Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Inspiring Words from Bill Smith, Assoc. Pastor, Woodland Baptist Church, Peoria

I am so honored that Pastor Bill Smith allowed me to reprint his words that were in the Church Newsletter for Woodland Baptist Church last week. This could be a heavy subject, but doggoneit, someone has to say it. Our society is just getting downright hedonistic, and shame seems to exist in only the remotest form. When I read this article, I was in awe that someone had so eloquently put in to words some things that I have been feeling for a long time but did not quite recognize or couldn't begin to verbalize. Thankyou, Bill for sharing these words:

Pastor Bill Smith writes:

Recently I’ve been reading from Jeremiah, Lamentations and now finally Ezekiel. I’m finding that those books are not particularly fun to read. I’m seeing a similar thread running through much of those writings. I see huge amounts of God’s condemnation and judgment upon the people who are not obeying him.

I’m a skimmer and, as usual, was zipping through the writings of these great prophets when the realization of our similarities to those people being condemned by God snapped to the front of my skimming brain. The people in those books paid scant if any attention to God’s directives. They ignored or worked around obeying his commandments. They heard His fair warnings but really don’t allow them to hamper any personal agenda or drive. They were simply living life their own way and gave Him no thought unless it was convenient or politically expedient. Their world seemed to be flashing along at a break neck pace toward what. Toward wealth? Toward sexual excitement? Toward physical strength? Toward power? Toward personal success?

I began to wonder if Jeremiah or Ezekiel had been watching our morning news or reading the local paper before they wrote these words. If they were writing the truth about their time and if God reacted as He did, what would that mean for us today? I’m a “glass half full” person but these words are more than relatively clear. Just like the cities and nations mentioned in these books, we seem to be in a world of hurt spiritually and we either don’t know it or don’t care. I’m not sure which of these are more condemning, don’t know or don’t care.

So, what’s the solution? I don’t like the condemnation and judgment seen in these books nor would I like to face it. Certainly, we are due nothing better than they experienced, but it would be far better to share in His Kingdom rather than His condemnation. II Chronicles 7:14 says, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” And you are saying “I suppose that we are the ‘My people’ mentioned in those verses.” The first “people” who comes to mind is “me” or maybe “you” if you are reading this. We must be the first one of “my people” to begin to pray strongly about God’s directive and His expectations. Then, as attitudes adjust, more of the “my people” may be influenced to join in the prayer. Do we budget for this? No, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Do we organize this? No, we simply go to our Father. He already has it planned. Do we promote this? No, again, He has all power in His hands. After praying comes humility and turning. Those could be tough in today’s world. With our hope comes the inevitable, truthful, faithful promise of God. We will be forgiven and healed. God is so capable and remarkable.

“He is able, more than able to accomplish what concerns me today. He is able more than able to handle anything that comes my way. He is able, more than able to do much more than I could ever dream. He is able, more than able to make me what He wants me to be.”

What a gift God presents!

Bill Smith
Associate Pastor
Woodland Baptist Church
6915 N. Allen Road
Peoria, IL 61614

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