POTLUCK TODAY: Even though it has been a busy week with the Cass County Fair, we are planning to have our potluck today. We will have plenty of food, so plan to stay and join us. It is always a joy to be with brothers and sisters in Christ.
THANKS — to all of you worked our booth at the Cass County Fair. It is a wonderful thing for the church to be so visible to people in the area, and it is the cheapest advertising we could ever get. People in the area are used to our being there, and some came by just to say hello and to say they appreciate our service and involvement with the community. We need suggestions and ideas for next year's fair. Put your ideas in the question box in the lobby, or see one of the men.
Our thanks also to those who filled in while the Claytons were traveling. We hear there were some great sermons and class discussions, and we appreciate the work that was put into preparing those lessons. We had a good trip this year, with 48 people on the bus for the Canyonlands tour. We are hopeful some of the training we were trying to do will produce more workers in apologetics.
JOHN THE BAPTIST
A. Ancient Israel survived by a series of prophetsI. John's Integrity was beyond reproach
B. There had been no prophet for some 400 years
1. The time was right for a prophetC. Herod put John in prison
2. Matthew 3:1– 6 — People responded
1. Politicians fear good, just, holy men and womenD. Notice four things about John
2. Mark 6:14 – 29
A.lntegrity is so importantII. John was a man who knew how to finish well.
1. Wall of China — can be seen from spaceB. Our integrity is our best silent sermon
2. Never breached militarily
3. Breached three times by bribing gate keepers
4. John had courage, no compromise — Mark 6:14 – 29
A. John 3:26 – 30III. John lived to point people to Jesus
B. This is a model for us to follow
C. Analogy — Shuttle launch vs landing
A. Matthew 3:11IV. John was the greatest human who had lived
B. John's whole life was pointed singularly to Christ
1. Matthew 3:4 — Why was he dressed that way?
2. Matthew 11:7 –10
A. Matthew 11:11 Lived as perfectly as possible
B. We are greater than John
1. Not in integrityC. Hebrews 11:32 – 40; 12:1– 5
2. Not in service
3. In what God has done for us
1. They were made perfect through JesusD. Do not deny what John accepted
2. Being a Christian makes you complete to God
3. Dying to sin makes you special — Romans 6:6 – 7
WHAT DEFINES US
It is great for Cynthia and I to be back after driving 4,600 miles the past three weeks. While we were traveling, we worshipped with three different congregations of the Church of Christ. What was interesting was how different they were. The first was in Grand Junction, Colorado, and while it is very large (about 300 Sunday morning), the emphasis was on how to modernize the church and attract people in the community. Much of the discussion we had with members was on why it would be wrong to do certain things in worship. The church has not grown in the three years since I was first with them and in fact they are slightly smaller.
The second congregation we visited was in Sedona, Arizona. That congregation is our size, and has shrunk some since I first attended there some 20 years ago. Most of the members are seniors, and you got the feeling they have essentially given up on evangelizing the community in which they live. It is a tough missionary area with heavy tourism and they are hurting from the recession. The third congregation was in Springfield, Missouri. They had almost 400 members when I was there some seven years ago. They have established two other congregations in the area since that time from their own membership and have grown back to over 400 members since then. Hillard Story who many of you know has been associated with this congregation.
When we talked to the elders and minister in Springfield, they were enthusiastic about reaching out and winning souls. Not everything they have tried has worked, but as one man said "We just keep trying." I hope that is what defines us here at Dowagiac as well. Our efforts at the Cass County Fair, our new sign, our project of building a play area for the children, and our food bank are all efforts to reach out to this community. Evangelism is hard, but there is great need all around us, and God will bless us if we keep trying and do not get "weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest …" (Galatians 6:9).