2019 Year End Update

21 04 2020

I guess I forgot to post my last ministry update for 2019 so here it is. Sorry it’s so late and thank your for your prayers.

Greetings:
We greet you in the name of the Lord and hope this letter finds you well. We were blessed to finalize our adoption in November. We welcomed Dale Michael Garland and Skyeisha Grace Garland to our family. The Lord’s hand was evident both in how quickly we got them as well as in how fast the process took. Many families struggle for years to adopt and we were blessed to be able to complete the process in just over a year.

Street Ministry:
We have had good crowds on the streets and many people showing an interest in the Word of God. I was able to preach at the PAC 12 Championship game in Santa Clara for third straight year. I gave out 100 tracts and got to preach to hundreds more.

Prison Ministry:
The Lord allowed me to preach the Christmas banquets in Lancaster which was a blessing. The sermons led to two or three divine appointments with men struggling with the truth of the Gospel. I gave out a Bible and New Testament, 111 tracts and 9 Christian books to the men. I was able to preach to 149 men over the last two months.

2019 Year in Review:
I almost hate to make summaries since ministry is far more than mere numbers but I do think it’s helpful to look at what has been accomplished while giving thanks to the Lord.

Bibles: 147
New Testaments: 7
John/Romans: 112
Gospel of Johns: 1
Tracts: 1,813
Books to inmates: 31
Professions of faith: 13
Prayer requests received: 938
Men attended preaching: 969
Letter ministry: 8
Food ministry: 111
Clothing given out: 100

Praise the Lord for a fruitful 2019 and may He increase the field of labor in 2020!
Please consider supporting us financially as well as with your prayers. You can give a tax deductible donation.

Giving Instructions:
Give online by clicking “Donate” at the top of the page. All gifts are tax deductible.

To give by check simply make the check out to Revival USA with Lighthouse Gospel Ministries in the memo section. You can mail it to us at:

Lighthouse Gospel Ministries
400 McKee Road
Bakersfield, Ca. 93307

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” C.H. Spurgeon





Peace- Things to Remember and to Consider

18 04 2020

Be certain to pray as a family, sing praises to God and read all the scripture noted in this attachment. Discuss the scripture. Grow in Christ together.

1 Peter 5:14 “Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are
in Christ Jesus. Amen.”

Introduction:  We live in a troubled world. Consider the turmoil that we are experiencing
with the Coronavirus Pandemic. This pandemic is virtually at the heart of almost every
conversation you hear or are a part of today. If the child of God is not aware, before too
long they will find their heart to be troubled as well, but God has promised peace to His
children.

There are some things we should remember.

First, remember God promised to give us peace. John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my
peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be
troubled, neither let it be afraid.” God provided us His Holy Spirit, the Comforter. He has
made provision of peace for us in this troubled world.

Second, remember to surround yourself with other children of God. Isaiah 48:22 “There
is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.” When we have conversations with those
that do not know God as their Savior, we sometimes allow the premise of their thoughts
to fashion our thoughts.

Third, remember we are at peace with God because of the blood of Jesus. Colossians
1:20 “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all
things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
As hard as we may try, we can not produce lasting peace in our life. Only Jesus can do
that.

Fourth, remember the peace of God depends upon you. Colossians 3:15 “And let the
peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye
thankful.” Make note of that little word “let”. We have an all-powerful God that has
provided peace to us if we just access it. But many times, we are guilty of carrying a
burden or trouble that God intends to carry for us. Let the peace of God rule in your
heart.

Consider: Could it be we do not experience peace because we do not believe God? –

Romans 15:13 “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye
may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

As you discuss this virus with others, the underlying theme is a hope that it will soon be over. But this hope is based in a hope of mankind. Child of God, either we believe Him or we do not. He has promised to fill us with all joy and peace, in believing. This believing will cause us to be full of His hope. Not the hope of the world.

We are quick to believe His hope of salvation. Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call
upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It was a wonderful thing to learn that God
would save us. Many were quick to grab hold of this truth. It takes others longer to
receive Him but most hope against hope that it was true.

Consider: We will have the peace of God once we realize that He is in control.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the
world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

As humans we naturally are aware of the troubles of this world. The storms of this life, if you will. But remember, the same God that calmed the sea wants to calm your soul. He is in control. This virus did not catch God by surprise.

Consider: The peace of God comes through keeping our mind stayed upon Him.

Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he
trusteth in thee.”  

