We had a great church anniversary celebration and revival last week. The Marsalis Avenue Church of Christ is celebrating its 89th year of existence. Minister Wesley T. Leonard was a blessing to the church! His Sunday morning message examined the question that God asked Abraham when Sarah laughed at the idea that she was going to have a child (Genesis 18:9-15). God asked, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” God then told Abraham that Sarah would have a child around that time the next year. Sarah was 89 years old in Genesis 18; the same age as this congregation. She was 90 when she gave birth to the son of promise, Isaac.
If the Lord allows us to see October of 2018, this church will be celebrating its 90th anniversary. I believe that God is saying to this church, “By this time next year, you will give birth to greatness.” God has planted seeds that will reap a harvest by this time next year. There are visions that will become reality by this time next year. There is potential that will be realized by this time next year.
There is nothing too hard for God. Whatever our vision is for the church, God sees more. Whatever our plans are for the congregation, God’s are greater. Wherever we plan to be, God can take us further. Even if we find God’s promises laughable, God continues to be faithful to His word. Join me in expecting God to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or imagine.
October 22, 2017 marks the celebration of our 89th Anniversary as a congregation. This year’s theme, “But God…” reminds us that God makes the difference in our lives. Ephesians 2:1-10 highlights our condition before salvation. We were dead in sins. We lived according to the ways of the world. We were disobedient. The power of evil that is currently at work in the world was at work in us. We indulged in the desires of our flesh and the corrupt thoughts of our minds. We were just like the total depravity that is in the world today.
“But God…” Those two words provide us with the hope that we need to overcome. We were poor, but God is rich. We were difficult to love, but God loved us while we were still sinners. We were dead, but God made us alive. We were lost, but God saved us by His grace. We were down, but God elevated us and seated us in the heavens in Christ Jesus. We were broken, but God recreated us in Christ Jesus for good works that He prepared in advance for us to do. No matter the condition in which you find yourself, there is a “But God” that can transform your life!
We invite you to join us Monday, October 23-Wednesday, October 25 at 7pm nightly for our revival. Minister Wesley T. Leonard of Orlando, Florida will encourage, inspire and challenge us from the Word of God as we explore how a “But God…” can forever change our lives!
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” Ephesians 2:4-5 (NASB).
On a recent visit to the store I noticed that Christmas decorations are now on display for purchase. We are still weeks away from Halloween, yet retailers are already promoting Christmas. Many will say, “It’s too early. Can we get through October before they bring out the Christmas stuff?” However, we can takes notes from the retail industry. Now is the time to plan for what’s coming.
So often we deal with things when they come instead of planning ahead for what’s coming. Our procrastination stresses not only ourselves, but those around us who are depending on us to get things done. There are certain things that we know we are going to have to face unless Jesus returns or calls us into His rest first. Tax day is going to come every April. Emergencies are going to arise. Aging and death inevitable. Planning does not cause an emergency, sickness or death. It prepares you and your family for them.
Planning is a very biblical concept. God, in whose image we are created, planned for our salvation before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4, 1 Peter 1:20). He did not wait until man sinned before He developed a plan to reverse the effects of sin. God can speak of the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us so that we can live with Him. God is purposeful in His actions and has planned for our future.
In Proverbs 6:6-11, the wise man implores us to learn some lessons from the ant. While it is summertime, the ant is thinking of how to survive the winter. Are you prepared for winter? Don’t wait until you are 60 to prepare for retirement. Don’t wait until you have a financial crisis to think about saving money. Plan for your future before it arrives.
What can you do now to plan for the next three months?
What you believe about God shapes how you live. Unfortunately, many Christians believe that God exists to make them happy. We have made our happiness the ultimate goal of life. People often say, “God wants me to be happy.” Some will even use happiness to justify their sin. The attitude is, “Who cares what the Bible says as long as I am happy. God understands.” Our “me-centric” culture encourages us to pursue personal happiness at all costs.
The truth is that God does not exist to make us happy. We are made to live for Him (2 Corinthians 5:15, Philippians 2:13). This does not mean that God does not care about our happiness. It does mean that our happiness should not come at the expense of our holiness. In scripture, happiness is a result. Holiness is a pursuit. When we pursue happiness instead of holiness, we often end up outside of the will of God. Since happiness is a result of a pursuit, you may be wondering what you should be pursuing so that you can be happy. God’s word reveals how we can be happy.
Happiness comes from recognizing the goodness of the Lord. In 2 Chronicles 7:10, Israel is happy because of what God had done for them. The temple had been dedicated and they now had a permanent building in which to worship. When we realize the blessings of God in our lives, it brings joy to our hearts. We can be happy about what God does in the lives of others. God’s mercies, healing, provision, protection, and power are just some of the many ways that God demonstrates His goodness.
Happiness comes from enjoying the fruit of our hard work (Psalm 128:2). It seems like some people live to work. They work so much that they sacrifice family time, personal wellness, and time in worship. Scripture encourages us to take a break from working so that we can enjoy the things we have worked for. Pause to celebrate what you have accomplished.
Happiness comes from wisdom (Proverbs 3:18). In Proverbs 3 wisdom is personified. She is precious and her ways are pleasant. When you take hold of wisdom and live wisely, the result is happiness. Wisdom is a constant companion of those who are truly happy. She gives you the proper perspectives and allows you to focus on what really matters. Wisdom is available to those who ask God for it (James 1:5).
Happiness is found in keeping God’s commands (Proverbs 29:18). This is in stark contrast to the thinking of many in our world today. There are even Christians who believe that the world is a happier place than the church. But true happiness is the result of obedience to the Word of God. Those who live in defiance to God’s Word are plagued by their conscience. But those who live for God can be happy in their decision to follow His commands. This is the key to true happiness. Satisfaction of the soul is found when we are able to be satisfied with the goodness of God (Jeremiah 31:14).
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.