From the Pastor’s Desk

Are You Ready For 2020?

2019 has come and gone and we are now starting a new year of 2020.   As we move into a new year, I’d like to ask the question, “Are you ready for 2020?”  As we think about this, I’d like to take just a few moments to look back at 2019 and ahead to 2020.  Let’s start in the Old Testament Book of Lamentations, chapter 3 verses 22-23 which read, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (NKJV)  For believers, as we look back over the past year, we can see God’s faithfulness to us and as we venture into 2020, He will remain faithful to us just as He has in the past.  While we may not know what this year holds, God does and He will see us through it.  Remember, God is already in 2020 and He urges us to walk by faith and allow Him to lead us.  His faithfulness is renewed every morning and it is just like the sun that comes up. Those who have trusted Christ for their salvation should ask themselves two questions every morning, “How can I be used of You today?’ and “How can I be a blessing to someone else today?”   God also wants to lead us as we walk by faith.  Proverbs 3:5-6 put it this way, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (NKJV)  As we consider these verses, I’m reminded of a book written a number of years ago by Col. Robert Scott called “God Is My Co-Pilot” in which he told how God was with him during World War II.  There is no doubt that this story is true, but I’d like to put a little different twist on it in reference to these verses from Proverbs.  If God is your co-pilot, you need to switch seats!  He wants to guide you, not just be in your life in an advisory capacity.  As members of the Body of Christ He is our Head and wants to lead, if we’ll let Him.  That’s what He wants us to see about this new year too.  He will lead if we trust Him to do so and don’t lean on out own understanding.  

Are you ready for 2020?  If you’re in Christ you are, because He may come to catch us away during the year and if not He will still be with us giving us strength and hope.  If you’re not in Him, He is still waiting for you to come to Him and trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross on your behalf.

If you have any questions about how to be saved, or about what we believe,  why not come and visit us on a Sunday morning, we’d love to see you!  If you are looking for a church that preaches the Word of God, rightly divided (or if you want to find out what that means) why not come and check us out?  We would welcome the opportunity to get to know you and fellowship with you around God’s Word and answer any questions you might have.

In His Saving and Abounding Grace,

Pastor Wes Barteck

A Greater Love

During February, we see and hear a lot about love as we celebrate Valentine’s Day.  There is an even greater love that exists in our world, God’s love for us.  This month we want to consider how much did God love us.  Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (NKJV)  While we were still in our sins, living in and doing the very thing that separates us from God in the first place, God showed us how much He loves us by sending Christ to die for us.  Philippians 2:5-8 goes into this more in depth.  It says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (NKJV)  Make no mistake about it – Jesus Christ was God but He came as one of us so that we, by believing in His finished work on the cross, might have eternal life, and so much more.  Christ willingly came because He loved us and gave His life on the cross for all.  The key is believing it – believing that Christ died, was buried and rose again for YOU personally and not just knowing about it.  2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it this way, “For He [God the Father] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Christ rook our sins upon Himself and when we believe the gospel of grace, our sins are taken out of our account and replaced with the righteousness of God. Dear unsaved friend, if you are reading these words, please trust Christ for your salvation, it is as easy as that.

If you have any questions about how to be saved, why not come and visit us on a Sunday morning, we’d love to see you!  Please, if you are not saved, do not delay, be saved today by trusting Christ and His work on Calvary on your behalf. God’s message to us is this: I have loved you since time began. Will you be mine?

In His Saving Grace,

Pastor Wes Barteck

Want To Be A Hero?

As we look around us, there are many people we would consider heroes.  Some of these would include those who risk their lives daily to save others such as firefighters, police officers and those who serve in all branches of our military.  While we may never be called to risk our lives to save someone else, some of the same qualities that are present in their lives are needed in our lives if we want to be heroes for God.  

The first quality it takes to be a hero for God is faith.  That faith must begin by faith in Christ.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by grace through faith and that salvation is a gift from God, and is not based on anything we have done, except believing in the finished work of Christ on the cross.  A person can’t be a hero for God if they don’t belong to Him.  Secondly, we must have faith in God.  2 Corinthians 5:7 says that we walk be faith and not by sight.  While we cannot see what is ahead, God can and He will guide us if we let Him.  We are God’s hero by trusting Him through faith.

