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Strategic Planning Committee Recommendation Sermon

Salem Baptist Church / Pastor Kivett Hicks
The Truth Network Radio
February 9, 2020 5:00 am

Strategic Planning Committee Recommendation Sermon

Salem Baptist Church / Pastor Kivett Hicks

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Your Bibles and turn to the book of Nehemiah the book of Nehemiah. Next week will jump into a full book study of Nehemiah before today. I will for us to start by pulling out a few points. Some key points will we find here in chapters 1 and two, and then I got a recommendation on the share with you from the strategic planning committee of archer some things about how Nehemiah approached the challenge that was in front of him and I believe that these are important things for us to understand today.

You know the story. Nehemiah is the cupbearer to the king of Persia is exiled away from his homeland is a visit from his brother and some other men, and they tell him they remind Nehemiah that the walls of Jerusalem are lying down in ruins. Not only is this dangerous for the city and its inhabitants. It is dishonoring to God.

Nehemiah is absolutely correct.

Over this news with a God fueled brokenness. He is wrecked with a God fueled brokenness. See, God had a plan for Nehemiah but that plan could not come about until Nehemiah is completely broken over what broke the heart of God. We want to focus on here for just a few moments is how Nehemiah practically approached this challenge that is in front of him.

There's five things we see him do and want to encourage you on the back of your bullets and you have a ton of space for taking notes now will be a great time to pull the bulletin out and and take notes as we move forward. But here's five practical things that Nehemiah did number one. Nehemiah included God.

Nehemiah included God Nehemiah chapter 1 verse four says I sat down and wept and mourned for days and I continued fasting and praying for the God of heaven because I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Continue on Nehemiah chapter 2 Nehemiah standing for the king and in the king is asking what's wrong Nehemiah the king then asked him a question and before Nehemiah answers the question. He goes to God in prayer. He includes God and the conversation is taken place between him and the king. We continue on and you see Nehemiah get some to get some opposition from sand ballots right the first thing that he does as he goes to God in prayer. He says God, would you please help me with this. He prays a prayer about a situation that he is in focus. Any initiative or any project that is not included. God is just a man-made and a man funded excursion. That's all it is where God is the initiator when hit, where he continues to be included. Watch out because he cannot be stopped. So first of all Nehemiah included God. Secondly, we see many of Nehemiah gather information gathered information now to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem was already on the heart of Nehemiah. So when the king asked him it was that you need is us with the king said what is it you need what you're requesting from me.

He's ready with an answer because he had done his homework in gathering information so we look at chapter 2 verse seven look at it with me. If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the provinces beyond the river, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah in a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple and for the wall of the city and for the house that I shall occupy and the king granted me what I asked for the good hand of my God was upon me. See Nehemiah had done his homework. He knew what is going to take to rebuild those walls and he had his materials list ready the rebels a little for beforehand for your Lowe's or Home Depot to write out what you need right from us, like Nehemiah had that ready in his mind he had gathered the information he had the materials list ready. What is it going to take to do something. I can imagine him including God in this conversation beforehand God that would you give me wisdom to know what is going to take to get this thing done the first of all, saw that Nehemiah included God. Secondly, he gathered information and the third thing we see Nehemiah do is that he experienced firsthand experience firsthand in the middle of chapter 2 Nehemiah gets to Jerusalem, and at night he goes out and he inspects the walls. The experiences firsthand. What's going on.

Nehemiah had never seen Jerusalem before he had never set foot on the property. He heard other people talk about.

It is a strong chance that he knew the geography he knew were the different gates were were were placed before he knew those things about Jerusalem, but he had never seen it firsthand. So was either goes out at night and he inspects he he takes a look see.

He needed an honest firsthand look at what's going on is at this point he only gathered information about the city of but now I see in firsthand as a part of experience in that firsthand. We see the also involved a few good people.

He involved a few good people.

It wasn't just Nehemiah that went out on those night rods around the city. They took a few men with women and honestly wasn't just one night that he went out were we understand really from from the from the passage here that it's multiple nights that Nehemiah goes out and he inspects the walls.

