Coming Soon

Day 39 P. 444-453

Reading the last of the Book of Revelation is like listening to the evening news. It seems there is one bad story after another, each one a description of greed, decadence, cruelty, and a world that has left God out…pure evil. Certainly John accurately describes life in Rome and throughout the Roman Empire before its fall. Often those people or nations in the evening news have come to ruin because of their arrogance and evil, just like God revealed to John that Rome, godless sinners, and Satan will come to ruin. Evil WILL be destroyed by a victorious returning Christ in the last days. I believe that we are indeed in the last days of the current earth that will come to an end.

It is not a far stretch to see Revelation’s description of Rome as a one of America – increasingly Godless, arrogant, and sinful. We have “prostituted” ourselves to the pursuit of wealth, comfort, and pleasures. John goes on to detail the judgement of Satan. His words apply to us if we are without the forgiveness and presence of Christ. Occasionally the evening news will report a redeeming story of self-less sacrifice. Likewise, God’s revelation to John switched from describing evil and judgment to redemption of believers through faith in God’s Son. We are cleansed by the blood of Christ that allows us to avoid punishment and live in the glorious presence of God forever.

Are we ever “carried away in the Spirit” and quiet like John so we can hear God?  If so, we will be given wisdom to live in days of uncertainty. Do we believe that punishment for sin is real? If so, we will have compassion for people in Longview.  Do we believe that the revelation to John is “trustworthy and true”? If so, we will read God’s Word. Do we believe that Christ will return in final victory over evil? If so, we will live victoriously now. May we humble ourselves before God like John to hear, understand, and obey. God has chosen for us to live now, in Longview, at Oakland Heights Baptist Church. Let’s go to work to influence people. Christ does win in the lives of individuals and in the end will win over Satan.  Christ is ready to come into the lives of people and will finally be coming soon for good.


 

About The Author

 

Mike Baker grew up on the prairie around Bogata, Texas, attended Rivercrest High, Paris Jr College and Lamar University. He began work at Texas Eastman in 1980 as a chemical engineer and now works for Westlake Chemical. Attending Oakland Heights Baptist Church since 1980, he met and married Kathy here, and raised their three daughters at OHBC. He is active in photography, bowfishing, and fixing things. Their three daughters are in Houston (Erin & Ben Jacob), Ft Worth (Allison & Braden Allman), and Ft Worth (Ramie). He is a deacon and teaches in the Homebuilders Department at OHBC.

Worthy to be Praised

Day 38 P. 431-444

Revelation gives us a glimpse of Christ’s glory, the beauty of heaven and what will take place on earth. Through graphic pictures and symbols we learn that Jesus Christ is coming again, evil will be judged and the dead will be raised. The main message was to be an encouragement to all believers, but we are not to understand every detail; John himself did not.

This scene begins with worship as twenty-four elder’s crowns are laid before the Throne of God and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

The thousands and thousands of angels were saying, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

As I read this, I see no reservation in the way the elders and the angels are showing their praise to the Lamb of God, which makes me realize how we have become so reserved in the way we worship. Baptists used to be known as having an “amen corner” and “shouting” in the church; they were joyful in their worship and I think heaven will be that way according to what is described here.

In my early adult years, I watched rebellion show its ugly head as the soldiers returned from Vietnam. We had marches against the war, the peace sign became popular (broken cross turned upside down) and lots of protestors were saying, “God is dead.” As the years have passed, we are now in the third or fourth generation of rebellion and as we know rebellion breeds rebellion. About that same time, recreational drugs became the choice of pleasure and look where we are now as a country. Addiction has become an epidemic.

We have just seen the devastation of hurricane Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida and we think that destruction is so horrible, but it does not compare with what is described in Revelation. Many states in the western United States are having forest fires that are out of control, but that does not compare with the first angel sounding his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood. Then we read, “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth.” As we read these woes, we are reminded there are those who do not have salvation and we should be witnessing to all that will listen. Our love for God should cause us to love others enough to witness to them about the saving power of Jesus Christ. Revelation tells us we can, “Triumph over the accuser by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony.” Do we realize how much power is in the words of our testimony?


