See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
1 John 3:1–3 – NASB95
COVID-19 update: we are NOT having public worship services yet. President Trump challenged the governors of America today to allow churches to start meeting again. He agreed with a lot of people around the country that churches are “essential” to America and the American people. The reality is that what the true local church offers through the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most essential service in the country. But the question remains for a lot of people (believers and unbelievers alike), “Is it safe?” The leadership of TBBF continues to research all of this and we will let you know when we believe it is “safe” to meet again on the church campus.
Until then… it is obvious that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of people to read their Bibles, pray, and try to find out if we are in the last of the Last Days. An interest in prophecy is on the rise and opportunities are opening up for us to engage in conversations with people about the good news of Jesus. Whether we are in the last of the Last Days or not, we have been instructed in Scripture to pursue holiness (1 John 3:1-3; 2 Peter 3:10-14) and live with courageous hope so people will ask us about it (1 Peter 3:15). When we are asked, we can tell them about Jesus and how we know for sure that we will live forever whenever we die (disease, pandemic, natural causes…).
This Sunday we will be studying an incredibly important passage in James 1:26-27. At first read it may not seem like it, but this passage is a profound test of the genuineness of a person’s faith (religion). The world is filled with religious people who believe they will get to heaven for various reasons. James describes people IN CHURCHES that have a religion that is worthless. Please invite all of your family & friends to watch the livestream this Sunday and pray that the Spirit of God would open the eyes of all to see where they really stand with God. Ask Him to draw multitudes to a genuine saving faith that transforms them from the inside-out.
I long to meet with all of you again as soon as possible. I want to proclaim God’s truth to a room full of people instead of imagining that you are there while I preach. More than that, I want us to be a holy people whether we are at home or in the church facilities. My heart breaks thinking of the millions of people who will hear Jesus say, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Mt. 7:22-23). There are so many passages that describe religious people being excluded from the kingdom of
God (Mt. 13; 24; 25; Lk. 13). I don’t want to see one person in our church be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20). Studying and memorizing James has reminded me how easy it is for people to be deceived into thinking their professed faith is a genuine faith.
I long for all of us to meet again. I long even more for all of us to meet again in God’s eternal kingdom. Mt. 13 tells a number of parables about the coming Kingdom of God. The Parable of the “Sower & the Soils” has three out of four who hear the Word of God not making it to heaven. The parable of the “Tares Among The Wheat” describes up to 50% of those in the church not making it. The parable of “The Dragnet” also describes a large number of fish that will be cast away.
The Apostle Paul was so concerned about the church in Corinth that he challenged them to test themselves to see if they were genuinely saved. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5). James’ epistle is filled with tests of genuine salvation. The Gospel of John was written to distinguish between true and false belief (see John 2:23-25; 20:30-31). The entire letter of 1 John is written to distinguish between true and false faith. The goal was that true believers would KNOW that they have eternal life (1 John 5:11-13).
Dear friends, are you sure that you know Jesus Christ in a saving way? Has the gospel changed your heart? Do you desire to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness? Please tune in to the livestream on Sunday morning where we will look in detail at James 5:26-27 and see what genuine saving faith looks like.
Final request: please pray & fast for Pastor Randy Leinen on Wednesday, May 27th. Randy will be having his entire descending aorta replaced with an artificial aorta made of Dacron. The surgery is so complex that the #1 surgeon at Kaiser said he would not do it. He referred Randy to the #1 thoracic-aorta surgeon in the world in Houston, TX. The Leinens are there right now. Randy will have a COVID-19 test on Monday, then he and Susan will meet with the surgeon on Tuesday. The 8-hour surgery will take place on Wednesday. You can sign up for a specific timeslot to pray for Randy on the church website or you can just pray as often as possible. Diane and I will be flying to Houston on Monday to be with the Leinen clan to provide support and encouragement. Please ask the Lord to give us wisdom in what we say and do so that the Leinens will feel the love of God and of our church family.
Praise for prayers that have already been answered: 1. All the preliminary tests Randy needed to have done were ordered “STAT” and accomplished at Kaiser. 2. Susan will now be able to meet the doctor on Tuesday and go to the hospital during and after the surgery for about 1 hour per day (no family members were allowed to do so until a few days ago). I’m hoping they extend that to “clergy” as well. 3. The Leinens had an enjoyable and safe drive to Houston. 4. The 14-day mandatory quarantine of anyone flying from California to Texas was just lifted yesterday. This allows us to fly instead of drive to Houston. 5. So many people have responded to the “Go Fund Me” page to help cover expenses for the Leinens. As of this writing over $12,000 of the $20,000 goal has been donated! And these donations are NOTtax-deductible. What joy it brings my soul to see how much people love Randy and his family!
Have a glorious weekend drawing near to Jesus and becoming more like Him!