(Stayed – to lean upon or to rest in – not in self; not in circumstances.)
What do you think about all day long? How much time do you spend thinking of Him and
meditating on His Word?

Consider: That the peace Of God comes through spiritual mindedness – 

Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

And this is what you should have your mind set on, Philippians 4:8  “Finally, brethren,
whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good
report; if there be any virtue, and if[there be any praise, think on these things.”

Consider: That the peace of God comes through making peace –

2 Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”

How are things with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Is there any division between you? That ought not be for the Child of God. Make peace with one another.

Consider: That the peace Of God comes through prayer –

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

How much time do you spend in prayer? Every thought and every concern, all of our requests should be made known unto God. How is this done? It is done by prayer. The result is we shall possess the peace of God that goes beyond all human comprehension.

Finally, consider: That the peace of God comes through obedience to Scripture –

Philippians 4:9 “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and
seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Romans 15:4, ready begin…quote it. How in the world do we expect to experience the peace of God that He promises us if we do not read and hide His Word in our hearts?

Conclusion:

Isaiah 32:17 “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect
of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”

Have peace! Be at peace in God!

A Sermon by Don Thomason, Pastor of McKee Road Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California.





Do What I Can-Pray

10 04 2020

My Pastor’s sermon for Wednesday April 8, 202 during the lockdown.

Be certain to pray as a family, sing praises to God and read all the scripture noted
in this attachment. Discuss the scripture. Grow in Christ together.

Coronavirus Numbers Update
Last week’s numbers are in red. This week’s numbers are in blue. At the time of my
writing this to you last week more than 400,000 (932,760) (1,495,051 today’s total)
people worldwide have been infected with the Coronavirus. At least 18,000 (46,840)
87,469 today’s total) people have died. The death rate per persons infected varies from
3.5% to 4.5%, depending upon your source. Italy has the highest number of deaths at
6,077 (13,155) (17,669). In the United States there have been 43,214 (212,980)
(425,107) reported cases with 533 (4,759) (14,262) deaths. This means that 1.23%
(2.23%) (3.35%) of all those infected in our country die.

Above is the updated Coronavirus update as of today. Please forgive me as I am one of
those number people. Like many of you I am constantly running calculations in my mind.
Now, I have only listed this information to keep you informed. Do not allow them to
frighten you. Remember, whether you what to know what the numbers are or not, they
are what they are. I just happen to be one of those people that thinks in numbers.

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1)

Introduction:

From the beginning of time, men have prayed,

“And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:26)

In all types of places, at all times and in every conceivable situation, men have prayed. All people,
saved and lost have spent massive amounts of time in the pursuit of prayer. However,
only a small percentage of people have made prayer their priority. It is easy to recognize
that have as they stand out as bright lights in a dark world.
Many have chosen to pray when it was convenient, or when they were undergoing a time
of great stress and trial. Yet, it is clear from this verse that Jesus wants prayer to hold a
preeminent place in our lives. God expects us to be in constant contact with Him.

What is prayer?

1. Prayer Is an Invitation to God – Not coercion, not coaxing, but simply inviting God to
take over. It is me admitting my weakness and His power. Read about Jairus, Mark 5:
22-23.

And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.”

2. Prayer is Work – True prayer may require you to get up early, or stay up late, 1
Thessalonians 5:17.

“Pray without ceasing.”

3. Prayer Is A Battle – Satan does not fear nor withstand our prayerlessness, but he will
bitterly oppose our prayer efforts. Prayer is our greatest weapon in the battle between
good and evil, Ephesians 6:12.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

4. Prayer Is Power – Consider as examples, Moses, Daniel, The Three Hebrew Children,
Elijah, Paul and Silas. Prayer is the greatest power we have upon this earth.

I. PRAYER MUST BE A PRIORITY

A. This theme is repeated throughout the Bible, Luke 18:1 and Romans 12:12. We are to
remain in a constant spirit of prayer.

B. There are many examples of those that made prayer a priority.
1. Job – Job 1:5; 42:10.
2. Abraham – Genesis 12:7-8; 13:4-18; 22:9
3. Moses – Psalm 90:1-17
4. David – The Psalms are filled with many references to David’s prayer life. One
example is Psalm 86:1-17. Consider how David spoke to God.
5. Elijah – 1 Kings 17:1; 18:36-38
6. Daniel – Daniel 6:10
7. Jesus – Matthew 26:36-39; Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12, 9:18, 29. Jesus relied on prayer.