He rides around in the season and any we know that he takes people with them. Chapter 2 verse 12 is clear that he told no one what God put on his heart, but I can imagine Nehemiah in the daytime. After those rides taken place the night before is probably going to these different men in the Cisse and stuff like hey hey what's your thoughts on what we saw last night or what are your thoughts on on the condition of the walls of Jerusalem or what you think ought to be done about the walls of Jerusalem and by involving a few good people get this by involving a few good people. What was before a God given burden now becomes the beginning stages of a movement see before God laid it all Nehemiah's heart say Nehemiah. Some of these be done. It's a God given burden but now he's got a few people together always is the beginning stages of a movement and it is at this point, then, that Nehemiah engaged the whole city number five engaged the whole city chapter 2 verse 17 will start reading their here's what Nehemiah says to the city as a whole.

So everybody's got around to revise listing. He says you see the trouble we are in how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned, let us build the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer suffer derision and I told him of the hand of my God that he been upon me for good and also of the worst of the king is spoken to me and they said let us rise up and build so they strengthen their hands for the good work.

Now let me be clear here. Okay, I am in no way shape or form. Nehemiah like I long to have the kind of passion and ability leadership ability that Nehemiah had. We are not the Israelites that are gathered there in Jerusalem. It will be careful not to write ourselves into a story such as this is dangerous when you do that however when you look at the story you see what God did there.

I can see some similarities in what God has been doing here Salem Baptist Church.

I can see some similarities there. Here they are. As we get ready to move into this next. As our church and hear the recommendation here in a few moments, folks, I truly believe that God has been included in this entire process over and over and over again. We have groups of people who were falling on her face before God saying God, would you give us clarity would you give us vision, would you show us what is right for us.

How we move forward well number two I see that what we were were now approaching several years of gathering information and thinking and praying for God to provide clarity for the future Salem Baptist Church. That time of gathering information is as been is still more to come. Others been the opportunity to experience firsthand the state of the church to take an honest firsthand look at what's going on over the past year we've had good people coming together to work and to get an inside look at our church where we at with where we need to be a now number five. It is time to engage the whole church as a whole that is been a process that is been absolutely bays in prayer because we believe that prayer connects our minds and our hearts with the mind and the heart of God.

We want to continue bathing this in prayer and I think right now is a great time for us to just bow our heads and go to him and asked that he bless our time together so spray together. Our father I come to you and and father.

I am humbled at the ways we have seen you working father hundred 11 years we celebrated last year of you working in this church of you sustaining this church father of you saving people through this church of people being sent out from this church to go and plant churches father to go in and and overseas and share the gospel with people plant churches there father hundred 11 years of the people of this church being mobilized for your glory so that others can come to a saving knowledge of your son Jesus father. That's our heart that's what we want to see we want to see that continue father would you be glorified by everything that takes place in this room today. Father would you give me words need to be spoken.

Would you give us as a church wisdom as we prepare to move forward in all of the father.

We give you the honor and glory that you alone are due. We love you, father. We only love you because you first loved us.

Father, we thank you for sending Jesus to die in our place and it's in his holy and precious name I pray. Amen with your guest here with us today I want to tell you that you are welcome and and I'm excited that you're here, you can hear a lot the next little while, just as we process through a lot of second place here with our church and not invite you to to the conversation invite you to listen in and listen to what we believe is taking place currently with our church will ever year ago. The nominating committee and this church put together a strategic planning committee which I would've referred to sometimes as a SPC okay student planning committee SPC here some of the excerpts from that initial proposal that was made for the formulation of the SPC okay personal purpose.

The SPC will be responsible for dialogue regarding the future of Salem Baptist Church. The SPC will operate based on the church's mission and philosophy of ministry to plan for the long-term sustainability and growth of the ministry. The SPC will then make recommendations to the church based on their findings to institute a long-term plan. Here's rationale the Bible is clear that the elders pastors of the church are the leadership of the church of the deacons are given the responsibility of coming alongside the elders for the purpose of serving the people of the church as needed. The church's local body of believers is the body of Christ and as such has responsibility to govern itself according to the teaching of the word of God and the leading of the Spirit of God.

