the audience should not be led away by diverse and strange teachings. What then about these leaders was worth remembering them about? What of them was worth analyzing and imitating? How do I know these leaders would not push and point me down paths of “diverse and strange teachings”? Simply, the answer is that these people spoke God’s Word and lived by it. No mention of charisma, wealth, popularity, or social standing. No mention of remarkable rhetoric or need for dramatic presentations. Why? Because the Word of God is enough to ground one in truth and sufficient to establish one in a faithful lifestyle. In fact, it is the key to such a thing. Afterall, the Scriptures point to Christ, who according to verse eight, is the same in the past, present, and future. Jesus Christ is eternally faithful and consistent. Therefore, to be grounded in the Teachings of Christ, the Bible, is to be rooted in Christ, a man in whom “there is no shadow of turning.” These leaders were worth imitating because they were glued to, guided with, and guarded by God through His Word. Thus, as a I seek to sustain my soul, lead my wife (and our firstborn soon to come), love my neighbor, and contribute to my local church, I must remember that people in my life don’t ultimately need my personality. They don’t ultimately need my opinion. All that people really need from me is the faithful teaching and living out of the Scriptures, for in Them is the truth – the truth which establishes a consistent, godly lifestyle that encourages others to do the same and yields all manner of praise to the Glory of God and His Kingdom. Cast yourself upon Christ and His Word, and you will always find consistency and faithfulness. 

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What A Saviour!
What A Saviour!

Maranatha Baptist Church • February 20, 2021

What A Saviour! - Cindy Williams (Anne Ortlund)


We are in trouble. What can we do? Who can rescue us from this sinful body of death and despair?

 

Anne Ortlund shares a great plan with us.

 

“As Isaiah 63:1 explains it, Jesus Christ our Lord, Dismayed over the death-sins in which we’re totally and willingly enmeshed,

 

Feeling intensely the loneliness and rejection of being the only One who cares enough to do something about it,

 

Dons His soldier’s garb and takes sword in hand and comes down to do what He knows, for love’s sake, He must do.

 

He battles us sinners to the death--His death becoming totally bloody and ruined and eternally stained and scarred--

 

For What?

 

To rescue the very ones He’s battling—to rescue us, His enemies, whom He loves so passionately—to rescue the ones who fight Him, bloody Him, hurt Him, defeat Him, wound and kill Him,

 

To rescue us so that He can rise, scarred and bloodied, to enfold us tenderly to His breast and gently clear our vision so we can see how deeply He loves us, and then to spend eternity pouring out His kindness upon the precious ones He’s rescued, comforting us and sustaining us and doing uncounted good things for us all the days of our eternal lives.

 

Alleluia!

 

So, there are two sides. His part is to do it all. And our part is to let Him do it—and hopefully thank Him and praise Him and marvel over it all!”

 

What a Saviour!

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Proud Humility - Anne Phillips
Proud Humility - Anne Phillips

Cory Bishop • January 27, 2021

Proud Humility - Anne Phillips


How comforting to know that the great philosopher and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis struggled with my problem of being proud of my humility. I recently discovered this quote in THE BUSINESS OF HEAVEN. Read and learn.


No sooner do we believe that God loves us than there is an impulse to believe that He does so, not because He is love, but because we are intrinsically loveable. The Pagans

obeyed this impulse unabashed; a good man was ‘dear to the gods’ because he was good. We, being better taught, resort to subterfuge. Far be it from us to think that we have virtues for which God could love us. But then, how magnificently we have repented! As Bunyan says, describing his first and illusory conversion, “ I thought there was no man in England that pleased God better than I.” Beaten out of this, we next offer our humility to God’s admiration. Surely He’ll like THAT? Or if not that, our clear sighted and humble recognition that we still lack humility. Thus, depth beneath depth and subtlety within subtlety, there remains some lingering idea of our own, our very own, attractiveness. It is easy to acknowledge, but almost impossible to realize for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness , if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us. Surely we must have a little - however little - native luminosity? Surely we can’t be QUITE creatures? C.S. Lewis

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Christmas Memories - Cindy Williams
Christmas Memories - Cindy Williams

Maranatha Baptist Church • January 13, 2021

Christmas Memories - Cindy Williams


Christmases of years past were magical with cut-out cookies, decorations all over the house and trimming the tree. I shopped for months for just the right gifts, which I would hide in different “secret” places all over the house. Christmas eve was exciting with opening stocking gifts. Christmas morning came early, breakfast was late and Mike would read the Christmas story from Luke 2. Then came the opening of presents and bedlam. Such fun!


Years passed and we had teenagers. The Christmas experience was pared down some, but it was wonderful to be together and share this special season. 


Laura and David became adults and moved away from home and things changed at Christmas. For many years we alternated from Ohio to Tennessee for Christmas. David was not with us for some of those times. We made new traditions, but nothing like years before.


