I get a few emails from news outlets. And most of those sum up the days news. And some of them… after summing the news of the day… they have a segment known as “in good news today.” The idea is, there is so much bad news, we want to give you some good news. The good news of the day is something encouraging… something up-lifting.
Proverbs 15:25 says, “Like cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a distant land.”
We all need some good news. What is some good news today?
First, the best news of all is that Jesus loves us. Jesus Christ came to this world to die for the sins of mankind. Jesus loves all of us. Regardless of our past.. .our mistakes… our color… our nationality… our socioeconomic status… Jesus loves us all. That the best news today.
Second, we live in the greatest country on earth. Our nation definitely has it’s problems but, we are still free, thank the Lord. If someone has a business idea and is willing to work hard, they can start a new business and grow it into a profitable business. Thousands of people come to America in pursuit of the American dream.
Third, we are free to express ourselves. You want an example of that? Just browse social media.
Fourth, major advances have been made medically. Today, physicians and surgeons are able to do things that once were considered impossible.
Fifth, we have made major advances technologically. I am typing this column. In the past, someone would write a letter and then, give it to someone riding a horse. That person would take the letter to its recipient. Today, when I finish typing this letter, I will press a key and the power of the world-wide web will make this post available for anyone in the world to read it.
Sixth, people are still being kind to one another and helping people… although we don’t often hear about those kinds of things.
Jesus loves us… and thousands of Christians are expressing the love of Christ with others.
There is GOOD NEWS!
Let’s imagine that you want to talk with the Governor. You have a problem and you think the Governor could, very possibly help you. So, you call the Governor’s office.
Your call is answered and you tell them you would like to schedule a time with Governor. The individual asks what company or business you are with?
You tell them you don’t represent anyone; you would just like to speak with Governor.
You are then told the Governor’s schedule is pretty full but maybe someone else could help you.
But you tell the individual that you want to speak with the Governor. Finally, you are told, the Governor will give you ten minutes. You are told to be at the Governor’s office at a certain time and you will have ten minutes with the Governor.
Ten minutes… not very long… so you work on your questions… you don’t have but ten minutes so you need to make sure you ask the right questions.
Ten minutes with the Governor… not very long…
But the Bible says you can talk to Jesus any time. There are time constraints. Jesus is available twenty-four-seven, three-hundred-and-sixty-five days a year.
Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you and tell you great and mighty things which you did not now.”
That verse is referred to as God’s “phone number.” So, do you have a problem and you need to talk with someone? You can talk to the Lord… He will tell you great and mighty things which you did not know.”
“I see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
That’s an expression that is used to remind us that there is hope. We may be going through very tough times but, there is light at the end of the tunnel. In other words, the tough times are about to come to an end.
In Jeremiah 32, he speaks of the light at the end of the tunnel. The city of Jerusalem was under siege to the Babylonians and Jeremiah was in prison. So, things didn’t look too good. The Lord spoke to Jeremiah and told him he was about to give the city of Jerusalem into the hands of the king of Babylon. But then, God gave Jeremiah a word of hope.
God told Jeremiah that Hanamel, the son of Shallum, Jeremiah’s uncle was going to come to Jeremiah and he would offer for Jeremiah to buy his field because Jeremiah had the right of first refusal. And, Hanamel did come to Jeremiah and offer for him to purchase a piece of land.
Now, why was this so significant? Ok, get the picture… Jerusalem is under siege… the Babylonians are about to conquer it…. So, why would you purchase a piece of property that is about to be given to the Babylonians?
Because, as Jeremiah said in verse 15, “Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.”
A city that was currently under siege.. a city that was about to be taken by the Babylonians, would one day return to Israel. This story was intended to give Jeremiah and Israel hope.
This story does not mean that Israel isn’t going to face some tough times. They were… Things were going to get worse before they would get better… but, there was a time in the future would things would get better.
I don’t know what you are facing today… but there is hope. God loves you and is with you. You may say, “Ok, does that mean I’m going to get a raise? Does it mean someone is going to give me a new car? Am I about to inherit some money?”
No, no and no.
You could get a raise.. but the promise of hope isn’t contingent on that. Hope may mean that God is going to give you the strength to make it through the day.
I’m reminded of some of my favorite verses;
“Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vine;
Though the yield of the olive should fail and there be no cattle in the stall;
Yet I will exult in Thee O God.”