This orthodoxy which is correct doctrine should lead to an ortho proxy correct action that emphasizes the responsibility of this local body of believers to plan for long-term sustainable growth is characteristic of churches who have a heart for those far from God and that seeks to glorify God and all that it does. Salem Baptist Church is a long history of impact in the community of Winston-Salem. This is something we long to see continued in future generations. However, failure to plan now will result in reduced effectiveness in the future. With this in mind, it is important for the church to designate a group of people who can assist with the dialogue needed to plan for future development of the church's philosophy of ministry, for the facilities and long-term objectives and then here are the parameters of the SPC dialogue will take place on the umbrella of the word of God, the leading of the Spirit of God through the leadership of the senior pastor of the church. The SPC will not be governed by the senior pastor but will be given teaching direction and overarching vision by the senior pastor. The SPC will not make defining decisions for the church as a whole. Instead, they will make recommendations to the church regarding future action needed. The SPC will raise up from within itself a chairperson and Sec. are chairperson was VW peters has been the other Peterson, our secretary is Ben Wesley Scruggs. Here's the makeup of a nunnery through this whole list, but you can see on the screen there because of the makeup of the committee itself is one that the church approved back in December 2018. Here's the names of the people who served on this committee was gonna read through all those neat all those names, folks.

These people have worked hard over the past year. They were very hard. They'd given of themselves and their time there. The resources to build a make sure that we can do this thing well and would you join me in thanking those people observed over the past year. This work that is this group has worked hard to define reality to define reality. What is there is there okay that's that's reality, but often times it takes work to understand and comprehend what is actually there defining reality is not an easy thing to do because it forces a person to look past their perception of what is to the truth of what is you seen illusions before optical illusions right where where your mind is perceiving that one thing is happening when in all actuality there something else that you should be comprehending defining reality is similar to what is illusions right we had a clear look past perception to truth.

So in an effort to define reality. We work through a swot analysis for our church to what our strengths where our weaknesses were opportunities where our threats I don't own outline those for you briefly here when you spend any time talking through these and other time to do so. But here's what we found to be our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, strip threats, strengths, biblical teaching and preaching foreign missions program our kids and youth and college programs in our prayer culture that our church is a top four strengths that we have a list of budget is but we had to narrow it down some and there's a weaknesses effective local outreach. The behavior trends in word talk more about than a couple moments the aging condition of our facilities the discipleship of believers are all weaknesses and opportunities city involvement. What is God doing around our city. Where is God working where can we be involved in that use of technology synovitis Christian school would vary with Christian camper absolutely opportunities and we have, we continue to see disciples being made those ministries, the assets, folks, we don't have any debt whatsoever.

We own everything that we've got all of our property and the volunteer potential and under threat under threats.

The lack of diversity both age and ethnicity is cost of maintenance and financial collapse. The lack of gospel impacts community stigmas and resistance to change.

Those are all threats taken a step back, as we have allows us to take a good strong look of the areas in which we need to improve how many of you think that there such thing as a perfect church. Raise your hand see any hands, raise right now I'm not surprised by that because there are no perfect churches at all. Every church should be taking honest looks at themselves to better understand they can be more impactful in serving the Lord possesses for doing this for about were here to serve the Lord to to follow him were taking an honest look at how we can best serve the Lord on the late summer early fall of this past year we had. We spent an enormous amount of time on the swot analysis with the information came in for our facilities assessment and you've heard much of this already, but some really it can outline for some difficulties we got here on our campus when that report came back from our consulting agency. It did so with some really big numbers when it comes to our deferred maintenance when I share with you in December. That number was listed at right.

$2.5 million.

That number is changed I will show you that here just a couple of moments. Also in December I shared with you some other problems that we are facing as a church and eminent to refresh your memory on the use of this sounds familiar, it's probably because it is familiar right but number one. One of the problems we face is attendance up on the screen you see a graph and it may be a little difficult for you to read but over on the left is the number of people attending our church at the bottom.

As the years and him and it starts back in the 60s day that goes by decades all the way up until 2000, where at that point starts in the increments of five years. Folks, that's a thousand people less in our church right now than 50 years ago and with that change in attendance comes changes to our giving structure according to national averages.

