Saturday, December 31, 2022

The Right Choice


A little over 1400 years before Jesus was born, Moses was camped out with the children of Israel along the West Bank of the Jordan River in the plains of Midian. Moses was 120 years old and was preparing the Israelites to embrace a new day. Moses was about to die, and God had chosen Joshua to be the new leader.

In that place, at that time, Moses was feeling the same thing Jesus would feel when it came time for Him to depart His earthly passion and purpose and entrust the work of God to others. Moses wanted to give clear instructions and be a strong encouragement to those who had been chosen to replace him.

Moses knew God was not going to make others lead His children in the right path, but he knew God was going to help them if they would. You see …

God does not make you do what He wants you to do, but He will help you if you will only try. Life is full of choices. We choose … just like:

·        Esther – She did not have to intercede for her nation, she chose to. (Esther 4)

·        Gideon – He didn’t have to destroy the nation’s idols, he chose to. (Judges 6&7)

·        Samson – He didn’t have to stand against the enemies of God, he chose to. (Judges 16)

·        Daniel – He didn’t have to risk his life by praying in public, he chose to. (Daniel 6)

·        Joseph and Nicodemus – They didn’t have to bury Jesus, they chose to. (John 19)

·        Mary Magdalene – She didn’t have to go to the garden tomb before sunrise, she chose to. (John 20)

·        The woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5 – She didn’t have to press in to touch Jesus, she chose to.

·        The lad with the 2 fishes and 5 barley loaves – He didn’t have to give his lunch to Jesus, but he chose to. (John 6)

·        Zacchaeus – He didn’t have to give the money back from the people he robbed, with interest … but he chose to. (Luke 19)

·        Cornelius – He didn’t have to pray and give money to help the poor, but he chose to. (Acts 10)

·        Ruth – She didn’t have to help her widowed mother-in-law, but she got to. (Ruth)

·        Rahab – She didn’t have to hide the spies, but she chose to. (Joshua 2)

Just like these and so many more, we get to choose what we do and who we are going to be in every situation. We get to choose if we are going to be a good and godly spouse; an obedient child; a willing worker; a loyal friend; a covenant partner; a kind stranger; a loving grandparent; or a fair boss.

Over 3400 years ago Moses stood on the West Bank of the Jordan River and spoke his parting words to Joshua and the Children of Israel. All he could do was hope they would choose to do what was best for God and for them. The people knew what was right … God always makes sure his children know what is right. However, the choice is always up to them …

Deuteronomy 30:19  “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”

The Gospel of John shares a sad concern:

John 1:17  For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 3:19  “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

It’s a sad day when people who have been given the choice, choose what is less than best for themselves and others. Some people choose darkness.

Concluding his parting words that day, Moses said:

Deuteronomy 32:47  These instructions are not empty words — they are your life! By obeying them you will enjoy a long life in the land you will occupy when you cross the Jordan River.”

Have you chosen life and blessings, or death and curses? It is your life! As sure as there was a man named Moses, this word is true. It is your life and the choice is yours. Choose today!

How can you make this choice? Here is how Moses answered that question along with a promise he attached if you make the right choice:

Deuteronomy 30:20  You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Here is the key to your life:

·        Love the Lord your God.

·        Obey the Word of God.

·        Commit yourself completely to Him.

And you’ll have a happy new year and a blessed life all year long!

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The Last Word


There is something powerful about “Last Words.” First impressions are important but last impressions are lasting impressions. Last words matter because Last words last …

How a life or a journey begins does not tell the whole story. Rather, as with each movie, we judge a life or a relationship or even a holiday on how it ends. The highest honors are most often reserved not for how a person lives their life but rather for how a person gives their life.

During the year 2022, our year of reconnect at GTCOTR, our Church Family has been 100% responsible for:

·        The monthly sponsorship and care of 91 children in various places around the world.

·        Fed more than 50,000 meals in East Africa through our KE Resources Kenyan Outreach.

·        Supplied doctors and medicines for various medical campaigns.

·        Assisted in supplying over 700,000 meals in India.

·        Reached out to our surrounding communities in Southeast Texas with over 300 Turkeys to needy families for Thanksgiving.

·        Distributed toys to children in Port Arthur for Christmas.

·        Helped to drill just over 50 water wells around the globe.

·        Built 10 new houses at the Gioto Dump site along with the very first public toilet ever in their 51-year history.

·        Blessed our local communities with everything from Christmas Fest to VBA.

·        We saw lives changed, people encouraged, and needs met in so many ways throughout the year. More than 100 people embarked on mission trips from our Church. Thanks be unto God! All glory to Him!