Next, courage is required for us to be a hero for God.  There are many people in the Bible that showed courage and they include Moses leading the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground, David as he fought Goliath, Daniel in the lion’s den – this list could include many others too.  As believers, it takes courage to stand up for what we believe.  Songwriter Ernie Dawson sums it up this way, “I will stand for Jesus, though the world may say I’m wrong.  I will lift the bloodstained banner, I’ll sing redemption’s song.  I will tell the world of ‘Amazing Grace’, how His blood washed away my sin; I want the world to hear my voice, for Jesus is coming back again.”   It takes guts to stand for God and that’s why God strengthens us in the inner man so that we can stand for Him.  You can look us the following passages that relate to this: Ephesians 3:16 and 2 Corinthians 4:16.  These verses show us too that it takes strength to stand for the Lord.

What steps can we take to be a Godly hero?  First, we can show Christ to others.  We show Christ by the change He has made in our lives (2 Corinthians 4:7) and we can tell others of what God has done for us.  We can hand out Gospel Tracts, but the most important way we show Christ to others is by how we live our lives. 

We can also be a hero by praying for others.  We should be upholding one another as well as those who are not yet a part of the Body of Christ.  According to 1 Timothy 2:1-2, we can be a hero by praying for all men (people).  We can pray for their salvation, for God to guide them and for strength.

We can also be a hero by being a person who encourages others.  We can speak words of encouragement or send note to folks letting them know that they are in our thoughts and prayers.

There are lots of other ways to be a hero, but let me share just one more.  We can be a hero by giving.  First, it means giving of ourselves to God (Romans 12:1) as a living sacrifice.  This involves giving our selves to God over and over again, surrendering our will to His.  As we do that, we will give of our time, talents and our resources to Him for His work.

Want to be a hero?  Following these steps will help you on your way to being a hero for God.

If you have any questions  about how to be saved, or about what we believe,  why not come and visit us on a Sunday morning, we’d love to see you!  If you are looking for a church that preaches the Word of God, rightly divided (or if you want to find out what that means) why not come and check us out?  We would welcome the opportunity to get to know you, fellowship with you around God’s Word and answer any questions you might have.

In His Saving and Abounding Grace,

Pastor Wes Barteck

Paul’s Thorn In The Flesh

In this column, I would ask you to take a Bible and turn to 2 Corinthians 12.  I would like to take the time to point out some lessons from verses 7-10.  Paul had some sort of physical problem and he prayed three times for it to be removed.  The first lesson for us is that God heard his prayer.  Let’s look at another verse that ties in with this request from Paul to God.  In Romans 8:26, the Bible tells us, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (NKJV) Paul’s prayer, and ours, are offered from our human perspective.  When we pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf and transforms our prayers into ones in line with the will of God for us.  We see this in Roans 8:27.  “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, Because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (NKJV)  In looking at Paul’s prayer in 2 Corinthians 12, one might assume that his prayer was not answered, but that is not the case.  God always gives an answer to our prayers, but He does not always do it in the way we want Him to answer it.   That was the case with Paul, and in doing so, God gave him much more that he asked for.  While He did not remove the thorn, He gave Paul sufficient grace to meet this need.  Here is another lesson for us.  If God’s grace was enough for Paul (and it was) it will also be enough for us.  We are confronted at this time in our history by something few of us have ever experienced in our lifetime.  For the believer, God’s grace will be enough to see us through this crisis.  He wants us to lean on Him and get strength, encouragement and comfort during these difficult times.  But there’s something else God wants us to see here.  The strength of God is perfected in our weakness.  It is through our weakness that God shines.  This happens when we recognize our weaknesses and allow God to supply our strength.  So, dear friend, if you are in Christ He will give you grace for every need, and He will not desert you during difficult times.  It is through them that He wants to draw you closer to Him, and allow Him to work in your life.

If you have any questions  about how to be saved, or about what we believe,  why not come and visit us on a Sunday morning (after the shelter in place order has been lifted), we’d love to see you!  If you are looking for a church that preaches the Word of God, rightly divided (or if you want to find out what that means) why not come and check us out?  We would welcome the opportunity to get to know you, fellowship with you around God’s Word and answer any questions you might have.