Salem is an incredibly giving church you give over and above to help and sustain this church. To my knowledge there is never been a time in which our missionaries have failed to receive their support. Check or our staff is ever done without payroll. I don't know of anything that's ever happened but we don't ever miss paying utility bills.

However, common sense says that good giving dynamics of our church are going to continue to change, in part because the makeup of our congregation is to continue to change in years to come.

Some of our members who traditionally given the most our own age. Now they're getting older they're going to be here forever to continue giving as a thing about attendance. I can help you think about where church members also live in the 40s, 50s and 60s, most of our church members live right here around our church and they walked to church on Sunday morning and this is not the case anymore. In fact, most of our own most the people come here Sunday morning drive over 7 miles to get here to come to church is no longer such a community church as it is a regional church. Nothing wrong with that. This is one of the rillettes realities. Another problem we see is inward trending behavior I gave you some characteristics from Tom Rayner's book in this molecular the name of the book, but Tom Rayner gave this list of characteristics of an inward focus church is easy to see a slow erosion of numbers over time and unhealthy focus on the past is the refusal/failure to look like the community budget shift from ministry to maintenance/inward focus programs. Great commission is ignored. Preferences dominate decisions is a failure to pray together is no clear purpose for the church is an obsession over facilities now. While some of the factors that I just listed for you are more prevalent than others.

It can easily be argued that there's been this gradual behavioral shift inward in the past several decades Asylum Baptist Church. It one minute.

But a year ago that I read the biography of Charles Stevens who is the pastor you're back in the late 30s, the 40s and the 50s when Salem experienced an enormous amount of growth with baptisms and salvation is like you wouldn't believe some of you were here on the tail end of his ministry were remembered. Much of what took place at that time, but then as I continue to read through past meeting minutes where he talked heavily about outreach and reaching people go get people share with them the gospel. There was this, this inward shift started taking place just in the language that was used in our meetings, started talking a whole lot about how to preserve the institution of Salem rather than reaching people is a shift that took place somewhere else on reverse that shift back. The reality is Asylum is been in a place in which the preservation of the institution has been more important than the making of new disciples and don't add to this, just like I did in December. I am incredibly encouraged by the pockets of repentance that I see taken place for that inside Salem. More and more I see people who long for first generation typeface. I believe that God is primed our church.

For this moment so we can step out and first generation typeface is see him, he can't accomplish the impossible is another problem I shared with you and that was the footprint of our property are our parking in his limitations are problem a few months ago we were here in our worship service. We had someone walk around outside in the county cars and if we didn't have Piedmont parking lot across the street, which we don't.

We offer see that happening anytime soon but with if we didn't have that, then we would only have 15 open spots on our entire property for people to park in. Okay that's including parking on both sides of Bank Street and Spring Street. That's a problem because how do you anticipate growth of you have placed the report right.

We had a Christian school is thriving with disciples being made and churned out from that place. However, there virtually Right now because they can't grow anymore because of a lack of space not talk to some of you and you. So how can that be back years ago decades ago that was a school of a thousand students well and in response to that I was simply say that we live in a different time in the 1960s. You could throw up a trailer in the parking lot and you could you do that would work for putting students. In fact, I'm told there was about 10 of those temporary trailers are small buildings that were set up around where students were housed there was 40+ students packed in the classrooms and you just simply can't do that anymore.

Number one, the government won't let us number to their safety aspects there. Number three.

What parent is going to put their child in a school where they're just maintaining the status quo when it comes to their facilities previously on is what parent is going to do that. We have 7 acres here in just under 150,000 square-foot of interior space, but that space is not utilized will just because the way the buildings are built and laid out the only handicap accessible place. We got on this campus is those front doors were you come inside the foyer. That's it.

Is there was couple of the ramps in different places together are but they are grossly out of code grossly out of code posted. The reality is if a person of limited mobility shows up here on our campus and they try to get in to a place we are telling them we don't want them here just because they can't do it exactly was taken place and then there's the issue of of maintenance, nominally going all the numbers and in the points today that I did before regarding maintenance is a lot said then, but suffice it to say that our buildings are in dismal shape and in December I shared with you that we had deferred maintenance cost. Right now about to $2.5 million. Since then, that we had landmark builders come in and and there arguably one of the best contractor companies anywhere in the state.

