Last Sermons

22 Local Pastors Answer
"If this was the very last sermon I would ever preach...













PASTOR COLE BAILEY
Lighthouse Church
To Whom It May Concern:

It is not by coincidence or chance this letter has found its way into your hands. It has found its way to you so that you can learn a truth that will change your life forever!

Like you, there was a time in my life when I was searching for truth, not what everyone around me said was "good" or right. I was starving for real truth. I had traveled around the world many...







times over. Along the way I had met very good people with some very good ideas. However, I needed something more than a "good idea." I needed something that I could confidently base my life on. It had to be something real! Something big enough to settle once and for all in my heart and mind that there was more for me. I had to know "Is there more to life than this?" More than the daily grind, more than getting an education, a career, a family, a retirement. Was there more than simply waiting to die? I had to know! If that sounds like you, I am going to challenge you to do something bold! I am going to challenge you to put this page down and do something most people are afraid to do! Stop right now and simply pray this prayer privately: "God if you're real, prove it!" Do what you need to do in my life to show me that you are who you say you are. It was a simple prayer like this that changed my life forever!

My eyes began to open to all the times in my life's past that God had sent people, situations, and protection, but I was too blind to see it. Oh, Jesus became very real to me! Over the next few months again and again He would send people across my path. These people had no idea what I had been praying privately, but He put them in my path to guide me to the love of Jesus Christ. Soon after I began to pray, He sent a Christian into my life and that person invited me to his church. It was there that I received the greatest gift anyone could ever give....Salvation! Since then I have dedicated my life to helping people just like you find the very person we are all truly searching for. Speaking from experience I can say, it's true that we often try everything else and yet still come up empty. You might be thinking, could it really be that simple? If you're seeking truth, the answer is yes!

Jesus really lived, He really died and He really rose again, so that you could have something so much better than religion. You can have a life changing relationshipo with Him!

Take a moment and pray with all your heart, and ask Jesus to forgive you and your sins and set your feet on the path to an amazing life with Him. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Blessings: Cole













PASTOR MIKE CLAUNCH
St. Andrew Baptist Church
The Way Back Jonah 3:1-10

Jonah had gone a long way from God: He left the will and presence of God, traveled across the Mediterranean, went to the bottom of the sea, and rode who knows how far in the belly of a whale.

But our text tells us that our reluctant prophet found the way back. ...








The people of Nineveh had gone a long way from God as well. Their ancestors had known the One True Living God. They descended from Noah who found grace in the eyes of the Lord. But they had forsaken the God of Noah and fashioned for themselves gods of their own choosing and worshipped them in perversity and promiscuity.

They also find the way back.

You may be looking for a way back. The way back can be summarized in one word: repentance.

The Book of Jonah offers us TWO PICTURES OF REPENTANCE.

Jonah 2:7-9 shows us that Jonah himself repented of disobeying the Lord.

The People of Nineveh also repented when Jonah preached to them. In fact, both the king and the people joined in a fast, wore sackcloth, and abandoned their wicked ways.

The Bible shows us repentance is not an accessory. Repentance is a necessity. Throughout the Old Testament God called to His people, “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions.” (Ez. 18:30) Hosea tells us that Israel went into captivity because they refused to repent. John the Baptist proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Jesus preached, “Repent, and believe in the gospel.” The disciples, Peter, Paul, John, all preached the message of repentance.

Repentance is a constant theme in the Bible for two reasons. First, Repentance is necessary for salvation. Jesus said, “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5) But Repentance is also necessary in the Christian´s life: to restore broken fellowship (1 John 1:9), to grow in Christ (2 Cor. 7:9-10), and to avoid or end the chastisement of the Lord (Heb.12:6).

The Book of Jonah shows us well THE ESSENCE OF REPENTANCE. Genuine repentance produces heart-wrenching sorrow, not over the consequences of sin but over the fact that we have sinned. Genuine repentance always leads to total abandonment of the sin and going a new direction.

What happened in Nineveh? The people believed God´s Word. They repented. They were heart-broken over their sin. They abandoned their wicked ways. “Then God saw …that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them.” They found the way back.

What happened to Jonah? Jonah repented also. His heart was wrenched because of his sin. He told God he would obey. “So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”

Some say, “You can´t keep a good man down.” That is not quite right. “You can´t keep a repentant sinner down.”

Sin will bring you down; but repentance will bring you back up. Be heart-broken over your sin; utterly forsake it; march the opposite direction to Christ. God will raise you up.

Repentance is the way back.













REV. CORY D.
COLVARY, PASTOR

Covenant Presbyterian
Church (PCA)
The Minds of the Wise Think About Funerals

Life is short. Eternity is a very, very long time. The wise man remembers this.

I am 46 years of age. Just in the past couple of years, my 44 year old cousin Mike died, one of my closest childhood friends Tony died at 46, my father-in-law died, and my own Dad died after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Life is short.

My own wife has recently battled thyroid cancer and I ...





experience various aches and pains in my body now that never used to be while my vision weakens. Frankly, these are “the hoofbeats of death.”

The Bible says, “The minds of the wise think about funerals, but the minds of fools think about banquets” (Eccl. 7:4). Death forces us to put aside issues like, Who won American Idol, the Biggest Loser or the NBA championship? Rather, death presses us to ask questions that truly matter like, What is life for? What lasting significance does life have? Are my relationships with others right? But especially, is my relationship with God right? Eternity is a very, very long time.



The Bible says, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb. 9:27-28).

Note that the day of our own funeral has been “appointed” by God. We will “die once.”
God reminds us that after our death “comes judgment” when the risen Lord Jesus Christ will usher the righteous into glory and cast the wicked into hell, forever.

God also tells us that Jesus Christ “died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people.” On the Cross, Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath, the punishment of Hell itself, in the place of, on behalf of, as a substitute for, God’s people—that we might be reconciled to God our Father as His adopted children forever.

Having been risen from the dead, God promises that the Lord Jesus “will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him” through faith. In that Day our bodies will be raised and put on immortality. Since Jesus already dealt with the punishment for sins on the Cross, the believer no longer has to fear God’s judgment in terror but can look forward to that Day with peace, joy and confident hope, knowing God himself “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more” (Rev. 21:4).

