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Romans 1: Faithful Performance
Romans 1: Faithful Performance

Calvary Baptist Temple • May 25, 2020

By Derward Poole


In a little cemetery at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, one grave stands out from the rest. On its tombstone are the words: “Barton W. Stone … Minister of the Gospel of Christ and Distinguished Reformer of the Nineteenth Century.” Stone was a leader in the great 1801 Cane Ridge Revival---over 20,000 attended---that led to the first Christian churches of Kentucky.

     

In Romans 1:8, Paul says, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.” When he wrote to the Romans, he, too, paid tribute to their faithful Christian service. In thinking about it during these days, the word success is used once. The word faithful is used 83 times. It seems that there is less emphasis on success than on the faithful performance of Christian service. In the parable of the talents (matthew 25:14-30), the slaves who had earned five and two talents, respectively, received the same commendation: “Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.”

     

How will we like to be remembered? Whether you are a famous leader or an uncelebrated servant, there is no greater tribute than for God to say, ‘Well done, good and faithful child of God.” Let us thank the Lord for the faithful believers who have gone before us and let us be found faithful.

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God's Great Love for Us!
God's Great Love for Us!

Calvary Baptist Temple • May 18, 2020

By Patrick Mulvehill


Oh, how He loves you,

Oh, how He loves me,

Oh, how He loves you and me.


It is such a simple truth, but one that we need to be reminded of so often. Jesus loves us! And it isn’t the superficial kind of love that only cares about how you are doing when bumping into you on the street, but it’s the “not forgetting your birthday” kind of love! The kind of love that knows you better than you know yourself. The kind of love that gives and then keeps on giving with no thought of getting anything back in return. The kind of love that sings along with you even though you sound like a dying cow in a rainstorm and never says a word about how bad it really sounds. The kind of love that doesn’t know that meaning of giving up. The kind of love that you feel even when you are miles apart. The kind of love that laughs when you laugh and cries when you cry, that seeks the best for you even when you don’t know what the best is yourself. That is a powerful kind of love. And if that weren’t enough, that same love made the ultimate sacrifice for you so that you could live enterally with Him.


“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9)


He gave His life, what more could He give;

Oh, how He loves you,

Oh, how He loves me,

Oh, how He loves you and me.

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1 Samuel 26-31: The Value of True Christian Friends
1 Samuel 26-31: The Value of True Christian Friends

Calvary Baptist Temple • May 11, 2020

By Allan Bosson


This week’s reading is found in the last portion of I Samuel into the beginning of II Samuel. These passages contain some of the finest teaching in God’s Word on the value of true, faithful Christian friends.

We see clearly in the life of David how enormously beneficial to him were the lives of his family and his good, faithful friends. Like David, each of us must surround ourselves with godly teachers and friends, if we want to have a truly meaningful and spiritually productive life. No one comes into this world with great, overwhelming knowledge. The knowledge we need to succeed in life comes from others.

The Bible makes it clear, much of life is a choice. If you make good choices you will have good experiences. Equally so, if you make bad choices you will have bad experiences. But the key is, on what basis do you make your choices? What or who is the governing factor in the choices you make? The basis of a person’s decision making, of course, comes from the teaching and advice each of us has received in the past. Hence, hopefully, we recognize the extreme importance of sound teachers of character and good, godly friends to help us carry out good, sound advice. 

In David’s case, he came from a simple, humble God-fearing family, who had its roots in the Temple and the teaching of the Word of God. It was also a family that respected authority and God’s plans of leadership, even when the leadership was questionable. It was a family, in most cases, that had close, personal relationships with each other. By the time David was promoted to serving in King Saul’s house, clearly he had been making good choices because he had a deep commitment to the Lord.

Although King Saul treated David very unfairly and threatened his life, the teaching in David’s past kept him, in most cases, from making bad, foolish choices. Without the consistent godly teaching in his life, David could have killed King Saul and thereby destroyed his opportunity of ever becoming the King of Judah. Along with this, David had the help of great friends like Ahimelech, Abishai and Jonathan, Saul’s son, who stood with David in the toughest moments of his life, supporting him and giving him sound, godly advice.

Without a doubt, two of the most valuable assets to a successful Christian life are sound, godly teaching and good, faithful Christian friends. Choose wisely.

