We Have a Redeemer

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

The words are from an old hymn. Today is actually Resurrection Day and I suppose I should be talking about that. But I have been thinking this morning about the Redeemer. I’d like to share just a couple thoughts about this.

 Generally, redemption means “a loosing, particularly by praying a price.” This may be kind of a silly analogy, but I am old enough to remember S&H Green Stamps. When you went to certain stores and made a purchase, along with your change you were given a number of Green Stamps according to the amount of your purchase. You had a little booklet and you would lick the stamps and attach them to a page. Once the booklet was completed, you could redeem it for a gift of some kind. This could only be done in an official “S&H Redemption Store.” The more books you redeemed, the better your gift would be.
There was a price paid for our redemption too. That price was the blood of Jesus Christ. There are several verses that speak of this but one of my favorites is Ephesians 1:7,-8a, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.”  What a heavy price God paid for our redemption by sending His Son for our redemption. What a heavy price Jesus paid by humbling Himself to the Father’s will. It is all too amazing to imagine! Glory be to God!
There are two important points in regards to our redemption brought out in the Bible. The first is, that Christ is man’s redeemer. There is no other way. If we are to be redeemed and set free from our sins, the only way is through Christ. This is brought out in the the Ephesians 1 verse I quoted above and others, like 1 Peter 1:18-19. Our redemption comes only through Jesus Christ!
The second important point is, that  the fact that there is a redeemer means that man needs to be redeemed. Man is unable to redeem himself. As much as we want to think that we can solve our own problems, we cannot solve our sin problem. We are locked in the grip of sin and we cannot redeem ourselves.
So, we come back to today, Resurrection Sunday for 2016. What all seemed to be a loss on Friday, turned out to be a victory for God and the defeat of Satan on Sunday. We truly have a marvelous salvation! Bought and paid for by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. May we humbly fall on our knees is praise and thanksgiving! God bless you all.

A Mind Like Christ

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
During the message at Stonepoint today, I was reminded of passage of scripture that I hadn’t thought about for some time. It’s Philippians 2:3-4:

“3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” NASB

I first learned of this passage early after my conversion to Christ. I memorized it, reviewed it, forgot about it and re-memorized it many times. Today was one of those mornings at Stonepoint that spoke to my heart once again. Pastor Brian mentioned that when we become aware of things in our lives that we need to clean up, we usually try to fix our lives by doing external things. That is certainly true of me concerning this passage. I thought by memorizing the passage, it would just come to me when i needed it. But that didn’t really happen. While I became more aware of my sin of self-centeredness, I certainly did not have victory over it.

Today I was reminded that changing our behavior is not enough. This is what psychology tries to do through what is known as “Behavior Modification.” Part of that theory says that if we make the environment better the person will be better. The problem is, that only changes the outside, not the heart. We need to be changed from the inside out and only God can do that. That part of the equation is brought out in Philippians 2:6-8:

“5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” NASB

The New King James version starts this passage with, “Let this mind be in you….” How do our lives get changed. By having the mind of Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to make the necessary changes. We do have a part. We need to make the right choices, or better put, we need to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). Only in this way will God work lasting and permanent change in our lives. We need to humble ourselves as Christ did that is talked about in this passage. Jesus became a man and never used his divinity to change the purposes of the Father. Through all the pain and agony of the cross, Jesus bore it all for our behalf so that we could be saved. He gave up his own safety and life for our benefit.  The passage says that he humbled himself to the point of death. Through His humility and death on the cross we have been redeemed.

Pastor Brandon tied it all together with the following statement: “You can’t have redemption and safety. To have redemption you have to give up your safety.” That is what Christ did for us.

I pray that we will take this message to heart and allow the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside. It will take a change from the inside for us to be the people that God calls us to be. It will change us as individuals, change our families and change the church. There will be challenges and failures but ultimately victories. And most of all, God will be glorified!!! Amen!!

Traveling the Narrow Road

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I have been thinking a bit about some things that have been coming out from our recent messages and in re:generation. Before I go into what I want to talk about, allow me to cite a few passages. The italics are my additions to highlight what I am thinking about the verse.

Luke 9:62—But Jesus said to him, “no one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” 

Philippians 3:12-14—Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it, yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (I’ve used this before)—Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right had of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you well grow weary and lose heart.

So what does all this have to do with traveling the narrow road? Well, I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Re:generation has been, and is a great experience for me. I shared last Monday about hearing something on a radio station that really bothered me. The DJ’s were talking about being broken people. Now I have no issue that we are broken and damaged people. We are both broken and damaged and need of a healing touch from our LORD. But, if we are truly “new in Christ,” should we be living in and letting our past rule us?

