Notes from Gathering Point

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Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I went to church today as usual and Pastor Brian spoke on Prayer. It was a good and helpful sermon and finished up the current series on prayer.

But what I would really like to talk about today is Gathering Point, the small group I meet with on Sunday afternoon. Another pastor, Pastor Archie, covered the group today. There were only two of us there other than Archie, but we studied some really good and encouraging things. Pastor Archie ended the teaching time with the following statement: “What are we sacrificing in our lives to be a faithful servants?”

As soon as he said this my mind began to race with several thoughts. If I may, I would like to share a few of them.

I have always sought to be a servant. In fact at some point in my life I thought it might be my Spiritual Gift. But while I have always served in any church I attended, and also in the ministry I work with, I have always felt I come way short of what it means to be a true servant.

Look again at the statement above. It is only twelve words but it speaks volume with just one word: sacrificing. A true servant is one who sacrifices!! What are some of the things he or she sacrifices.

Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is time. We all have the same amount of time in a day. 24 hours. How do we use it? I know I spend time in the evenings in what is usually called down time. There is nothing wrong with that, but How do we spend it. Reading a book, watching TV, or perhaps working on a hobby? One thing I know. To serve God requires sacrifice. We have give up one thing to do another. Serving God takes time and we have to make a choice to set aside our desires for His.

Another thing that is important is serving is our attitude. It is easy to look good on the outside. “Oh, look at him/her! They do such a great job at serving here,” some might say. But in all honesty, serving just because you feel you should or just to look good on the outside does nothing to please the Lord. God wants our heart!! The Old Testament priests were experts at serving God with their sacrifices and offerings. But what did God say about them? “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me (Isa. 29:13; Matt. 15:8).

One more thing, and this will be my last, there are encumbrances and just becoming weary. Pastor Archie used Hebrews 12:1-3 in our session to make this point. We need to lay aside things that keep us from serving the Lord. Again it is a choice we need to make and there will always be pain. The flesh desires to give up nothing. The answer to this problem is that we fix our eyes on Jesus (verse 2), and consider what Jesus endured on our behalf. If we look at ourselves, we will become weary and lose heart. 1 Corinthians 15:58 encourages us to be steadfast and immovable in the work of the Lord. Along with that, there is the promise that our toil is not in vain in the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, let’s keep moving forward in our service to the Lord! It will not always be fun and will sometimes be just plain discouraging. But it will be worth it in the end when we here those words of our Lord: “Well done, thy good and faithful servant. God bless you.

Daniel and the Lion’s Den

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Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I have been reading in the book of Daniel lately and am seeing things that I haven’t really picked up on before. Daniel is a great book. I know that last year, Pastor Brandon preached on the book. I have listened to some of the sermons. The book of Daniel is one of the greatest books on prophecy there are. In it, the entire history of mankind is laid out. But that is not what struck me this time. What did strike me was the character of Daniel himself. There is way too much to go over everything in this blog post, but I would like to talk about a couple of them.

We have all heard of the story of Daniel and the Lion’s den. If you’ve been raised in the church from a child, I am sure you heard about it in Children’s Sunday school. While the teaching often centered on the protection of God from the Lions, I think a side story is about Daniel’s character. Chapter six starts out with Daniel being appointed one of three commissioners that looked over the kingdom. He was over several satraps and verse 3 says that Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps. In other words, Daniel shown like a bright star! Daniel was getting older by now but he hadn’t changed from the time he was taken as a captive many years before. He made a covenant that he would not defile his God from the very beginning. And no matter who was king, whether good or bad, Daniel served him with integrity of heart. These facts still remained when serving King Darius.

The story goes on and talks about the plot of the other rulers to discredit Daniel on a point of his religion. They talked the king into signing an irrevocable decree that anyone who worshiped any god but Darius for 30 days was to die. Being king, it sounded good to Darius and he signed it. The next scene always struck me as foolish on Daniel’s part for a long time. Verse 10 says that after Daniel knew the document was signed, he went into his house and opened the windows and prayed to God three times a day. Personally, in my younger days, I thought that was a bit arrogant on his part. That is until I read the last six words of verse 10 carefully: “…as he had been doing previously.” It finally dawned on me that Daniel’s character was so strong toward his God, that nothing would make him change his previously engrained habit of worship. No, things would go on as they always had. Daniel would worship his God and no other.