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1 Chronicles 1-9: What's with All the Names?
1 Chronicles 1-9: What's with All the Names?

Calvary Baptist Temple • May 04, 2020

By Sarah Snyder


Last week, our readings brought us to 1 Chronicles. As we read through the Bible chronologically, the organizers of this reading schedule begin including the repeat stories found in this book. The first nine chapters is, for lack of a better term, boring. It’s just a list of names. In fact, the writer offers no introduction, the first word is “Adam.” Thus follows a long, long list of father and son names that have no practical meaning for us today. So this begs the question, what’s with all the names?


Genealogy was a big deal in Ancient Near Eastern cultures. Most kingdoms were ruled by kings who passed their kingdoms down to their sons. In Ancient Egypt, for example, the king was thought to be a direct descent from Ra, their most important god. In fact, the royal family often intermarried to keep a “pure” bloodline. Thus, keeping a proper genealogy was important in identifying who was from what family. This is of no exception for Israel. 


In the Hebrew Bible, 1 and 2 Chronicles is one book and it is placed as the last book of the Old Testament. Thus, the story of Israel ends with a list of names and repeat information. This book is also one of the last books written in the Old Testament. It takes place after Israel has returned from exile and is attempting to rebuild the Temple. We know from Ezra and Nehemiah that things are not going well. The author of Chronicles is trying to show Israel that through this is difficult time, God is still at work. The most important line traced in Chronicles is David’s. The author is trying to remind Israel of the covenant God made with David (2 Samuel 7). The whole book focuses on David’s line and Jerusalem, genealogy and geography. 


While Israel struggles to get things right as the return from exile and leaders continue to fail, the author of Chronicles points them to a future hope. Stephen Dempster in Dominion and Dynasty puts it this way, “The Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) orients its readers to the future. As such the Story if unfinished. The long, dark night of exile awaits a sequel - the dawning of a new light that will radiate to the ends of the earth.” The line of David will prevail. The book of Matthew begins with a geology, one that points readers from Abraham to David, and from David to Jesus. That future hope has come.


While these geologies are often boring, and Chronicles in general is a repeat, it is so important in understanding our hope in Jesus. Without dedicated writers to keep up with family lines, naming Jesus as Messiah is not as clear as it is with genealogies. God promised a future King that would reconcile His people through the line of David and Chronicles diligently reminds us of our hope in Christ.

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Acts 8-9: Never Too Far Gone
Acts 8-9: Never Too Far Gone

Sarah Snyder • April 27, 2020

By Chris Watson

Have you ever felt like there is something in your past, or maybe even something in your present that is so bad that Jesus couldn’t possibly love you? You are constantly looking for something that can fill this hole in your life, but nothing seems to do the trick. Maybe you really would like to go to church or would like to discover who Jesus is and why people are talking about this hope that they have in Him. Maybe you have accepted Jesus in your life, and there is this freedom that you feel in your relationship with Him, but when it comes to telling others or teaching others about Him, you feel inadequate. 


“ And Saul approved of his execution” (Acts 8:1). This is how our reading for this week begins in the book of Acts. Stephen, one of the leaders of the early church has been preaching the difference between Jewish law and life through the Holy Spirit. He infuriates the religious leaders and they stone him to death. This is the set-up of a character that is dead set against the growth and expansion of the early church. In fact, when I picture Saul’s persecution of the early church, I picture something very similar to the Nazi’s. It talks about him going from house to house and dragging those affiliated with the church off into prison. Later, in chapter 9, Saul is so deadset against the spread of the church that he goes to the religious leaders and requests authorization to go to other cities and arrest those belonging to the church there as well. 


However, just like in the life of Joseph, what was meant for evil, God intended for good (Genesis 50:20). We see that even before Jesus meets Saul on the road to Damascus, God is using the persecution to further His Kingdom. Jesus tells his disciples that they will be His witnesses to all of Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth; but up to this time, their ministry has remained in Jerusalem. It is not until Saul begins chasing the church from their homes in Jerusalem, that they begin to spread out. In fact, prior to the beginning of Saul’s missionary journies, God has already placed believers in Samaria, Damascus, Caeserea, Lydda, Joppa, Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. 


