Skip to content

First Baptist Church - Palestine, TX

God Questions – Blog and Podcast

You can subscribe to this podcast through iTunes, searching for “It’s All About Relationships” and look for the Black icon, click on it, and select “subscribe.

One of the things I love about the church is that it is somewhat of a melting pot. People come from different backgrounds, live in different environments, work in different fields, are in different age groups, have different interests, sometimes are from different countries, are of different ethnic descent, etc. We have people who grew up in church and those who didn’t, and some which are half and half. I love that! It’s a beautiful thing that we see more and more over the past few years. God unites, removes barriers, draws people unto Himself, and brings families together under His Lordship.

I’ve talked to a number of people who have come from various backgrounds over the years in serving the church and because of that, I believe it’s important to speak to some of the fundamentals of the faith from time to time and try to answer any questions people may have regarding them. Today’s text really lends itself to answering some important questions that believers have from time to time, so we are going to look at 3 of them.

Our text for today is I John 5:1-5, which says…Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of him. This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. Who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

The first question I want us to deal with is…How do I know I’m saved?I had a man in my office one time, who was an active part of our church and was in his 40’s. He grew up going to church and when he got to be a teenager he drifted away. He got married and he and his wife had different church backgrounds. He didn’t like where she liked to go to church so he just didn’t go, and eventually she didn’t either. They moved from out of state to our town for a fresh start and decided they might want to try church again. Their daughters enrolled in girl scouts, which just so happened to meet at our church. They began to attend regularly, their kids got involved, and the Lord began to work on this man, convicting him about his salvation. He had walked an aisle when he was 12 years old, but he realized it hadn’t made a significant impact in his life. He came into my office wanting some assurance – was the decision he made at age 12 a real profession of faith? Was he feeling the conviction of someone who needed to get saved or was he just feeling guilt for walking away from the church for so many years? He even called his mom and asked her to give him the date off of his baptism certificate. He was so torn up. We prayed and we talked. We prayed and we talked some more. He kept saying, “If the decision I made to follow Christ at 12 was so real, how could I so easily walk away from it for so many years?”

Ultimately, he realized he had never truly repented of his sins and had never been truly saved. He asked the Lord to save him and walked the aisle the next Sunday to make his profession of faith public, which is an important step as a testimony before your church family. He was baptized a few weeks later and began a new life in Christ and I began to see some real changes in him over time.

A genuine salvation experience is marked by two evidences, according to our text today. Verse 1 says that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him. Basically, loving God and loving one another.

For those of you who may be looking for some additional evidences of “How do I know I’m saved?”, let me give you a few marks to look for in your life. This is not a list that is given to condemn you if you aren’t totally following all of these, but they are good indicators of a genuine walk with Christ.

  1. Have you felt the presence of Jesus Christ in your life?
  2. Does sin bother you? When you realize you’ve sinned, does it convict you?
  3. Do you have a desire to obey God’s Word?
  4. Do you love the Lord more than you love the things of this world?
  5. Are you excited about the return of Christ?
  6. Are you seeing a decreasing pattern of sin in your life?
  7. Do you love other Christians?
  8. Are you experiencing answered prayer?
  9. Are you sensing the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? Is He Your comforter and teacher?
  10. Are you able to discern between spiritual truth and error? Discernment grows as you walk with Him.
  11. Have you endured any resistance because of your faith?

(Adapted from “Saved Without a Doubt” by John MacArthur)

The second question I want us to deal with is…Can I lose my salvation?I realize that there is not universal agreement within the Christian church about this question. But, I’ll cut to the chase. I’m not interested in what the church says as much as I’m interested in what the Word of God says, so in order to answer that question, we’ll just go straight to the Word of God and let God sort it out for us. Here are 3 key Scriptures which do indeed answer the question of whether someone can lose their salvation.

  1. John 10:27-28, 27 My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.
  2. Ephesians 1:13, 13 In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed.
  3. Hebrews 6:4-6, For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, who shared in the Holy Spirit, who tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away. This is because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding him up to contempt.

