Whom shall we follow? I am mindful in these times about how difficult it is for us to follow our leaders. In Titus 3:1 we are told, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good”. Yet Paul speaks of the factions that arose in Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 1:10 he appeals to that congregation to agree with one another yet notes in vs. 1:12 that people have chosen to follow either Paul or Apollos, Cephas or Christ. As I come to you now as your new Senior Pastor here at FBCPV I believe that it is God who places a man in authority over a congregation. (Rom 13:1).
What then is our role? I believe that once the decision has been made, whether it is a new Pastor or a new Elder, we are to do more than just submit, we are to actively support them. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12 Paul says, “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.” So we are to acknowledge them and more. Hebrews 13:17 tells us to, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”
The important thing is that we are all to be co-workers in the field of ministry with our leaders and do all that can be done to encourage them, enable them and support them so that God may work through them for the good of the Kingdom. In Exodus 17:10 Joshua goes out to fight the Amalekites at the direction of Moses. As the battle raged, as long as Moses held up his staff, the Israelites would be winning. But Moses’ hands grew tired and when they were lowered, the battle would go against Israel. Aaron and Hur were with Moses and while they couldn’t wield his staff, they could stand to either side of him and hold up his hands all day long until the battle was won. Let us commit to holding up the arms of all our leaders in ministry.
In Ephesians 6:12 we are told that, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” When any church calls new leaders, it will be God who equips us and send us into the battle under these leaders. But we must be willing. May we be ready and willing to fight the fight and hold up the arms of all our leaders from morning til evening so that the people of God can triumph in His name.
A WORD FROM PASTOR RICH
There comes a time when what we say is judged by what we do. The New Testament speaks about the fruit in our lives over a dozen times. Paul admonishes us to live as a direct result of our values, that is, to walk in love. (Ephesians 5:2). We are to live lives worthy of the calling of Christ. In the OT, Jesus is described as a “servant” (Isaiah 42:1). The NT describes Him similarly (Acts 3:26, Philippians 2:5-8). As a servant, Jesus taught that the way to God’s kingdom was by traveling the path of a servant (Matthew 23:11). So, to walk in integrity, we must follow in Jesus’ footsteps or better said, Jesus’ character. We are to become more and more like the Him (2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 4:15). We are to demonstrate love to others (Matthew 7:12). In Zechariah 8:16-17 we are told to, “ Speak the truth to each other, render true and sound judgment, do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the LORD.
Personal integrity sets an example to others. A criticism of Christians is that they are hypocrites. Paul tells Titus the way to avoid this, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good”. (Titus 2:7-8) A great way to be an example to your family, friends and to your church is to be a reliable person with your word. When you say you will do something, those who know you should consider it “done”. James says that we should “Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No’, no, or you will be condemned.” (James 5:12) Our faith is demonstrated by our commitment to what say we believe.
Does our daily life accurately represent what we profess to believe?
Pastor Rich Holt W
Worship is continuously living our lives individually and corporately as living sacrifices to the glory of a person or thing. This connection between glory and worship is clear in places such as Romans 11:36 (NIV).
“For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”
In this packed section of Scripture, Paul connects a number of vital truths regarding worship. First, we hold a person or thing in a place of Glory. Second, we then Worship that person or thing. Third, our worship of that person is Unceasing, not some occasional or scheduled thing.
Glory means weightiness, importance, preeminence, and priority, or our greatest treasure, deepest longing, and fountain of hope. Whatever we hold in the position of highest glory is by definition our god. Because we were made for the express purpose of worshiping God, every person is a worshiper. The only question is what or who we worship.
The most common word for Worship in the New Testament is proskuneo. This kind of worship is a profound submission and offering of respect to the one worshiped. We must always ask ourselves if, when we worship, we are coming from this deep, heart driven place.
Jesus’ life destroys any notion that worship is a sacred thing we do at a special time and special place. All of life is to be lived as Unceasing worship; cutting our grass and cleaning our dishes are as sacred and God-glorifying as raising our hands in church. God has made us in His image, which means that we were made for unceasing communion with Him in a life of continual worship to His glory. Paul sums up the life of unceasing worship best in 1 Corinthians 10:31.
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
The Trinity is our perfect model for worship as each member gives Glory the others unceasingly and perfectly. Not only do we Worship through Jesus, we must also Worship like Jesus. Jesus is the person who has worshiped God the Father with the most glory of anyone who has ever lived. He is the perfect worshiper. Jesus lived a life of perfect Glory to His Father and thus we can look at everything in His life, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, as born out of a life of ceaseless worship that glorified God the Father.
May we all give Glory to God by Unceasingly Worshiping Him in all our ways.
Pastor Rich Holt
“Grace be with all who love…
This church has been a blessing to me. I have had the greatest joy being your Pastor, teacher, student, mentor, leader, brother in Christ, and friend. There is so much I would like to say to you.