They viewed our property and knowing better.

The building code and but knowing the cost. They told us they were closer to $3.5 million to do the work is necessary to repair our existing property. But here's the deal. That's just repairing old buildings. It is not building anything new. That's not answering the problems of parking. That's not answering the problem of the school is greatly limited in what he can do because of the age of because of the thing.

The size and the footprint is not getting the school. Some of the things that they desperately need and it will be hugely beneficial for them like ballfields. That number includes doing the bare minimum to take care of the handicap accessibility and all of our buildings. The bare minimum, folks.

This is the option that we take if we want to continue to maintain the status quote is a strategic planning committee will one only man maintain the status quo. We really don't. To be honest I think were tired of the status quo pending our churches tired of the status quo as well.

There's very little faith required for the status quo being okay with status quo just for sake of comfort is a strong example of second generation typeface.

We serve a God who is infinite in power and he is infinite, equally in his love for mankind. And when you take a couple those two things together. You see a God that is willing to go to whatever means necessary to redeem people even said his own son Jesus to this earth for the purpose of redeeming people.

There is no greater sacrifice than that as children of God, having seen the redemption that he freely gives us there's nothing this required for us except for surrender to him repentance of our sins are. We don't have to. We don't have to serve in the church to to bring him God is this enough for you as we talked about in our songs already today know he freely gives us this as children of God, having seen the redemption that he freely gives us we should be willing to break through the status quo, knowing that we don't serve a status quo God is that we think about our facilities okay.

What is this breaking through the status quo mean for us as a church when it comes to our facilities as a strategic planning committee. We believe that it means one of two options, one of two options option one a complete renovation of our current property, a complete renovation of our current property. This means we do what is necessary to rework our property to fit our needs. This goes beyond just repairing the deferred maintenance this. This would include in this is just a very short list is including gutting our current buildings. Many of our current buildings and remodeling them. They would include putting a new parking lots that include tearing down mission houses and building new duplexes for the missionaries are all furloughed by the way when he stopped there. So our mission houses are in dismal shape actually dismal shape so if you helped recently with with one house that also begun of what will put anybody in that house anymore.

We need to tear the thing down when he got $20,000 tear the thing down.

How great would it be if we could put the missionaries who served so faithfully on the field in homes that fit their needs very well that our modern where they don't have to worry about it that he's gonna work or not or if the refrigerators and go out or not or if the washer machine is in a stink to high heaven. How great would be if we do then that's one of the things we talking about here includes the reworking of our other this this option includes reworking the layout of our property to better utilize that property.

Note that option one day minimum be honest with you.

Include some major $'s and there are still tons of questions that still need to be answered about that option at this point were not ready to give you a price point yet but only gets one explanation of that here just a couple minutes okay help clear up some questions you got. Here's the second option with you as the seller property and strategically move elsewhere. Not long after this report came from cool solutions. We approached a local real estate broker. We asked would you please help us understand better our property and its value so they completed an opinion of value study and determined that our property is valued as is. So as it is right now at about $6.2 million. The estimated we could probably sell the property for about $6.5 million. That's a strike point that they anticipated the limited clear guidance there been no steps whatsoever taken to put this property on the market.

There's been no steps whatsoever to start with. With option number one the complete renovation. We would got ideas were removed to think in were trying to think outside the box here. However, I fully believe that God introduces conversations in his timing. And since we began this process several months ago I been approached by three different organizations asking if we can have a conversation about selling them our property now. No matter what we do. Either option one or option two.

That is a decisions can be made by the congregation of this church is that no matter what we do listen. It's got to be done at the decision of this church as a whole. My goal in the goal the leadership is to work together to follow the Lord's leading and provide all the information that we can to you so that you can make an informed decision right now with that said, I want to read to you the official recommendation from the strategic planning committee, and you can read along on the screen.