The basic message of the Bible is: Jesus Christ came to save the sinners, the ungodly. There is an old saying, “When a man knows he is going to be hanged soon, it wonderfully focuses the mind.” The day Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross, a criminal hanging on a cross next to Him put his faith in Christ. Christ said to him, “This day you shall be with Me in Paradise.” That proves that the good news of the gospel is that we are not saved by our good works but through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

Life is short. Eternity is a very, very long time. The wise man remembers this.














DR. CRAIG CONNER,
SENIOR PASTOR

First Baptist Church
God’s Last Invitation

If this were the last sermon that I would ever preach I would preach on the subject, “God’s last invitation.” My text would be Revelation 22:13-21; the last passage in the Bible that contains God’s last invitation to humanity to come to Christ that they might be forgiven of their sin and saved by the Grace of God.

I think it is appropriate that the book (Revelation) which has as its theme, “the Second Coming of Christ,” ends with a final...





invitation to come to Christ in light of that glorious reality. As the Revelation of God closes we see that the Bible has come full circle. It opened in Genesis 3:15 with a promise of Christ’s First Coming. It closes in Revelation 22 with a promise of His Second Coming. Three times in this text Jesus says, “Behold, I come quickly.” Jesus Christ has been shouting for thousands of years that He is coming and the tragic thing is that so many people are not listening! In my last sermon I would feel compelled to warn and encourage people to listen to that shout.

Today people treat His Second Coming like many did the announcement of His First Coming. Many forgot the promise, others scoffed at the promise, others were unconcerned and laughed at the promise – but come He did. I encourage you not to allow the sad scenario that accompanied Christ’s First Coming to be played out in your life. Why is it so important to respond to this last invitation now?

We live in the space of time. Within the parameters of time are days. The Second Coming of Christ will replace time with eternity. On that day there will be no more days, they will be replaced with eternity. When the Bible speaks of salvation it speaks in reference to days, “Behold, now is the accepted time, today is the day of salvation.”

When days slip into eternity no other invitation will be extended. Praise God the invitation still stands today. Have you taken advantage of it? This text gives us some incentives to respond to this invitation.

I. The Person of Christ – vs. 13 & 16
The One who has been given “a name which is above every name” invites us to come to Him. The One who is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and ending of all things invites us to come to Him. There aren’t multiple Alphas and Omega’s; there is one. His name is Jesus and we are invited to come to Him and know Him.

II. The Participants in Heaven – vs. 14-15
We are invited to come to the One who will take us to the place where Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and every other saved person will dwell with God for eternity.

III. The Perfection of Scripture – vs. 18-19
God’s perfect Word, the Bible, tells us that we must respond to this invitation and come to Christ as our Savior if we want to go to heaven when we die. When this perfect Word says, “You must be born again,” you must. When the Bible says there is a wonderful place called heaven, we can count on it, it is a fact.

Here is the Good News. The text says “Whosoever will let him come.” That’s you, that’s me, that’s anyone! Accept His invitation today; you will live not to regret it.














REV. PHIL EDWARDS
First Assembly of God
God Means It For Good

If I were the devil, I’d do everything in my power to prevent people from simply reading the Bible. In so doing, I’d rob them of vital, faith-building knowledge – knowledge of how God does things, and why. If I couldn’t get them to outright worship me instead of God, I’d at least distract them from God’s truth, questioning His wisdom, intentions, and character – if I were the devil. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6 NASB)





One story I’d hide is that of Joseph in Genesis. When he’s 17, his own brothers sell him as a slave. He becomes the perfect slave, and is promoted to “Head Slave!” Then, he’s framed and jailed for something he didn’t do. He becomes the model prisoner, and is soon promoted to “Head Inmate!” His personal relationship with God keeps him adapting to every situation without becoming depressed or bitter.

With a God-given ability to interpret dreams, and a series of God-ordered events, Joseph is elevated to Prime Minister of Egypt – second only to the King!

Many years later, during a famine, Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt to buy the only grain available. They’re unaware that the man in charge of grain is Joseph. They don’t recognize him, but he does them, and reveals himself in a very emotional moment. Later, he moves his father, his brothers, and all their families to Egypt to live with him.

When his father dies, his brothers fear he’ll repay them for all the wrong they did to him. They beg his forgiveness, but he says, “ ‘As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.  So, therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’” (Genesis 50:20-21 NASB)

God MEANT it, so Joseph would learn to lead, and to withstand the temptations that come with power and privilege. God MEANT it so Joseph would keep “…many people alive.”

When you’re on your own “Joseph journey,” and wondering why, consider these promises:

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3 NASB)

“For he has not despised…the afflicted; …but when he cried to Him for help, He heard.” (Psalm 22:24 NASB)

Your journey is meant to take you to Jesus:Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NASB)

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes (cuts) it so that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2 NASB)

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB)














PASTOR BILLY FOX
Former Director of
Pathways Ministries for
The Rescue Mission
The Last Word

My last Word is the message I’ve shared in many ways over nearly 30 years of Rescue Mission ministry. I pray I’ll speak through His Spirit to the Churches.

Matthew 25:31 – 46
“Unto the Least of These"


Imagine, if Jesus’ first coming was to Bay County, FL. I...






believe he’d spend a great deal of time sitting in the Rescue Mission’s Courtyard just lovin’ on folks he found there. I often tell volunteers to be on the look-out for Jesus. They see Him hungry and feed Him on our serving line, or giving kids school clothes in “..pure undefiled religion” of James 1:27 at Klothes 4 Kids. Maybe it’s just lovin’ on the downcast they encounter. You’ll come face-to-face with Jesus according to vs 40. How does he see me? How will I treat Him?

I Corinthians 13 is known as “The Love Chapter.” However, in the Old King James Version it should be called “The Charity Chapter.” Today, charity means something so different than in those days. We equate it only to giving to the poor or sick. Today, it is finding spare, leftover things we can do without and giving it away. That’s certainly not a bad thing. It’s just not I Cor. 13 defined Love. That charity-love says – irrespective of my resources, I give myself to meet you at the point of your need. It always – protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. In Proverbs 19:17 God promises “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord and he will reward him for what he has done.” The giving is not really for the “needy one” but for us to see Him. I need to trust the Lord. When I encounter Him, disguised as someone in need, I must seek His Spirit living within. He’ll encourage me to become a doer of His word. Don’t worry, God guides us so that we don’t become over doers.

