Live by the Word

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22

It has been said that effective bible study must be built upon three foundational questions: What does the Bible say? What does it mean? How does it apply to my life? Each of these questions is important and valuable, however, applying God’s Word must remain our highest goal.

Both the Old and New Testament emphasize the importance of applying scripture. Brother Derek wrote an article a few weeks back helping us to recognize that true success is seen by following the Word of God. Joshua receives a message from God with the“inside track” for genuine success: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8) The command given by God to the Israelites just prior to their entering of the promised land is a command to be a doer of the Word - one who receives, studies, and understands Scripture and then applies it to every aspect of one’s life. This was the key to Joshua’s amazing success.

James 1:22 is the New Testament parallel to Joshua 1:8 and is directed to every believer. It is not enough to hear the Word — you must also do what it says. 

The phrase “doer of the word” is not referring to the person who periodically obeys, but rather those who habitually and characteristically obey. James helps us to realize that it is one thing to run in a race, but quite different to be a runner. It is one thing to teach a class; its something else to be a teacher. Runners are known for running. Teachers are known for teaching. Christians should be known for their consistent obedience to Biblical truth.

The believer should never be content to be a hearer only, but a doer. Your claim to love Christ must be proved by your obedience to Him.  Matthew 7:21-23 records tragic results for the spiritually deluded individual. Jesus says: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Jesus made a clear distinction between those who claim Christianity…and those who truly are Christians. In the words of James, those who claim Christ follow Him and do not deceive themselves. Faith Baptist, live by the Word. Follow Christ through the commands and parameters that he has clearly and distinctly outlined through Scripture.

Pastor Jordan

The Search For Satisfaction

So, it finally happened this week- our family got a dog!

To properly understand the significance of this addition to the family, allow me a moment of dramatic backstory.

(Que flashback) It was on our first wedding anniversary that I took Amanda to a local shelter in Tampa to pick up a dog I'd previously found and purchased. Miracle, a Chihuahua with a massive underbite, was waiting to meet her. The gift was a hit! Quickly, we discovered that she was a runner. If she saw a crack of daylight, she was gone! Worse still, she was incredibly resourceful in getting out of the back yard (literally unscrewed a plank by rubbing it a certain way). While we loved her, she was also a frustration. Miracle was with us in Florida, Arizona, and California...but then (cue dramatic music), a neighbors dog entered our yard and effectively killed her; that was an awful day.

(cue fast-forward) A few years later, I decided to be "that dad" and get the girls a "Christmas dog". The search was on! I found a gentle giant of an outdoor dog named Little Bear. Oh the joy and surprise that took place on pick up day. That joy faded on the first day. The place apparently forgot to tell us that he hates dogs, whether he sees or hears them. They also forgot to tell us he hated being confined in...well, anything! After destroying different sections of fences, obedience training, digging out of the yard, consistently jumping in our neighbor's yard, and knocking an older lady off her bike because she had her dog with her, we realized we need to reconsider his future with us. The kennel master was glad to receive him back and upset that the front desk had ever let him go with our family because she knew he had these issues. She knew he needed "a farm of his own".

(Background dissolves to current day) I have kept my promise-- "when we move back into the city, we can get a dog" (coyote issues at our previous house). After months of looking and several let downs, we adopted a 3 yr. old, 7 lb. Yorkie named Java! He checks all the boxes- tiny, hypoallergenic, likes kids, etc.

I think the Petsmart employees' ears are still ringing from my girls' screams of joy. But alas, we think we've discovered that Java is mostly deaf. Further, than that, he is terrified of the dark. Beyond that, he is a lounger, he has NO desire to play.

The long backstory is to try to serve a greater point- often, we are prone to think that someone or something is "all we need": to complete us, satisfy us, or secure our contentment. So, we diligently attempt to secure or satisfy this need/want. A sad reality hits us every time- what we think would be "it" is imperfect at best and becomes disappointing at worst. Everything and everyone in this sin-cursed existence will fail us at some point.

"Wow, pastor, be a Negative Ninny why don't ya!" I don't mean to sound "down in the mouth" about life as if it isn't a wonderful gift from God, but we must accept the biblical reality- anyone or anything, apart from Christ, can never fulfill us; in fact, it was never designed to.

- When we seek satisfaction and fulfillment apart from Christ, eventual disappointment is our only option.

- When we seek satisfaction and fulfillment apart from Christ, we place unreasonable pressure and demands upon the person, object, or experience that they/it cannot meet.

- When we seek satisfaction and fulfillment apart from Christ, we become frustrated and ungrateful- this is toxic towards God and those He has placed around us.

-Only the strength of Christ can overcome the temptations for discontentment (Phil. 4:10-13)

So, we got a deaf, non-playful, scaredy-cat dog.....but its a good thing. If we weren't able to have him, we'd miss him but it wouldn't change who we are in Christ and what He seeks to do through our lives. I encourage you friends, whatever it is- person, object, experience, status, etc.- that you think will satisfy you, remember that Christ is all you need and want!

Pastor Paul

Keeping Priorities in Seasons of Busyness

This past month has been one of the busiest months that I have ever experienced. Between preparing for my wedding to enjoying our honeymoon to moving across the United States, life has seemed like it has been going 150 mph. We all have those times in our lives when we can’t seem to slow down. But for most of us, these are the times when things can fall out of balance in our lives. Sometimes in the midst of those busy times, we need to sit down and evaluate where we stand in our priorities.

The first thing we need to check is our relationship with God. It is the most important relationship in our lives, yet sometimes it can be the most difficult to “find” time for. Make it a point to sit down sometime this week and give yourself a check-up on how that relationship is doing. Maybe this is the week you need to get back into spending time with God each day. Maybe, for some, this is a week you have some extra time to deepen that walk with Christ. The Bible says in Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” We cannot have clear direction or make wise decisions without being diligent in our relationship with God.

Secondly, take this time of busyness and thank God for the blessings he has given and is continuing to give. It can be so easy for me to go through a time of busyness never properly recognizing the blessings that God is giving. Our church just had an extremely busy week with Kidz Blast and Teen Extreme and it can be easy to not thank God for the many kids who were able to come and hear the Gospel for the first time. Our thankfulness should be a daily attitude. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Last but not least, take some time even in the busyness of this season and look to invest in those around you. I think this is something that we often excuse because of our busyness. "I have my things to do and I just don’t have the time to talk." It doesn’t have to be hours upon hours, but an encouraging note maybe slipped to someone. Maybe a meal shared where you can encourage another believer. Be proactive to create opportunities to do so and also capitalize on the ones that God places in your path.

-Bro Derek Whitman