Psalm 81:10, “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.”
I was 33 years old and about to begin my first pastorate. I was in my car driving around the town of Seven Springs, NC. As I looked around, I saw several farms, many animals, turkey houses, hog farms, but not a lot of people. In fact, the population of Seven Springs, NC according to Google is only 112 people. I always dreamed of having a church with a school, a preschool, a teen choir, a junior choir, and a staff, etc. However, that day when I was driving around getting familiar with the area, I was convinced that I would never receive those things in such a small, rural little country town. The Devil began to work on me tremendously. I have always been a “go-getter” and seemingly there wasn’t much to “go get.” I remember telling my wife that if we ran 150 in years to come that it would be a miracle.
God began to convict me through His Holy Spirit because of my attitude. I was looking for bigger and better and that was just absolutely wrong of me. The good people of Seven Springs and Spring Creek Baptist did not need a preacher with one foot out of the door. I stumbled upon this verse in Psalm 81 and realized that I do not build a church. I realized that I can be in a small area or a well-populated area and that it truly did not matter; God will send who He wants me to minister to and that I needed to allow Him to do His work. When I began to realize that God could do something even in a little town, things began to happen very quickly. I began studying how God worked miracles with “smaller” things and objects in the Bible, and my heart began to realize God can do it here. For instance, the feeding of the five thousand, God used a “little lunch,” in the falling of the walls of Jericho; God “just” had the people walk around. I could go on and on about how God doesn’t need anything big. God doesn’t need all the right conditions; He just needs me to want to be used. He wants me to have a vision and to dream big. I am convinced that many churches could grow extremely well if we BELIEVED that God would grow us. Allow me to give you some thoughts.
1. I want a big mouth with my church.
No, a church in Seven Springs should not have several hundred people at it, but God is big enough to make it happen. God wants people to get saved. God would love for churches to double in size. We must open our mouth and ask God to fill it as He said He would. Let’s have big dreams for our churches.
2. I want a big mouth with my children.
I understand that every boy cannot preach and be called into the ministry, but I would love for my boy to surrender to be a preacher. I know every girl cannot marry a preacher and work for a church, but I hope my girl does. I’m asking God to use my children, and I believe He will. Let’s have a big vision for our children. Let’s dream big for them.
3. I want a big mouth with my marriage.
Yes, I know this is elementary; however, I want to be married forever. That’s my goal! Kelli, my wife, and I got married young in life. I truly believe that we can hit 50 years of marriage together. Let’s dream big in our marriages. Let’s not settle for ten, twenty, thirty years. Let’s go bigger.
4. I want a big mouth with the ministry.
Why can’t God use me to bring a revival to my area? Why can’t God use you? He wants to use somebody. Nobody is perfect. Nobody is sinless; however, God is looking for people who believe that He is big enough to make things happen. Let’s step up and open our mouth and allow God to use us the way He wants in our Sunday school classes, Children’s churches, and ministries.
5. Lastly, I want a big mouth with church members.
I want to believe that God can use each of them. We just had our first graduate go to Bible college. I want to believe that God will change the world with him. Sure, every member may not fulfill God’s plan for their lives, but I want to dream big for my Spring Creek Baptist Church members. God wants to use them so bad. Preachers, let’s have a bigger vision than just “Come to church and tithe” for our members.
Psalms 81:10 teaches us that the bigger you dream, the bigger you make God, the bigger I believe that God can make you. Let’s have a big mouth.
I Thessalonians 3:7-9″Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;”
Recently, my dad and I were having a conversation about his past and about how he fought in the Vietnam War. I always love hearing my dad speak about this topic and hearing his war stories. I asked my dad, “What, in your opinion, was the hardest thing about fighting in the Vietnam War?” One of his answers was shocking to me; it was, “I hated when my squad was told to ‘hold’. We could not retreat or attack; we just had to hold and defend our place.” He went on to say that there were times when we could see the enemy laughing at us and shooting at us. He said they knew that he was told to hold and that there was nothing that he could do about it. I proceeded to ask him why he was sometimes told to hold, and why couldn’t he just go anyway. His answer was simply, “I was told what to do and that’s what I did.”