 

About The Author

 

Laverne Elms was born in Upshur County and attended Harmony ISD. She went to work in Dallas for Southwestern Bell on her 18th birthday and married Charles Elms 2 months later. They transferred to Longview in 1964. They had two boys, Barry and Randy. Barry died in 1991; Randy is a realtor in Dallas. They joined Oakland Heights Baptist Church in September 2006 and were married 50 ½ years before Charles was killed in a tractor accident. Laverne teaches the Mercy Class at OHBC and has studied Revelation three times in one year (Dr. Hobert Farrell’s course). However, she doesn’t feel that Sunday school lessons, and Bible Study Fellowship have made her qualified for this assignment.

Encouragement

Day 37 P. 425-431

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:3

My boys love to get something in the mail. Whether they are surprised with a card from their Sunday school teacher or anxiously awaiting the arrival of a package from their grandparents, their faces gleam with joy when they receive it. I think we all enjoy receiving a special note or letter to let us know that someone is thinking of us, encouraging us, and loves us. I was reminded today, that the Living God has been giving us letters for thousands of years to remind us that He is thinking of us, encouraging us, and loves us. The letters to the Seven Churches are just as relevant to us today, as they were to Christians during the Roman Empire. We too, “need to be warned to be on guard against any compromise, and to be faithful to receive life as the victor’s crown.” 

            The letters to the Seven Churches are full of praise for loyalty, faithfulness, and service, yet they also contain rebuke for sin. I recognize that same sin in my life. Do I still love God the way I did as I child, when I first asked Him into my life? Do I love serving more than I love the One I am serving? Do I love others the way He commanded in John 15:12, “Love one another as I have loved you?” In what areas of my life am I compromising God’s standards because of today’s culture? What TV shows, movies and other media do I justify watching? Am I dead in my spiritual growth? Am I too self-reliant believing I can navigate this world on my own? Am I too focused on worldly possessions?

            Although the letters contain rebuke, each letter ends with an encouraging, loving reward that our God so graciously offers us. He calls out our sin to refine us. He wants us to be victorious, to eat from the Tree of Life in the paradise of God, to be unharmed by the second death, to have a new name, to be clothed in white and never blotted out from the book of life, to be a pillar in the temple of God, and to sit with Him on His throne! I am so thankful to have these letters from the One who is Holy and True to encourage me daily!

            “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:19-20


 

About The Author

 

Cathy Leviton has been married to husband, Lauren, for 14 years and have 2 sons. Wyatt is 9, and Sawyer is 6. They moved to Longview about 4 years ago and Oakland Heights Baptist Church was the first and only church they visited. They became members in March of 2014. Cathy serves with the AWANA program on Wednesday nights and is also a Bible Study Fellowship children’s leader.

Light

Day 36 P. 409-423

Susan and I get up early almost every day to run together. When I say early, I mean around 3:30 am – 4:00 am. The need for light when running early in the morning is acute. This becomes even more important when running in an unfamiliar area. We rely completely on the light that illuminates our path. When we are in the darkness we depend on the light. When we are in the darkness, we focus on the light. When we are in the darkness, we are visible because of the light. Early in today’s reading the writer uses the term Light six times.
     1. God is Light
     2. Walk in the Light
     3. He Himself is in the Light
     4. The true Light is already shining
     5. The one who says he is in the Light
     6. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light

Today I have been reminded of the need to understand the Light. I was drawn to the progression of the use of the term Light. Where would we be without the Light? I see people running without light frequently. I often wonder how they are able to see without a light. How can they see obstructions? How can they see the path? How do they know where the edge of the path is located? In the same way that I depend on my running light, I need to rely on the Light. I need to depend on the Light, I need to focus on the light, and I will become more visible because of the Light. When we are in the Light, the Light is visible in our behavior. The Light removes us from the darkness, and the Light enables us to shine brightly in a dark world. We need to shine bright today!


 

About The Author

 

Kevin Linthicum is the minister of evangelism/missions for Oakland Heights Baptist Church. He enjoys spending time with his family, and outdoor recreation with Sudan.  He is thankful for the opportunity to serve on the team at OHBC.

Atoning Sacrifice

Day 36 P. 409-423

In today’s reading, there were many ideas that stood out, specifically in the book of 1 John. I saw a consistent theme as I was reading: the deception that we think of ourselves as living such holy and righteous lives. We often get in a mindset where we think that we have life figured out and we are doing pretty good on our own. However, the whole book of 1 John completely blows that idea out of the water.