In His Saving and Abounding Grace,

Pastor Wes Barteck

Are You Sure?

Billy Graham tells of a time early in his ministry when he arrived at a small town to preach a sermon.  Wanting to mail a letter, he asked a young boy where the Post Office was.  When the boy had told him, Dr. Graham thanked him and said, “If you’ll come to the Baptist Church this evening, you can hear me telling everyone how to get to Heaven.” 

 “I don’t think I’ll be there,” the boy said.  “You don’t even know your way to the Post Office.”

 Do you have the assurance of having your sins forgiven or of going to heaven?  We’re going to look at some practical things to get you started on your way.

 1. You can’t get there by trying.  You can’t walk there, climb there or fly there.  Only God can take you there.  Let’s look at a couple of verses that make this so plain.  Turn to Ephesians 2:8-9.  Let’s start at verse 9 and work our way backwards.  Salvation is not of works – we can’t do anything to earn our salvation.  Folks have a tough time with this, because it is hard to believe that salvation could be so simple.  God made it simple for a reason – so that anyone could understand it and be saved.

Let me give you an illustration that I read about the futility of trying to attain salvation by their own efforts.  A man was on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean when the wind died.  After sitting there for a while he decided he needed to do something.  He got up and put his shoulder to the mast of the sailboat and pushed.  The boat rocked a bit so he thought he was making progress.  In reality all he was doing was wearing himself out.  The first thing you need to realize is that you can’t be saved by your own efforts.  You try to climb there on a ladder of good works and many talk about “adding another rung”, but their ladder is leaning on the wrong wall!  It’s leaning on Satan’s wall and he is content to have it there because he knows that no one will be saved in this way.

 2.  Only God can get you to heaven.  Salvation is always God’s way and never man’s way.  If we had anything to do with it, we would have something to boast about, but we don’t, so we can’t.  God’s plan of salvation is so simple today, but it is man that tries to complicate it.  Let’s look at two passages that will give us some insight into God’s plan of salvation for today.

 First, let’s turn to Acts 16:16-32.  Paul and Silas were in Philippi and were preaching the gospel of grace (which we’ll look at in a moment).  There was an unsaved slave girl who practiced fortunetelling and was a good source of income for her masters.  Although possessed by a demon, notice verse 17.  She knew that they were telling people how to be saved.  Here Paul did a miracle and removed the demon from her which did not sit well with her masters because their source of income was suddenly gone.  The end result was that Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison.  To keep them securely, the jailer put them in the innermost part of the prison.  In verse 25, Paul and Silas are worshipping God at midnight and the other prisoners were listening to them.  The Lord sent an earthquake and all of the prison doors were opened and all of their chains fell off.  (By the way, isn’t this a picture of our salvation?  When we trusted Christ, the prison door of sin was flung open and our chains of bondage to sin fell off.)  Fearing  the worst, the jailer was about to kill himself (the penalty for letting a prisoner escape) but Paul called to him and told him to do himself no harm, that they were all still there.  I don’t know how many others were there with them, but it is remarkable that all of them were still there.  The jailer called for a light and rushed in falling at the feet of Paul and Silas and asked what he needed to do to be saved.  Notice Paul’s response in verse 31 “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  This doesn’t mean that the jailer’s family was saved because of his belief.  Notice verse 32 – They were saved because Paul and Silas spoke the word of salvation to them.

What did the jailer believe in order to be saved?  Turn to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.  These verses present the gospel for today in a very concise and easy to understand way.  A person is saved today by believing that Christ died on the cross for their sins, died and rose again on the third day for them, personally.  So, it is not by trying or crying or praying or paying or doing anything that heaven can be reached, it is only by believing the gospel for today.