What we do for Jesus matters. You make an eternal difference in the lives of so many. From Russia to Mexico, from Thailand to Kenya, and from India to Southeast Texas, every day you spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to hearts and homes. Thank you for a year of reconnecting with the family.

2022 has not been easy but it has been a productive year for our Church.

Before we end 2022 and draw our final conclusions, let’s look at some of the last words in the Bible to see if we can discover a model to follow.

When I think of one Bible character who had a hard life my mind runs to Job. At almost any point in the 42 chapters of Job, a person could stop and have a reason to be sad for Job. However, the difficulties he faced for years was not the last word in his life. What was his last word?

Job 42

15  In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers.

16  After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations.

17  So Job died, old and full of days.

What put Job on his road to a better day? His attitude and his decision to not let trouble and problems be his last word. Job acted like the man he wanted to be instead of the way life and others described him. He defined himself instead of letting his disappointments define him.

Job 42

10  And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

11  Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the LORD had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold.

12  Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning …

Job decided his future and acted like the person he wanted to be instead of the way others saw him.

Another person I think about when I think about not allowing the problems of life or any one moment have the last word is the Apostle Paul. If you are familiar with his life and ministry, you know how many things he suffered. He was beaten numerous times, shipwrecked, jailed, stoned, run out of town after town, maligned, threatened, distrusted, betrayed and even lost his best friend over an argument. Paul was acquainted with hardship. When he was about 62 years old and in prison in Rome under Nero waiting to have his head chopped off, we hear an account from Luke which constitutes the last words in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles:

Acts 28

30 ¶  And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,

31  Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

That’s not the picture of a prisoner who has been defeated by life but a man who is living in victory. Why? Listen to what we consider Paul’s last words which he writes to Timothy from this Roman prison:

2 Timothy 4:22  The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

Paul is definitely not your ordinary condemned prisoner. He is an encourager who prays for the grace of God to be with Timothy. Paul’s last words are meant to encourage us all. And we never hear from him again!

The last word in Psalms also gives the upbeat message which runs through the entirety of the Bible:

Psalms 150:6  Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

Even the last words of the Apocalypse leaves us with a word of hope and encouragement:

Revelation 22:21  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

As 2022 comes to a close, without respect as to how the year unfolded for you personally, professionally or politically, perhaps we could harness our hurts and focus our hopes on a better and brighter day for next year. Let’s not be defined by what we have seen in the past but rather let’s begin speaking grace and leave others with some better last words than perhaps the past deserves. Our future depends on us not on our problems.

What if the words you speak to others today are the last words they hear? Would you want them to be words of hope or words of hurt? How do you want to be remembered and how do you want your last words to be?

I pray grace and peace be multiplied to you in the coming year and may the Lord Jesus Christ be with us all. Amen!

Next Wednesday evening we will begin a new series, a study on the life of Joseph, from the book of Genesis.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

The Christmas Story

 The Christmas Story



The message today is all about you. You are the real reason for the season. Without you, there would be no Christmas, and no need for one.


Christmas didn’t just happen. Christmas was made to happen and after 2000 years, everyone still has a part to play in the continuing story of Christmas. Let’s read the Christmas Story together …

Luke 2 NLT

1 ¶ At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.

2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)

3 All returned to their own towns to register for this census.

4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.

5 He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.

7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

8 ¶ That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep.

9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened,

10 but the angel reassured them. "Don’t be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone!

11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!

12 And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!"

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God:

14 "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors."

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16 They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.

17 Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.

18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished,

19 but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.

20 The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.

Matthew 2 NLT

1 ¶ Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,

2 "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose, and we have come to worship him."

3 Herod was deeply disturbed by their question, as was all of Jerusalem.

4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law. "Where did the prophets say the Messiah would be born?" he asked them.

5 "In Bethlehem," they said, "for this is what the prophet wrote:

6 ‘O Bethlehem of Judah, you are not just a lowly village in Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’"

7 Then Herod sent a private message to the wise men, asking them to come see him. At this meeting he learned the exact time when they first saw the star.

8 Then he told them, "Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!"

9 ¶ After this interview the wise men went their way. Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.

10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!

11 They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

12 But when it was time to leave, they went home another way, because God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

13 ¶ After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up and flee to Egypt with the child and his mother," the angel said. "Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to try to kill the child."

14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother,

15 and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: "I called my Son out of Egypt."

16 ¶ Herod was furious when he learned that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, because the wise men had told him the star first appeared to them about two years earlier.

17 Herod’s brutal action fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah:

18 "A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah—weeping and mourning unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted—for they are dead."

