Sunday Sermon: ‘The State of the Church 2011’


For the past several years I have preached what I call my ‘State of the Church Message.’ Obviously this is a take-off from the President’s State of the Union Address. I don’t expect a standing ovation from one side of the sanctuary and hopefully I won’t hear any boo’s from the other.

The Lord has been good to Twin Oaks Baptist Church. When you consider who we are and where we are at, the Lord has been VERY GOOD to us. What a blessing it is to be a part of what God is doing here.

I. Statistics

Let me begin by giving you some statistics. Presently Twin Oaks has a membership of 369. That’s 10 times the amount it started with 19 years ago when a small group of believers started meeting in a basement. This past year, sixteen of you joined our church family, five of you coming through believer’s baptism. In 2010 one of our members went home to be with the Lord. For various reasons, four of our members transferred their membership to another church. In addition to our growth as a church, we have witnessed many of our families growing through the birth of babies and grandbabies. We’re also off to a good start with two new babies being born and it’s only the 9th day into a new year. I also hear that there are more on the way!

Currently we average 161 in Sunday school and 303 in our Sunday morning worship services. Awana averages 51 on Sunday night and in just a bit Pastor Zack will share with some statistics about Teens For Christ.

Financially we received a little over 1/4 of a million dollars last year that went into our General Fund. Weekly offerings remain strong in spite of a weak economy and we are in the black. Last year we gave a little over $18,000 to missions with a large part of that going to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Recently I received a report from the Southern Baptist Conservatives concerning missions giving in the Central-West area and Twin Oaks ranks 30th among 147 churches in that area.

In last year’s State of the Church message I shared with you two areas of focus:

1. Building and Expansion

Currently we are debt free and have nearly 1/4 of a million dollars in our building fund. That amount continues to grow each month as we set money aside a portion from our General Fund. At the same time, our Building Planning Committee has been working with an architect in order to prepare some perspective drawings of a new multipurpose facility that could be added on to the back of our existing facility. A multipurpose facility would provide a larger place for our worship services as well as special events such as our Sportsman’s Banquet and Homecoming. It would also have a full basement that would provide space for most of our Sunday School classrooms. Parts of our existing building would then be remodeled for new bathroom facilities, a larger kitchen area and other needs.

These are all preliminary plans and we encourage you to continue to pray for God’s guidance.

2. Assistant Pastor

Shortly after I preached last year’s State of the Church message, Tammy and I met with a young couple in Greensboro, NC, as perspective candidates for Assistant Pastor. As you well know, the Lord led us to call Pastor Zack and Rebecca to come and join our ministry and at this point I want to give Pastor Zack a few moments to share with you some of what is happening in TFC and what he anticipates to happen in 2011.

II. Redeeming the Time

In the time I have left this morning I want to share a short message entitled – ‘Redeeming the Time.’ Our text comes from Ephesians 5 –

Ephesians 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

One of my favorite writings by Spurgeon is a devotional concerning David seeking the Lord’s guidance. David asks the Lord if he should attack the Philistines. The Lord replies by telling him – “When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the mulberry trees, attack! That will be the signal that the LORD is moving ahead of you…” Spurgeon writes that when God’s people sense that God is opening doors before them, they should –

“Seek help of God, that you may be more earnest in duty when made more strong in faith; that you may be more constant in prayer when you have more liberty at the throne; that you may be more holy in your conversation whilst you live more closely with Christ.” (Morning and Evening, January 30)

With a similar thought Paul appeals for us to live with godly wisdom and to make the most of every opportunity.

A. Wake up!

‘Wake up!’ Paul says. Years ago when our girls were still home and in school, I used to go into Cindy’s room each morning and sing – ‘Up from the dead she arose!’ Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to raise the dead then to get your kids to wake up and go to school.

But kids aren’t the only ones that are hard to awaken from a dead sleep. There are a lot of sleepy churches and sleepy Christians. Peter tells us that Christ has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Therefore we ought to live as children of the light. Paul gives us some reasons for waking up and walking in the light.

1. ‘The Days Are Evil’

Ephesians 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

The Bible teaches us that Satan is the ‘god of this world’ and the ‘prince of the power of the air.’ John also says that the whole world lieth in the wicked one. In addition we learn from scripture that we are currently engaged in spiritual warfare with the power of darkness.

