From the Desk of the Pastor
Prayers and blessings with all of you. Let’s continue to pray for one another. The effectual fervent prayers of the righteous availeth much. We are still in the midst of this storm in our life. Just to follow up, our worship services are temporarily cancelled as we abide by the policies of the State and local authorities Stay at Home Order to not congregate with more than 10 people through April 30th. We have set up an automated call system that will give current information out to members and will reach a larger group of members that do not access computers. The first message was sent on Friday evening. There are also Sunday Live Stream services at Atherton Baptist Church (8am) & Christ Second Baptist Long Beach (9:30am). This an opportunity to view local services on the computer. Also services can be live streamed from Calvary Baptist Church in Chicago (5am & 9am PST) calvarychicago.org – Shiloh Baptist Church Trenton can be watched on Shiloh Trenton Facebook. Also tonight there is a showing of The Clark Sisters, the First Ladies of Gospel on the Lifetime Network at 9pm.tonight with it being shown with it also repeated 3 times on Sunday. We will have available a “Drive-Through Communion” on Easter Sunday April 12th. Also based on the crisis we will be switching to the prefilled communion cups and bread. Yes we will have to survive the foam bread but for health purposes it is clearly the way to move at this time. The time for this will be from 10am to 12pm on Easter Sunday the 12th. All tithes and offering received by mail or drop off will be deposited on Tuesday of each week.
Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross There is A Precious Fountain Free to All a Healing Stream Flows from Calvary’s Mountain In the Cross, In the Cross, Be My Glory Ever
A LOOK AT CALVARY Luke 23:39-43
This is a message that I preached a few years back.
Updated for today Today, our world has its attention focused on the coronavirus pandemic. We have become locked in on testing, availability of ventilators, our brothers and sisters providing health care at risk to their own health. We have locked into information from news outlets and daily information from the governor and mayor and the medical experts. Our eyes are on tis, wondering what will happen not only to us but our family and friends. Lots of people are looking toward China and Italy and Spain; wondering when the hammer will fall in those faraway places. Still others are looking to Wall Street and the economy, hoping there will be an upturn. There are many places where we can focus our attention these days. Of course, some of those places are worth some of our time and attention; while others may not be.
But, I would submit to you today that the place where all men ought to focus their attention; is the place most neglected by modern man. Very few people ever turn their thoughts toward a place called Calvary. But, it was there, on that little hill, where the greatest battle of the ages was waged and won. It was Calvary where sin and Satan were vanquished and redemption and righteousness were forever claimed. It was there that Heaven met Hell in the most spectacular battle ever fought. It was there that Heaven claimed the eternal victory over Hell for all who will trust in Jesus.
Today on this resurrection Sunday I would like to direct our thoughts, our hearts and our focus away from our situation toward Calvary for a few minutes. I want to look in on some of the events that occurred the day that Jesus went to the cross to die for you and me. Specifically, I want to examine those three crosses and the men that hung upon them
Why, you might ask, should we even bother to spend our time considering an event that took place more than two thousand years ago? The answer to that question is two-fold. First, by looking to Calvary, we can see what Jesus accomplished there for us. Secondly, in looking to Calvary we can see the men who died there that day, and in seeing them, we might just see ourselves. If that happens, we will be in a position to partake in what He did for us there; and, if we have already received Jesus, we can enjoy what He did for us even more.
v. 39 LOOK AND SEE A HARDENED SINNER
We are told that this man is amalefactor. This word means, “evil doer.” He was a wicked man who broke the law and is paying for his crimes with his very life.
We are told that this man “railed” on Jesus. This word means, “to speak evil of, or to blaspheme
What triggered this intense hatred of Jesus? We are not sure what set him off. Whatever his motivation, this poor man spent the last pitiful hours of his life mocking the only One Who could have saved his soul and kept him out of Hell.
This man reveals the true nature of his attitude toward Jesus when he uses the word “if.” He is saying, “I will believe You if You will save Yourself and us. If You are so great, then why don’t you say us all?” His words reveal a heart that is unconvinced, unconcerned and unconverted. His words reveal the heart of a lost man!
He spent his last moments denying that Jesus was the Messiah. He spent his time blaspheming the name of Jesus. Again, this man is no different than folk all around us today. There are plenty of people who have no trouble taking the precious name of the Lord in vain. There are many who think nothing of using the Lord’s name as a curse word or as a by-word. I have seen some airwaves who have asked today in derision where is God in the midst of this pandemic.
The trait that marks so many in our day and proves them to be like this poor, dying thief, is the fact that they refuse to believe in Jesus for their soul’s salvation. Like this man, their lives center on “if.” When you witness to them, there is always some objection, some argument, some excuse offered as to why they cannot and will not come to faith in Jesus. It may sound simple, but it is proof positive that they are lost and headed to Hell without God!
First, nothing you are living for, outside Jesus, is worth dying for, Mark 8:35-36.
Second, today is your wake-up call. God is letting you know that you need to turn to Him and be saved. I believe what we are going through today is a wake up call 2 Cor. 6:2; Isa. 55:6.
Third, there is only one way that will ever happen: you must believe in Jesus by faith, or you will be lost forever, John 8:24.
II. v. 40-42 LOOK AND SEE AN HONEST SINNER
When this man begins to rebuke the other thief, he makes a stunning confession. He says, “Now wait a minute! We are guilty, and we are getting exactly what we deserve!” this admission reveals that this man was under conviction because of his sinful deeds. He is an honest sinner. By the way, that is refreshing to this preacher!