19 ¶ When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and told him,

20 "Get up and take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead."

21 So Joseph returned immediately to Israel with Jesus and his mother.

22 But when he learned that the new ruler was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid. Then, in another dream, he was warned to go to Galilee.

23 So they went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets concerning the Messiah: "He will be called a Nazarene."

You are the reason for the season we call Christmas, the day of Christ. This is the story of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah. Jesus was born to save your soul. Either you have already been saved by believing Jesus is the Son of God and accepting Him into your life, or you need to be saved right now. Jesus is the best gift ever!!!  


Say yes to Jesus. Surrender your life to Him right now. Invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. It is so simple and so easy. He did all the hard work and now He is waiting for you to say yes … all of heaven is waiting for you. 


Pray with me right now


Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The Grace of Christmas


The Christmas message is a message of grace in that it is was a choice, not a demand and not a reward.

At some point in the early 60’s AD, Peter traveled to the ancient city of Babylon no doubt so that he could carry Gospel to those Jews whose ancestors had stayed behind during the return to Jerusalem after the captivity spoken of in the book of the prophet Ezra. Babylon had figured greatly in Israel’s history. It seems only reasonable that God would send an Apostle of Christ to encourage those still living in Babylon with the Good News that Messiah had come.

While in Babylon Peter received inspiration from the Holy Spirit to write a letter to God’s chosen people who were living as “foreigners” in the provinces of what we now know as the nation of Turkey. Peter has his own definition of what being a “foreigner” really means.

1 Peter 1:17  And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.”

Peter is not calling them foreigners because they are not native to the area, but rather because they are the children of God, citizens of heaven, living in a world that is not their home.

Peter clearly wrote his first letter to both the Gentile and the Jewish Believer in Jesus encouraging them to recognize the grace of God and embrace their responsibility to God because of His grace. God was not forced to give His only Son to save mankind, He did it by His own choice. Herein is the love of God proved and our value to God realized.

Seeing we have been loved with such a great love and thereby saved from the power of sin, death, hell, and the grave, Peter writes that we should all, Jew and Gentile alike, be thankful to God and remember to show our thankfulness by endeavoring to live a life pleasing to Him.

Now let’s read our text for this evening:

1 Peter 1 NLT

1 ¶  This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

2  God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.

3 ¶  All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation,

4  and we have a priceless inheritance — an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.

5  And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

6  So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.

18  For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver.

19  It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.

23  For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.

There is no greater love and no better story than the Christmas story.

John 3:16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Have you been saved by grace? Are you thankful? How will you show it?

Sunday, December 18, 2022

History 101


Ecclesiastes 1:9  History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.

During the second century BC, division in Israel became more and more evident along with the rise of Greek influence in society. In brief, the major division was one of opposing ideologies. It was not the first time nor the last in which families, friends, and communities divided along political, social, and religious lines.

The division between the progressive liberal Jews who loved all things Greek and the traditional conservative Jews who followed the law of Moses, brought the nation to war. The Seleucid Greco-Syrian King, Antiochus Epiphanes, set up Greek gods in Jerusalem and even turned the Temple Ezra had built for Jehovah into a Temple to Zeus. He sacrificed a pig on the brazen altar and sprinkled the pig’s blood in the Holy of Holies.

The liberal element of the Jewish government which was in power at that time supported the Seleucid mandates to stop celebrating the sabbath and all the feasts, they did not complain when required to stop circumcising their sons and begin sacrificing pigs to the pagan Greek gods.

A group of conservative Jews led by Judas Maccabee and his 4 brothers used unconventional tactics to wage war on the Seleucid army for three years before finally achieving victory and gaining access to Jerusalem and the desecrated Temple.

This is a marvelous part of history to study as we can see it played out over and over through the millennia. The account continues as Judas Maccabee and his followers began to destroy the pagan idols, cleanse the Temple, and get it ready to rededicate to Jehovah.

There was however a big problem. There was not enough consecrated special oil to light the menorah, a holy lamp which was to burn continually in the Temple without fail. This lamp, once lit, should never go out. But there was not enough oil and not enough time to purify and consecrate more. There was only enough for one day.

Nonetheless, as history records, on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, in the year 165BC, with all Jerusalem watching, Judas Maccabee ordered the lamp to be lit in faith. That small amount, only enough for one day, continued to burn, keeping the light shining in the Temple for 8 days, until more oil had been purified and consecrated for use in the Holy Place.

