Every year when I go to the SBC Annual meeting, I come home and report to our body, then I bring a short message that resonates in my heart from the week’s meeting. Sometimes it is a passage that was preached, or a topic / issue. This year it was an Old Testament passage resonating in my head while I ruminated on the issues and joys before us.
You can go to our FACEBOOK page if you want the full message at First Baptist Ferguson. I will just include here the text of the message part of my report. Yes, I reported on the Sexual Abuse Task Force, and the new Unity Initiative that is beginning. But I also reported record years of giving and ministry to and from the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board. To the ends of the earth is what we do as Great Commission Baptists.
But we are facing a critical moment in the future and so the words of Deuteronomy 30:11-20 were ringing through my head – “I place before Life and Death, Blessing and Curses, and I tell you to CHOOSE LIFE”
Here is my message:
So… we are on the ground in Orange County at John Wayne International, and the pilot comes on in that “pilot voice” and says, “well folks, we are going to take off hard and fast, we are going to climb quickly, but don’t worry, we are going to level off at 30,000 feet, and then we are going to back the speed off a little and settle in slower.”
Well, I’m thinking, “I’m all for leveling off, because I don’t want to end up in outer space, but IF you CAN fly faster, do it. We are 15 minutes late taking off, so get it! What are you worried about, getting pulled over?”
“We are late, so let’s go. I know YOU don’t have to be there, you are just flying, but WE got places to be. Are you worried that an air force cop is going to pull you over in his F-22?”
Can’t you see him pulling out from behind a cloud, lights flashing; and your American Pilot is like, “aww man…” and they pull him over, hast to land in a cornfield in Iowa, and it messes up everything, kills the schedule. So, yeah, “we got to back it off, might get a ticket”
I’m also mindful today that it is Juneteenth – President Lincoln on January 1, 1863, made an executive order, that all persons held as slaves (within the rebellious areas) are and henceforward shall be free – But people were still fighting the battle, and some parts of the south didn’t even get notice. But it wasn’t until 17 months later on June 19th, 1865, that General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas and declared:
“the people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the Unity States, all slaves are free…
Our job is to proclaim freedom. That’s why Jesus came, that’s why he died and rose again.
Sadly, while we addressed the revelation of sexual abuse and continued efforts to address the need for unity and reconciliation in ethnic disparity in society and the church, there was still a minority that want to decry those efforts. And the question comes, “why are some people opposed to dealing with abuse and racial injustice, why?”
And my response is “Why? Why? The Answer to ‘why?’ is NOT hard to determine, but the bigger question is HOW can this BE among God’s people?”
Failure to love and care for people is not the WAY of the people of God
I John 3:10-16 is very clear. This is how we know what love is, Jesus laid down his life. It teaches that we know who the followers of Christ are. If we are born from above, we will love. If we don’t love, we either don’t know Jesus or we are betraying that knowledge. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 says that we are to be purveyors of Reconciliation.
So, I’m not going to preach a long message, but look with me at an Old Testament message from Moses at the end of his ministry.
Deuteronomy 30:11–20 (CSB) — 11 “This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach. 12 It is not in heaven so that you have to ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ 13 And it is not across the sea so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ 14 But the message is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may follow it. 15 See, today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 For I am commanding you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, statutes, and ordinances, so that you may live and multiply, and the Lord your God may bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not listen and you are led astray to bow in worship to other gods and serve them, 18 I tell you today that you will certainly perish and will not prolong your days in the land you are entering to possess across the Jordan. 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 love the Lord your God, obey him, and remain faithful to him. For he is your life, and he will prolong your days as you live in the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Just an outline, it’s so clear that I don’t have the time nor the need to break it down.
So, as we close write these points down: The Way to Blessing, the Commands of God:
- It Is Not CONCEALED v16
It’s not hidden or hard to understand
Not difficult… not beyond your reach
This is NOT advanced stuff… this is Kindergarten stuff
It is CLOSE… you can say it, it’s right in your mouth, I don’t have to teach you, I don’t have to give it to you, just remind you.
