Temple Baptist Church - 2-22-2012
A. Sometimes, the pastor needs to have a “Church Member Appreciation Day.” I do both love and appreciate my people. More than you will ever know for you are the family that we left behind. You are the friends that we left behind. You are the purpose of life that we left behind when we left Kentucky some 29 years ago. Temple is home to my family. This where God called us to; this is where our friends are; our friends are a family to us; and we are content to spend the rest of our days with you here.
B. The Philippian Church was a special church – Philippians 4:15-19 (The people cared for the Apostle Paul and did all that they could to take care of him.)
1. In the Bible Belt, there are a lot of churches but very few special ones! It amazes me the concentration of churches in just a few states. It sometimes seems like there is a church on every street. I go down the highway and see an intersection with 4-8 different church signs pointing down a side road. Now we have them starting in restaurants and movie theaters, as if we need more liberal churches in our town.
2. Temple Baptist Church has been a very special church. I cut my spiritual “teeth” in good, fundamental churches but this one has been the best of them all to me. There is a doctrinal correctness to go along with a love for missionaries and each other that is very special. We often fail to realize just what we have until we go to other places and attend another church. I am sure that those churches are special to those who attend also but they are not home. I may be made to feel “at home” but it is not home.
C. I try to preach on a good cross section of Scripture so that our people will receive the “whole counsel of God.” I preach on sin, salvation, sanctification, service, heaven, hell, and almost everything in between. Most churches would not allow the kind of preaching that I do but the Lord and our people have allowed me to stay here for almost 25 years now and I appreciate it.
D. On several occasions, the Apostle Paul made public his thankfulness for the people that God had sent him to minister to. I want to look at a few of those verses tonight because they rightly apply to you.
1. You are saved and beloved of the Lord - Romans 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. (I am so glad that you “got in!” It is refreshing to see people who can tell me about a time and take me to a place where the Lord saved them through His marvelous grace. Not a hope so; not a think so; but a “know so salvation.”)
2. You are known worldwide through missions - Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. (People know about you around the world. Many times men of God have related to me how that they have used you for an example to other churches for you missions giving.)
3. You are a testimony to the community - 1 Corinthians 1:4-6 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: (We live in days of shallow “Christianity” and most folks in the Bible Belt have the right words and speak the right language but their lives do not reflect a godly change that salvation makes. When I hear about you from other people, it is always in a positive light. The light of Christ shines in you as they behold your good works.)
4. You are unified in doctrine and purpose - Philippians 1:4-8 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. (I love to come to church and just be around you. I love to hear you talk, laugh, and share. I often just stand quietly and watch you shake hands and fellowship. You are some of the finest folks that I have ever known and just to be around you makes coming to church a blessing.)
5. You are as odour of a sweet smell to the Lord - Philippians 4:15-18 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. (The Lord knows your sacrifice and will reward you for it at the Judgment Seat of Christ. You have done right by your pastor’s family. We have been well taken care of over these years.)
6. You are faithful to the church - Colossians 1:3-6 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; 6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: (We may not have many folks but we do have faithful folks. Our Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night crowds are virtually the same.)
7. You are doing a good work for the Lord - 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; (When I needed you, you “stepped up to the plate.” You have filled positions that were left empty and have done the work.)
8. You are followers of the Lord and your Pastor - 1 Thessalonians 1:6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: (You follow me as I follow Christ. Many people are leaders and not followers; they are teachers and not students. I have tried to lead in a right manner and you have followed in a right manner. I would never intentionally hurt any of you and, even when I make mistakes, the Lord straightens it all out.)
9. You love one another in the Lord - 2 Thessalonians 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; (You are all different. Different personalities; different likes and dislikes; and yet love and respect one another. We have a wonderful unity in the church for which I praise the Lord!)
10. You stand together in tribulation - 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; 4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: (You keep “hanging in there!” Troubles come and go but you faithfully remain. I do not take that lightly. He’s coming and we are leaving!)
Conclusion - 1 Corinthians 16:23-14 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.