I’m in desperate need to find that opportunity that is bigger than my faith – to find the evil that is greater than my apathy.

I learned a long time ago that a man can’t hear that message of hope over the roar of an empty stomach. Christ-like believers can’t look at the hurts in our community, the evil that consumes our world and not be moved to a faith that does good works; that gives - that loves. Non-Christians look at what we do, not what we say. Up and outers are watching how we treat down and outers.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Feeding hungry people doesn’t save you. Only the born again relationship with God, through Jesus does that. It does, however make us “Christ-like”.

Our text says - He’ll divide. Many who practiced “today’s charity” will miss the mark. They just didn’t see Jesus. He says they will defend themselves with “but didn’t we do…?” They’ll miss everlasting life. Not because they didn’t give something, but because they didn’t trust in the saving, resurrected Lord who gave it to us – to give to others.

Sincerely, God’s warehouseman,
Rev. Billy Fox

Brother Fox now consults other like ministries in program & event management, PR, Fundraising and does Overcomes Revival services. Contact - bfox2359@gmail.com














DR. JOHN C. FRIEDMAN
Forest Park United
Methodist Church
“It’s Friday, But Sunday Is Coming”

Scripture: Luke 23:44-46 (It’s Friday,)
Mark 16:2-6 (But Sunday Is Coming)

Pastor and sociologist, Dr. Tony Campolo, tells about participating in a worship service that remembered those horrible events that led up to Jesus’ death on Good Friday. The sermon was preached by a wise, elderly African-American pastor. ...






Tony writes: “For an hour and a half he preached one line over and over again...‘It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming’!” He started his sermon real softly by saying, “It was Friday; it was Friday and my Jesus was dead on the tree. But that was Friday, and Sunday’s comin’!” He came on louder as he said, “It was Friday and Mary was cryin’ her eyes out. The disciples were runnin’ in every direction, like sheep without a shepherd, but that was Friday, and Sunday’s comin!”

He picked up the volume and shouted, “It was Friday, but they didn’t know that Sunday’s comin’. It was Friday, and on Friday Pilate thought he had washed his hands of a lot of trouble. The Pharisees were struttin’ around, laughin’ and pokin’ each other in the ribs. But they didn’t know it was only Friday! Sunday’s comin’!”

Tony said, “By the time he had come to the end of the message, he had me and everybody else so worked up that when he yelled at the top of his lungs, `It’s Friday!’ all 500 of us in that church yelled back, ‘But Sunday’s Comin’!’”

“It’s Friday, But Sunday Is Coming” is a message of hope. God is a God of reversals.

I. FIRST OF ALL, WE HAVE THE HOPE THAT DEATH WILL CONTINUE TO BE REVERSED.
As Christians, when death comes, we have hope of the resurrection! At the grave, “It’s Friday, But Sunday Is Coming!”

II. ALSO, WE HAVE THE HOPE THAT LIVES AND ATTITUDES WILL CONTINUE TO BE REVERSED.
Repentance means to change, to “reverse direction.” It means a spiritual “U-TURN” in life. Through Jesus, we have the hope that, because of grace, an unsaved person’s future can be reversed to salvation; that bad habits can be reversed to good habits; that defeats and failures can be reversed to victories; that a negative attitude can be reversed to a positive attitude; that anger, hostility, hatred and resentment can be reversed to forgiveness and love; that pride and arrogance can be reversed to humility. “It’s Friday, But Sunday Is Coming!”

III. AND THEN, WE HAVE THE HOPE THAT GOD WILL BE WITH US WHEN “SITUATIONS” IN OUR LIFE ARE REVERSED.
Life is good, then suddenly, life breaks open at the seams and everything changes. When the love we have counted on is gone; when someone crucifies our hopes and dreams; when our heart aches, and we do not understand life, we need to remember, “It’s Friday, But Sunday Is Coming!”

In life, we know that from time to time there will be a mournful Monday, a terrible Tuesday, a washed-out Wednesday, a trying Thursday, a fearful Friday, and a sad Saturday. But, on that awful day, whichever day it is, we need to think about the worst day of Jesus’ life, and then with heart and soul and every fiber of our being shout, “It’s Friday, But Sunday Is Coming!”














TOM FUERST,
FORMER CAMPUS PASTOR

Fusion / Lynn Haven
United Methodist
The Cross is NOT Enough

My story began five years ago when death pierced my soul like a cursed knife; I suffered no physical harm, but I felt mortally wounded nonetheless. Before Dad died, death was an abstraction, something that happens to other people. But I realized when Dad died that none of us can escape death.

None of us can escape it. ...







We cannot hide.

Yet, the beauty of the gospel story is that it calls us from our hiding. The Christian story is not an escapist narrative whereby we ignore the reality of death. Rather, this story calls us “to take up a cross” and embrace death.

For this reason, the gospel story stands in contrast to the stories our world tells…indeed, even the stories our churches tell.

Our world’s great story is driven by death. Doing anything to ignore our own morality, we excessively buy and sell, create and consume, eat and drink. We keep ourselves busy and entertained, all in an effort to deny death…to deny our frailty.

But, unfortunately, churches have done little to counter Death’s grip on us. For many Christians, the story of the gospel ends at the cross. We rightly preach Christ’s cross as that which secures a safe, secure afterlife for us, except much of our gospel story-telling just ends right there, “Jesus died for you.”

So, tell me this: What good is a story that ends in the afterlife if death, itself, is not defeated? What good is a Savior who stays in the grave while death still reigns? If we merely go to heaven after we die, then this world is not set right…it’s just forgotten. And if this world is not set right, then God loses!

Therefore, I make the bold claim here: The Cross of Jesus is not enough! The cross, alone, has never been enough!

The Christian story ends with resurrection for a reason! The resurrection of Jesus says that Death does not win; God wins! The cursed knife of death has been destroyed! Evil and injustice will not merely cease to exist; they will be put right! Justice will prevail in the end, not because there will be an absence of evil, but because evil will be defeated by the resurrection of Jesus and all who believe in Him.

We are not waiting for an afterlife where we get to forget about this life. We are waiting for resurrection…for a defeat of death, itself…for an elimination of its power…for a memory renewed so that all the death that ever was will be swallowed up in life, not forgotten, but set in a better context—in the context of a God who took on human skin, confronted evil, died at the hands of that evil, then resurrected from the grave in defeat of the powers of evil.