Maybe it’s only me, but when I find myself constantly living in my past, feeling sorry and guilty for past sins and mistakes, I find that I (my flesh) become the focal point of attention. Please don’t get me wrong, I have the greatest empathy for those of us who are going through difficulties and struggles, especially since being in re:gen. But I wonder if maybe it’s time to have a change our thinking and instead of dwelling on being broken under the weight of our sin and failures, maybe we should change our thinking and move forward with our journey rather than keep living in the past. This change can only come about by making a choice to follow the LORD and not give into the schemes of Satan. When we, by an act of our will, surrender ourselves to follow the LORD and go forward in our walk with Him, We allow God by His Spirit to work change in us. Thus, my title for this blog post: Traveling the Narrow Road.

I have been having some strange encounters lately and some strange thoughts. The other night, I was at someone’s house for dinner and a person came in that I had struggled with in the past, but had forgiven him for everything I believed he had ever done wrong to me (real or imagined). But when he came in the door, it all came flooding back. I had to pray throughout the evening and remind myself that everything is forgiven whether I feel good about or not. At the end of the evening, I had to ask him to move from in front of the closet so I could get my coat. When I got my coat, I put my arm around him and said, “I love you, brother.” Instant peace came back to my soul. I realized I had forgiven him for any real or perceived treatment of me and that my feelings really didn’t count. I had confessed my wrongdoing in the situation and forgiven this person for any part I thought he had. Not there we won’t more struggles, but by God’s grace, I won’t dwell on my past failures to forgive people, but I will move forward from here on out.

Another strange thing has been occurring. I have been having thoughts of past sins that I have committed in my live. I mean way past, when I was a little kid. I was wondering why these thoughts were coming up. Most of these were sins or at least wrongs that I hadn’t thought in years and most of them I had already dealt with in confession. I was now faced with a choice. I could start questioning if my confessions were real and go into discouragement or depression, or say “no, these have been taken care of by Christ’s death on the Cross.”

Allow me to wrap up with a few thoughts about what the above three passages have been speaking to me about lately:

  1. In regards to following Christ, looking back isn’t a good thing (see Luke 9:57-62). There are times to look back, such as how Jesus has guarded and protected us, pulled us up from the mire and forgiven our sins, etc. This pleases and gives glory to God. But when we look back on ourselves, we either see our sin and failures, or we look back to the comforts and our perceptions of things we miss from our past lives in the world. In either case, we lose and Satan wins and we take ourselves out of the race.
  2. Looking back over our sinful past also hinders us from pressing on in our growth with the Lord. I’ve heard many times that you can’t change or do anything about the past. If that’s true, why do we spend time looking back at past sins and failures? If we have confessed them, they are forgiven whether we believe it or not. It is not based on how we feel about it, but rather the truth of the Word and the trustworthiness of Christ Himself. Satan likes nothing better than to keep on dwelling about our failures. Again, he wins.
  3. My third point is this, In Hebrews 12 it talks about running the race with endurance and fixing our eyes on Jesus. Please don’t think of this as allegorical. We are in a real race. Not so that we can win a medal but so we win the prize of the upward call of God in our lives. You probably know that we need to look at this race as a marathon, not a 100 meter dash. That means we won’t always feel like we are gaining. There will be setbacks and even falls. But, brothers and sisters, we need to get up and keep running. Some of you have probably seen videos on the internet of races where a person falls and after getting up, finds themselves in last place. Then by the time the race is over, they have won! I watched one of those on Facebook just the other night. That is the kind of thing I am thinking about here. The runner who fell had a choice. He or she (in the video I saw it was a woman runner) could have just rolled over in disgust and complained about their rotten life or their bad luck. Or they could get up and go forward from that point. This runner chose the latter and won the race!! As we learn to make right choices we will do the same in our walk with the LORD. If we take these “falls,” and make the choice to bring them to the LORD and go forward, He will work in and through us to stay on the right path.

Pastor Brandon keeps reminding us in our current series of Joshua 24:15—“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers serve d which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” For me to serve the LORD, it means to make a choice to start living in the present and not the past like I have a great tendency to do. For you, it may be something else. But know this. It’s time to start a new journey! It’s time pick ourselves up, not let our past or whatever our problem is define us any longer, and travel on with the LORD, down that narrow road. It all starts with a choice to surrender to God’s will and follow Him. May God open our eyes and enlighten our hearts to do this for His Kingdom! Blessings!

A Life of Joy

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I have a friend at the ministry and sometimes we get into interesting discussions. Half the time they are by email because we work in different departments. But the discussions are sometimes fun, challenging, and filled with disagreements (we laugh about that and say we will always “agree to disagree” when needed). So the other day, we started discussing JOY and what it meant for us as God’s people to have it. So my friend emailed me and asked for my thoughts on the subject. So here is what I emailed back.