Jeremiah was told, “Buy the field… it’s coming back”
There is hope in the future
I am a Potts. I came into the world as a Potts. I am grey-headed, stocky and and the older I get, I have a large nose… like Potts men. There is nothing I can do about those things. That’s the genetic makeup I was born with.
I could wish, “Lord, why couldn’t I have been born a Manning? Why couldn’t I have been an athlete like Archie Manning and his boys?” But it would do no good… I am the son of Robert and Myrna Potts so I have Potts and Brock genes.
I can’t make myself tall…that’s not in my genes… From the beginning, I knew I would never be as tall as Kareem Abdul Jabbar. 🙂
I was born a Potts and, I was born a sinner. I couldn’t do anything about it. Because I am human, I am a sinner and my sin separated me from God.
When I realized I was a sinner, I could have tried to fix it. I could have thought, “Ok, I’m going to try to be a good person… maybe that will fix my sin problem.”
But, the Bible says that my “righteousness is as filthy rags…” So, I can’t be good enough to fix my sin problem.
I could have thought, “Ok, I will offer sacrifices to God and that will fix my sin problem.” But sacrifices don’t fix my problem.
No, I have a problem that I simply could not fix… But God could.
In Jeremiah 31, the Lord tells Jeremiah that the days were coming when He would give Israel a new covenant. This covenant wouldn’t be like the 10 commandments… written in stone… No, this covenant would be written on man’s heart. God was talking about the change that takes place in our hearts when we invite Christ into our hearts. The Lord said He would give us a new covenant in our hearts. Jeremiah 31:31 & 33 says, “Days are coming when I will make a new covenant… I will put my law within them.”
So, God gives us a new covenant which is a new heart to deal with our sin problem. Today, thank the Lord for the new covenant…. the new heart… that He has given us.
Recently I was talking with a person and the individual began telling me of the past indiscretions of a certain individual. I listened and I admit, it bothered me to hear some of these things. Hearing these things kind of changed my opinion of an individual… briefly…
But then, the Lord reminded me, I had made mistakes in the past. Everyone of us have done things that we would do differently given the opportunity. The key is to learn from our mistakes and move on.
In I Timothy 1, the apostle Paul talks about his past. He says, “… even I waa formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor…” Paul has listed three things about his past that were wrong. He was a “blasphemer”… a “persecutor” …and a “violent aggressor.” Paul is honest about his mistakes. He doesn’t try to cover them up or make them sound better. He admits them which is what we have to do… Be honest our mistakes… confess our sins…
But then Paul says, “And yet…” He’s just listed some terrible things in his past… He’s not proud of them yet, they are there. He can’t deny them. So, God can’t use Paul, right? Paul has messed up too bad. Nope… God can use Paul which is why Paul says, “And yet… I was shown mercy…”
IN spite of Paul’s past, he was shown mercy… He was shown mercy because had acted ignorantly…And then Paul says “…and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant…”
Just as God showed Paul mercy, He will show mercy to us. It doesn’t matter what is in your past.. it’s past… it’s done… God’s mercy is enough to over come a troubled past.
Whatever is in your past… that’s exactly where it is and where it needs to say… it’s over. God’s grace is enough to overcome a troubled past.
You have a past of alcohol abuse? God’s grace is greater.
You have a past of drug abuse? God’s grace is greater.
You have a past of financial mistakes? God’s grace is greater.
The list could go on and on.
Just as God showed mercy to Paul, He shows mercy to us.
A couple of days ago, I was getting a haircut at Davis and Company in Dallas, Ga. Sarah Gardner was cutting my hair. There was a lady in there who was going to walk to a clothing store right there close by. As she left she said she was leaving her wallet behind so that, even if she saw something she liked, she couldn’t buy it.
So, she goes to the clothing store and comes back and says she had found something “cute.” Then she said, “I’m going back with my wallet.” lol She had a good plan to begin with but she was yielding to temptation. lol
We live in a world of sin and temptation. Just because we are saved, doesn’t mean we won’t face temptation. The devil is alive and well on planet earth. And many times, we face the power of temptation.
We are tempted sexually. We are tempted financially. We are tempted emotionally. And the temptation is powerful. But, God promises to help us deal with temptation.
Paul wrote, in Ii Thessalonians 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” Paul is assuring the Christians in Thessalonica that while Satan is powerful and temptation is strong, God WILL protect them from Satan. How does God do this?