Consider, if the Son of God had need to pray, how much more do we?

C. Jesus takes it for granted that His people are going to pray – Matthew 6:5

D. Is prayer a priority in your life? It should be, for it is your lifeline to the Father.
Matthew 11:25-26.

II. PRAYER MUST BE A PREREQUISITE

A. We should do nothing in any area of life without first taking the time to saturate the
matter in prayer.

B. Even Jesus preceded His activity with prayer.

1. Before feeding the 5,000 – John 6:11
2. Before raising Lazarus from the dead – John 11:41
3. Before His trial and crucifixion – Luke 22:41-45
4. Before becoming sin on the cross for us – Luke 23:34

III. PRAYER MUST BE PRACTICED

A. To make prayer truly effective, we must practice prayer. We must get ourselves busy
in the business of prayer! There are too may needs and too little time!

B. Pray at every decision. The time will come when you will find yourself in desperation
and must hear from God.

C. Remember, weak praying begets weak living! We must be diligent in our praying if we
want to be effective for the Lord.

Romans 15:4 (Quote it.) Tonight, I wanted to remind you all that our greatest power
source is through prayer. Do not allow the comforts we experience living in this great
country dull you to the fact that God provides our very heart beat.

As we continue this strange walk and strive to do what we can to keep our selves and
our loved ones safe, remember do not be afraid, 2 Timothy 1:7. Remember, He has
given us power, love and a sound mind.

Do what you can, pray!





Celebrating Good Friday

10 04 2020

I come from a Christian tradition that doesn’t necessarily celebrate Good Friday. There is debate as to whether Jesus died on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. There are good arguments on all sides of the debate but I’m not planning to weigh in on it right now.

The question is this: is it wrong to celebrate Good Friday? My answer is no, in fact my family attends Good Friday services even though I am not convinced that is the actual day of His death. I want to address two common arguments used against Good Friday to see if they have any validity.

1.Good Friday is a Catholic holiday.

The problem with this objection is that you could make the same arguments against Christmas and Easter. In fact many people do make that argument. I find that most of the people I know who are against Good Friday do in fact celebrate Easter and Christmas. We should strive for consistency in our Christian lives.

Also consider that Catholics doing something or believing something doesn’t make it wrong. Seventh Day Adventists condemn us for meeting on Sunday because Catholics meet on Sunday for example. Catholics believe in the Trinity as do I. Catholics believing something that’s true doesn’t make it wrong for us to believe it. Catholics doing something doesn’t make it wrong to do as long as it doesn’t violate the Scriptures.

2.I don’t believe Jesus died on Friday.

This is the second most common argument. Do you celebrate Christmas? Was Jesus born on December 25th? I know a lot of people who use this argument who would also deny Jesus was born on December 25th yet they celebrate Christmas.

This is hypocrisy. Once again we need to be consistent in how we live our lives. This argument is one of the most inconsistent. I was reading that the Declaration of Independence wasn’t actually signed on July 4th, If I remember it was July 3rd yet those who rely on this argument never take a stand on the 4th of July.

My point is that Good Friday is a day set aside by many Christians to remember the death of Christ. This is not a bad thing, in fact all secular calendars mark the remembrance of the death of Christ. That can’t possibly be a bad thing. I feel many Christians waste an opportunity to preach the Gospel because of their man mad tradition which is all opposition to Good Friday is.

It’s not a consistent argument which hurts our Christian testimony and it’s not a Biblical argument because the Bible is clear on the subject.

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:5-6)

If you don’t celebrate a certain day then that’s okay but don’t judge those who do. For those of you that don’t it’s fine as well. I’m not judging you or saying that you should. My argument is that each needs to be persuaded in their own mind but don’t use inconsistent arguments against your brother. We need to strive for consistency in our Christian lives and in understanding towards others in the body who do things a little different than we do.





Return

5 04 2020

This is my pastor’s Sunday Morning sermon for quarantine this Sunday April, 5th, 2020. Read it together as a family and read all the Scripture.

“Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept. And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.” (Ruth 1:6-22)

One preacher said, “It is possible to know God and yet be far from Him.”
I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home. My parents loved “the boys.” There were
four of us. Dad worked hard at the factory producing cooling towers.