Death is no abstraction. It is no philosophical concept. It controls our world. However, the resurrection of Jesus means the grave is not the end of our story, and the resurrection is also no abstraction or philosophical concept.

Five years ago death wrecked me. Since that wreckage, though, resurrection life has taken on a new meaning. Resurrection means there’s more to the Christian story than the cross. In a sense, the cross is not enough. But a cross with a resurrection, that is the greatest story ever told.














ROBERT GAY
High Praise Worship Center
Several years ago, the Lord began to speak to my heart concerning Grace and the Ten Commandments. I must admit regrettably that I had never focused much attention on these commandments. To be transparent with you, they just seemed a little boring and non-exciting. After all, who wants to spend their time ministering a message of “don’t do this” and “don’t do that?”

Think about this: God could have commanded His people anything that He so desired. However, there were ...





only ten specific directives that God gave to His people on the tablets of stone that He originally transcribed. It seems to me that if God would take time to engrave these edicts on tablets of stone, then we should place great importance upon them. If these were the ten most important things that God wanted His people to understand, then we certainly should hold them in high esteem.

I believe that in every one of these important commands we can see the heart of the Father God. Every one of them is an expression of His heart and love for us. None of them are meant to make our lives difficult. They are there to keep us from difficulty. For instance; remaining faithful to your spouse does not make your life difficult, it keeps you from difficulty and disaster.

Unfortunately, there are some people who have used the word “grace” to disavow the Ten Commandments. Some have said that these ten directives from the Lord are no longer relevant for those who are in the New Covenant. Some have gone so far as to say that the preaching and teaching of the Ten Commandments is bondage.

The reality is that Grace and the Ten Commandments are not antagonistic or at odds with each other. They are actually in perfect agreement. Jesus taught the Ten Commandments. Paul rearticulated the Ten Commandments. Jesus told the rich young ruler that these commandments needed to be obeyed in order to experience the life of God. Jesus went on to raise the standard for every commandment. So, Grace does not nullify the commandments, it takes them to the next level!

Grace is probably one of the most misunderstood and misused words in the church today. Some believers have used the word “grace” to excuse all types of sinful behavior. This is not the proper understanding or application of the word “grace.” Grace does not mean it is ok to practice a lifestyle of sin.

Grace defined means the divine influence upon the heart that is reflected in the life. It is the grace of God that empowers us to live holy lives. Grace enables us to obey. Grace gives us the ability to do what is right when faced with temptation to do wrong. Grace empowers us to keep God’s commandments and see them fulfilled within our lives. I encourage you to obey

God’s commandments as you allow His grace to work in your life.

In Deuteronomy 28, God told His people that if they would walk in obedience His blessing would overtake them. Understand that blessing is always on the other side of obedience. God’s desire for you is to experience His abundant life. Obey Him and you will see it happen. Let Him take you to the Next Level!















JACK HANKINS, PASTOR
Emmaus United
Methodist Church
What an opportunity to share “My Last Sermon” with you at this time! We all know that God works in mysterious ways and sometimes He surprises us by appearing in places we would never expect Him to. Maybe this is one of those times! I know that when I have encountered God whether I was expecting it or not, I have always been the better for the meeting. You see before I even knew much of God, I already knew that He was good. I was just a young child and this kind neighbor lady was just the best next-door...






neighbor one could have. She could cook, she always had good candy in the candy dish and she was a good nurse to our injury-prone family! Sometimes she would invite some of us kids to church and they just loved us at that place. It made me wonder what was in their candy dishes! I guess it just soaked into my bones when I was young back then, this neighbor had God in her heart although she never really told me, I just knew it. There were many people like this lady at her church and they all had God in common—He had to be good!

Many years later I came across a verse that says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11. This made me think of my good neighbor some 40 years ago. She planted a seed in my heart and life that continues to grow many years later. I will never even know if she is aware of it. If I could do that for someone, what would I say? What could I share on this page that would make such a lasting difference in a persons’ life? My mind is drawn to the Christmas Story where Joseph, Mary and the Shepherds first heard the good news. The angels said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” I want you to know the GOOD NEWS! I want you to know that there is a person who loves you unconditionally; there is a person who desires to give you meaning and purpose in life. This person knew you when you were formed in your mothers’ womb and He has plans for your life! He is concerned with your future and can heal your past regrets. He understands brokenness because He has been broken. You can’t earn this priceless gift so He chooses to give it to you at His great expense!

His name is Jesus!














DR. JOHNNY HUNT
Woodstock Church/PCB
“Grace for the Race”

Hebrews 12 is referred to as the “Race of Life.” It reminds me of the fact that there was a day in my life that the race began (salvation) and today the race continues (sanctification), and one day this race will end (glorification). John Newton penned this in the 1700’s:

“Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound.
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
...


Thru many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come; (Our Past)
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, (Our Present)
And grace will lead me home.” (Our Future)


The arena portrayed in Hebrews 12 makes reference to the grandstands, “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” These witnesses are not spectators but rather those who participated in the same race years before. Grace makes you strong. It is the ability or power to obey. Ephesians 6:10 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

To run the race, we must recognize burdensome weights or encumbrances. It may be something that is fine for someone else to do, but for us it takes the edge off our spiritual lives. Weights cut away our hunger to know God better or take away our desire to be obedient to the will of God. Remember God never removes anything from our lives unless He gives us something better to replace our loss.

We must recognize “sin which so easily ensnares us.” It can be described by a vine that climbs a tree and entangles itself around the tree. Sin keeps us from moving forward in the race. We deal with sin by confessing them to the Lord by bringing it up to God and yielding it up to Him. 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When we cast off weights and acknowledge sin, we can run with “patience” or “endurance.” We are to finish the race; to reach the goal set before us. There is a God-given potential in the race for each of us; based on our calling, giftedness, enablement, etc. We have to set our sights on our goal and run with enthusiasm and excitement. “Race” reminds me of commitment, effort, preparation, dress, agony, and desire to finish well. If I am going to go the distance then there must be a commitment to the challenge and sometimes chastening in the challenge or discipline.