When we are being tempted, we have to ask the Lord to give us strength. James told us to “Submit therefore to God, resist the devil and He will flee.” So, when we are experiencing temptation, we draw closer to God and God helps us resist the devil.
From a practical standpoint, if you know something tempts you, stay away from it. If you are a recovering alcoholic, you may not need to go into a bar even if all you intend to do is talk with people.
If you have a problem with immoral thoughts, you don’t need to put yourself into a position where you will have those thoughts.
I John 4:4 says, “You are of God little children, and have overcome them because greater is He that is in you, than He that is in the world.”
So, we will be tempted… Satan is very real, but, God gives us strength to deal with temptation.
(I write a weekly column for the Cartersville, Daily-Tribune. This column is in today’s paper. It’s a tribute to my friend, Jeremy Morton. He has been Pastor of Cartersville FBC for 5 years. Today is his last Sunday.)
A Tribute To My Friend – Jeremy Morton
It was the fall of 2014. I was involved in a group known as “Leadership Bartow” sponsored by the Bartow Chamber of Commerce. There were leaders from all across the county in the group.
One of those, was a young man named Jeremy Morton. Jeremy was the new Pastor of Cartersville First Baptist Church. Jeremy had charisma. He had an enthusiastic personality. He could walk into a room and pretty much dominant it. He had that kind of charisma.
I’m not proud of this; but I was jealous of him. I mean, here is this young Preacher who is so popular and has all this charisma! I was envious. And I was like that for several months. Oh, when I was around Jeremy I would smile and laugh and carry on but inside, I was jealous!
And that bothered me. It bothered me so much that I called him one day and said, “I need to talk to you.” So, I went to his office, sat down and confessed. I told him I was jealous and I was wrong and I asked his forgiveness. He granted it and we talked and that began a close friendship. I didn’t know it, but the young Preacher I was jealous of, would minister to me for about two-and-a-half years.
I resigned in February 2016. In the weeks after that, Holli and I visited the church our kids attended… we visited another church in Kennessaw and one Sunday, we decided to visit Cartersville FBC. We were going to visit and mark it off our list and move on. That was our plan, at least.
But that Sunday, we walked into the worship center and almost immediately we began to sense there was something different about CFBC. The people were warm and Jeremy was a very good Preacher. I was a bit of a banged-up Preacher then. I wasn’t sure about church but I knew I needed to go even if there were Sundays when I really didn’t want to. During this time, Jeremy sensed that I was hurting and we began meeting for coffee or lunch. There was a time when we met just about every week. Many times it was at Ingle’s.
Many mornings I would get a text that went something like; “Time for coffee or breakfast?”
I would respond with “Yes..”
Then I would get “Ingle’s at 8?”
“Yes, see you there.”
Lots of mornings, we sat in the food court at Ingle’s and talked life, Georgia football, Cartersville football, church. Etc… Most mornings, Jeremy was listening to me… at one point, a hurting Preacher. But there were mornings, when the hurting Preacher listened to Jeremy… the young Preacher I had been jealous of…. As we talked church or he asked my opinion on decisions he was facing. I was humbled that this very successful young man would ask MY opinion on something. But he did and we ministered to one another.
Today, is Jeremy Morton’s last Sunday at Cartersville FBC. He is moving to First Baptist Church, Woodstock where he will become co-Pastor of that church along with his Preacher-mentor, Johnny Hunt. In time, Jeremy will be the lead Pastor. His leaving is tough for the church. CFBC experienced tremendous growth over the last five years. The church built a new pre-school wing and has plans to build a sanctuary.
Jeremy is my friend and I would never, ever say anything or do anything to hurt or offend him. But recently, God reminded me that the church is not built on Jeremy. It’s not built on any one human being. It’s built on Jesus.
The same Jesus that led Jeremy and Carrie Morton to come to Cartersville with their three children, is now leading them to Woodstock. And, the same Lord who is leading them to Woodstock, is preparing someone to come to Cartersville.
I am embarrassed that I was jealous of Jeremy. But I am thankful the Lord led me to go to him and ask forgiveness. If not, I may have missed the blessings of being ministered to by a young Preacher I was jealous of.
May the Lord be with you Jeremy and Carrie Morton. Cartersville FBC, and Gregg and Holli Potts will miss you. And Jeremy, this Preacher who has healed up some due to your ministry, always has time for coffee with a friend.