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Living Water – Part 2

By Gerry Wakeland

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-40 NKJV

“The Church is not about you. In fact, the Church may be the only institution in the world for non-members.”   -Dr. James Draper

Listen to the podcast here.

This is the supposition that Dr. James Draper placed before the fellowship of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church in his message. The church is not a club you join, where you pay membership dues and anticipate benefits in return. Yet, in today’s benefit driven society, that’s what many expect.

“What’s in it for me?”, is a common question in our world today. Based on the words of Jesus found in John 7, Dr. Draper presented two answers.

Provision is offered. Jesus calls out to the thirsty and says “come.” He is offering to satisfy the needs of heart and life. There is no requirement. The offer is made to anyone, anytime and for any need.

What we must recognize is that Jesus is the only one who can satisfy the need. Is your need pleasure; He can fill it. (Psalm 16:11). Do you lack wisdom? Jesus will give it. (James 1:5) If you need salvation, He’s waiting to provide it. (Romans 1:16) There is nothing you need that Jesus is not ready, willing and able to provide.

Promise is given. Jesus promises water. Not just any water, but living water. Thirst is the most driving passion in our lives and sometimes we are not even aware that we are thirsty. Dr. Draper reminds us that the water is there, right in front of us, but we must drink to be satisfied. When we drink of the water we experience the gift of salvation.

But wait, salvation is not the end, it’s the start.  When we get saved it’s not about us, it’s about Him. It’s about what He has called us to do, share the living water.

If you were to go to Israel today, you would find two bodies of water. The Sea of Galilee in the north is a beautiful, flourishing body of water, fed by underground springs. It is Israel’s largest and most important source of drinking water. The Sea of Galilee receives and gives life through its water.

111 miles south lies the Dead Sea. At approximately 1292 feet below sea level the Dead Sea is the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea because of its mineral content.

The Church is designed to be rivers of living water. As both the body of Christ and individuals, we are called to share the living water of Jesus Christ with all who thirst. We are called to be distributors, giving away what we have received.

If indeed the greatest need in our world today is water – living water, then the only question is, will you be the Sea of Galilee? Or are you the Dead Sea. Think about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Water – Part 1

By Gerry Wakeland

Did you know that water is the most critical need of the human being?

Life cannot exist without water. Our bodies are comprised of 80% water. A person can go weeks without food but only three days without water.

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-40 NKJV

Using this Scripture as a foundation, our guest speaker, Dr. James T. Draper reminded us of the importance of reading Scripture in context. He took us into the passage in John 7 and painted a vivid picture of the scene and its significance. Listen to the podcast here.

It was the last and most important day of the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacle. This feast was the highest, happiest and most holy of the Jewish festivals. We would see it much like a large carnival. It was a feast about water.

Each day the temple priests would lead a procession through Jerusalem’s water gate and pour their jars of water through a great funnel. The crowds would cheer. This was an act of thanksgiving to their God. However, on the last day when the priest would start to pour there was no water in the jar? Why? Because it was the belief of the Jews that the Messiah had not come. The lack of water indicated the absence of a savior. The crowd was silent.

It was during this stony silence that Jesus chose to stand up and cry out. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Let’s look together at the significance of Jesus’ words and actions.

In this day and time Rabbis did not stand and teach; they sat. The only time standing was appropriate was when they were making an official announcement. At the moment when the Jewish people were focused on the jar with no water, Jesus was proclaiming Himself to be the water. He was announcing His place as Messiah.

There are only four passages in the book of John where the writer uses the term “cried out.” In addition to this passage, others include the baptism of Jesus, the triumphal entry, and the crucifixion. All pretty significant passages. This gives you some idea of the magnitude of this announcement at this time.

Now that you have a picture of what was taking place, let’s go back and look at the words of Jesus. He was offering an invitation. An incredible, amazing, wonderful, marvelous invitation. “Come to Me and drink.“ Come and receive the gift of salvation.”

A gift…He was offering them a gift, the greatest gift of all. And all they had to do was receive it.

What about you? Have you received the gift of salvation? Have you drunk of the living water? Water is vital to our life here on earth. Living water is essential to our eternal life.

Don’t delay. Receive the gift. Open the gift and enjoy the gift, today and forever.

 

Dealing with Discouragement

By Ty Haguewood

I have refrained from writing on the topic of discouragement for two reasons. First, I still struggle with discouragement. Second, total transparency scares me. Neither reasons are good enough for me to not write this.