First of all I thought we needed to define the word joy. When you look up the word joy in the dictionary, you come up with the following definition: “The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires (Websters Dictionary).” That isn’t a bad definition, but if you read it carefully you will see that it is pretty much tied into our circumstances. If things are going well, if we have a good day, if we get the new job then we feel joy. But Scripture has a little different definition. Here is the definition I found in Ungers Bible Dictionary: “Joy is a delight of the mind arising from the consideration of a present or assured possession of a future good.” Do you see the difference? Biblical joy looks to the future, not the present.

Maybe a couple of passages will help explain this. Two of my two favorite passages in the Bible regarding this are Acts 20:22-24 and Hebrews 12:1-3. Let’s look at Acts 20:

22 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with JOY, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

This passage always challenges my heart. Here was Paul on his way to Jerusalem. God, through the Spirit told Paul that nothing but trials and hardship awaited him. Not really happy news, is it? But Paul didn’t hold on too tightly to his life. His attitude was that none of these things move me. I just want to preach the Gospel and finish my race with joy. There was nothing Paul could see in his life that would be considered fun or happy. But Paul could still have joy. Why? Because he knew how it would end. He would be with the Lord and many people would be with him because of the sacrifices Paul made. I can’t fathom that kind of life, but I would sure like to.

One more passage, Hebrews 12:1-3:

12 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the JOY set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Of course, Jesus is the supreme example of a life of joy. In this passage it says He “for the joy set before Him endured the cross.” The cross certainly was not going to be a fun or happy experience, and Jesus knew that. He knew there would be pain, suffering and, worst of all,  a total separation from the Father. Yet Jesus could have joy because he knew the end. Satan would be defeated, the veil of the temple would be rent symbolizing that man now could have victory in Christ and total access to the Father. In other words, it was all worth for Jesus. And whatever we face, it should be worth it for us too.

We are weak people. But our Lord can give us the strength and courage to follow Him with all our hearts. Hebrews 12:2 tells the way to keep going is to fix our eyes on Jesus. That is the only way for us to keep going without growing weary and losing heart. I pray God will encourage our hearts during these trying times.

A Yankee Visits a Journey Group

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Hi all. Sorry for the silly title. I couldn’t resist. Also, that’s how I feel sometimes, like a Yankee invading the South. But they are very nice to me.

So, I recently started going to what we call a Journey Group at Stonepoint. Journey Groups are home Bible studies that meet during the week, in lieu of traditional Sunday School. It has been an enjoyable time for me but I has been a little adjusting to make. I thought I would pass on a few of my thoughts about Journey Group. Those of you in Journey Groups probably know this already, but here goes.

First, it has been a bit of an adventure finding people’s houses. At first we met at one house and I did a test run to find it. So for two weeks I did fine. Then I was informed that we were moving to Coach Mark and Betty Bachtel’s house. I got instructions via my cell phone and headed out the first week to find it. I knew I was in the area but had a little, well a lot of trouble finding the house. So I reached into my pocket for my cell phone…it wasn’t there. Yes, I left it sitting on the table at home. I was so disappointed. I drove around some more trying to find the house and finally just drove home in disgust. The following week I made sure I had my cell phone and I got a little clarification on the directions from Betty. This time, Success!! It was so exciting!!!! So first, challenge of Journey Group met–find house. check!

Cows and a Puppy, Being a city boy Yankee, cows are a lot of fun to me. They played an important role in my very first trip to Stonepoint 18 months ago. More on that some other time. When I got out of my car I saw this little group of seven or eight cows. I watched them for a few minutes and wanted so badly to go out and make friends with them. But I really wasn’t sure who owned them and didn’t want to scare them. When I got into the house, I found out they belonged to coach. So, I decided that next time I would try to make friends with them. Inside the house I met the family dog. I can’t really call him a puppy but he was sweet and we became friends. So challenge two met–meet new friends. Check.

As a group, we then had dinner then sat down to start our Bible study. Enters, Coach Mark. I must admit, I find him to be an amazing man. I was around when he had his accident at the football game. I prayed, like we all did, and rejoiced when I heard he was finally able to come home. But meeting him and hearing his teaching and what the Lord has taught him through this accident was amazing. I don’t want to say too much because I imagine, Coach won’t like all the accolades. He is humble and will just the Lord gets all the glory. We are going to be going through the book of Nehemiah in our group. I am totally looking forward to it.

