Bethel Baptist Church

"For from Him and to Him and through Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen." Romans 11:36

The Beacon

Gift-giving solutions
Trying to find gifts for certain people — or letting others know what you want — can be quite challenging. After all, most of us don’t need anything.

Realizing that the best gifts aren’t material items offers a new perspective on giving and receiving. Consider these insights from author Charles Swindoll: “Some gifts you can give this Christmas are beyond monetary value: Mend a quarrel, dismiss suspicion, tell someone ‘I love you.’ Give something away — anonymously. Forgive someone who has treated you wrong. Turn away wrath with a soft answer. Visit someone in a nursing home. Apologize if you were wrong. Be especially kind to someone with whom you work. Give as God gave to you in Christ, without obligation, or announcement, or reservation, or hypocrisy.”

The Christmas grump
Uncle Bill had the reputation of being a curmudgeon. He always seemed to have something to grumble about. Bill’s friends and family were used to his demeanor and usually took it with a grain of salt. One year, while Bill’s relatives were decorating for Christmas, his young nephew wondered aloud, “Do you think Uncle Bill will put up a negativity scene again this year?”

REMEMBER THE PRISONERS
praying as though we are in prison with the mistreated

For many people the month of November introduces the best time of the year … Thanksgiving Day, leading to the Christmas season. During this time we annually give thanks to our God for His many blessings to us. He has poured out His favor in material blessings in a rare display of grace. Our standard of living is only seen in a few other countries on the earth. In the neighborhood grocery store, we can choose between 40 different kinds of cereal and a dozen different brands of ice cream and whatever kind of meat we desire at the moment.

More important than the material blessings are the spiritual graces God has given to us in this country. We have Bibles in multiple versions and some of the best Bible teachers in the world on the radio every day. We have local Bible book stores to sell us books that will help us understand the Bible on a deep level. On the one hand, we should praise God for His blessings, which He has generously poured out on us. But on the other hand, we must not let our ease harden us toward the needs of our brothers and sisters in other lands. November is the month in which we especially remember the Christian community which is being persecuted, every day, in places that are hostile to Christ.

HOW IS GOD’S PROVIDENTIAL WISDOM MICRO-MANAGING MY LIFE?

Some people say that God has no plan at all. Others believe that God has a very general plan for their lives. There is a third group of Christians who believe that God has an exact plan and that His plan extends to the smallest detail in the life of a Christian. Am I the master of my own life or am I fitting myself into God’s great Master Plan for His eternal glory and for my eternal happiness? What do you believe? What does God’s Holy Word say?

Before looking at Scripture, consider these questions: Do you make plans? Are they in detail? Do parents have exact plans for the training of their children? Does it take detailed planning to run a home, drive a car, go to school or work at your job? Does God plan any less than we do? Is it possible for God to plan and control all the great events in general, if He does not plan the smallest events in particular? Does the Bible give evidence that God has an exact point by point plan for each of His children? Did God know my name and write it in the Lamb’s book of life “from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 17:8)?

“Look forward and be hopeful, look backward and be thankful, look down and be helpful, look up and be humble.”
—Unknown

Always thankful
Martin Rinkart, a German Lutheran minister, wrote the hymn “Now Thank We All Our God” in 1636. At the time, the Thirty Years’ War was ravaging central Europe, claiming millions of lives. Rinkart served as pastor in Eilenburg, a walled town that became a crowded refuge for starving fugitives. Although Rinkart was struggling to provide for his own family, he opened his own home to people in need.

After the plague entered Eilenburg, Rinkart conducted up to 50 funerals a day — including services for his wife and the only other two pastors in town. Amid the despair, he wrote many hymns, including “Now Thank We All Our God.” Originally intended as a table prayer, it’s now sung at Thanksgiving to remember God’s “countless gifts of love” — even during hardships.

Our Attitude in Prayer
a lesson in prayer from Isaiah 1

In addition to our weekly prayer meeting and Saturday morning prayer time for men, we have two annual emphases on prayer at Bethel. In the spring, just prior to our beginning a new fiscal year with new officers and board members, we have a Day of Prayer. On that day we ask folks from our fellowship to spend one hour in prayer for our church, as well as for other things. In the fall, as we begin our normal ministry schedule, we have a Week of Prayer. We meet for one hour at the church every evening to pour our hearts out to God, seeking His grace and forgiveness and fullness. This year our Week of Prayer will be October 3-7. In light of that coming week, let us consider the state of our hearts whenever we pray.

Prayer is not an 'add-on' to our lives or to our church. It is part of the lifeblood of everything we are engaged in, in every area of life. If someone does not pray, his life, in physical, earthly terms, will probably go on. The question is not "can we live without prayer?" but "what kind of life can we live without prayer?" If we want joy at its deepest level, we can only experience it in fullness through communion with our Creator through talking to Him. If we want to know strength in adversity and hope for the future, we can only know those things through prayer (coupled with hearing the Word of God). If we want to know God at a deep level, it is not possible for people who do not commit themselves to prayer.