Liberty Missions

It was so good to be back with you on Sunday! Tammy and I had a great time away on vacation, but we missed you! It’s always so good to be back home! I’m thankful for Zachary and Daniel preaching for me while I was gone. I’ve heard many testimonies of how the Lord used each of their sermons. Tammy and I watched online and could not be more excited over all that the Lord is doing at Liberty.

 

On Sunday, we had a special day talking about Liberty missions. I did an interview with our Missions Pastor, Kenny McLemore, and had him explain all that “missions” means here at Liberty. Kenny has been on our staff for over 20 years and serves as a trustee for the International Mission Board, which is the largest missions organization in the world. He talked about our teams and partnerships locally and globally, as well as all the different ways our church family can be involved. If you missed it, you can watch the full interview here: LINK.

 

It was also a special Sunday because we did the Lord’s Supper. While we did it at our locations in Virginia, our missionaries around the world were taking the Lord’s Supper too. It was such a cool experience for our church family and such a great reminder that we are part of a work so much bigger than ourselves. We are all about taking the message of communion – the message of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection around the globe so that people may be saved and so that lives, communities, and the world might be changed. Praise God that He is at work! Thank you for your faithfulness in praying, giving, and going!

 

This Sunday, we will start a new series in the book of Galatians. I’m excited to share with you what the Lord has been teaching me as I prepare. You don’t want to miss it. Invite a friend and make plans now to be in church this Sunday.

 

Your Pastor loves you!

 

Overcoming Envy

Guest Blogger: Zachary Ethridge

Have you ever been at a place in your life where you’ve wondered, “Is it really worth it to follow God?” Have you even felt like quitting on God and just living like the world? In Psalm 73, that’s where the Psalmist was in life. Asaph is struggling with envy, because he is looking at the world’s prosperity. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked (Ps. 73:2-3).”

 

His heart is in the wrong place because he is focused on the wrong thing.

 

Eventually, this frustration and envy leads him to a terrible conclusion – “All in vain have I kept my heart clean (Ps. 73:13).” He wonders if it’s even worth it to follow God. Anger, envy, and resentment poison the soil of the heart. They choke out faith and trust and hope. But something happens that changes everything. He writes, “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end (Ps. 73:16-17).” Everything changes when he encounters God!

 

When your focus is on the wrong thing and your heart is in the wrong place, the only solution is an encounter with God.

 

But what does it mean to go into the sanctuary of God in the 21st century? The Gospel of John teaches that Jesus is the true temple. The only way to encounter God is to come to Jesus. But how do you encounter Jesus in the 21st century? Here are 3 ways. First and foremost, you encounter Him through the gospel. The gospel is the good news that we can know God through Jesus because He died for our sins and rose from the dead to give us eternal life. If we skip the gospel, the rest is futile. But second, you can encounter Jesus through the church. The Bible teaches that God is building His church into a spiritual temple by the Holy Spirit. Third, we encounter Jesus through the Bible, because the Bible is ultimately about Him. And when that happens – when we encounter God in Jesus Christ – we gain an eternal perspective.

 

Encountering God gives you an eternal perspective.

 

The Psalmist says, “then I discerned their end…Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory (Ps. 73:17, 23-24).” He found that it’s always worth it to follow God. His eyes were opened to the words of Jesus, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” The Judge of all the earth will see to it that all accounts are settled, and all wrongs are made right, so living for Christ will always be worth it. Will it feel worth it all the time? No. Is it perplexing to see the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer? Certainly! But this is not the end. God isn’t done! Your story isn’t over! We serve a God who sees everything, the faithfulness of his servants and the wickedness of the world, and He will never forget. So, don’t give up and don’t lose heart. God hasn’t forgotten you, and one day it’s all going to be worth it. In the meantime, here’s my challenge to you: Don’t sacrifice your future on the altar of your present desires. Don’t lose focus, envy the wicked, and turn away from God. You may want their present, you don’t want their eternity. So, don’t give up your inheritance for a bowl of soup. Remember that God is with you, walk with Him, be guided by His counsel, and set your eyes on eternity. And as you do that, like Asaph, God will change your heart.