After coming home from work Dad would either work around the house or he would rebuild an engine on a car he had purchased to resell and supplement the family income. Mom would purchase food to feed us. Oh, how I loved that fried chicken and fried “taters.” We always had enough to eat. I never remember ever going hungry. We did not get many new clothes, unless you count the Nehru Jackets. But that is a story for another time. Mom would shop at the thrift stores and somehow always seemed to come home with nice, new-looking, clothes. Both my Mom and Dad instilled in us the value of hard work. I can still remember Dad saying, “If a job is not done correctly, it is not done.”

You would think that with all the love, provision and protection they provided us that we
would never disagree or disobey them, but we did. This was evidenced by the choices
that we made. These choices were signs that we were walking away from the safety of
their influence. While our choices created distance from the influence of our parents, we
were never far from them. We were never very far from them but we were very far apart
from their influence.

Similarly, that is how we are as children of God. Most of us have had the experience of
drifting away from God. We never planned for it to happen, but along the way we made
some wrong choices. Before you knew it, we were not as near to God as we had once
been. He had not left us as he promised, “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor
forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5).

There are two things to remember; no one is exempt from this and we all come by it
naturally. This will happen to you no matter who you are. You might be the preacher or
a deacon and still be a long way from God. You might be a Sunday School teacher or
an usher and still be a long way from God. You may have grown up in a Christian home
but have rejected the teachings of that home. Perhaps something was said by another
believer and it broke your heart and crushed your spirit. Instead of making things right
with that person, somehow our relationship with God suffered. (This happens when we
choose to place blame where it does not belong.)

Something like this happened to Naomi. Several years have passed since she, her
husband and two sons left Bethlehem for the country of Moab. They left because there
was a famine in the land (a reasonable decision). They planned on staying just through
this difficult time and would then go back home. They had good intentions but nothing
worked out as they had hoped. Naomi’s husband, Elimelech died first and then her two
sons; Mahlon and Chilion died.

What do you do when the dreams of your life are shattered and you find yourself alone
and broken-hearted? That brings us to today’s passage of scripture, Ruth 1:6-22. There
is one word that appears repeatedly in these scriptures, the word “return.” In our
passage it has at least two meanings. One to physically return somewhere and second
to spiritually return back to the Lord.

When Naomi began her journey from Bethlehem she traveled west to east. Now ten
years later she is returning, traveling east to west. Her journey is both literal and
spiritual. After living in this Pagan land for a decade she is now returning to her
homeland but also in a spiritual sense she is turning her life around and returning to the
God of the Bible. She stepped out in faith with her family and is now returning battered
and bruised in her faith walk.

I believe this is a timely message for us as we are in the midst of uncertainty with the
Coronavirus pandemic. We need to practice Godly caution as we daily make decisions
that will impact us for the rest of our lives. Let me encourage you to walk more closely to
God than you have ever done before. You will discover that you must do it on purpose.
Here are three things to consider in your return.

1. Go Home

Naomi had a decision to make. Should she continued to dwell in Moab? If she does,
she will be a stranger in this land. If she makes that choice Orpah and Ruth will most
likely remarry Moabite men. Should she take her daughters-in-law with her to another
land? Or should she return to Bethlehem to be with her own people. Her decision
seemed to be an easy one to make when news arrived that the famine in Bethlehem
was over.

“Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the
country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited
his people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where
she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on their way to return
unto the land of Judah.” (Ruth 1:6-7).

The famine was over, for Naomi the decision was easy. I shall return to my homeland.
But what of her two daughters-in-law? What would Orpah and Ruth decide to do? Life
as a Jewish widow in Bethlehem would be difficult at best, but it would be much worse
of young Moabite widows. Who would feed these women? Who would clothe and
provide them shelter?

Naomi did not have the wherewithal to take care of these young widows. The natural
thought process would be for them to live in Moab, the land of their people. Naomi was
attempting to give the best advice she could. She was not being unkind. It was natural
to consider that Orpah and Ruth would have a better chance of survival in Moab. It was
a difficult conversation to have to say the least. Consider the bond that these women
had made over the past several years. Naomi wanted what was best for her daughters-
in-law.

For Naomi, the decision had been made. She was going home back to the place of
blessing. But Orpah and Ruth wanted to stay with Naomi. They too intended to go to
Bethlehem and start over in a new land. Naomi wanted Orpah and Ruth to consider
what it would mean to live in a land that was new to them. Naomi pleaded with them
saying she was too old to have more sons they could marry. When Naomi encouraged
them to go back home, she said, “…Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord
deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.” (Ruth 1:8). I am told
that this is an Old Testament way of saying, “As you showed grace to the dead and to
me, may God now show grace to you.”