I could take time to reminisce about the ministry we did together, and all the joys we shared, but that wouldn’t be adequate. I could give you one last sermon, a spiritual piece of my mind for the road so to speak… but I won’t do that.
It is not the accomplishments and the sermons and Bible studies that I will take with me in memory, it’s you, the people of the First Baptist Church of Palos Verdes, that I will miss the most, the longtime members and those who have come to be a part of this church family recently. You are an amazing group of people, and the best thing is you don’t even know how amazing you are, so there is no danger of these words ever going to your head. God has truly put something unique and special in you that even churches hundred times your size don’t possess. To put it into words is difficult… I only know you are truly rich in the love of Christ.
So what can I give to a church that has everything? I give you the only thing I can, my thanks, my love, and my prayers that you will continue to grow in His grace and receive it in its full measure. Whatever you and I have accomplished together, we have done it through God’s glorious grace in Christ Jesus.
I share with you the words of Paul as I leave you to go on a new adventure.
“Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.” Ephesians 6:24
Thank you again for all the love you have shared with me
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” Proverbs 3:5-6
As long as I can remember, and especially when the situation warranted it, my mother would quote Proverbs 3:5-6 to me. It was probably the second verse I had memorized after John 3:16.
This is also quite often the verse I recite to myself over and over when I have trouble sleeping at night. Believe it or not it has worked for me more often than not. Maybe because in times of anxiety and uncertainty its message of who’s really in charge is the reminder I need to find peace and direction.
Faith and trust in the Lord is our home away from home while we sojourn here during life on this side of heaven. Trust in God is the only sure thing we have when we are not sure of what lies ahead of us. As a traveler must trust his map and a sailor trusts his compass, and a pilot must trust his instruments in order to find their way, a child of God trusts God at His word as found in His Word.
Because this verse is so familiar to us, we may have overlooked its promise to us. We give him our whole trust regardless of what the circumstances dictate, and let go of what we think should happen, or what may happen. If we give Him precedence in all ways regarding a decision, God’s promise is He will get us to where we need to be. Complete trust is our ticket to the destination of peace.
These old words of a wise king still can get us to that new place in the Lord, safe and sound.
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14
In recent years I have had the privilege to do some traveling especially when it involved going overseas. But with that comes the arduous task of packing for the trip, which I find very nerve racking… In fact anything involving luggage puts me in a bit of a dither.
First comes deciding what to pack, did I pack everything I need? Did I pack too much, or too little? What’s the weather going to be like, do I need to pack a jacket, or a swimming suit? For the most part I generally over-pack and second guess myself every step of the way.
And then comes the adventure with the luggage at the airport… the inspections, the weighing, the wondering if my suit case is over the weight limit and are we going to meet up at the same destination at the end of the flight?
But the most nerve racking is waiting for my bag to appear on the carousel at the end of the flight. The longer I have to wait the more concerned I become that my luggage may have gotten lost…but then it tumbles down the ramp and we reunite and all is well.
Over packing and lost baggage are two major concerns when it comes to traveling, except if our destination is to the Cross of Jesus Christ.
During the Lenten season as we reflect on the passion of Christ and the journey He took to the cross, we realize when he struggled up the hill called Calvary He was carrying all our baggage with Him. Our baggage includes all our sins, our hang-ups, our fears and much more, and when it is given to Jesus on the cross… it is lost to us. It will never tumble down the carousel into our possession ever again.
So when it comes to packing for the cross, we need to make sure we over-pack, and we can expect for all our baggage to be lost forever… and that’s a good thing.
…And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2
Okay… I’ll admit it I’m a sucker for romance. I love a good romantic tale that hooks me from the beginning, and keeps me hoping throughout the story that the star crossed lovers will overcome all their trials and find themselves in each other’s arms at the end, living happily ever after… I know… it’s corny, but like I said I’m a sucker for romance.
Quite often the stories follow the same formula. Two people discover one another, and the tension builds as they question their feelings, and after a while they discover they were destined for each other and the spark of love is ignited. Inevitably conflicts arise to test their love, and we hold on tight and hope that these two have it in themselves to overcome adversity and hold onto their love no matter the trials… and we are satisfied when Love wins in the end.
Some would say that only happens in books and stories, and reality is something different altogether. That may be so…but the truth is that love is tested and developed through adversity. Questions will arise and doubts will creep in, and hardships will come to only strengthen our resolve to Love, if that is our desire.
Right now we find ourselves, as the church of Jesus Christ, in the middle of our own love story with the Lamb of God. It did not end when we gave our life to Christ, it was only the beginning. Throughout our story we have and will endure conflicts and adversity, doubts and questions, victories and failures, great joy and great sorrow, tragedies and triumphs. But this story for us as His Bride does have a Happily-ever-after ending. Our love for Him may have its growing pains, but the love that Jesus has for us is sure and true and without question.
Our Happy ending comes with the promise that Jesus is coming again and will take us home to be with Him for eternity;
“…I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3
This is my kind of Love story… like I said I’m a sucker for a great romance.