Our example is Jesus Christ. He is the pattern for our lives and gives the proper perspective on life. He leads the procession as author and perfecter of faith. When you are faced with pressures, opposition from family or friends, weariness from service; consider Him. Verse 3 says, “Don’t become “weary” and “discouraged” in your souls. We must be continually reminded that we are His children. Exhortation believes the best and senses the Lord uses the experiences of life, even the difficult, to educate and discipline us for greater service. Knowing and believing is one side of the coin; living and obeying is the other. The purpose of “Grace for the Race” is not to teach truth only, but to encourage living up to the truth.














PASTOR DONNIE JACKSON
Springfield Community Church
Read Psalm 90:12; Ezekiel 33:2

A famous preacher said that he always wanted to preach as if he knew that he was dying and preaching as if he was preaching to a dying crowd. We never know when we will be called to face the Lord. We need to stay prepared as if we are going to die the next moment…and work like we have a long time to live. I dreamed I had to face the ancient of times and it is not a very comforting thought. No matter, we still have to face God. We read in Hebrews 9:27 “And it is appointed ...




unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” I think this is the way we should live every day. The Psalmist tells us to number our days.

But what would I say if this was my last sermon? I have given this a lot of thought and I think maybe the following is the way I would preach:

The first thing I would do is talk to my family. And since you are all my family, I think I should assure you that I am ready to go if God calls me home. I remember the time and I can take you to the place where I surrendered my life to Him. It was the first Sunday in September of 1963. I have made many mistakes but God has always been there to pick me up when I fell. Many leave their loved ones wondering if they will ever see them again. I would like to say a special thanks to my mother and dad for showing me the way. I remember how our former pastor, that has already gone home, told me how I should live. He told me what John 6:37 said. “… him that cometh to me I will no wise cast out.”

The next thing I would talk about is my new home. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” Jesus said He is going to prepare a place for me. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 are the most precious words to the Christian.

The last thing I would do is tell everyone that is reading this today that Jesus came to save you. Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” I would tell you that God loved you so much that He gave His only Son and His Son was willing to die for you and me. I would tell you that there is nothing like the love of Jesus. I would tell you that Jesus paid the full price for your sins on the cross. (John 19:30, “It is finished.” The Greek translation means “Paid in full”).

We are not guaranteed another minute, let alone today. Today is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee; behold now is the day of salvation.”

I might not have another chance to preach to you. If you don’t know Him, why not come to Him now while there is still breath in your body? Ecclesiastes 11:3 says, “…if the tree fall to the south, or the north, where the tree falleth, there it shall be.” I say it this way, “As the tree falleth, so shall it be.” There will be no time to get saved after you are looking in the face of God that is demanding judgment.

This might be the only chance I have to preach to you. I challenge you to search your heart and prepare just in case this is the last opportunity you have to seek the Lord.

God loves you….Pastor Donnie Jackson













REV. FR. WESLEY
TETSUJI KAN, PASTOR

Redemption Lutheran Church
I must confess: what follows does not heed the given instructions. It is supposed to be different from the hundreds I’ve delivered in the past but Lutheran pastors are taught to preach every sermon as if it is his last. Perhaps the question should be, “what sermon would you preach if it is the last one the reader will hear?” Now we’re talking about serious stuff, your death. What will happen to your soul when you die? As a Christian you answer it will go to heaven. Why? You answer, “because I am saved.” Why do you need to be saved?

So many pastors talk about being saved but rarely explain...




why you need to be saved. Every sermon should tell you clearly that you are a sinner, a wicked being marked for eternal damnation, yet you seldom hear this critical proclamation.

This omission is incomprehensible. It is like having a disease and the physician avoiding all talk about that disease and its lethality. This kind of omission is more harmful in theology than in medicine. You are being saved through faith alone and understanding is part of faith. Therefore, being fully convinced that you are a sinner is absolutely crucial to being saved. But repeatedly hearing about sinfulness and eternal damnation that results from sin are so offensive that most preachers rarely mention it. Most sadly, because you don’t hear why you need to be saved, you end up not hearing the full Gospel and risk straying from saving faith.

Sin is the disease and forgiveness is the cure. Forgiveness results from what Christ endured on Good Friday: His suffering, bleeding and dying for mankind. Salvation flows from forgiveness. And He suffered this purely out of love for you.

Christ’s resurrection does not save. His resurrection was absolutely necessary because, by raising Christ back to life, God the Father declared that the Son’s sacrifice satisfied mankind’s sin debt. The Bible repeatedly demonstrates the crucifixion’s importance over the resurrection. The limited space here does not allow for more than one example. (Contact me for more references.) In 1 Corinthians 1:23 and 2:2, St. Paul wrote that he preached Christ crucified and not knowing anything among them except Christ crucified. He omitted any mention of the resurrection. Most certainly Paul believed in and preached Christ’s resurrection, but because the forgiveness of our sins results from crucifixion, he omitted resurrection here.

The soul-saving Gospel is that we are all sinners who need to be saved from the wickedness resulting from what we are and do. Since it is impossible for us to save ourselves, Jesus Christ, God the Son, died for us and purchased our forgiveness through His sacrifice. But this gift can be received only by faith. What is faith? It is more than believing. The part that most forget is trust or reliance. “Saving faith” means placing your whole reliance upon Christ’s bleeding death, and upon absolutely nothing else.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.














PASTOR STEVEN L KYLE
Hiland Park Baptist Church
Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I say to you,
will seek to enter and will not be able.

Luke 13:24

This verse tells us there is only one door to heaven...and it is narrow. These words of Jesus are not politically correct in our age of religious pluralism. If Jesus came to America preaching this message today, He would be labeled a radical and would probably be arrested. In fact, that’s exactly why the Jews...




arrested Him and executed Him 2,000 years ago. To say there is only one way to heaven is an unpopular stance today. Most people think there are many ways to get to heaven.

Once a man told me getting to heaven was like flying from Little Rock to Dallas. I could fly American Airlines, and he could fly Delta, and somebody else could fly Northwest or Southwest airlines, but we’d all get to the same destination. Doesn’t that sound logical? I told him that sounded logical, but when you get on an airplane, you could never be 100% certain it would arrive at the intended destination; it could be diverted by weather, hijacked, have mechanical problems, or even crash. I told him I am booked to fly on Jesus Airlines and it’s the only one in the universe with a 100% on time arrival record!