It is probable that the main reason Naomi encouraged Orpah and Ruth to go is found in
verse 13 when she said, “…that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.” She is
telling them to not stay with her because all that she had loved is now gone. She was
saying that the Lord had brought her nothing but trouble. First, it was famine in
Bethlehem and second, all the men in her life died. Without saying it she believed that
the Lord had become her enemy. (Have you ever felt that way before?) All hope seems
to be lost. There does not seem to be, “a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Orpah took Naomi’s advice and returned to Moab. That is the last we ever hear of her in
Scripture. One can only imagine the heaviness of the hearts of those two as they
separated; Orpah to Moab and Naomi to Bethlehem. Naomi must have felt similar to the
Prodigal Son as he made the walk back to his father’s house. Recall he said, “And am
no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” (Luke
15:19).

As a side note, the Prodigal Son did not make any deals with his father. He came
back home with no conditions. He demanded nothing. (That would have been pride
speaking.) The Prodigal Son was so embarrassed about the way he had lived that he
was saying that I am not worthy to be called your son. Pride has no part in repentance.
In fact, real repentance does not make deals with God.

But like the Prodigal Son who underestimated his father’s heart, so did Naomi
underestimate her Heavenly Father’s heart. As we live in these uncertain times, if we
are not careful, we could find ourselves in this condition. It begins with the unwise
choices that have taken us far from God.

Many of us have lived within these poor choices for a long time. That in and of itself could cause us to doubt God’s willingness to take us back. If you are thinking that, ask God to remove that thought from your mind. Someone said, “Regret means you have learned from your mistakes.” If you regret your past, you know you messed up and if like Naomi you have tired of living with the pagans, you can return home. You do not have to stay in Moab. You can go home.

2. Commit to the Trip

Well Orpah has left but Ruth is refusing to leave her mother-in-law. Naomi attempts one
more time to convince Ruth to stay in Moab. Naomi knew how the Jews and the
Moabites hated one another.

Not only would it be difficult for Ruth to go there but it could be dangerous for her as well. One writer said that if Ruth went to Bethlehem, “She would be as welcomed as a ham sandwich at a bar mitzvah.” Naomi knew that it could potentially cost Ruth something to go to Bethlehem. Similarly, Jesus warns the disciples of the cost of following Him, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear hi cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27).

Naomi is warning Ruth. She is doing her best to make her understand that this will not
be an easy life. But Ruth had made up her mind. Listen to her response in Ruth 1:16-
17, “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for
whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my
people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried:
the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”

Many times, these words are quoted in wedding ceremonies but they first applied to a
daughter-in-law committing herself to her mother-in-law. Not only is she committing
herself to Naomi but also to Naomi’s people and Naomi’s God. Ruth’s commitment is
personal, it is voluntary and it is complete.

This is something when you consider that Ruth had nothing to gain by going to
Bethlehem. She seems like an intelligent person and certainly knew that she was
probably looking at a life of poverty and rejection. The only thing that Ruth is thinking at
this moment is her connection and attachment to Naomi. (Oh, that we could attach
ourselves to God and allow Him to sort out our future.)

It would seem that Ruth was displaying more faith than Naomi. This is amazing when
you consider that the faith being displayed was that by an “outsider” of the faith. After
Ruth’s proclamation to Naomi, verse 18 tells us that, “…then she left speaking unto
her.” There was no reason for anymore talk. Ruth was going to be by her side.

3. Go to the Place of Blessing

Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem. In those days Bethlehem was a tiny village.
Everyone knew everyone. The questions the town folk must have had. Where is
Elimelech? Where are the boys? Certainly, they were pleased and surprised to see
Naomi at the same time. Here is how Naomi sums up her time in the country of Moab,

“And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt
very bitterly with me. I went out full, and Lord hath brought me home again empty:
why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty
hath afflicted me.” (Ruth 1:20-21).

Do not call me Naomi (Pleasant) but call me Mara (Bitter). One preacher said, “Ruth is a
bruised believer, and those bruises take a long time to heal.” Naomi was saying God
made me very bitter. God brought me back empty. He opposed me. He afflicted me.
The bitter pain that Naomi experienced in Moab had bruised her faith, but it has not
destroyed it. If God is sovereign, then I must deal with God.