Sears would assess with a desire to make sure Salem Baptist Church thrives until the Lord's return and having worked through all data made available to us, and given the fact that our current property and facilities are lacking in fulfilling the needs of both SBC and SBC S. Having spent months in prayer and seeking godly counsel the strategic planning committee recommends the Salem Baptist Church that we move forward with the pursuit of either selling our property and relocating or engaging in a major renovation of our current property as a collective body, we have determined the above to be our only two options. As such, the strategic planning committee recommends that we move forward and gathering more information to assist in determining the right decision for our church. Now she noticed something there.

They don't tell you they don't tell you the church. Here's the recommendation should do an option at one or option two what they say what they're asking for. There is they recommend that we move forward and gathering more information to assist in determining the right decision for our church in Susa where we go from here, not to this point we been able to do a ton of work at virtually no cost to the church. Somebody say men. There are people outside of our church who have donated hours of research and consulting services to help us be as informed as possible. It's a great blessing that oftentimes churches don't get organizations don't get that we've been able to receive that and it's it's a great blessing to us. However, we are at the point in which we need to spend some money in order to bring to the church information so you as a church can make an informed decision about our future. So at this point, here's what we as as the pastors the trustees the deacons that this treated planning committee. Here's what we are asking of the church going. We need money for two things we need to pay an architect and land planner to help us understand exactly what were looking at.

With these two options right this option are that that's the first thing secondly we need to pay a finance consultant who can do a complete audit of all of our finances and help us planning in planning financially for the future.

We'll see any way around those two things that the next thing we need to do those two things that money would go towards plans being drawn up with realistic numbers of the cost for moving forward you go towards us getting a better handle on the financial potential of moving forward from 20 unique things about our church is that we are Congregational. He governed any time we have operational cost outside the budget.

The church approves spending that money to do so. So usual rasping were coming to you and asking for $19,000 to do this initial work now. Thus, to help us make informed decisions about moving forward on Wednesday, February 26 to Wednesday evening, February 26 we have a member meeting in this room where we vote on actually spending that money to do that day was that money come from, you say to be honest we got money from a former capital campaign that we did, we could pull from that that would be equally as honest and say church it would be great if we hold onto that because I just shared with you and share with you back in December.

We have a whole lot of things I could break it any time HVAC units. We have a roof that during the homecoming game for basketball was leaking so badly that between place at a run out with towels to dry the floor to the basketball players did fall down the floor. We got problems, such as that blood is that $19,000 to go toward some of those repairs need to be made to the asked that we have is would you as a church step up and would you give towards this and here's how you can do it. You need to come to me to say hey I like to give such such amount of money you need to go to Cliff Ashburn and tell him that she would like to give such such amount of money or you can email future@salembaptistnow.org everybody want was to write that down right now okay if use email it all right this email address down future@salembaptist.org anytime you have questions anytime you have comments anytime you have anything that you would like to say about this whole process we move forward. You email that email account so I don't use email. We got to take care of right out on them in the foyer some comment cards you can fill that thing out drop in the offering box anytime and we will make sure it's added to a pool of questions that we will answer now will put together a list of questions and really make sure we get it to you and make sure we answer every question that you've got a promise, we want to come together in this I have a couple for summary thoughts here in which it is in these and some summing all the cell phone figure Bibles and go to Ephesians chapter 3 Ephesians chapter 3 what I hope to do in the next five minutes is communicate the heart with which we should be moving forward as a church. Ephesians chapter 3 will start reading verse 20 now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen own owner close out by asking three questions okay so three questions we get each individually ask ourselves is three questions we can ask as a church, number one, what you believe about God.

Number one is what do you believe about God. Do you truly believe that he is omnipotence that he is omniscient that he is omnipresent and if those things are true, you believe that he has a plan that is greater than anything else that we could dream up on our own.

What do you believe about God is God small to you or is God a big God. It is, is God a tool to be used, or is God the Creator to be worshiped as God useful to you or is God precious to you. What do you believe about God. Your answer to that is can affect every other area of your life and the life of our church because what we believe about God will drive everything else.

Question number two what you believe about God's power in you. What you believe about God's power in you.

What is it that you believe that God has done for you and in you.