Discouragement is a silent assassin that creeps in when you least expect it. I am not sure about you but it seems that discouragement doesn’t care if the circumstances in your life are good or bad. Most of my discouragement shows up when my circumstances are going well.

The past year has been one of the greatest years of my life. The ministry I am apart of is healthy and growing, my friendships are thriving, and I am healthier than I have been in awhile. Things are going well but that hasn’t stopped discouragement from creeping into my life.

I have been discouraged on some of the greatest days of my life… Let’s just say I hate feeling discouraged.

How can a person move forward if they are feeling discouraged??

I am going to give you some things that help me get through my own discouragement.

Seek the Lord

Isn’t that a given?  In theory, I think most Christians, would say we should seek the Lord. How often do we run from God or try to take things into our own hands when things turn negative? We try to find solutions outside of the Lord and fail miserably. Listen, the Lord desires for our delight to be in Him. Ultimately, God is the greatest source of encouragement. It changes things when you know and believe that on your worst day, in your worst mood, in your darkest state, God loves you more than you can imagine. God should be the first person we run to not the last.

Self-Awareness

There is little hope for moving forward if you cannot identify the things that trigger discouragement in your life. If you cannot identify these triggers, it becomes difficult to seek encouragement. Why? How can you know what to pray for or seek advice for if you don’t know what is causing discouragement in the first place? If self-awareness is something you struggle with, I recommend keeping a journal. Write about the discouragement and try to find common factors that seem present every time you feel discouraged.

Community

Surround yourself with people that you can be honest with you. People that will be there when you are feeling discouraged. Be around people that encourage you as a person.  People that push you to Christ in all circumstances.

I wish I could tell you that discouragement or dark days are gone. The truth is pain still hurts, discouragement still creeps in, and darkness still clouds. The hope for the believer is not a superficial promise to get happier but rather an eternal satisfaction in the Lord of All. We have hope.

Confident Living

By Karen Polich

A solid foundation means we can live in complete confidence. It means we can walk with assurance all the time.

At the suggestion of Dr. Sullins, I placed a rock on my desk this week and started to think about my foundations. (You can listen to his message on foundations here). I found myself in 2 Corinthians and was reminded of God’s great power. I came back to the following post that first appeared on Beyond First in 2016.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians (NT8)

This isn’t shaky ground. We can walk through life with the confidence that comes from God. Yet, why do we often sit in worry and fear? Of course it is easier to live with confidence when the path is smooth, but God has called us to be used in His kingdom regardless of circumstances. God chose to fill us with His mighty power.  We are “jars of clay”, fragile and sometimes broken, the perfect place for Him to shine.

We can choose to set our life on the foundation of Christ’s sacrifice for us and approach each day with the full confidence that comes when we truly live by faith. Great season? Faith. Crushing season? Faith. Serving Him in all things? Faith.

This is what sets us apart. Living by faith is what opens doors for others to see the glory of God. His light shines through us when we focus on Him. Paul did not refer to “jars of clay” because of their strength. He referred to them because though fragile, they served a great purpose for what filled them.

List the ways you have seen God work in your life and share them! How has He shown His strength and faithfulness? You might be the encouragement someone else needs today.

Have faith and choose to live a life filled with confidence. It is God who works through us in all things. What better foundation could we ask for?

 

 

 

 

 

Foundations, the Wise Man & the Foolish Man

By Karen Polich

Building a firm foundation is not cheap or easy. It takes time. It requires an investment. We must seek God, spend time with Him and follow what He says. A strong foundation readies us for life’s storms. It prepares us for whatever lies ahead, grounding us in His truth and grace. If we wait until the storm is raging, it’s too late to lay a foundation that will last.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Matthew 7:25-27

Sunday Dr. Trey Sullins began teaching on Jesus’ parables. What can we learn to live a life built on the Rock? Listen to the podcast here.

Are you prepared? Have you put your faith and trust in God? Jesus taught not everyone who hears these words will listen. There is a simple difference between the wise man and the foolish man. The wise man hears the words and puts them into practice. The foolish man hears the words and does nothing.

What a difference our choices can make!

In order to have a firm foundation, Jesus must be the center, the cornerstone of life. If He is not, we will fail. – Trey Sullins

As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. Luke 6:47-49

The wise man heard and did what Jesus said, building his foundation on God and His promises. He is not easily swayed by circumstances. The foolish man heard, did not listen and act on Jesus’ words, putting his trust in people, gathering things on earth.