Naomi has no idea what is going to happen next. (Just like us when we come back from
our Moab.) She is not thinking of Boaz and how he will someday marry Ruth. We are
looking at a bruised and battered woman that has come home in utter defeat. It seems
that God has dealt harshly with her, or so she believes. She cannot see the bigger
picture. (We are no different today. We walk into the next day as the sun comes up after
experiencing great defeat. You see, we are all a Naomi at sometime or other in our
Christian walk. Are you walking back from your Moab now?)

Someone said, “Can we return to God and still harbor feelings like this? If we answer
no, it means we have not suffered very much.” For those that have suffered great loss,
you can understand Naomi’s heart. She is a battered and bruised believer and those
bruises take a long time to heal.

It was a difficult trip for Naomi to make, returning home without her husband and
sons. But she was determined to return to the place of God’s blessing. Some
might read this story and say that Naomi was a bitter woman. This is a true statement
but there is more to consider. As long as she stayed in Moab, she was out of God’s will.
At least she had the faith to make the long journey home. (How about you?)

We all make foolish choices that put us in bad situations. All of us, at one time or
another, have tried to sojourn in Moab. Perhaps we have done it by entering into an
incorrect relationship. Perhaps we moved when we should have stayed. Maybe we
gave up too soon. Perhaps we attempted to try a shortcut that got us into trouble.
Maybe we were thinking we could become involved in sin convincing ourselves that it
would not hurt us. We tried all these only to end up in defeat.

How about you today? Have you journeyed to Moab as the result of a sinful decision?
You see the question is not, “Have we sinned?” Of course, we have sinned. The
question is, “What will you do about it?”

Remember God’s grace exceeds our sin. One man said, “God does not consult your
past to determine your future.” Thank God that is true, and it is just as true for us as it
was for Naomi.

A footnote:

As we have discussed we are living in uncertain times. The Coronavirus has
provided far more questions than answers. I just want to remind you that while these are
uncertain times to us, they are not uncertain times to God. Remember what Charles
Spurgeon said about those that trust in the material things of the world,

“Every now and then, in order to enforce this distasteful truth upon us (that God is in control), the God of Providence gives the world, in some way or other, a warning shake. The Lord only has to lay one finger upon the world, and the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea, where the waters of the ocean roar and are troubled until the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.”

God is using this uncertain time to drawn people to Himself. Let’s join Him as He does.





Be Encouraged-God Has Promised

1 04 2020

This is the text to my pastors Wednesday night Bible study.

Be certain to pray as a family, sing praises to God and read all the scripture noted in this
attachment. Discuss the scripture. Grow in Christ together.

Coronavirus Numbers Update
Current numbers updated in red. At the time of my writing this to you last week more
than 400,000 (932,760 today’s total) people worldwide have been infected with the
Coronavirus. At least 18,000 (46,840 today’s total) people have died. The death rate per
persons infected varies from 3.5% to 4.5%, depending upon your source. Italy has the
highest number of deaths at 6,077 (13,155 today’s total) with 63,927 (110,574 today’s
total) number of cases. In the United States there have been 43,214 (212,980 today’s
total) reported cases with 533 (4,759 today’s total) deaths. This means that 1.23%
(2.23% today’s total) of all those infected in our country die.

The president has requested of us that we self-quarantine through April 30 th . We may or
may not find that this date will be extended into the month of May. Only those
businesses deemed “essential” are still allowed to work. Grocery stores and gas stations
continue to remain open as do take out food facilities. The goal is to reduce personal
interaction with one another. There are indications that self-quarantining has been
helpful in drastically reducing the spread of the Coronavirus.

That said, the world as we knew it has changed very quickly. Things that we never
dreamed of seeing are happening. Some shelves at grocery stores are empty. Our
stores used to have an overabundance of bread, eggs, milk, meat and paper products.
Now we are blessed if we find these items available.

Last week I asked the question, “So, as a Child of God, what do we do?” I bring to your
remembrance that as a child of God we are not to despair. 2 Corinthians 4:8 tells us, We
are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;”
There will be many times throughout our lifetime that we will be presented with situations
that perplex (cause to be puzzled or bewildered over what is not understood or certain)
but that should not then be allowed to grow into despair. Despair is to have no hope (the
complete loss or absence of hope.) This is antithetical (mutually incompatible) to what
scripture tells the child of God. Again Romans 15:4, ready begin (quote it.)