Then Saul has a personal encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. The man ravaging the early church. The man who was similar to the Nazi Gestapo. Saul meets Jesus and it turns his whole life upside down. Saul changes from the chief persecutor of the Christian church to the foremost missionary of the church and the primary writer of the New Testament. I can’t help but think, what if Saul had thought he was disqualified from speaking the gospel because of his past? What if Saul was too afraid to go around the other leaders of the church because he was too concerned about what they might think of him? 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

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Acts 3-7: Unshakable Faith!
Acts 3-7: Unshakable Faith!

Calvary Baptist Temple • April 20, 2020

By Jacob Mock


This week in our Bible reading plan we continue in the book of Acts. Acts is one of my favorite books in the Bible! It’s full of so many interesting, inspiring, and intense stories. This week we are going to read about things like miraculous healings, Peter’s sermons, and the death of Stephen. In these first few chapters, one theme stands out to me the most: the unwavering faith of the early Church. 


In chapters 3-5, we read about Peter unashamedly preaching the gospel to thousands of people. When Peter was opposed by the Pharisees and Sadducees he refused to back down. These people were the very ones who put Jesus to death and he made sure to let them know that! “But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead” (Acts 3:14-15). They hated Peter for preaching about Jesus and how he conquered death, but no matter how hard they pressed Peter, he would never back down. He knew that Jesus was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and he desired to see all these people come to know Jesus as their Savior! Again, Peter preaches to these religious rulers, “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead… there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12). These religious leaders threatened to beat, whip, and even kill Peter, but he refused to stop preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. 


In chapter 5, Peter and other apostles are again brought before the council of the high priest. The priest demands to know why they have not stopped preaching Jesus even after they were ordered to stop, and their answer is truly amazing: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Peter and the apostles were determined to obey God no matter the cost. Their love for Jesus Christ was so great that they were willing to directly oppose the high priest if following his commands meant disobeying Christ. Their commitment to preaching the gospel to those who did not believe was incredible. In chapter 7, Stephen is stoned to death by these religious leaders because of his commitment to Jesus. He knew he was facing a painful death, but he loved Jesus more than his own life. 


I could go on and on about the unwavering faith of the early Church, but I’ll let you read about it as we work our way through the book of Acts. My point in talking about these things is this: as a church today, our faith in Christ must not be shaken. We must stand proudly together as followers of Jesus and not rest until everyone around us has heard the gospel! We must not be ashamed of the gospel, Church. Do not be afraid to talk to your lost friends and family about Jesus. When people oppose you because of your beliefs, do not back down. We must realize, just as Peter and the apostles did, that Jesus Christ is worth it all; our time, our reputations, and if it comes down to it, even our lives.

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Acts 2: Community thought the Holy Spirit
Acts 2: Community thought the Holy Spirit

Calvary Baptist Temple • April 13, 2020

By Sarah Snyder


One of my favorite passages in scripture is Acts 2. Here the Spirit descends and the church is established. The Spirit makes his grand entrance by the sound of a mighty rushing wind, filling the apostles with himself and causing tongues of fire to appear above them. 


At the sound of this wind, a crowd gathers outside. This crowd was from “every nation under heaven.” Upon gathering they heard the apostles speaking in their own languages, languages that they knew the apostles would not have readily known. In this astonishing moment, the crowd questions the sobriety of the apostles. At this, Peter stands up and preaches. Moved by his message, 3,000 people believed that Jesus was the Messiah and were added to the church. 


These 3,000 people would become a community and would meet together on a regular basis as God’s people saved by Jesus This brief narrative opens the door to understanding diversity in the church of God the Spirit’s work. It was not what Peter said that allowed for community within diversity, but the work of the Spirit in the lives of the people. 


Verse 5 opens the conversation of diversity by stating that the crowd was from “every nation under heaven.” The crowd was made up of devout men, Jews, who had gathered for celebration of the Feast of Weeks. While this crowd was made up of Jews, each person brought with themselves a piece of their own culture. They held that commonality of their Jewish religion, but each had their major differences as well. One of these major differences Luke points out: language. This is the first major testimony of the Spirit outside of Christ in the New Testament: the gospel is preached in their language by men who did not speak it. Here are people experiencing a mighty work of the Spirit and the Spirit makes it personal by reaching them in their own language. This should remind of the Tower of Babel. Sin scattered people but the Spirit brings them together. 