This last part may be a little hard for me to explain. It is about the people in the group and prayer. Shamefully, I don’t even know all the names of the people in our group yet. But what I can say about them is that they are real. I have been in home groups in other churches in Colorado where I lived. They were nothing like the groups at Stonepoint. I don’t want to say anything disparaging about them but the groups I was in were superficial and generally made me and my wife not to go. Not that we were great or anything, but I always had the thought throughout my times in churches that there must be something more and that we were missing something. I don’t really know where those thoughts came from. But these people were different. They really care about each other. They meet and help each other out such as when Duane Wells moved down to San Antonio. Some of the group even went down to San Antonio to help him unpack. To be honest, I found that amazing for a Journey Group. There seemed to be no pretense at the meeting. People were honest and when they had struggles with things, spiritual or otherwise, they had no problem admitting it.

Finally, there was closing prayer. Oh, no. It wasn’t just a prayer thanking God for the evening and then we go. They made a list of people to pray for, many of whom I knew nothing about. But the rest of the group knew them. I was asked to pray at our last meeting. I felt a little awkward at first because I wasn’t even sure how to pray for some of them. But I told the group I would pray for those that I knew what and how to pray for them. They were fine with that.

So, I don’t know if this really says anything to you. But my observation and participation in Journey Group has had a somewhat profound impact on me. And the thing that impresses me is that the Journey Group I am in is just a sample of what Stonepoint is, or can be. Again, if I may be brutally honest. Coming to Stonepoint was a totally refreshing experience for me as far a a church that I have never had before. Journey Group was just another step in the process to grow closer to the Lord and the body here. Please get involved if you are not in a group. Yes, it will cost you time and energy and your flesh won’t always like it. But I urge you and me to step out of ourselves and give to the Lord and to the body of Christ. God bless you all!!

Deep in Thought

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I have been thinking a bit about some things lately. It has been going on for about a week now. It started with a friend who is in school in another state asked me to answer a question for her. Her question was, “if God told He would answer only two prayer requests for you, what would they be. She then asked me to get back to her with the answers.

I have to admit, it took me three days of thought to come up with just one of the answers and then, I wasn’t totally happy with it. Oh, it was a good answer I thought, but it sounded so pious and holy. I certainly don’t feel that way about myself. I finally messaged my friend on Facebook (it’s good for something, folks☺) and told her that it probably wasn’t what she was looking for, but it was truly my first answer to her question. My answer was this, “if God would do nothing else for me, I would like him to make me truly humble before Him.” This has been a dream and a prayer for myself for years. I truly admire and cherish humility. I don’t look it as a goal or something to possess. It is the very something that pleases God! I want to do that. Of course, Jesus is the supreme example of humility but who can live up to it. I also think of Moses. The Bible says that he was the most humble man in the world. As he was leading the people who rebelled against God and him many times, Moses would always humble himself for the people and ask God to forgive the (see Numbers 14). Yet, even Moses failed and rebelled against God (see Numbers 20) and was denied access to the Promised Land. Now, I can identify with that! So, my first answer to my friend’s questions remains, “God, please make me humble before You and the people I come in contact with.” I’m pretty sure I have mentioned this verse before, but Isaiah 66:1-2 is probably my key verse when it comes to humility. “Thus says the LORD, Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I May rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Oh, God! Please make us humble before you! Amen! By the way, I still owe my friend one more answer. 

There is a couple more thing I’ve been thinking about, and that is service and encouragement. Service came up as I was reviewing my re:generation book. We talk a lot about that a lot at Stonepoint. The touching passage in the Gospel of John always speaks to me on this. In chapter 13, we have the scene where Jesus washes the disciple’s feet. After a few questions, He tells the disciples that if He, as their teacher, washed their feet, they should wash one another’s feet. In Mark 10:45, it tells us that Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve…how great it would be if we would all become servants. Can you imagine what that would be like? This actually ties into humility, for it is hard, or maybe impossible, to be a true servant if we are not doing it from our hearts, and that takes humility. But what an encouragement it is to the body. As I stand at the back of the church and greet people at 8:30 service, I see several ladies running back and forth carrying water for the coffee, I see others setting out treats and keeping the coffee going. I also see people coming into the service bringing in treats that they made at home the night before. It is a simple thing and as I watch, I wonder if anyone thanks these ladies for their service. I think true serving should be done without expecting thanks or praise, but what an encouragement it is when it happens. What an encouragement it would be for the leaders at Stonepoint if we could and would each do a small part. Sorry, I’m not trying to beat up on anyone. I was just thinking about serving from the leader’s standpoint and how we as a body might encourage them.

OK. Enough for today. I pray we will all be followers of our Lord as He leads us. May we be humble followers of our Lord and do our service for His glory and not our own.  God bless you.