Most Americans believe it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are “sincere.” Well, radical Muslim suicide bombers are sincere in their beliefs, and they are wrong. You can be sincere–and be sincerely wrong.

For Jesus (or any of us) to insist there is just one way to heaven seems too narrow-minded in this age of enlightenment. But look at His words again in verse 24. He didn’t speak of different doors, or different airplanes. He didn’t say, “enter through one of the narrow doors.” He spoke of THE narrow door.

Other scriptures confirm there is only one way to heaven. Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). Now, let me misquote this verse the way most folks believe. Jesus said, “I am one of the ways, part of the truth, and one kind of life. No one comes to the Father unless they are religious and good and kind and sincere in whatever it is they believe.” Jesus didn’t say He was ONE of the ways or even the BEST way; He said He was the ONLY way.

The people in this passage were at the door; they were even knocking on the door. Almost getting into the door won’t get you into heaven. When it comes to your eternal salvation there is only one door…Jesus Christ! Acts 4:12 tells us, “…there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Won’t you please put your faith and trust in Him today?














JOE LAY, SENIOR PASTOR
Woodlawn United
Methodist Church
The Roman Road

When I was in Seminary, a professor shared with me a set of scriptures in the Book of Romans, which is referred to as “The Roman Road.”

First, we are Recognized By Sin. Romans 3:10 says, “As the scriptures say, ‘No one is good – no one in all the world is innocent.’” And Romans 3:23 says, “Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal.” ...





What that Scripture is saying is that we are recognized by our own sin. Unless we have been saved, we are sinful. Now who all does that include? Read it again silently to yourselves. No one is good. No one in all the world is innocent. All have sinned. All fall short of God’s glorious ideal. Well, that makes it pretty clear, doesn’t it?

Second, we are Ruined By Satan. Romans 5:12 says, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. His sin spread death throughout all the world, so everything began to grow old and die, for all have sinned.”

Third, we are Remembered By The Son. Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

God did an amazing thing when He sent His Son to die for us. God’s love is unconditional. He just loves us so much that He gave His Son not knowing if we would accept Him and be forgiven. Despite our sinfulness, Jesus remembered us and gave His life for us so that we might be forgiven.

Fourth, we have been Rescued By The Savior. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

This scripture is saying that all we can ever earn, spiritually speaking, is sin and death. There is no way we can earn our own salvation. What do we have that is valuable enough to pay for our sins? Nothing.

But God in His unconditional love for us has provided a way for us to be forgiven. The free gift of salvation is offered to us by the grace of God. It is nothing we have done or could have done, but is simply offered to us out of the goodness of God.

Fifth, we are Redeemed By Salvation. Romans 10:9-10 says, “For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord and believe in your own heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Now that’s pretty clear, isn’t it? Then the scripture goes on to say, “For it is by believing in his heart that a man becomes right with God; and with his mouth he tells others of his faith, confirming his salvation.”

There are two key words that stand out in that scripture. Believe and Confess. If you believe in something, you won’t hesitate to talk about it. But if you’re not quite sure, you won’t say anything for fear of being wrong. If you believe in your heart and confess with your lips, you will be saved!














BILLY MELVIN
Calvary Christian
Baptist Church
“Nothing More to Say”

I’ve known three preachers over the years that actually fell dead in the pulpit while they were preaching. I have often wondered what they were preaching for their last message. But there have been untold thousands of us out there that have already “heard” our very last message and then passed on. The obvious question is what did they do about it? In Hebrews 9:27 it says in effect, “It is appointed unto man once to die but after that the judgment.” ...






So with that in mind, if this was the very last sermon I would ever preach… well here goes: I think my message would be titled “Repent and believe on Jesus” Matthew 3:1-2 says in those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea saying repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. In this modern day in which we live, many preachers have watered down the gospel and repentance is not a popular subject to preach. But it must be important because our Savior himself said in Luke 13:3 and repeated in Luke 13:5… “except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.”

Repentance was preached by all the Old Testament prophets when they heard from God. Their message was usually: repent and turn back to God. I was at a funeral service recently and the preacher said to the family and friends, “I didn’t know Mr. Jones very well. Actually I just met him in the hospital but I was told he was not a religious man and seldom ever attended church.” But God has a way with his great love to bring us all back to him before we die. But what would be the need of our Savior if no matter how wicked we lived; somehow God’s love was going to send us all to Heaven when we die? Friends, don’t get me wrong, I wish everyone was going to heaven and to be honest with you, none of us deserve to go there. But the Bible tells us that all those that repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved and those that don’t will be cast into hell. God forbid that anyone that reads this message would go to that place of eternal torment!

Thank God for his son, our Savior, who died for our sins on the cross that we may have eternal life… but you must repent unto God and believe on Jesus so that you can spend eternity with Him. So my friends, according to the verse I opened with, Hebrews 9:27, this could in fact be the very last message I ever preach. Only God knows… but on the other hand, this could also be the very last message you ever read so please don’t trust in church membership, regular attendance, baptism or any other thing but Christ and Christ alone. God Bless.














DR. HAYWARD L. MILLER
Living Word Church
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”

There is an awesome life giving truth that has changed my life. It is not a new truth, in fact it was expressed to Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John, Jesus and Paul. It became real to me when I read it the way Paul said it, If God is for us, who can be against us? Rom 8:31(b) NKJV.

I believe that statement has put mankind on a mission of...





answering and having an overcoming walk every day. It is in the form of a question so that everyone can answer it for themselves. You see, God put within every human being the nature of something bigger than themselves, and the longing of something more. When we try to fill that incompleteness without God we fall short or feel we have not hit the bull’s eye of fulfillment and purpose. Oh, we have times of happiness and fulfillment but it never lasts. Over time we want more and more and from that desire of “want” and we never feel totally satisfied. So what do we do? We ask this question, what is stopping me or is against me that blocks my satisfaction and fulfillment in living my God given purpose?

That question of satisfaction and purpose is not new but started in a garden and ended in a garden. It started with the first Adam and ended with Jesus Christ. It is answered by “TRUST” in saying, “not my will and purpose to be fulfilled but Lord Your will and purpose.” The first Adam thought, God was holding out on him by not letting him eat from one of the trees in the garden. It was not the tree that got him and mankind in trouble, but the disobedience to the will and purpose of God. The heart that said God is not totally for me! Then Jesus Christ came, known also as the second Adam, came and completed His will and purpose, hung on a tree that brought everything back to mankind redeeming us. Because of what Jesus Christ did on that tree I can say to you with total confidence, If God is for us, who can be against us?