It is in your heart… it is part of our DNA as the people of God
- It is a COMMAND
The Hebrew word is tsavah = to lay a charge upon, command, order, appoint
This is what God is laying on us, FBCF, Great Commission Baptists
- It is CLEAR
- Love God – our love for God drives our actions for him, or they will not continue
- Walk In His Ways – that’s the Hebrew word halak = to go, come, accompany, – his ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts, God is not waiting for us to tell him where we are going – God is GOING and he wants us to accompany HIM.
- Keep his commands – keep – means we are to observe and act according to what he says. We must allow his commands to direct our steps
Proverbs 6:23 (CSB) — 23 For a command is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way to life.
So, it is not concealed, it is a clear command, but then notice
- It is CONDITIONAL
- So that – if you then you… if you then I … this is conditional God is wanting to lead us somewhere, but we have to maintain the conditions. Oh but IF we love God and walk in his ways, and keep his commands… then we…
- May live … chayah = live, alive, come alive – HIS WAYS ARE LIFE – 1 John 5:3 says that his ways are NOT a burden – no he is saying this is LIFE – this is a way for the person, the church, a convention to have LIFE
- And Multiply – Hello Church growth experts – we don’t so much to have to run all over, looking for it. It’s right here, it’s in your mouth, in your heart, so it’s in your head – Love God, Walk in his Ways, Keep his Commands, and you will be alive, and then rabah = abundance, become many, enlarge, multiply – and then…
- The Lord will bless you in the land –
But then notice, this is Two-Way Conditional promise.
- If your Heart Turns away – i.e. if you love yourself, love your preferences, love your style instead of God’s ways – yes even Baptists have idols
- (if) you do not Listen – oh yes you heard, but did you LISTEN – shama = give earnest hearing
- If you are led astray to worship other gods – oh so many things we worship instead of God – styles, traditions, politicians, whatever you call it… there is only ONE to worship
If … Then v18
- You will certainly perish, and will not prolong your days in the land
- The Call / The Choice v19
I call heaven and earth as witness… I have set before you
- Life and death
- Blessing and curses
This is Life and Blessing
Or Death and Curses
God isn’t wanting to argue with us, he’s just offering us a choice – what do you want in? But I’m urging you,
- Choose LIFE – LIVE – this is a generational offer, you and your children
The choice is always there
And we might want to stop right there but what kind of song would that be?
- The Coda –
Doug, come to the Piano for me – Doug knows what a Coda is. A “Coda” in Music, is the concluding passage or movement, typically forms an additional theme or structure – It’s like the vamp, the tag, the outro.
So, in the Beatles song, “Hey Jude”, The song just has 3 basic chords, in the key of F. Doug play and “F”, that’s the Tonic – Home
And then a “C” – that’s the Dominant, the V
And now a “Bb” – that’s the Sub-Dominat, the IV
That’s most of the Song.
Don’t make it (C)Bad, Take a (Bb)Sad song
And make it (F)Better. Re-(Bb)member to
Let her into your (F)heart, And you can (C)start to
Make it (F) Better
And the song is 3 minutes long verses and chorus
Basically F, C, Bb – I – V – IV – with some walking chords between in the chorus.
But then comes the CODA – that Circle with a Cross in the Middle (oh I could preach that for a minute.
Sometimes the Coda is a short ending tag, a slight variation with something added to the structure. But in “Hey Jude” Paul Plays the I (F)… and then he plays a bVII (Eb) followed by the IV(Bb) and he goes on for 4 minutes
Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na
Na, Na, Na, Na – Hey Jude
Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na
Na, Na, Na, Na – Hey Jude
And so here is his Coda – Moses says
Love the Lord your God, Obey Him, Remain Faithful To Him…
Ok, we know these chords…
“hey Jude, don’t make it bad, take a sad song, and make it better… Remember to let her under your skin, then you begin to make it … Better … Better… Better… Better… Better
Love the Lord your God, Obey Him, Remain Faithful to Him
Here is where the Coda Changes to the bVII
For He is your LIFE
He will prolong your days
As you live in the Land
Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na
Na, Na, Na, Na –
He is your life
He will prolong your days
He will give you life in the land
This is True for the SBC
This is True for First Ferguson
This is true for the people who live in your House too
There is A CHOICE for us… Life and Blessing, or Death and Curses … HE IS YOUR LIFE… CHOOSE Will he be Your Life?