Further, to add emphasis to this miraculous event, Luke lists the areas of the world that this crowd was from: 15 nations! Each nation represents different ethnicities, cultures, and experiences, yet they each shared their Jewish faith. Luke is intentional here. It would have been sufficed to say “every nation under heaven.” Luke takes the extra step of listing the nations, not only to add emphasis to the miracle of language, but to also showcase the differences between each person. 


The evidence for this comes at the end of the chapter. Once Peter has given his sermon, 3,000 people respond to his message. In verse 38, Peter calls for repentance in the name of Jesus and that doing so will mean that each person will receive the gift of the Spirit. This means that at the moment of salvation, we will all have the Holy Spirit with us. In verse 42 Luke writes that these people were now dedicated to fellowship. In verse 44, he says that they “were together and had everything in common.” And finally in verse 46 he says that these believers “devoted themselves to meeting together.” These verses show that the Spirit has brought together these people of different nations and cultures to be united as one community. The Spirit created a diverse community when he moved in the lives of this crowd. After they received the Spirit, they were able to become community regardless of their nationality. 


This passage teaches us that if we struggle with relating to people of different nationalities, the Holy Spirit is here helping us do so. We can be the community of Christ regardless of our nation of origin through the power of the Holy Spirit!

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Luke 6: Come Lord Jesus, Come!
Luke 6: Come Lord Jesus, Come!

Calvary Baptist Temple • March 30, 2020

By Patrick Mulvehill


Luke 6:12-13 "In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came,..."


Forgive me if I stray from the weekly reading, but I was struck by this verse the other night as I was reading to the boys at bedtime.


"In these days..."


Crazy days! Days full of meeting the needs of the masses. Days of being criticized by religious leaders. Days of doing miracles that amazed the world. It was in those crazy, busy days that Jesus...


"...went out to the mountain to pray..."


Jesus got away from all the people, from all of the work, from all of the craziness....to pray. This is social distancing at its finest! We aren't told what he prayed for, but we know that the very next day He selected the 12 disciples that would be with Him for the rest of His ministry. I imagine that His prayers were focused on the twelve and the people that He would encounter in the days to come. The sick, the hurting, and even those that would crucify Him in the end. In the midst of all the craziness, Jesus prayed for them.


"...and all night he continued in prayer to God..."


It wasn't just a "Lord, thank You for this food" kind of prayer. No, this was an all-night communion with the Father. The kind of prayer time that you don't finish until the Spirit of God Himself releases you. The kind of prayer that you are so determined to get an answer for that you will lose sleep over it, even in the craziest of days. When was the last time you prayed like that? What did you ask for?


"...and when day came..."


This is the part that gives me goosebumps. Let me ask you something, "Is there anything that can stop the day from coming?" I have been alive on this earth now for 48 years and not once has the day failed to come. Not once! Here is the deal friends, THE DAY IS COMING! It can't be stopped! It won't be stopped! God hears and answers our prayers. We only need to stop, go out to our mountain, and pray. Pray hard! Pray long! Don't stop until the morning comes. Not only does the mean that God hears and answers our prayers, but it is also a reminder that HIS day is coming. The day when HE will return to claim us for His own. The day when the craziness of this world will pass away and we will spend eternity in Heaven with Him.


Come quickly Lord Jesus, come.

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Deuteronomy 6: It's All About The Beginnings
Deuteronomy 6: It's All About The Beginnings

Calvary Baptist Temple • March 23, 2020

By Allan Bosson


Our reading for this week will take us from Deuteronomy chapter 6 to chapter 23. 

Deuteronomy 6 is without question one of the most important and informative chapters in all of God’s Word. In fact, to Jews, it is one of the most cherished passages in all of their Bible, or Ten arch. Actually, it is one of the very first passages a young Jewish child is required to know and understand well. They commit the principles of this chapter to memory, certainly before they ever begin to face the real world outside of their homes. The interesting truth, however, is that to a Christian the principles outlined here are just as important as they are to a Jew. 