There is a warning in this story; not if a storm is coming but when storms come. Our foundation is everything. If you don’t have Jesus as your foundation, wait no longer.

Today’s challenge: Firm up your foundation. Hear the words of Jesus and live like the wise builder. Invest in God’s Word, focus on His journey for your life and keep Him at the center.

 

 

 

Where Do You Turn?

By Karen Polich

At times, things move along in an easy fashion. Everything seems to fall into place and blue skies abound. Then there are seasons which push us past our limits.

Think about your worst day or hardest season. Was it just one thing that went wrong or did circumstances pile up? Tough days and hard seasons happen. When you find yourself at a low point, on the brink of breaking, where do you turn?

You are not alone.

Jeremiah was intimate with the darkness found in low places. Jeremiah experienced what a horrible day looks like, and he was not alone. Called by God, Jeremiah was a prophet who shared what no one wanted to hear. He had clear instructions to follow and his obedience put him in a place of despair. He felt humiliated and alone. Crying out to God, he finds himself in a pit, but still expresses trust in his lamentation.

Jeremiah 20: 7-10 (NIV)
7 You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived;
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
8 Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
9 But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
10 I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!
Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”
All my friends
are waiting for me to slip, saying,
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we will prevail over him
and take our revenge on him.”

In the midst of his pain, Jeremiah is talking, feeling and trusting. Numbness and silence are not our friends. Emotions cannot be selectively numbed. It is all or none. Shutting out the pain shuts out all of the joy too.

In the midst of a hard day or a tough season, God is with you!

Despite any circumstances, He loves you and brings the ultimate hope to any situation. You are never alone. Take time to study His Word and develop a habit of going to Him in good times and bad.

Jeremiah 32:27 says,’ “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? ‘

Components of the Gospel, Continued…

By Karen Polich

“In your own faith, how firmly established and steadfast are you? Are you deeply rooted or easily moved?” – Kevin Linthicum

Colossians 1:13-23

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—  if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Last week Pastor Kevin Linthicum started his two-part sermon series on the Gospel, and shared the components that sin is a reality. There is a penalty for sin and the penalty must be paid. The remaining components bring the great news that leads to eternal salvation.

The penalty was paid by Christ. (Romans 5:8, Romans 5:10) One of the greatest challenges in sharing the gospel is the reality that a person even needs to be saved. What if they are happy where they are? We have the joyful expectation that comes only from the sanctification of Christ as Lord in our hearts. This is the account we give for the hope in us.

Salvation is a free gift. (Ephesians 2:6-8, Romans 3:24-26, Titus 3:5) It is truly free.

You and I need to accept this free gift. (John 1:12, John 6:37, 1 John 5:11-12) When the gift is extended, we have to receive it.

Who have you shared the gospel message with recently? It should be an outpouring of our hearts when Jesus has been given authority in our lives. As a follower of Christ, we should be ready to offer an account for the hope in us. Guard against spiritual apathy. When we become indifferent to the lost, we need to take a hard look into our own hearts.

While the way is narrow, (Matthew 7:13-14), a choice can be made to turn from the broad path and enter through the narrow gate. Sharing the message of Christ doesn’t mean forcing acceptance of such a gift. It should be done with gentleness and patience. Be available for God to use you. He will do the work of the heart.

Listen to the podcast here.

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing it Home as a Family

By Bethany Bentley

We went to camp with a lot of expectations. We were ready to have that “night where the whole youth group cries together”, ready to worship with thousands of students, ready to make new friends, ready to play loud rounds of Uno, just like we did last year. We had a lot of those things.

But this year was not like last year. We had our old moments, our new moments, our angry moments, our joyful-beyond-words moments, and the moments when we were all really done with the humidity and the giant hill.

I don’t think any of us would trade any of these moments for a repeat of last year. Here is a list of my moments.

So much brokenness got brought into the light in our small groups. We poured ourselves out and allowed Christ to bring restoration. We got to watch God grow and heal our friends. Many of us took steps and leaps in our faith, and it had less to do with being in Oklahoma and more to do with all of us just seeking God. He met us where we were.

We saw Delia Pierce respond during the altar call on the last night, after so many of us had been praying for her all week. Sarah and Becca Woffard were jumping. Jay Magnant threw both his hands in the air in praise. Everyone was crying; it was amazing.