His assessment of the situation is vastly different from that of the other thief. The first man was looking for a way out. This man was looking for a way in! When he was first nailed to the cross, he lifted up his voice and mocked Jesus too,Mark 15:32. But, something happened during those early hours on the cross. Something caught his attention and revealed to his heart that Jesus was no ordinary man. This shows that it is never too late to make a life changing decision. This sinner in a short time went from a ticket to hell to an express jet to heaven
Perhaps it was His silence as they nailed Jesus to His cross –Isa. 53:7. Perhaps it was the grace with which Jesus responded to the mockery of His enemies –Luke 23:34. Perhaps it was the mocking sign they hung over the cross of Jesus that proclaimed Him to be King of the Jews –Luke 23:38. It could have been any number of things that spoke to his heart. But, whatever it was told him that Jesus was no ordinary man! As this man surveyed the situation at Calvary that day, he came to see that Jesus was the Messiah and that Jesus was his only hope! He called Jesus “God” inverse 40. He acknowledged Christ’s sinlessness inverse 41. He even looks to Jesus for salvation inverse 42.
As this man speaks to Jesus, he makes an incredible request. He asks another dying man for hope for the future. That is incredible! When this man looked at Jesus Christ, he did not see a dying victim of the Roman system. This is what happens when you really set your heart on Jesus. Everyone else, for the most part, saw nothing more than just another poor man hanging, battered and bleeding on a cross. But, this man looked at Jesus and he saw God,verse 40. He looked at Jesus and he saw perfect righteousness,verse 41. He looked at Jesus and he saw One Who was going to somehow conquer death; rise again; rule in power and glory and extend grace to the undeserving,verse 42! He looked at Jesus, Who was wearing that cruel crown of thorns and he saw Jesus wearing three crowns. He placed Jesus on the throne of the universe by calling Him “Lord.” He placed Jesus on the throne of his own heart by saying “remember me".
In my opinion, this man exhibited as great a faith as anyone else in the entire Bible. He grasped the essence of who Jesus was; of what Jesus was doing; and of what Jesus would do. He not only grasped it; but he believed it all! He believed it in spite of how impossible it must have looked to him at the time. This thief displayed the essence of true faith in his heart and his words as he died on that cross,Heb. 11:1.
LORD REMEMBER ME, ALBERTINA WALKER
He did the 3 things that must be done when you come to Jesus
First, he was honest about his own sins. He freely admitted that he was guilty. Admitting that you are a sinner is the first step in coming to faith in Jesus! I would just remind you that Jesus came to save sinners and not righteous people, Luke 19:10; Mark 2:17. But, this seems to be the hardest thing of all! It is getting harder and harder to find sinners in our day and time. It’s easy to spot what we call sinners in the world, but we need to understand that every person in this world, who is outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ, is a sinner! Ill. Rom. 3:22. There is no difference between the president and the homeless person; the star and the downtrodden; the policeman and the pimp; the doctor and the patient; and the warden and the criminal. All are sinners and the first step in getting those sins taken care of is to admit that truth!
Second, he became convinced that Jesus was Who He claimed to be. As long as Jesus is just another man, you will never be saved. But, when you come to the place where you see Him as God, Savior, Lord and the fulfillment of all the promises of God, you can be saved. When you understand that He died on that cross, like the Bible says; that He rose again, like the Bible says; Rom. 10:9; 10:13
Third, he was willing to call on Jesus for that which he needed in his life. Far too many people know the truth and know what they need to do. All they lack is acting on what they know and calling out to the Lord for their soul’s salvation. If you come to Him, He will not turn you away, John 6:37. If you will call to Him, He will save your soul, Acts 16:31; John 6:47; John 3:16; Isa. 45:22.
III. v. 43 LOOK AND SEE A HOLY SAVIOR
Let us remember that even though Jesus was God, even as He hung on that cross, He was experiencing the same anguish and torments that the two thieves were experiencing. The agony was unimaginable and the suffering Jesus endured was very real. His death was a brutal, horrific affair. It was far worse than the mind could comprehend. A few passages speak about the terrible nature of the death Jesus died,Isa. 52:14; Psa. 129:3; Isa. 50:6, Psa. 22, etc. However, those verses only tell the physical side of what Jesus endured for us. His pain was for more than physical. While He was on that cross, He literally became sin,2 Cor. 5:21. He was judged as if He were sin itself! His judgment as sin was so complete that He was literally alienated from His Father as He was judged,Matt. 27:46. And, even as Jesus endured all that He did at the hands of men and of God; He was doing it for you and me. He was doing it for that thief who cried out in simple, child-like faith. He was enduring it all so that you could bow before Him and ask Him to save your soul.
Even as Jesus hung there in agony that day; His heart was on finding His Own lost sheep. That was why He came,Luke 19:10; Mark 10:45. That was why He left the ninety and nine went after the lost sheep,Luke 15:3-7. The grace of God was in evidence that day even as Jesus died on the cross. Anyone else might have looked at that poor, dying thief and said, “You rejected the way of God in your life; now will go to Hell in your death!” But not Jesus! He loved that sinner in spite of his sins and He extended grace to him
The thief was looking for something from Jesus way down the road. What he received was a promise that everything he was looking for had just been proved to him by his simple cry of faith. Jesus gave him a guarantee that his eternity was forever altered; and that the changes would begin immediately!
He hasn’t changed one bit! It doesn’t matter where the road of life has carried. It does not matter what you might have done in your life. If you will come to Jesus, you will find a Friend Who will receive you just like you are. He will love you, save you, change you and make a new creature out of you. He will cleanse you from your sins and give you a brand new start. He will save your soul! That is what He did for the thief. That is what He did for me and you.
When you look at Calvary, what do you see? I see a Savior Who loved me so much that He willingly took my place on that cross so that I could be saved from my sins and miss the fires of Hell! I see that hill as the place where my past was erased and my