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

Remember last week I encouraged us to not focus on the storm going on around you.
That storm could be the Coronavirus or something else but do not allow yourself to be in
fear of that. Remember, do not complain about your current storm but rather, learn to be
the student and not the victim. Take time to ask God what he is doing. But only if you
truly believe that he is in full control of your life, which He is.

So, what do we do? We do what we can! Here are some suggestions.

1. Check on your elderly neighbors but do not overwhelm them with your contact of
phone calls or texts. Find out if they need groceries. Find some way to bring a
smile to their face.

2. Contact your friends in the medical field and ask if they are doing okay. Let them
know you appreciate their efforts.

3. If you are the designated shopper, keep your distance from one another, cough
into your arm. Wear gloves and or a mask.

Do not focus on the things you cannot do. This can become frustrating.
Read Romans chapter 8. As a child of God, we have many promises, here are just four:

1. We Are Free of Condemnation – Romans 8:1
Owe are no longer under the condemnation or our sin for it has been satisfied by
Jesus Christ. We are no longer under the penalty of punishment. Did you know
that no one can serve the imposed jail sentence for someone else? The laws of all
the states decree that when someone is convicted of a crime, that person is to
receive the actual conviction that will go on his or her record and if jail time is
given, the person who received the jail sentence must actually serve the time.
God paid our penalty on the cross. He was our substitute, 1 John 2:1-2. He is our
propitiation.

2. God is For Us – Romans 8:31
If you have ever played sports for a school you are aware of the difference of
playing for the “home crowd” verses the “away crowd.” There is just something
about playing for the home crowd. The encouragement you receive from it and
how it causes you to play just a little bit harder. This is a poor analogy attempting
to illustrate what we have in Christ in knowing that he is for us. Oh, praise God
that he is not against us. That said, read James 4:6 and consider what the author
was saying to the child of God.

3. We Are Conquerors – Romans 8:37
The dictionary defines conqueror as – a person who vanquishes; victor. Matthew
Henry said that as conquerors we have little loss. He continued that in fact we
have great gain. He added that the spoils are exceedingly rich and these are
glory, honor and peace. Consider what all earthly conquerors had in common. All
were defeated in battle or in death. In other words, as a child of God, with Him, we
win!

4. Nothing Can Separate Us from Jesus Christ – Romans 8:38-39
The Apostle Paul recorded several things to consider that cannot separate us
from the Love of Jesus Christ. There are no angels or rulers that can separate us
from Jesus Christ. There is nothing that is currently happening or something that
is going to happen that can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. There is no
mountain height or valley low that can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. If it were possible to kill my God then you could separate His love from us, but as
someone said, “Death cannot kill what never dies.”

Be encouraged. God is still on the throne. Do not allow what you do not know to
cause you to fear. Read Philippians 4:8.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Here are some scriptures to meditate on and to memorize.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah  41:10)

Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.” (Psalm 41:1-3)

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” (Psalm 103:2-4)

“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of
God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)





Free but Servant to All

31 03 2020

My pastor recently preached from Romans 14 about Christian liberty. The Bible makes it clear that we are not under the law.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)

We have liberty having been freed from the curse of the law by Christ who was our perfect law-keeper and who met the demands of the law on our behalf. The text in Romans 14 deals with judging others for using their freedom differently then we use ours.

While we are free the Bible also teaches that we are servant to all. We are to serve one another and live our lives for the benefit of the brethren.

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)

In Acts 15 a council was called in Jerusalem to consider what was required from the Gentile believers. The answer was given by James.

Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” (Acts 15:19-20)

The argument was that since they were justified by faith why put them under the law which was a burden that even the Jews couldn’t keep. James said the Gentiles had to abstain from a few things but why?

The answer is unity. There were tensions in the Jewish/Gentile church and many Jews were trying to bring them under the law. James didn’t take away the liberty of the Gentiles but instead affirmed it then advised they abstain from certain things offensive to the Jews.

Often times we boast in our liberty yet we forget that things we enjoy in liberty others cannot and we may weaken the faith of our brother.

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romans 14:15-21)

We have tremendous liberty in Christ but with that liberty comes great responsibility to act in a manner that conveys love for our brother. The faith of others is more important than the liberty we possess. All things must be done in love looking to the things of others before our own things.





Come and See

10 01 2020

I preached this message at McKee Road Baptist Church on 1/5/20 for the Sunday Morning Service

 





Resolutions

31 12 2019

This is a sermon I preached at McKee Road Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Ca. on 12-29-19.

 





Rick Preaching at PAC 12 Championship

22 12 2019








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