The small groups prayed for each other one night. The middle schoolers came together in friendship and openness. The high school boys listened to and prayed for the middle school girls, and they did it in gentleness and love. The girls bonded over similar struggles. It was incredible to see.

During the ‘open-mic night’ many of us shared what God is doing in our lives. Connor Powell made us all cry, laugh, and took us on an emotional roller-coaster that none of us were ready for. Tyler Geldmacher, though terrified of public speaking, got up and shared how much God has stretched him the last few days, weeks, and months.

As a family we laughed, cried, and praised God for what He was doing.

By the end of the week, we saw those who had been quiet and distant finally surrender to Christ. We watched several of our friends surrender to ministry. During our in-cabin worship we were able to just lay it all down and worship with complete abandon.

More than anything else, we left feeling like a truly united family. But this is only the beginning. Students, let’s take what we learned at camp out of Oklahoma. Let’s apply it all on our campuses and in our homes. The battle starts now, let’s start fighting as a family. This is only the beginning.

Components of the Gospel

By Karen Polich

“God’s will for us is what He wishes to be done by us.” – Kevin Linthicum

God’s will is simple, straightforward, and rarely easy. It requires an intentional effort on our part and clear obedience.

After his recent sermon series, Discipleship, deeper questions about the gospel message arose. In response, Pastor Kevin Linthicum began a two-part series, Components of the Gospel, for those seeking to disciple and be discipled. Listen to the sermon podcast here.

As communicators of the gospel, it is not our job to convince anyone. We are to be proclaimers of the gospel, communicating the Word of Truth. God will take care of the rest. The gospel is constantly bearing fruit – with or without us. Remember, it will not always be easy and will require perseverance.

The faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:5-12

We are called to show unconditional love for others through Christ. We are also called to seek out His will. To be filled with the precise and correct knowledge of God’s will in your life will transform your journey with Christ.

“When you determine you are going to be obedient in what God has called you to do, your knowledge of Him will be greater and you will know Him more. To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord has everything to do with making due use of the opportunities given to us.” – Kevin Linthicum

Led by the Spirit, we will see opportunities around us each day. God has qualified us in Christ. When we have accepted Him, we should continue to grow in our knowledge of Him and share that knowledge with others.

The first three components of the gospel include:

  1. An understanding of the reality of sin. (Romans 3:10, 23, Genesis 3) Sin is sin. We are all born into sin and our sin separates us from God. There is no one righteous, not even one.
  2. A penalty for sin. (Romans 5:12, Romans 6:23, Colossians 1, Ezekiel 18:20) We often try to sugarcoat this. The penalty of sin is death! There is no way around it without Christ.
  3. The penalty must be paid. (Romans 2:!2) The payment for sin is death, but as we will see in the conclusion next week, we can choose not to be eternally separated from God. The good news is, the penalty has been paid by Jesus.

To be continued next week…The great news of the gospel.

 

Never Waste a Moment

By Krisit Sullins

Vacation Bible School has arrived here at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church. The decorations are being hung.  Crafts are being prepped and snacks are being planned.  After years and years of experience, we have a routine and a plan.  However, the reality is much greater than the plan.

For those who lead in ministry, volunteers who give their time, and those who, at all stages of life, find a way to serve, this week is a week of moments.  Moments that are made when teachers, in costumes, make the stories of the Bible come to life.  Moments when adults and children worship together.  Moments when our youth give up their time to decorate, lead and invest.

The best moments are when you see a child grasp the reality of God’s great love for them.

As the AFBC family prepares for Vacation Bible School, our prayer is that God moves in a mighty way.  Our theme, “Finding Messiah”, sets the stage for children to discover how they can know Jesus was truly the Messiah, sent to save us.  We will journey through the Bible finding proof within the stories in the Gospels.

This is more than a program we do, or just an average week in the summer.  It is a time that will be filled with moments for the children who attend.  Often a moment is all God needs to change everything.  Christ, Himself, understood the importance of taking a moment of time to be with children.  He knew their value in the Kingdom.

As each volunteer prepares for VBS, we pray they would see the importance of the task at hand and would embrace the sacrifice it requires to make a Kingdom impact.  We pray for each family that will be connected through VBS, that they would be changed by learning about the Messiah who loves them.  And we pray that God would move in His mighty way so that by Thursday night it would be clear that all that had been accomplished was through Him.

May each of us be able to answer like Peter when Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16