3. Salvation is a gift of God.   Let’s go back to Ephesians 2:8.  Salvation is the gift of God.  This gift is available for everyone, but there’s a catch.  A gift is not possessed until it is accepted.  The gift of salvation is on the table for all, but it is only given to those who will accept it.  One of the reasons that salvation is a gift is that God is not going to have any self boasters in heaven – there are enough of them on earth and nobody likes them!  Paul did not boast of himself.  He had three things in which he boasted.

a. Galatians 6:14 – Paul boasted in the Cross because he knew that he had  been saved by believing in the work that Christ did there for him.

b. 1 Timothy 1:15-16 – Although the word boast is not used in this passage, it is evident that this was something that Paul boasted it – that God saved him, vile as he was.  Notice that Paul didn’t have to DO anything to be saved, only believe.  God took him as he was and transformed his life into one that was pleasing to God.

c. 2 Corinthians 12:1-9 – Paul could have boasted that he had been caught up to heaven, but instead he boasted in his infirmities or weaknesses.  He realized that in his weakness, the strength of God is perfected.

4. Even the best of us are not good enough for heaven.  Romans 3:23 puts is very plainly, doesn’t it?  All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  No one is excluded.

Dr. Harry Ironside had this conversation with a man after one of his gospel meetings.

“Are you saved, sir?”

“No, I really can’t say that I am, but I would like to be.” the man replied.

“Why would you? Do you realize you are a lost sinner?”

“Of course, we are all sinners.”

“Ah! but that often means little or nothing.  Are you a sinner yourself?”

“Well, I suppose I am, but I’m not what you would call a bad sinner.  I am, I think, a rather good one.  I always try to do the best I know.”

Ironside replied, “Then, my friend, I fear there is little use in seeking to show you the way of salvation.  Good sinners, together with honest liars, upright thieves and virtuous scoundrels are far from being ready to submit to the grace of God, which is only for poor, vile, hell-deserving sinners, who have no merits to build on, no goodness to plead, but who are read to be saved alone by the work of Another, and that One the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ironside said that after talking with the man more that he was far from being ready to be saved and was willing to take “his chances” as he was.  (Ironside P. 71)

Recognizing that you are a sinner and are lost is the first step toward salvation.  If you don’t know that you are lost, you feel you have no need of a Savior.  Believers who have trusted in Christ are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24)

5. Believers have peace with God.  Turn with me to Romans 5:1.  Within every person is the desire for peace.  Every person who trusts Christ has peace with God.  They know, in their hearts, that they are now right with God.  There are many ways man tries to find this peace through the things of this world, but only God can give you true peace.

If you have any questions about how to be saved, or about what we believe,  why not come and visit us on a Sunday morning, we’d love to see you (after we are able to start meeting again)!  If you are looking for a church that preaches the Word of God, rightly divided (or if you want to find out what that means) why not come and check us out?  We would welcome the opportunity to get to know you, fellowship with you around God’s Word and answer any questions you might have.

In His Saving and Abounding Grace,

Pastor Wes Barteck

A GPS For Your Life

Some of us have a Global Positioning System in our cars.  We put in the address we are trying to find and it takes us, step by step, to our destination.  However, it only works if we follow it!  If we make a wrong turn or don’t follow the directions given, it will get us back on track and on toward our destination.  God has given each believer a GPS too, for their lives.  Instead of a Global Positioning System, this one is a Godly Positioning System.  It comes in the person of the Holy Spirit as He comes into our lives the moment we trust Chris for our salvation.  Romans 8:9b shows us that it is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives that identifies us as belonging to God.  In Romans 8:11b, it says that the Holy Spirit dwells in us.  Unlike those at Pentecost (Acts 2:4) who were filled with the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit came upon them and overpowered them, the filling of the Holy Spirit in our lives is a goal as we see in Ephesians 5:18 where it says, And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…”.  Here’s where the Godly Positioning System comes into play.  It happens as we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us.  Romans 8:14 tells us, “For as many are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.”  It is the power of the Spirit that will give us victory and show that we are sons of God.  If we are being led by the Spirit, we will be doing things that are pleasing to God and we’ll be where God wants us to be.   It is also this system given to us by God that will help us through the difficult times in life.  It’s only as we follow His Godly Positioning System that it will work in our lives.  We will go into more detail on how we can walk the way God wants us to walk in the next article.

If you have any questions about this article you are welcome to call the church and leave a message.  T the present time, because of the restrictions that are in place, we are limiting the folks who attend our services to the folks from our church.  We will welcome visitors and guests when these restrictions are eased.

In His Saving Grace,

Pastor Wes Barteck