The answer is, if you were ever saved, you are still saved. If you could lose it, you never had it, and if you could lose it, you couldn’t get it back again. Scripture is the first and last Word on that, period.

The 3rdquestion I want to address is, “Why is it hard to be obedient?” Anything worthwhile in your life comes at a price, it costs you something, and it shapes you in the process. Such is the Christian life. Our victories have purpose, and our trials have purpose. Our gains have purpose and our losses have purpose. All things work together for good for them who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

The text tells us in verse 3, “For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden.” His commands are not a burden, but that doesn’t mean that they will be easy to keep. They are not a burden, meaning that whatever difficulty that comes from being obedient, God will equip us with whatever we need to be obedient.

These 3 questions, “How do I know I’m saved?”, “Can I lose my salvation?” and “Why is it hard to be obedient?” are questions that many people ask. But understand this…God doesn’t want you to live in fear of wondering. He wants you to have a salvation that is secure, and He wants to equip you to be obedient. All of those things are to be developed within the context of the local church. My sincere desire for each of you is that you have security in an authentic relationship with Christ, and that you press forward in knowing Christ in a deeper way.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

Declarations of Love – Blog & Podcast

You can subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes by searching for “It’s All About Relationships” and looking for the icon you see displayed here.

I was 5 years old when my dad bought me my first baseball glove. At that point, I had never seen a baseball game that I was aware of, or a baseball glove. My only exposure to the game was through a plastic ball and bat that I had been given previously, that I was not very good with. My dad was simply introducing me to a great game and giving us something that we could to together. It was just about playing catch in the backyard of our house on Pine Street in Rusk, Texas.

Later, he introduced me to the game as a whole. We moved to Houston in 1974 and my dad signed me up for baseball in the spring of 1975. He took me to a game that summer in the 8thwonder of the world – the Astrodome. I was smitten for life with this great game of baseball. I would have never known this love of baseball had my father not taken the time to introduce me to this game.

My father loved me, so he revealed himself to me, he taught me, and he helped mold and shape me along the way. He did it all because he loved me. In the same way, every good thing I have in this life, has come from my Heavenly Father. I love others because God has loved me and loves others through me. Before I met the Lord, I had some understanding of love. I loved my parents. I loved my family. I loved my friends. I even loved baseball. But, the Lord transformed, completely, my understanding of love – where it came from, what it means, what its purpose is, and so much more.

Our focus today is on a few verse from I John 4. In the last 15 verses of the chapter, the word love or a form of it, is stated 27 times. That’s an average of almost 2 times per verse. Evidently, love must be important.

I John 4:18-21 (CSB),18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So, the one who fears is not complete in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.

I think we can best have understanding of this passage by making 3 declarations of love and giving you 3 reasons for each one.

The first declaration of love is “I need love”. That may seem obvious and it may not have rocked your world, but I think there is something to saying, to admitting, to acknowledging, “I need love”. There’s something freeing up about that, it reveals a transparency, a vulnerability that is not only healthy, but it is also necessary.

Let me give you three reasons why I need love. First, I need love because love meets needs. From the time I was born, my parents fed me, clothed me, provided for me, because they loved me. Love is the best motivation, love is the best medication, and love is the best manifestation of caring in this world. Secondly, I need love because love covers sin. If I’m well fed in this life, have the nicest house, the most dependable and beautiful car and the greatest family, it’s all for naught if I leave it all behind and am separated from God for eternity because I did not trust Jesus to cover my sin. Thirdly, I need love because love overcomes fear. Just because I know the Lord, doesn’t keep me totally free from anxiety, worry, fear, sadness, etc. because there is still sin in the world and I still am made of flesh and give into the ways of the flesh from time to time. God’s love overcomes my fear.