For me, it was more of a chore to decorate. There were no more homemade cookies. The tree was just a pencil tree now and sometimes it never made it out of the attic. Gifts were harder to buy unless you had a specific request. No more surprises and no more stockings.


But God gave us a special Christmas this year. We met Laura at David’s and Patricia’s home in North Carolina. God gave us snow on Christmas Eve. (A rare occasion there.) He gave us 3 little boys that made Christmas sparkle. He gave us a wonderful daughter-in-law who welcomed us all in to her home. And He gave us Christmas with both our kids again.


I made cut-out cookies with 6 year old Landry. We made a big mess, but had a great time. We ate those cookies and they never tasted better. It was like old times for me and new memories for him.


As Grandpa Mike read the Christmas story from Luke 2, I looked down at 2 month old baby Owen in my arms and thought of Mary as she looked down upon the baby Jesus in her arms. Jesus, whose birthday we celebrated, born to die for me. I looked around at my family and thanked God for them.


We wondered how long the tree would stay up with Logan’s 2 ½ year old hands rearranging ornaments and testing lights. The gift exchange was noisy and confusing as Landry passed out gifts until he became more interested in his own gifts and in opening Logan’s. With gift wrap everywhere the boys went from one thing to another. The gifts were simple things like: Play Dough, coloring books, a toy piano, a robe and a remote control car. One car made music and we heard it way too much, but Logan loved dancing to the music. (I hid it once, but they found it!)


On Sunday we ran to the store for a sled. It was a huge hit. Landry, Patricia and Logan went sled riding for the first time ever. Grandpa calculated he helped Landry slide 55 times! It was a fabulous day!


I don’t know what future Christmases will look like, but I will hold Christmas 2020 in my heart for the rest of my life.

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Why I Loved Sunday's Message - Anne Phillips
Why I Loved Sunday's Message - Anne Phillips

Maranatha Baptist Church • December 16, 2020

Anne Phillips - Why I Loved Sunday's Sermon


Let me tell you a story.


Once upon a time there lived a family in crisis not a five minute walk from Maranatha Baptist Church. This family was discovered by church members going door to door looking for riders for their bus routes. The family consisted of a father, three boys aged 12 to 8 and a little girl named Bonnie, age 6. The mother had deserted them. 


Another lady from the church and I were asked to make a call on them and see how the church might help. The father, who had a steady job, was in need of someone getting the children off to school and keeping them until he got off work. I volunteered providing he could drop them off at my house early each school day and pick them up on his way home from work. He was happy to do so. Social Services had already been to see him and were threatening to take the kids away. He loved his children and didn’t want to lose them.


Preparing them for school required they each have clothing so I was allowed into the house to find suitable play and school clothes for each child. My first experience in the house was a shocker. I can describe the interior in one word: Filth. Since I had been tasked only with finding clothes, I tried not to see beyond the stacks and piles of dirty clothes on the floors in every room. I hauled garbage bags of clothing home, very gingerly placed them in my washer, turned the water temperature as high as possible and prayed I was killing whatever vermin they contained. 


Amazingly, the clothing once clean and pressed was exceptionally nice. The father later told me that all their clothing had been given them by neighbors. Bonnie had a wardrobe of brand-name dresses to rival any little girl in her first grade class. And how I enjoyed dressing a little girl after my all-male household! But there were problems other than dressing the children. I was not surprised that they all arrived each morning hungry and needing breakfast, but Bonnie arrived most mornings smelling of urine. A bed wetter. In addition, it was obvious she had some degree of learning disability. Naturally shy anyway, she seldom talked and never asserted herself even with her rambunctious brothers. But bathed and dressed and with her blond hair washed and tied in a ribbon, Bonnie gave the appearance of any little six-year-old girl. Her school bus driver even told me that now other children would sit with her instead of avoiding and teasing her as they had before.


However, after several weeks it became apparent that Bonnie was not thriving on healthy breakfasts, clean clothes and special help with her school work. She was listless, often had no appetite and the bed wetting was getting more frequent. At first I chalked this up to missing her mother. By now I had developed animosity toward this woman I had never met who would desert these precious children. None of the children ever mentioned their mother. I tried to imagine birthing four children in 8 years. What must it have been like to live in that shack of a house. Did it even have a bathroom? Was her husband kind? I had cut him a lot of slack simply because he worked, but maybe he was a creep. In short, I tried to justify her deserting her children, but I couldn’t forgive her.


The school year would soon be over and I didn’t want to send an unhealthy Bonnie back to her father’s care .(I even considered asking if I could keep her over the summer.) I asked him about taking her to my doctor. He had insurance from his employer and would take her. I insisted on going along and talking to the doctor myself. Testing showed that Bonnie had an infection and also needed a minor procedure to help with the bed wetting. It would require an overnight stay in the hospital. She had several pairs of pajamas and it was easy to pack a cute little overnight bag for her.


