August 29 2021
Today, Sunday August 29
“Working Together With Him….”
2 Corinthians 5:17-6:1 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.”
Today in our morning service I will officially step down as Senior Pastor of Rainbow Forest Baptist Church and pass the mantle of leadership to Pastor John Richardson. Then Edith and I will begin a new season of life and ministry continuing to fulfill the calling that the Lord placed on our lives fifty years ago. The above verses pretty much summarize my last fifty years of life and ministry.
On Sunday February 21, 1971 at Landmark Baptist Temple in Cincinnati Ohio in the home of Dr. Harold Rawlings, I became a new creation in Christ Jesus. Just a few weeks later, after hearing a Sunday night message by Dr. Bob Hugh, a missionary to the Philippines, entitled, “I Sat Where They Sat” from Ezekiel 3:15, I surrender my life to the call of God to go wherever He would send me.
I knew that the Lord had given me the ministry of reconciliation and that I was to spend the rest of my life as an ambassador for Christ. For the past fifty years, I have had the wonderful privilege of “standing in Christ stead and imploring people everywhere to be reconciled to God.”
As I look back over these awesome years, I realize that when I took on the “yoke of Jesus” to labor with Him in His harvest fields, that every wonderful and good thing that has happened is because of His grace and faithfulness. My task was simply to be obedient and let Him have His way every day in my life.
The best way I can describe the last fifty years is that I have been, “Working together with Him….”.(6:1). Two things I would observe with this verse. God has given me the wonderful privilege to work together with the greatest people in all the world in all three of the churches I have pastored. As I think back over the years of ministry and all the awesome and wonderful things that have happened, it was because of the dedicated and sacrificial people that God surrounded me with. People that loved the Lord and became “co-laborers” with me in the ministry!
But notice also that we not only worked together with others but it says, “with Him.” Because it was God who was working in us and through us together, “to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 3:13). I have had an amazing journey these fifty years because of all the wonderful dedicated people who have joined with me in experiencing God by joining Him and going on mission with Him!
Then Paul appealed to the Corinthian believers not to “receive the grace of God in vain.” As I enter this last season of life and ministry this is my prayer also. That my friends and co-laborers would not receive the grace of God in an empty and meaningless way. In other words, to only receive His grace for our own benefit and forget our ministry of “reconciling a world” around us to God through Jesus Christ!
Please let us all continue in the days, the months and the years ahead, to fulfill our mission of, “Connecting the disconnected to Christ, to His Church, and to His Call on their lives”.