There were many verses that showed us this deceptive state that we so often live in, such as “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” In my own life, I know that this can happen very often. I start to think that I’m living my life pretty well and I’ve got this thing called life figured out. It’s funny how God humbles me very quickly, even by reading this passage.

We have to face the cold hard truth: we are sinners, whose lives are messy and broken. We can’t live this life on our own or in our own power. However, we know that we can call on Jesus Christ for His holy power and atonement in our lives. One of the verses in 1 John affirms this when it says, “But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world.” What an encouragement! We can rest and know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is our atoning sacrifice for our sins and saves us from all wrongs that we may commit.

Whenever I start to think I’m doing life just fine by myself, I can look back at these verses to be humbled very quickly. However, I can take comfort in the fact that Jesus will always be there to pick me right back up when I do stumble and fall. He will be with me through every step in my life.


 

About The Author

 

Ryan Higgs is from Henderson, Texas and is the student pastor at Oakland Heights Baptist Church. He is currently a junior at East Texas Baptist University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in religion. His plans are to graduate from East Texas Baptist University in 2019 and pursue a master’s degree in theology.

Love & Service

Day 35 P. 395-408

Today’s reading in John is the final chapter in Jesus’ ministry on Earth. It opens with the Last Supper, takes us through Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion and triumphant resurrection, and ends with His charge to Peter to follow Him.

Throughout these pages, Greg and I both saw Jesus as the ultimate model for us in areas of love and service. Consider how He washed the disciples’ feet without any concern for the lowly physical position that placed Him in, or the dirt involved in the menial task. Practical application for us today? Maybe we shouldn’t be so afraid of how we look to others when we take on a project and more concerned with the need that we can meet. I wonder how often we mentally place people in a hierarchy of worth, and manage to elevate ourselves to a place where we do not even recognize the value that Jesus places on all people? Did you notice that the feet washing occurred before Judas left to betray Him? Jesus washed the feet of the man that He knew would betray Him and send Him to the cross! That death on the cross was the ultimate act of love as He laid down His life for everyone.

The word “love” appears more than thirty times in these thirteen pages as a command, as a pointer to God the Father, and as the example that we must follow if we are to lead the world to a saving knowledge of Christ. As I type these words, I cannot help but hear the Transformation sermon that Pastor Mike delivered on October 8, when he showed us in James, that scripture should bring radical life change in areas of speech, kindness and separation from the rest of the world. Today’s pages and Jesus’ example support that assertion as we think about our:         
         Words - Are they loving? Do they point the listener to Christ?
         Acts of kindness - Do we care too much about how we are perceived when (or if) we do them? Can we look beyond things like race, status, and beliefs in order to reach out to others?
         Separation from the world - Does our love for others set us apart from the rest of the world and show Jesus to all?


 

About The Author

 

Greg and Melanie Dulaney both grew up during the 60s and 70s. Greg in White Settlement, Texas as a scholar-athlete, and Melanie in Merritt Island, FL, a bookish band nerd. God, college and the Navy brought them together at church in Charleston, South Carolina and they were married in 1987. The next 30 years brought son Joshua, daughter Erin, half a dozen moves, three Master’s degrees, and assorted jobs. The last 14 years have been in Longview, Greg working for General Electric and Melanie a Hallsville librarian. Service at Oakland Heights Baptist Church includes youth Sunday school, music ministries, deacon, Mission Action Committee, and a mission trip to Slovenia.

True Worship

Day 34 P. 382-395

The Jews failed to understand the spiritual truth of what Jesus was saying. He knew the hearts of His followers and knew that many didn’t believe He was the Messiah and Son of God. They failed to understand the true significance of His teaching. Jesus was preparing His followers for His death, but the priests and Pharisees were focused on arresting Him. One of the Temple guards described Jesus speaking as the greatest person that had ever spoken.

All through these verses, Jesus keeps on telling us that His time had not yet come. God’s timing is always perfect. We often get impatient and want to rush things.

During this time and even today, we are quick to judge anyone whose sin has been exposed. Jesus told the mob standing around the woman caught in adultery that anyone without sin should cast the first stone, and the mob walked away. I’m sure God’s loving eyes of forgiveness pierced her heart. Jesus told her to go and sin no more. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. The person who follows me will never live in darkness, but will have the light that gives life.”

