Have you ever wondered what the phrase “born again” means? The Bible records that Jesus used the phrase in a conversation with a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus approached Jesus at night. He was curious about Jesus and the kingdom of God.
Jesus told him: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Nicodemus responded, “How can a man be born when he is old?” (John 3:4).
Nicodemus was a highly moral man who obeyed God’s law. He was a respected leader of the Jewish community. No doubt he was a fine man. Yet something was lacking. Like Nicodemus, many people today confuse religion with new birth in Christ. Phrases like “I pray regularly” or “I believe there is a God” often are confused with a real new-birth experience.
New birth begins with the Holy Spirit convicting a person that a person is a sinner. Because of sin, we are spiritually dead. For this reason, spiritual birth, as Jesus described it, is necessary. God loves us and gives us spiritual birth when we ask Him for it.
The Bible says all persons are sinners (see Romans 3:23). Jesus died on a cross and was raised from the dead to save sinners. To be born again means that a person admits to God that he or she is a sinner, repents of sin, believes in or trusts Christ, and confesses faith in Christ as Savior and Lord. Jesus told Nicodemus that everyone who believes in (places faith in) Christ would not perish (see John 3:16). Jesus is the only One who can save us (see John 14:6).
To believe in Jesus is to be born again. Confess your sins and ask Jesus right now to save you. “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). After you have received Jesus Christ into your life, share your decision with another person, and following Christ’s example, ask for baptism by immersion in your local church as a public expression of your faith (see Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:6).
From Open Windows
A Guide For Personal Devotions
Fall 2016 Lifeway
June 12 Pastor’s Conference
Sunday 8 PM Theme: Live This II Timothy 4:5
James MacDonald “Endurance In Ministry” II Timothy 4:5
2 Timothy 4:5 King James Version (KJV)
5 “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
God allows bad stuff and difficult circumstances to happen to us in order to teach us faith and perseverance. “Remain under,” is the key. Remain under pressure. We dream of getting out from under the pressure – God does not want us to do this. “Endurance is the funnel through which all Christian characterr flows.” This is a message about not giving up. “Don’t quit.”
Five Obstacles To Perseverance (Endurance):
1)You must overcome loneliness. Demas left Paul. Get Mark. Only Luke is with me. There is no prescription for loneliness. We must live with it.
2 Timothy 4:9-12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
9 “Make every effort to come to me soon; 10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescenshas gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. 12 But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.”
2)There is discomfort. Bring the cloak, books and parchments. Literally, bring a blanket and a piece of paper. Many people in the ministry are dropping out.
2 Timothy 4:13 King James Version (KJV)
13 “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.”
3)Overcoming conflict. Lean on the Lord as never before. Learn what you need to learn about others. Shout out what you know to be true. Rest on the Lord about the consequences. Great men have been hurt in order for God to use them.
2 Timothy 4:14 King James Version (KJV)
14 “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works…”
4)Rejection. There are times here we feel God’s presence, but no one else. “The Lord stood by me.” (vs. 17)
2 Timothy 4:17 King James Version (KJV)
17 “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”
5)Exhaustion. People writing nasty letters to him. Every pastor in the conference laughed and/or applauded because we could all identify with Paul’s hardships, and we too have received such communications.
Sideshows at the conference:
1)A street preacher with a powerful microphone challenged the pastors as they entered the conference. He exhorted us to be soul winners and teach our congregations the same. I appreciated his words and thought he was right on target.
2)The massacre at the Orlando night club (49 killed) occurred just before the conference started, and set the tone for a lot of the preaching and concern for our nation.
3)Entire families come to the pastor’s conference. In yesteryear, just the pastors came. The dress is casual with a handful of exceptions.
4)One of the great fringe benefits of the Pastor’s Conference and Southern Baptist Convention, is the great music offered throughout. In recent years I have heard Matt Redman and Casting Crowns. The contemporary music group who played for this conference was Passion. They were a real blessing. Below is the last song they played, and my personal favorite:
This is a brief review of the annual Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), with several detailed articles to follow. The theme was Awaken America, Reach The World. Agree, Unite, Pray. The Pastor’s Conference featured music from local Christian choirs and ensembles, and from the well known contemporary Christian group “Passion.” Some of the main points touched on were the fact that there are less Southern Baptist churches and less baptisms each year. (Southern Baptists are still the largest Protestant Denomination in America with over 46,000 churches, but we are going backwards). The good news is that there are more church plants than ever. The need for unity and evangelism were stressed, with prayer as the foundation. Simplicity was asserted, realizing that the Holy Spirit, and NOT programs, is the key to success with the Lord. A multifaceted strategy to reach millennials and diverse groups of ethnics is of great importance, especially since one in five Southern Baptists is from a minority ethnic group! Speakers emphasized the fact that we need to reach the lost, and not quibble over minor theological differences.
The atmosphere of the convention was very peaceful. St. Louis is a bastion of conservatism, featuring well over 40,000 Boy Scouts in the area, many advancing to Eagle Scout, and performing good works in the community. There were absolutely no picketers or protesters present, which was a pleasant surprise. One gentleman with a megaphone was speaking to the Southern Baptist pastors as they entered the conference, and challenging them to lead their congregations in evangelism and soul winning. I appreciated his words. He was spot on.
A summary of the business at hand featured a large variety of subjects. The resolutions that were brought forth from the executive committee were passed, usually by unanimous votes following discussion and/or amendment(s). The resolutions involved the LGBT community, the Confederate Flag, and several other topics- details will be shared in future entries. Tremendous grace was displayed when the new SBC president was elected. Three candidates originally contested for this office, and the final two, Steve Gaines of Belleview Baptist Church in Tennessee and J.D. Greer of Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, were virtually tied without a clear winner. Grace won the day; details to follow.
It was truly a peaceful convention. filled with a spirit of unity.
Pray For Revival In America. Jesus Christ Is Our Only Hope!
“Grace Wins Every Time” (over guilt) according to the lyrics. Matthew uses Biblical illustrations: The Prodigal Son, The Woman At The Well, the Blind Man And The Beggar, and The Thief On The Cross. He then refers to today’s examples: The lost out on the street, the worst part of you and me, and a world that is lost. The prerequisites for us to benefit from God’s grace are 1)Faith (Without faith it is impossible to please God) and 2)Repentance (Without which we cannot be saved: Luke 13:3,5). The lyrics of today’s contemporary music often do not emphasize repentance but praise the Lord the Bible does! Blessings, Pastor Steve