In light of the miracle God gave the children of Israel, Judas Maccabee ordered the children of Israel to observe the 25th of Kislev each year by lighting candles and shining lights in each home and throughout the cities wherever Jews lived joined by celebrations and joyous giving of gifts. Thus began the Festival of Lights which is still celebrated each year in memory of that first Hanukkah, which means dedication.

The month Kislev on the Jewish calendar coincides with our December. This is the season in which the angel Gabriel visited a young girl named Mary in the town of Nazareth and told her she had been chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah. This is also the time of year when we find Jesus visiting Jerusalem as recorded in John 10. Let’s read from that passage.  

People were also divided in Jesus’ day. There were the progressively liberal Sadducees and the more traditionally conservative Pharisees. The people were the same, only the names change … history just continues to repeat itself.

John 10 New Living Translation

19 ¶  When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him.

22 ¶  It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication.

23  He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade.

24  The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25  Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.

26  But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep.

27  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

·        Listen to My voice

·        I know them

·        They follow Me

28  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,

29  for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.

1.   Listen to His voice.

a.   He speaks … directly to your heart.

b.   He affirms and He concerns .

c.    We are not left without a witness.

d.   And we have been given His Word.

2.   Do you know Him?

a.   More than knowing about Him …

b.   Does He know you?

c.    God wants a real relationship … not a passing acknowledgement.

3.   Follow Jesus.

a.   Be like Jesus …

b.   Would you be better or worse if you followed Him?

c.    Love; forgive; pray; care; share; encourage; do good; heal.

d.   Lead others to choose heaven.

Even though history repeats itself, let’s choose to not be divided this Christmas. And by the way … this year Hannukah begins today and will continue through next Sunday. Happy Hannukah!

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Big Steps


Until eternity is enough, nothing will be enough.

        Once eternity is enough, everything else will be ok.

God has often asked people of faith to take some big steps.

·        Noah (Build a boat … a big boat!)                  Genesis 6

·        Abraham (Sacrifice his son)                          Genesis 22

·        Ruth (Move to a foreign land)                       The Book of Ruth

·        David (Face & Fight Goliath)                         1 Samuel 17

·        Esther (Interrupt the King and risk death)       Esther 4

·        Elijah (Meet with some angry people)             1 Kings 18

·        Martha (Trust Him with Lazarus’ death)          John 11

·        The Young Rich Ruler (Give away his money)  Mark 10

·        Ananias (Pray for Saul of Tarsus)                  Acts 9

·        Peter (Gentiles can be saved & baptized)        Acts 10

Almost everyone in the Bible was asked to take a big step at from time to time. Trusting God with their past, their present, or their future.

Trusting God with your past, your present, or your future is a big step.

There is always something we can do to please God and pleasing God will require our faith. As we have heard many times before. “Faith doesn’t make things easy; faith makes things possible.” Faith is not always easy.

Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

This morning we are going to review one moment in the life of a young girl who was asked to trust God. It was a really big step for her, as it would have been for anyone. We aren’t told the whole story but what we have gives us some solid ground on which we can stand when it comes our time to take a bigger than normal step in life.

Luke 1 NKJV

30  Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

31  “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.

God asked Mary because He needed help, and He couldn’t do it by Himself. He knew her better than she knew herself. He had evidently been watching her and chose her because He believed she would and could do it.

God does not point where He will not also provide. What Mary could not do, God did. God was fully committed, and He had all the answers long before He asked Mary to participate. God was willing and able to provide whatever Mary needed.

Faith does not make things easy; faith makes things possible. Mary’s faith in heaven’s message opened a door of opportunity for her to experience a miracle, just as it had done for so many before and after her.

Mary needed three things:

1.   The angel Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid …” or basically … Fear Not!

2.   Mary needed to – Commit.

a.   We can not be afraid because we simply aren’t going to do it …

b.   Mary needed to make a Quality Decision …

                                         i.    That’s a decision we aren’t going to take back when the going gets tough.

                                        ii.    Psalms 15:4 He who swears to his own hurt and does not change.

                                      iii.    Matthew 5:37  “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

3.   Take the Big Step – it probably won’t be the last big step you’ll take.

The big step for you right now might be:

·        Salvation which only comes through an embraced relationship with Jesus Christ.

o   Followed by Water Baptism

o   And Activation of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in your life

·        Church Commitment

o   Church Membership

o   Financial Support

·        Trusting God for a Personal or Family Need

o   Healing

o   Job

o   Restoration of Relationships

Faith is a big step … you can take one right now.

·        Fear not …

·        Commit …

·        Take the Big Step!

Until eternity is enough, nothing will be enough.

Once eternity is enough, everything else will be ok.