What do I do? Know that God is 100% for you! He has given you and is giving you His life giving purpose and best. Did He not send His Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to save you and make available by receiving Him, life and a life more abundantly? That Resurrected Life is available to you every day in every way. God being God, always has more! He has given you His Spirit that will live in you daily and will make you more than a conqueror. Knowing all of that is true, we can make the answer to the question personal and real, “If God is for me, who can be against me? Nothing and No One can stand against the power and love of God and win.” Just read Romans Chapter 8 verses 26-39 and receive the answer!

Bible References: Gen 15:1; Deut 33:29; 1 Sam 17:45-47; Isa 54:17; Jer 1:19; John 10:28-30; 1 John 4:4; Ephesians 1:7-21; Ephesians 2:1-10; Rom 8:26-39














PASTOR BRIAN PREWITT
Palo Alto Church of Christ
Beyond Futility

What sustains you in your vocation? Whether you are talking about your career, marriage, life at home, friendships, or hobbies, each of us can reflect on what it is that sustains us for the long haul. It’s a struggle. Many things that we think will sustain us too often don’t. Spending a career chasing money leaves us feeling the weight of “golden handcuffs.” We work to become the king of the hill, and then find out that it’s lonely at the top. Our bodies fail, feelings fade, and we encounter...




the weight of disappointments in relationship after relationship, in pursuit after pursuit.

The Bible has a word for this feeling: “vanity.” It’s what the writer of Ecclesiastes (given the Hebrew title “Koheleth”) writes about at the beginning of his book. But we might use another word today: “futility.” And so James Kugel translates the opening verses of Ecclesiates this way: “‘So futile,’ says Koheleth, ‘everything is so futile!’ What does a person ever gain from all the effort he expends on this earth? One generation goes off and another comes in, but the earth stays the same forever.”

Whether it’s our career or family or the many other relationships we have in life, it is a very normal thing to encounter this feeling of futility in “the big boring middle of the long book of life.” Faced with this, we can seek satisfaction in thrill-seeking, or perhaps we can just retreat to our couches and assume that this is just as good as it gets. But there is another way, and it’s a way forward that can change everything.

Jesus said in John 10.10 this: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” The gospel of Jesus Christ is here to bring life. Jesus gives his life to pay the price for our sin and failings so that we don’t have to pay that price. Jesus is alive, and thus declares his victory over sin and death. Feelings of futility exist because we live in a sinful world, and the victory that Jesus is claiming, now in part, and completely in the future, is a victory that casts aside futility. In Jesus there is purpose. In Jesus there is meaning. In Jesus there is hope. In Jesus there is a present. In Jesus there is a future.

We can discover our need for Jesus when we encounter our own sin and brokenness. We can discover our addiction, anger, pride, or lust and in doing so discover that we need a savior. But the Ecclesiastes writer reminds us that we can also discover our need for Jesus in the ordinary malaise that we can encounter on any given day. In our feelings of boredom in our job, in frustrations with long-term bad patterns in our marriage, in feelings of failure in the direction of our children’s lives, in countless ways where we see futility, we discover the place where Jesus can offer hope.

Jesus came to give abundant life, now and later. Whether you struggle in deep sin or rebellion, or just struggle with feelings of futility, put your trust in Him. He is the answer that you need.














SCOTT ROBERTS, PASTOR
Panama City 1st Church
of the Nazarene
“Nothing More to Say”

I often wonder what my life might be like if I live a hundred years. I’m not sure King Solomon was a hundred when he wrote this, but I imagine he had lived through a myriad of experiences as a king. He built great buildings including the Temple in Jerusalem, planted wide vineyards, and expanded the borders of Israel further than ever before. And he even wrote great classics that people still read today. He made it a point to busy himself with all the many different activities he could experience if a ...





person had limitless resources. It was like a great experiment. How far could I sail across the world without falling off? It could be an exciting life full of action and adventure, even romance. Solomon wanted to experience it all. At first Solomon’s experiment had an unexpected conclusion summed up in his words, “Meaningless! Meaningless!” he said, “All is meaningless!” Fortunately, he came to a better conclusion to his life experiment later: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Solomon came to believe that life is heading somewhere, and that somewhere is into the presence of God who created us. One day we will each stand before the Lord and give an account of how we lived. Consequences relative to every choice we make will be given. Solomon deduced that if we want good things then we’ll “fear” or respect God and His expectations of us, or face the negative consequences at the end of our days. Fortunately, Solomon’s words aren’t the last words God gave to the world. If that were the case, we all would be doomed forever. We read in the Scriptures that came later, “All have sinned and fall short (present tense) of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We all have a history of not following God’s commands such that there aren’t enough good things we could ever do to outweigh the bad. The biggest sin we make is to live our lives as if there is no God. How that must feel like a slap in the face of God! The good news is that even if we forget or ignore God and His wishes, God has not forgotten us. Knowing that we need serious help to get on course with Him and to keep following the course that leads to genuine life, God sent His Son into the world. The Son gave His entire life for us so that we might land safely on God’s wonderful shore. All He asks is that we let Him in the boat with us and do His work well. And even when we fail Him, He remains true to us. The name of God’s Son is Jesus the Christ. We know the world is not flat, but life is still full of so many dangers. And with every passing day we come closer to the end of this journey. If we will pay attention to where we are heading and invite Jesus into the boat, He will make sure we land safely on the other side.














PASTOR LUTHER STANFORD
Northside Baptist
A Different Kind of Victory

At least once in their lives every man needs the experience of coaching little league baseball or pee-wee football. It’s an endeavor that will bring you both tears of joy and tears of frustration. Like one day at football practice, when one little 9 year old told me, “Coach, tell them not to tackle me. I’m allergic to grass.” My response, “Maybe you should try basketball.” Or another kid who complained, “Coach, every time the ball is snapped that kid on the other side knocks...




me down.” My response, “That’s what he’s supposed to do.” Tears of laughter and tears of frustration.