There is so much one could say about Deuteronomy chapter 6, but let me just outline three points of importance to Christians. First, in chapter 6:1-9, the writer of Deuteronomy urges us to begin life well—make sure you get it right! Beginnings are very important. For example, in the construction business, the foundations of any structure are the most important. Failing foundations lead to failing facilities. This is also true in music, athletics, and academics. If we get off on the wrong foot, then almost everything that follows is detrimentally affected for sure. 


Second, in chapter 6:10-17, the writer of Deuteronomy emphasizes that we must be realistic about life— make sure you keep it real! To dream is not wrong but to live in a “dream-world” is very wrong. When things are going well and we feel truly blessed, it is easy to drift away from where we first began and to forget who it was that got us to where we are. When we forget our beginnings, we can lose sight of who we should truly depend upon and whom we should thank for the good times we are experiencing. When that happens, we can easily drift into a world of false confidence and false dependence. As the writer of Deuteronomy tells the people of Israel, if you forget to correctly acknowledge who made you and established who you are, it is very likely you will lose what you possess, or at the very least, greatly diminish your present blessing. 


Third, in chapters 6:16-25, the writer warns us not to make foolish, self-inflicted mistakes—make sure you don’t have regrets! We only pass through life one time. Because of the nature of life, no one can go back and undo the foolish mistakes and regrets of the past. For that reason, the importance of carefully reading and obeying God’s manual on life, the Bible, cannot be overstated. God’s eternal promise to all obedient believers is that if we diligently study His Word and obey it, He promises to bless us and all our generations to follow. What the writer is emphasizing here is that life is not just about fun and laughter, though there is a place for that. Life is first about faith and loyalty, and it is extremely important that we get these priorities right.

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Luke 5: Answering Jesus' Call
Luke 5: Answering Jesus' Call

Calvary Baptist Temple • March 16, 2020

By Sarah Snyder


I resonate with Peter and the fisherman. One of my favorite hobbies is fishing. I love to be outdoors, throwing a lure, and just waiting to catch my biggest fish yet. Most often, however, I return home defeated and empty handed. I have got to be the worst fisher(wo)man ever. Seriously, I never catch anything. It does not matter how much I study or what lures I buy, I almost never catch anything. 


So I understand the feeling Peter and the others had that day at the Sea of Galilee when they returned home empty handed (Luke 5:5). The only difference between me and them is that I do not count on fishing for my livelihood. So here they are, cleaning their nets, tired and defeated, when Jesus walks up and asks for a ride. They must have heard about Jesus because Luke does not indicate that they questioned who he was and why he was asking for a ride in their boat. They take him out a little ways and he preaches. Luke also does not tell us what he said, but we can guess it was really good! When Jesus is done, He asks Peter to throw his nets out on the side. Now Peter does this for a living. I am sure that if he had decided to go back and fish, he would’ve thought and planned to go where he thought there might be fish. He wouldn’t waste his time fishing at some random spot. But he does as Jesus asks. And wouldn’t you believe it, he brings in so much fish he has to have two boats bring it all in (v. 7)! 


The most amazing aspect to me about this story is that Peter and the others left all these fish behind to follow Jesus. They finally have someone who could help them make more money then they had ever seen, yet they leave it all behind. That’s the power of Jesus in our lives. When He calls, we answer.


We see this again in Luke 5:27-32. This time Jesus calls a tax collector! The Jews considered tax collectors to be traitors and thieves! They were one of their own who had sold themselves to Rome, Israel's captor. When Jesus comes to Levi, he says two words, “Follow me” (v. 27). Such simple words, yet powerful from Jesus. Levi left all he had and followed Jesus. 


This passage often convicts me often as I read about Jesus eating with those His people considered sinners. When do I dine with those who our society has considered a castaway or sinner? When do I love those whom Jesus has loved, even when it’s difficult? 


Later in this book, Luke records Jesus saying this, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (9:23). In these two stores God shows us those who have given up on everything they had to follow Jesus. What’s interesting about this verse is that Jesus had not been crucified yet. To those who heard this message it would have sounded like taking on the rejection of the world, being publicly humiliated for Jesus’ sake. These are not people who had special powers to give up their lives. They were everyday people, just like us. They could answer the call, so can we. Pray this week that God would reveal to you how you can follow him. Pray that he will show you how to love your neighbor more like Jesus loves them.

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