Waiting in the hospital for Bonnie to be admitted, I noticed a young lady smiling at her from across the room. Bonnie was smiling back shyly. The lady opened a bag and produced a pair of brand new pajamas. I realized that this was The Mother who had deserted her children, but now that someone else had cared for them, she was ready to play the hero at this time of crisis. Without thinking, I nudged Bonnie to go to her mother which she did.


I left them there and returned home in a blind fury of frustration and hatred. Never before nor since have I been so hurt and so angry. The only thing I could think to do was to open my Bible to a passage at random. I opened to Psalm 37 and read verse 1. Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. 


 I really identified with this Sunday's sermon.

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Thank God for Kids - Cindy Williams
Thank God for Kids - Cindy Williams

Maranatha Baptist Church • November 21, 2020

Thank God for Kids - Cindy Williams


The other day I read, “Here I am with the children the Lord has given me to be signs and wonders in Israel” Isaiah 8:18 csb. The author of the book said that Isaiah knew God’s promises and blessings were still in effect in troubled Israel because of the children. It is her opinion that children are our “signs and wonders” that God continues to have good plans for us.


While I’m not sure that is what Isaiah 8:18 means, but it got me to thinking. We were at our son’s home not long ago to tend to Landry and Logan while Owen was born. To us, those boys are “signs and wonders” of God’s promise for a future and hope. As Psalm 127:3 states, “children are an heritage of the LORD”. These boys and the children at church and children we see everywhere should remind us that God is not through with us. He is still creating these little people who light up our lives.


As I held little Owen I could see God’s handiwork in his perfect little face and body. As I chased 2 year old Logan around I saw God’s creation of strength and energy anew. As I helped Landry with his 1st grade work, I marveled at the power God has given us to learn so well and so quickly. 


In these hard times, don’t lose hope. (I am speaking to myself too.) God is not done with us. He reminds us of His love, His goodness, and hope in Him with these children around us. As the song says, “Thank God for Kids”!

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Jess Doit -Anne Phillips
Jess Doit -Anne Phillips

Maranatha Baptist Church • October 03, 2020

Jess Doit - Anne Phillips


I’d like you to meet a friend of mine, Jess Doit. This guy has driven me to distraction many times by interrupting my meals and waking me up at night. But he has been a constant, faithful companion for as long as I can remember.


Many years ago he introduced himself to my friend, Pat, and changed her life. Pat was not known for self motivation or self discipline, so when first saved and her pastor insisted she read through her Bible in one year, she needed help. Jess was there. Now she tells me her Bible reading is the most joyful part of her day.


Andrew Brunson, in a Turkish prison, knew he was losing his mind. He felt no peace, no joy, then Doit came along. Listen to Brunson’s testimony. 


   I began every day to set aside five minutes, and I would start out by saying, ‘I repent that I have not been joyful, because you have commanded me to be joyful. (Matt. 5:12)

I am sorry. I repent. Please forgive me. Now I am going to perform an act of joy. I don’t feel it. This is a step of obedience.’ Then I would begin to dance, and I would hop around. I would leap and jump in the air and say, ‘Rejoice and be glad. Rejoice and be glad for great is your reward in Heaven.’ I would do that for about five minutes, not feeling anything but declaring I was doing it for Jesus. 


With love and determination to obey Christ regardless of his feelings, Andrew Brunson emerged victorious from his Turkish prison. With Jess Doit’s help, Pat learned to love God’s Word.


How about you? Do you have a task that needs doing? A closet to clean, a letter to write, a Sunday School lesson to study? Are you behind a chapter in your read-through-the-Bible schedule? What about that phone call to a shut-in you should make? Please. Jess Doit!

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Unspeakable Joy - Anonymous
Unspeakable Joy - Anonymous

Maranatha Baptist Church • September 23, 2020

Unspeakable Joy - Anonymous


A dear Christian lady prayed for her husband’s salvation for 40 plus years. He would have none of it. He seemed unconcerned and enjoyed hanging on to his sin. 


He became very ill. The doctor said he was dying. It was only a matter of time. This news caused many Christians to join her in prayer for his soul.


Even as he understood that death was coming, he continued to reject God’s love. He even joked about going to hell. But those prayers of the saints kept rising to the Throne of God. 


A month before he died, this man asked to speak to his wife’s pastor. That pastor was called upon to reap the harvest of those many prayers. He was privileged to lead the man to the Lord! 


As this sweet Christian lady stood at the side of her husband’s casket, she was not happy. Her beloved husband of so many years was gone from her side. She would miss him greatly. Life had changed forever. 


But, she was bubbling with joy, a joy some did not understand. Joy at the side of the casket? Yes, joy, unspeakable and full of glory. Joy that she would see her husband again. Joy for the decision he made which changed his eternal destination. The decision made in the nick of time! Joy that he is now with her Lord!


There is a monumental difference between happiness and joy. Joy goes deeper and lasts. It does not depend on circumstances. Joy is from the Lord. And, yes, she is still full of the Joy of the Lord!

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