These two characteristics of Daniel brought out in this chapter are amazing. First, Daniel’s ability to be a person of integrity and second, his love and dedication to his (and our) God! I thought about applying this to us today. The applications are obvious enough, but hard to do at times. Even in a ministry like I serve with, it is often hard to serve our leaders with humility, obedience and integrity, especially in the areas of speech. When you find yourself disagreeing with your “boss” do go around and talk about him behind his back, or do you keep quiet, pray for him or her and still serve to the best of your ability. It hurts me to think back in my life about how many times I have done the former. It was nothing but pride and sin on my part.

The second characteristic is that of continuing on with our walk of our Lord regardless of the circumstances. Have we developed habits in our walk that can carry us through the hard times in life? Or are you like me that when things get too tough (real or imagined) you just check out and seek ways to get out of whatever the circumstance is. I will end with a verse that I just became reacquainted with recently: Psalm 51:17—The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” There is a little booklet I have read a few times in my life that is simply titled: Lord, Break me. This has recently become my main prayer for me. That our Lord would show us areas of pride, stubbornness and rebellion in our lives and bring us to that place of having a humble and contrite heart before Him. There is a price to pay in this of course; the kingdom of God is a backwards kingdom. The way down is the only way up! May God’s grace be with us to become broken for Him and follow Him with all our hearts.

Keepin’ Football and Faith Simple

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Jeff Brown, Guest Writer

I’ve been a fan of college football my entire life, and, being a former high school football coach myself, there was no individual in the coaching profession that I held in higher esteem during my younger days than the former coach of the University of Alabama, Paul W. (Bear) Bryant. By the time he retired in 1981, he had won more college football games than any coach in history up to that point. As a child, though, he did not even know what a football was until he was in 8th grade, when the coach at his school in Fordyce, Arkansas, impressed with the young man’s size, asked if he’d like to play. According to his autobiography, Bryant replied, “I guess so, but I don’t know how to play.” The coach then responded, “Well, you see this football right here? When you see someone with this ball in their hands, you run as fast as you can and hit him as hard as you can.” Bear Bryant’s football philosophy never went too far beyond this simple premise – “Go as hard as you can, and hit them as hard as you can.” Over my 20-odd years as a football coach, I have seen how we have taken a very simple game and made it pretty complicated. The game still basically boils down to blocking and tackling, a very simple concept that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of schemes, game-planning, and terminology.

In our Spiritual lives, I often see a parallel in the way we approach our daily walk with Christ. We have taken a very simple concept and made it into something that is either too complicated, or something that is so rehearsed and so memorized that we can do it by habit rather than by allowing the Spirit to guide us daily. Many times, it seems, we do things simply because that is the way we have always done them, or because that was the way our parents, or grandparents even, used to do them. Even into my thirties, I never questioned why. But in looking at the simple gift of salvation, whether viewing the simplicity of John 3:16 to the Scriptures of the Romans road (Romans 5:12, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9-13) or on through to Revelation 3:20, we have often allowed ourselves to become slaves to the complexities of the traditions of religion, or simply to be led to being concerned with the world’s view of our worship rather than true spirituality and the true worship of God. In other words, we’ve taken our relationship with God, a very rich and special and simple one-on-one relationship and allowed it to become complicated with the traditions and ways of the world. It has gotten lost in the shuffle of schemes, game-planning and terminology. Wouldn’t ours be a much better walk, a much more personally-satisfying and God-pleasing walk, if we would all simply model the instructions of our spiritual journey with God on the simplicity of those instructions that Bryant’s football coach gave to him nearly a century ago? “I’d like to be a better Christian, but I don’t know how. How do I do it?”

Very simply, the best response would be, “Be Christ-like.” Would Mary Magdalene or the woman at the well be welcomed by us if they showed up at our door, or, better yet, showed up and sat beside us at church? Are we willing to wash the feet of our friends, or, even in the case of Judas, our betrayers? Are we patient with our friends and family members, as Christ was throughout his earthly ministry with his disciples, especially Peter? Are we as non-judgmental as Christ was when He walked the earth? Are we willing to suffer, especially through persecution, even though the persecutions we face do not compare to the grievous suffering that He endured hanging on that cross? Galatians 2:20 (NIV) tells us, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Is this walk easy? I would argue that ease of living is not what God promised us, so the answer to that question would be a resounding, “No!” However, the manner in which we approach it can be simple – a basic reminder to ourselves to approach every day and every situation with the resolve that we will be Christ-like in our response to everything, no matter what the secular world and Satan throws at us.