Jesus healed the blind man and the Pharisees questioned Him as to who had healed Him. Some people doubted Jesus’ miracles not for the lack of proof but just because they didn’t want to believe. It’s the same with our society, because people just don’t want to recognize who Jesus really is. You know the Pharisees came up with all kinds of ideas and excuses but Jesus proved them wrong on every account.

Jesus always said the miracles I did in my Father’s name, shows who I am. They still didn’t believe because they hadn’t believed in Jesus. Jesus did all these miracles. He raised Lazarus from the dead and a large number witnessed it. Many believed in Jesus, even many of the leaders, but because of the Pharisees, they did not say they believed in Him for fear they would be put out of the synagogue. They loved praise from people more than praise from God. Jesus said, “The things I taught were not from Me. The Father who sent Me told Me what to say and teach.” It’s so easy to forget the real purpose of worship. Jesus said, “I have come as light into the world so that whoever believes in me would not stay in darkness. The things that I taught were not from Me, but from the Father who sent Me and He told me what to say and what to teach.”


 

About The Author

 

Bob Adams grew up in Carthage, Texas. He and Karen met while attending Stephen F. Austin State University and recently celebrated 49 years of marriage. Oakland Heights Baptist Church has been their church home since 2001. They have a daughter, Kimberly, who is married to Dr. Jeffrey Shelton. A son, Kyle, who is married to Robin Petty Adams and are grandparents to Maddie, Anna, Molly and Isaac.

Healing

Day 33 P. 369-382

After a peaceful night of sleep, I got out of bed and to my surprise, quickly realized that my right leg was numb. I tried to walk, but found that I had no feeling whatsoever in that leg which made walking impossible unless I held on to some furniture, wall, door frame, whatever I could find to help me maneuver. A minute or so later, I started feeling a tingling in my leg like someone was sticking me with pins and needles. After a few minutes, the feeling in my leg had returned, and I was able to walk in a normal way. Has this ever happened to you?

My right leg being bent in an awkward position for a long time while I slept had caused my leg to "fall asleep" resulting in temporary lameness. I have since learned that it is a common misconception that the numb sensation is caused by a lack of blood supply. Actually, it is due to a temporary compression of nerves. The medical term for what I experienced is called paresthesia. More on that after our reading.

We begin our reading today in the Gospel of John, and are immediately introduced to Jesus as the Word and Creator. Jesus as the Son of God, who has no beginning, is the Creator God through whom everything has been made in the universe. We are also introduced to Jesus as the Son of Man, coming in human form, to show us, up close and personal, who God really is and how much He loves each of us.

I am drawn into this Gospel by the way that John describes the conversations that Jesus has with His first disciples, His mother, the Pharisee named Nicodemus, and the Samaritan woman at the well. I am amazed and in awe when I read about the first five powerful signs or miracles of Jesus - turning the water into wine at the wedding feast, the healing of the royal official's son in Capernaum, healing the lame invalid at Bethesda, feeding more than five thousand with a boy's five small barley loaves and two small fish, and Jesus walking on water across the Sea of Galilee.

What really spoke to my heart was the question that Jesus asked the lame invalid at Bethesda when He saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time. "Do you want to get well?." He said. What a question to ask this man! He did not have a temporary condition like a leg falling asleep, but had been paralyzed in both legs for 38 years! Of course, he would want to get well. The invalid's response was the only way that he knew how to be made well. That shows us that he was not aware of who it was that was asking this question. Would his answer have been different had he known that the Creator God was asking the question?

The remedy spoken by Jesus was very direct and required the man to act in obedience. "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." At once, the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

While this incident is about a physical lameness, the reaction by the Pharisees due to the healing occurring on the Sabbath shows their spiritual lameness. This is what really impacted me. What about my spiritual lameness? I can hear Jesus asking me the question, "Do you want to get well?" Again, the remedy is very direct and requires me to act in obedience. I pray that my response will be like that of the lame invalid and not like the Pharisees. What about you?


 

About The Author

 

Malcolm Palmer and his wife, Torie, joined Oakland Heights Baptist Church in 1976 during their first year of marriage. Family activities with their three children and nine grandchildren keep them busy, especially since Malcolm retired last year. He is a deacon and has served as Sunday School Director and on various committees. Currently, he is providing leadership in the Small Group ministry at OHBC.