In my spiritual life, I have always been taught to attack the devil, hell, to go get people saved, and to win the world for Christ. But here’s a question: Has God ever told be to just “Hold”? Don’t get me wrong, God NEVER says retreat. God often says attack. In my own personal life, I know that occasionally God has told me to hold. Maybe health restrictions, financial problems, previous lifestyle, children, or many other things could contribute God telling you to “hold” in your life. It is very frustrating and difficult as a Preacher to see what the devil is doing in America with the younger generation, and to be told to “hold” by God could be strange, but it does happen. Why are there good men that could pastor, but have no place yet? Why are there people willing to go soul winning, however, health restrictions will not allow them to? Ladies that would love to get into church and serve the Lord, however, a husband will not allow them? Allow me to give you four things to hold on to when you are told to “Hold” by God.
1. Hold Fast to Jesus. Matthew 26:47-49 When the tough times come in your life and you must hold, make sure that you remember that Jesus has never bailed out on you, so, you don’t bail out on Him. Two years ago, I wanted a church so badly to pastor. However, for eight months I candidated for churches while painting light poles in Baton Rouge, LA. The whole time God was saying “Hold, Jason”. I did not like holding, but looking back, God knew exactly what He was doing. When your holding time comes, hold fast to Jesus.
2. Hold fast to your teaching and your doctrine. II Thessalonians 2:15 When your holding time comes, remember what you have been taught from God’s Word from influential men of God in the past. This is when it is time for you to put into practice what you have been taught. When those eight months of holding came in my life, I was thankful for men who had taught me the scripture. I see so many get frustrated and throw away all the hundreds of sermons they preached and heard. How unfortunate that is to see.
3. Hold fast to your salvation. Hebrews 10:23 When your holding time comes, continually remember and re-live your salvation testimony and be thankful for it. I was twelve years old when I got saved. I never want to forget that day. There will be a day in your life where that may be the only thing that you can hold on to. Do you remember your salvation story?
4. Hold fast to your position in life and don’t quit. Revelation 2:25 When all else fails, remember your God is the authority and if He says “Hold” then hold. As my dad said, “That’s what I was told to do, so I did it.” That should be our attitude in our walk with God. Whatever God says, we do it.
Nobody likes holding. Every Christian I meet and know likes attacking the devil and “tearing it up” for Christ. However, when your holding time comes, will you have what it takes to hold fast for the Lord?
Matthew 5:1“Then seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:”
Throughout the Bible, you will find Jesus repetitively having multitude after multitude around Him. Would to God that in today’s time, people would flock to the scripture and preaching like they did in days past! With that said, I wonder if preachers and staff members could do a better job of promoting and getting more people to come to church services. The average revival that I see starts with a great crowd on Sunday morning, a good crowd on Sunday night, a descent crowd on Monday, and the preacher starts sweating from there on praying that members come. Let’s face it, preachers do not always like to do what other preachers do because of ego, pride, they may get called “liberal”, and a thousand other reasons; however, Jesus is our ultimate example. Let us look at what He did and follow Him.
1. Luke 10:1- Jesus Promoted His Arrival In Advance
Jesus is VERY organized. If we want to be like Jesus, then we need to get organized. He is so organized He has already told us the ending of the world. Many churches do not have successful revivals, services, or events because of lack of planning. In today’s time, we have the technology to use social media, flyers, newspaper, billboards, and a host of other methods to get the word out about anything we are having. Jesus did not want to waste His time, so He organized people to go and promote that He was coming. Preachers, let’s get the word out about what is coming in your church. Every good and growing TV show or sitcom always has the watchers looking forward to next week with what is coming up or what may happen. Let’s learn from them and keep something coming up at the church house. Some people came to see Jesus because of promotion.