 

Encountering God re-shapes your desires.

 

Asaph says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you (Ps. 73:25).”  What do you want more than anything else? What is the one thing you think you have to have to be happy? Now, that can be a hard question to answer. It’s difficult to search your heart and discover your greatest desire. It’s abstract and immaterial. But an easier question to answer is this – what are you focused on? What occupies your thoughts and daydreams? That is the thing you desire most. Is it Christ? If it’s not, there is hope. He concludes by saying, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps. 73:26).” The struggle for an eternal perspective and God-shaped desires is a daily struggle. You will never outgrow your need for God, but God is willing and able to be your strength. We need Him to open our eyes again and again to eternity. We need Him to shape and reshape our desires, so that we can overcome envy and find lasting joy and satisfaction in Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esther 10 – The Significance of Holidays

Holidays are found throughout scripture. Jesus died on the Jewish holiday of Passover and He rose from the dead on the Feast of First-fruits. The Holy Spirit came on the Jewish holiday of Pentecost. As we look at the rest of Esther 9-10, we are going to learn about the Jewish holiday Purim.

 

Celebration

In the second half of Esther 9, we read about the celebration after the Jews gained relief from their enemies. Can you imagine the sorrow, fear, dread, and despair when they heard the edict to kill all the Jews? Imagine the joy and jubilation when the edict was reversed and they were saved!  It was like Christmas! They were giving each other gifts! They were celebrating and thanking God. And, these days were to be “remembered and celebrated by every generation, family, province, and city, so that these days of Purim will not lose their significance in Jewish life and their memory will not fade…” (v. 28).

 

Holidays are good and significant. They help us remember what God has done and help us leave a legacy for the next generation. We should celebrate them. Ignoring holidays as a church takes away our national context. Instead, on holidays, we can take the opportunity to pray and thank God for our freedoms, pray for our country, repent of our sins, cry out for a spiritual awakening in the nation and pray for revival in the church. So often, we argue among ourselves over how to celebrate holidays, but we forget who the real enemy is. The 4th of July is this week and we should celebrate! Paul was not ashamed of his nationality. He said in Romans 11:1, “For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” Our freedoms were purchased with the blood of patriots. We should give honor where honor is due. Our allegiance to Old Glory is significant, however we must always remember it is secondary to our allegiance to the King of Glory. We do not want anything, including patriotism, to be a stumbling block to the gospel. We should celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, baptisms, holidays, etc., to share what the Lord has done and to impact the next generation.

 

Taxation

In Esther 10:1, a tax was imposed. There are 15 verses in our passage on celebrating a holiday and only one on taxes, so I will be brief on this point. Jesus and Paul both encouraged people to pay their taxes. Taxes are how government and society function. Thank God for roads, schools, teachers, law enforcement, and firefighters! Thank God for tax money and defense spending that make both our national and local economies strong. Take legal tax breaks, but after that, whatever you owe you should gladly pay. Paying taxes is the duty of a citizen, and Christians are called to be good citizens.

 

Vocation

Esther was Queen and Mordecai “was second only to King Ahasuerus” (10:3). We need to teach our children they can pursue any career they want to pursue. You are mistaken if you think you have to be a preacher or a missionary to be used of God. Most don’t need to go to seminary to be used of God. Go to business school, vocational school, and do what God has gifted you to do. Liberty does not have four locations. We have over 10,000 locations! LibertyLive.Church is wherever you are! Every member is a missionary and minister. God uses ordinary men and women to do extraordinary things!

 

Salvation

The story of Esther is our family history. The salvation of the Jews is our salvation. God used Esther and Mordecai to save the Jewish people from death and destruction. If there were no Jewish people, there would have been no Jesus. If no Jesus, no salvation. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He is the one who saves us from eternal death and destruction. Earthly Kings and Kingdoms will all pass away, but He is eternal. Our hope is not in political leaders, government leaders, or any nation. Our hope is in Jesus!