If ever there was man who learned the need to wake up in an evil time, it was Simon Peter. You remember that night in the Garden when Jesus pleaded with Peter and the other disciples to stay alert and to pray. Yet they repeatedly fell asleep. What was the result of their sleepiness? They fell into the hands of the devil. Jesus told Peter that after he recovered, he would teach others. Interestingly enough you will find an appeal for alertness many times in Peter’s writings.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant;  because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…

2. The time is short

Note that Paul says in Ephesians 5:16 “Redeeming the time …” So often I hear people say – “I don’t know where the time went”, or “I don’t know where the year went.” The Bible teaches us that time is short.

James 4:13 Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

I don’t know what your plans or dreams are, I can only tell you this – “You’ve only got a limited amount of time to get it done.” Life is short and it takes hard work and intentional effort to turn dreams into reality. There are only a certain number of opportunities in life and that is especially true when it comes to leading others to Christ. Today there is an open window of opportunity; yet tomorrow it may be closed. Tomorrow Jesus may come, or tomorrow that individual may be dead. Consider this desperate cry from the prophecy of Jeremiah –

Jeremiah 8:20 The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

The Bible teaches us that one day Jesus will return like a – ‘thief in the night.’ The reference to a thief doesn’t mean that Jesus’ return will be sinister, but sudden. Jesus teaches us that it will happen when men least expect it. It will occur while man are asleep, both in the world and in the church. We can understand the world being asleep, but there’s no excuse for the church being asleep. Peter says that in the last day there will come scoffers concerning Christ’s coming. We think those scoffers will come from outside the church, but perhaps they will come from inside the church. Perhaps the people who will be scoffing will Christians who are “walking after their own lusts”. Many in the church today are caught up in the world and have little or no concern for Christ’s coming.

Paul writes –

Ephesians 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Author unknown

B. Live Wisely

Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

1. Walk Circumspectly –

To walk circumspectly means to live carefully. Strong’s defines it as – {exactly, accurately, precisely}. In other words, live with purposeful intention. The Psalmist said –

Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

The thought is not so much – ‘count your days’, as ‘make your days count.’ Know what needs to be done and make plans to do it. Make the most of this life God has given you. Don’t waste it with foolishness. Don’t assume that you have the luxury to sleep. Perhaps you will remember a warning our Lord gave – “While men slept, the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat.”

There are at least three ways to live foolishly –

a. In defiance to God’s will

b. Independent of God’s

c. Indifferent to God’s will

It’s not so much that we desire to defy God’s will, we’re just dull when it comes to recognizing it. Our senses have become dull and we’ve grown indifferent. We don’t recognize the opportunities God gives us to serve Him.

John 4:35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields;for they are white already to harvest.

The Lord provides opportunities everyday for us to do His will. I have asked Pastor Zack to help me help you. We as a church family are going to memorize one verse a month. That’s twelve new verses for this year! A portion of the verses we’re going to memorize will be salvation verses. As we’re memorizing them, I want to encourage us to pray that God will give us an opportunity to use them. My goal is that during our conversations with those in the world, these verses will come to our mind and God will guide us to use them.

2. “Redeeming the time”

To redeem something is to recover it from the power of another. We live in a world where many are addicted to pain-killers. Unfortunately many are also addicted to ‘time-killers’; things that robs them of their most precious time and life. Some are addicted to the time-killer of TV. Others are addicted to the time-killer called ‘the bed.’ Some are addicted to the time-killer of the computer, while others are addicted to the time-killer of complaining.

I read this the other day – “There’s always enough time to do God’s will.” A more contemporary way of saying ‘Redeem the time’ might be – ‘seize the moment!’ Live life with resolve and determination.

A few centuries ago there was a great Christian by the name of Jonathan Edwards. One of the things that made Jonathan Edwards such a powerful Christian leader is that he at least once every week he read over 70 Resolutions he had established. (The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1722-1723) Let me share just three:

(1)        Resolve to live with all my might, while I do live.

(2)        Resolve never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

(3)        Resolve that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.


Ephesians 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

We can’t imagine what God might do in and through Twin Oaks this year if every one of us would resolve to redeem the time and to live according to God’s will.

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