2. John 6:11- Jesus fed people that he preached to.
I know that there are some churches that feel like you should not have to use food, toys, etc to get people to come to church. I agree that you should not have to “con” someone into coming to church. However, in Acts when the church was booming, Acts 2:48 teaches that the early church had fellowships often. What is wrong with church members getting together in a fellowship hall and having a Nacho Party, or a ice cream social. You’ll be amazed how that will boost attendance. If Jesus used food, and trust me some people followed Jesus just to get a meal, why can’t we use food?
3. Luke 18:15-17- Jesus used Children in the Bible as examples.
Everyone loves children and to watch children. Preachers, you will greatly increase the size of your attendance on a revival if you would get a children’s group together to sing. What’s wrong with parents’ videoing and taking pictures of their kids singing in church and putting it on FaceBook or Twitter? Your church is getting advertisement. Let the kids serve in your church and I promise the attendance will jump because adults love to see children serve the Lord.
4. Luke 13:11-17- Jesus healed people.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not for these churches that heal people and make big scenes. If all these so-called preachers can heal people they should be in every hospital in America healing people nonstop. With that said, Jesus had people undoubtedly that followed Him because of the miracles that He performed. Something every once in a while should happen at your church. Recently an evangelist came to our church and preached a wonderful sermon. In the invitational altar call, the prayer was given for people to repeat to help them get saved. One woman was repeating the prayer out loud while crying and the Holy Spirit moved in andrevival broke out. Every once in a while, something should happen at the church house.
5. Some followed Jesus for His preaching.
This is the ultimate goal for our members; members that come to church regardless of what is going on. Whether it is a big day or normal day; whether it is cold, hot, cloudy, rainy, or sunny.
Lastly, before you start saying, “Well, I wonder how many people will stick from all those methods these churches use. I wonder how many people are tithing and faithful because of the food, toys, etc?” Let me ask you this: after all the ministry that Jesus had, how many people stood by Him at the cross when he was dying? The answer is one – his mother. If through all of the things we advertise and do, only one person is reached, is it worth it to you? Let’s start getting the crowds the way Jesus did when He walked the Earth.
Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
People today are looking for the “deeper truths” from the Word of God; however, Christianity is so simple that ever a little child can understand it. Notice that I did not say that Christianity was easy; however, it is easy to understand. Christianity has always been the same. One should get saved, get baptized, then start living for God. Many times other Christians try to “play” the Holy Spirit in another Christian’s life, but a legitimate saved person will not have to be pushed to do anything, they will WANT to do everything they can for the Lord. There are many examples in scripture where Jesus (our Earthly Example) won someone to the Lord and did not preach on being clothed, yet the person saved started in their right mind to put on clothes. Then there’s time when Jesus healed a demonic man: the next time you hear of him he is sitting in church. The Holy Spirit lives inside Christians and will convict them of sin and teach them all things. Allow me to give you some simple truths I see from Romans 12:1-2.
- “Brethren”…These verses are to saved people in the local church.
Verse one reads “brethren”. These are not lost people. Therefore, whatever is about to be said, it is being said to saved individuals that have the Holy Spirit living in them.
2. “That ye present your body”does not mean to present your heart.
We live in a day where people misconstrue words or phrases to make it what we what it to say. This phrase it talking about your actual body. What others see when they see you. We are commanded to give or present willingly our own bodies to Jesus. This should answer the tattoo questions. This should answer the clothing questions. This should answer the hair question. When you present your body to Christ, it is no longer about what you and I want. If you are saved, the Holy Spirit will teach you and tell you exactly what you should look like and be like. Let’s stop asking “Why can’t we do …..” and just present our bodies to God and say that we are His.
- “A living sacrifice”means while you are alive.
We should live everyday in a way that other people should be able to LOOK at our BODIES and tell that we are Christians. No one ever sees a military soldier in uniform and wonders what he/she is. Hence, no one should ever see us and wonder what we (Christians) are.
- “Which is your reasonable service”means that Jesus is not asking that much of us to do this.
If Jesus gave all he had for us, is it really that much to ask that we LOOK like we should. What is wrong with Christians looking like Christians? It is reasonable for us as saved people to allow our body to look like we are saved. I challenge Christians today, to not only be saved, to not only to love the Lord, but to look like it in public not only with your heart but with your body also.