FWB Convention Sermon: God Is Faithful To the Persecuted

ImageOn Tuesday, 17 July I received the greatest honor and privilege in my ministry – preaching in our evening worship service at our NAFWB 2012 Convention.  Let me begin by saying, “Thank you!”  I was so very honored and humbled to be able to speak.  There are many people I would like to thank.

  • First of all, thanks to my wife Debbie, and my children Tyler and Kristen.  You guys have supported me 100% throughout my/our entire ministry and a simple ‘thank you’ will never be enough. I love you guys.
  • I would also like to thank our NAFWB Executive Secretary, Dr. Keith Burden and the Executive Committee for inviting me to preach.
  • I must also thank my Victory Church family for their prayer and support.  Many of them gathered at the church on Tuesday evening to pray for me and to watch the service, which was streaming live on the internet.  (Thanks also to the FWB Media Commission!)

It’s been said that we do not stand alone, that we stand on the shoulders of others.  I believe that is true and there were several shoulders I stand on. Here are just a few on the great men who have invested in my life and ministry over the years, in which I’m grateful:

  • Rev. Leonard Lindsey, pastor of Calvary FWB Church in Rutherford College, NC. Pastor Lindsey has been my pastor for many years.  He shared his pulpit and gave me my first opportunity to preach! He also has encouraged and counseled me throughout my pastoral ministry. As Dr. David Crowe would say, “Pastor Lindsey is one of my balcony people!”
  • Rev. Milton Hollifield, retired FWB pastor. Pastor Hollifield took my under his arm and introduced me to the North Carolina FWB Association. The very first person I met, at the very first NC State Convention I attended, was Brother Hollifield.  From that day forward He “shepherded” me through our NC State Denomination. Thank you Brother Hollifield.
  • Rev. Wendall Walley, President of California Christian College.  Before Brother Wendall became the president of California Christian College he was the pastor of Zepher Hills FWB Church in Asheville, NC. Just as Brother Hollifield introduced me to the NCFWB, it was Brother Walley who introduced me to our denomination of the national level. Thank you Brother Wendall.

My assigned text was 1 Peter 4:12-19, and my topic was “God Is Faithful to the Persecuted.” Many of you have requested a copy of my outline, therefore, I’ve placed a PDF doc of my notes on my podcast page. Simply visit my podcast, then click on the PDF or Adobe icons to download a copy of the sermon.

Click here to be directed to my podcast.

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The Gift of Encouragement

But I considered it necessary to send you Epaphroditus—my brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier, as well as your messenger and minister to my need.  (Philippians 2:25)

Some people know just what to say and do to encourage others who are going through difficult times. Their words give strength to those who are discouraged and comfort to those who are grieving.

These people are sensitive to God’s voice. They are not self-centered or unaware of the struggles of those around them. They are the ones we immediately seek when we enter a crisis. They are welcome visitors when we are in distress, for their presence sustains us.

Scripture testifies of many whom God enabled to encourage others.

  • When Moses was overwhelmed by his work, Jethro went to him and encouraged him. Jethro gave Moses wise counsel that eased his strain (Exod. 18:1–27).
  • When Paul was imprisoned far from those who loved him, Epaphroditus risked his health and safety in order to go to Paul and minister to him (Phil. 2:25–30).
  • Later, Paul urged Timothy to come and visit him, for Paul found strength and encouragement in Timothy (2 Tim. 4:9; Phil. 2:19–20).
  • Paul asked Timothy to bring Mark also. Mark was the kind of friend Paul needed when he was enduring hardship (2 Tim. 4:11; Philem. 24).
  • Paul also relied on Luke for encouragement. When everyone else was absent or preoccupied, Luke could be found with Paul (2 Tim. 4:11).

Paul experienced trials throughout his life, but God sustained him by placing godly friends around him who provided support in practical and sacrificial ways. God wants to develop you into the kind of friend who can strengthen others. The words you share and the things you do can bring comfort and encouragement to your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your coworkers.

I am thankful, because I have been encouraged this week by family and friends.  Think of someone in your circle of influence and search for a way to encourage them during this Christmas season.