If you're a believer than never, ever forget the love that he's got for you and the gift of salvation that he is given to you. Charles Spurgeon was was talking about the believer. Remembering the love of God and he said this, he said looking upward and you will perceive no seat of fiery wrath to shoot arrows of devouring flame the words look upward in your honesty, a God who has vengeful wrath coming against you. He says look downward, and you discover no help for there is no condemnation to them through Christ Jesus looks flat look back, look at that CN that is blotted out, look around and all things work together for good to them that love God, look beyond look beyond and glory shines through the veil of the future like the sun through mornings missed folks if God loves us enough to redeem us and his power, his promise to us that there is no God ordained task that is too great for us to the first question was, what you believe about God. Second question is what you believe about God's power in you. Do you know without a doubt that you are loved by God that you're forgiven by God that he has done everything necessary to redeem you just think defy you to save you and that his powers that work within you and that there's nothing that could be accomplished when when God is on your side everything to be couples or guns on your side at the backwards what you believe about God's power in you that here's the third question is this, whose glory are we seeking whose glory are we seeking. These are all questions that come from these two verses verse 21.

There is clear that the only one that is worthy of getting the glory is God is not me. Is this not you, it's not even our church as a whole. The Salem lesson were not trying to create another existing church or or or or mimic or copy another existing church were not trying to be the church down the street or the church in another city.

God has uniquely gifted Salem Baptist Church and our role is to be faithful with what he's given to glorify him alone throughout the New Testament the church is described as though the bride of Christ. It wasn't until about 50 to 75 years ago that the concept of a bridal party that stood on the stage with the bride and groom came about, know that have observance about 5075 years ago the only one standing on stage in front of people with the bride, the groom and the pastor was marrying them whoever was nearing but the bridal party was just as important.

Before that, as they were after that, especially the bridesmaids and here's why. For months leading up to the wedding itself. The bridesmaids would work with the bride they would give her beauty treatments. You know what that means but that would give her beauty treatments.

They would help her design and and make her clothes they would do everything they could to make sure that when she went down that aisle and she was presented to that groom and she got married that she was in the best condition possible. They were intimately involved in everything that was going on before the wedding, but when that wedding came, you would see bridesmaids standing up on the platform with the bride, you would see bridesmaids if you look at the back of the church and they be hidden in obscurity at the back of the church, but here they be looking on at bride with pride say and we did everything we could to make sure she was ready for her groom church. I will for us to be the bridesmaids of the past. One day the church is to be presented to Jesus, the bridegroom one day the church is presenting him and I would love for Salem Baptist Church leadership. All of us together become estate in the background and were in obscurity. We were not there where everybody gets to shine a spotlight on us were saying we did everything we could to make sure that we did our part to make sure that there was holiness to make sure that God is glorified that 201 us to be were not out to make a name for ourselves only thing we want to proclaim is the name of Jesus were not out for converts, I could care less about filling views or care more about is making disciples church listen when an opportunity we have, to move forward well there's a whole lot of things we gotta talk about over the next several months is not just facilities. We have a lot that we need to talk through that's all right let's do it, but not for our glory was doing for the glory of the one who has redeemed us, knowing that one day you have opportunity to spend eternity with him church would you pray with me. Father, we come to you and I we need wisdom to move forward, we believe that some clarity I we believe that that we've got some direction father, maybe not get so distracted by these things we completely forget the main thing we been commanded.

Father, we by Jesus himself before he ascended to heaven. His last command his parting command is last thing that he told us was go therefore and make disciples father. That's what we want to do.

We want to lift high the name of Jesus not lift high our name but lift him high. The father, I believe we are completely right in thinking this, that the father you have blessed this church you sustain the search for 111 years you given men and Whitham win and women wisdom to do so. Father, we want to see this church thrive for another hundred and 11 years. So father would you show us what it's gonna take for us to do that well. Father, we thank you for the life that you give us. We love you, father in Jesus name I pray. Amen. Church don't forget email future assailant that just now.org if you have any questions or thoughts or comments or concerns. The authors also comment cards out there in the foyer. I love you, I think. I'm thankful for you and am praying for you


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