I remember our first pee-wee football victory. The Buccaneers had just started a pee-wee football program and we were not much of a threat. We were playing 3rd and 4th graders against 5th and 6th grade teams. We were so bad that when we would ask a player, “Are you ready to go in?!” They would often reply, “Not really.” We took our lumps those first two seasons. Not only did we not win a game. We didn’t even score. 55-0, 48-0, 52-0, etc. If we held a team to under 40, we considered it a “defensive victory.” It was hard to stay positive, but we kept telling our boys, wait until you get in the 6th grade and we can play an evenly matched game. Keep working hard and things will be different.

That third year, we finally had a legitimate team. They pushed themselves in the pre-season and we were ecstatic to travel to Columbia, Mississippi for our first battle. And a battle it was. There hasn’t been a Super Bowl played to this day with that much heart on the field. Midway through the 4th quarter the score was tied 0-0. You can imagine the eruption of emotion when one of our defensive backs picked off a pass and returned it for a TD! We went on to our first victory ever with a score of 6-0.

We won plenty of other games after that, but none were as sweet as that one. I still have a picture with my son on the sideline after the game, both of us drenched in sweat. Our boys knew their hard work had paid off…they were becoming a football team.

I believe God wants transformation like this to take place in every single church on His ball of dirt. And every time it happens, I believe God must celebrate.

I believe God watches with holy exhilaration every time a church sets it heart to be what God has called them to be: a selfless, love-drenched, Christ-like family.

And when the power of His love overcomes the separation of skin color, ethnicity, and denomination differences, He must feel victory. When the people in the pulpit figure out that the gospel is good news, and begin to teach it that way, He must feel victory. When He sees His people sharing burdens and caring for one another sacrificially and generously, He must feel victory. When a spirit of humility and authenticity settles over a church so that real people with real problems begin to find hope for their hurts, He must feel victory.

My prayer has always been and will always be: God, make us what you want us to be. Amen.














DR. STEVE TAYLOR
Emerald Coast Fellowship
Love One Another

The most important message in the Bible is the story of God’s love for humanity. Jesus was the picture of that love as He gave His sinless life to pay the penalty for our sins and purchase for us a place in heaven. However, this is not a new concept for those reading a publication called the Cross Reference or for most of Bay County for that matter. Do not misunderstand; Bay County is a mission field. But I believe that there is a huge population of professing Christians in Bay County, some who...




attend Christian churches and many who do not. Thus, if this were the last sermon I was to ever preach, it would be a heart to heart talk with fellow believers from John 13:34-35. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

There are really only two categories of people in Bay County. There are those that are professed disciples of Jesus Christ, and those that are not. Now let us assume that you are a disciple (remember you are reading the Cross Reference). In the verses above Jesus said that the world will know you are my disciples “if you love one another.”

Surely you have heard the story of the Good Samaritan where Jesus taught His disciples how to love their neighbors. Jesus’ definition of neighbor included all people everywhere. But in John 13:34-35 Jesus says this is a “new command.” This command is for disciples to love other disciples as Jesus loved them. These were teachable moments between Jesus and His disciples, and He knew that His disciples, like disciples today, were prone to endless conflict about selfish matters with each other.

So what does this command mean then to you and me? It means that Christians (aka disciples of Jesus) are to love each other unconditionally. Perhaps a change in perspective would help. In reality the mandate of every Christian is to make disciples. And the call of every church is to make disciples. So as a believer your mission is the same as every disciple. The mission of your church is the same as every church. All who are under the banner of Jesus Christ alone for salvation, by grace, and through faith in Him are on the same team. Each person and church should be seeking to share the Good News with those who have not yet professed faith in Christ. When we do not love each other, it is a huge obstacle between the message of Jesus Christ and the many that do not profess faith in Christ. In addition many of those that do profess Christ but are not active in a local church will tell you it is because of some conflict with a Christian or a particular church.

Jesus’ message is simple, but difficult to live out. Some disciples are harder to love than others. Some disciples do not play well with others. Some disciples are strange. We all are some days. Jesus’ words are clear, undeniable, and without caveat. Disciples are to love each other. Our goal is worthy, our message is true, and our mission is one. So to Jesus’ disciples in Bay County, LOVE ONE ANOTHER!














ROB WOODRUM
Eastgate Christian Fellowship
They say he was bald, so that’s how I picture him in my mind. A short, bald and intense man is who the Apostle Paul is in my imagination. He was a man who was passionate about his mission. He was consumed with the mission of reconciling a broken humanity with their Creator.

He lived under the constant threat of punishment or death because of his faith. For him, each time he preached was potentially his last sermon. ...





While in the city of Ancient Corinth, Paul was faced with the daunting challenge of competing with a philosophical culture that prized deep and original ideas presented with great oration. Yet when he came to town, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 “… I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

I’ve always been struck by that. He knew nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified. That doesn’t mean that if someone asked him what the weather was going to be that day that he’d mumble stupidly “Jesus Christ and him crucified.” I’m sure Paul talked about the weather or what was on sale at the market or any number of things.

It’s just that, when it came to what it was he was sure of and what was shaping his life it was this simple (yet profound) idea that Jesus is the messiah and the messiah died in our place.

I really like that. I like that a LOT. There are a multitude of issues and doctrines that are presented to us as being so important that the very future of the church is dependent on where we stand concerning them. Yet so often these things only serve to divide God’s people further and further from each other, and sometimes further from the center of what is all important.

If this were the last message I could preach, I would say that there are many issues in the world and doctrines in the church about which I have opinions and even convictions concerning. But there is ONE thing I’m solid on where I’m unshakeable in my stand. Jesus is the Christ – he is God incarnate and if we want to know what God is like, really like, we have to look squarely at him.

Looking at him, we can’t help but recall the act for which he is most famous for, his death on a cross. To know what God is like we look at Jesus, and looking at Jesus we see an expression of self-sacrificial love. The teachings, miracles, resurrection, ascension and return are all very important to be sure – they describe life as God intended it and the glorious ending God points us toward. But the cross reveals the character of God like nothing else. Don’t run from religion assuming it is god. Run past religion and into those outstretched arms of grace.
If this were the last thing I could say, I would say boldly: Look to Jesus to know your Creator God. Look to the cross and know that God is not mad at you. He loves you and wants you to live.

Now live, you children of God.