Back to the declarations, the second declaration of love is “I have love”. Now I will say this…this declaration comes within the context of a relationship with Christ. The first way I know I have love is because love conquered death. If you know Christ, then death is only a temporary condition. If you don’t, it’s permanent. Secondly, I have love because love ransomed me. My sentence was spiritual death. I didn’t do anything to cause it – I was born into sin – but if I don’t do something to respond to the work God did to ransom me, I will remain separated. Thirdly, I have love because love transforms me. When I look at my life since I met Christ, I can see that not only have I matured because of the experiences I’ve had, but the love of Christ has transformed me. I see it reflected through my entire life, and He’s still transforming me.

The third and final declaration of love is “I give love”. Love that is held on to and not distributed is not really love, it’s selfishness. I give love firstly because love commands it. When the disciples asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, He said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and the second is like unto it – love your neighbor as yourself”. He couldn’t separate the two. Secondly, I give love because love demonstrated love. As my father showed me love by investing in me, teaching me the game of baseball, Christ has invested love in me and an investment is placed with the intention of growth. Now, to be truthful, sometimes you invest love in people that don’t love you back. That’s not your concern. That’s their problem if they don’t receive it. You are only called to be obedient. The results are up to God. Thirdly, I give love because love communicates authenticity. People know when love is real or when it’s fake. There is an authenticity in love that unifies, that brings together, that breaks down walls, that calms people’s fears, that restores, that heals.

What are your declarations of love today? Can you identify with these – I need love, I have love, I give love? Maybe you need to simply acknowledge to God that you need Him, that you need His love. That may be where you are today. Maybe life’s circumstances have made you doubt that you have love – all I can tell you is that the Word of God, which is the absolute Truth, says that if you know Christ, you absolutely have love. Are you struggling to give love? Maybe you can’t get past the hurts of past relationships. Maybe you are just angry about some circumstances of life. Maybe your trust has been broken and you struggle to give love. God’s Word says love is perfected in you when you give it away. By resisting that, by holding on to anger and resentment, by not fully trusting God with your time, your talent and your treasure, you are living with less than a perfect love relationship and you don’t have to.

Let’s pray…Lord, I’ll just say it – I need love. I need everything you have to offer. I have love only because You’ve given me love, and I’m so thankful for that. Help me to embrace the love You’ve given me and help me to give love like You have intended me to. I give love because You have loved me so much. Lord, I want to be so in love with You that I can’t help but give Your love away. I know I’ll never run out, because You always will re-fill me. Amen

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

The God I’ve Come to Know – Blog & Podcast

Good relationships grow over time. The more we get to know someone, the more time we spend together, the joys in the good times, and the learning how to negotiate the difficulties all help us to grow closer to people. Many of us have had the experience of having our spouse or a special friend that we have that special connection with. Maybe a certain glance or a facial expression brings to mind some experience that we’ve had together in the past.

I can say the same thing about my relationship with God, can’t you? I mean, the God I’ve come to know is still the same, yet much different than the God I met when I got saved over 35 years ago. The God I’ve come to know is more personal, less distant and sweeter than the God I first met.

I was thinking about that recently when I was reading in 2 Chronicles about one of the good kings of Judah named Asa. Asa had a lot to deal with. He followed a number of kings were not God-fearing, who allowed a great deal of idol worship, and destroyed the altars of God.

It seems God brings encouragement and affirmation right when it’s needed. In 2 Chronicles 15, He brings a prophet named Azariah son of Oded. We don’t see Azariah anywhere else in Scripture. Let’s look at the affirmation God brought through Azariah.

2 Chronicles 15:1-7,The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. So he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Asa and all Judah and Benjamin, hear me. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will abandon you. For many years Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without instruction, but when they turned to the Lord God of Israel in their distress and sought him, he was found by them. In those times there was no peace for those who went about their daily activities because the residents of the lands had many conflicts. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every possible distress. But as for you, be strong; don’t give up, for your work has a reward.”

You see, Asa didn’t just know who God was, he KNEW God. He had an intimate, growing relationship with Him. The God Asa came to know was very real and personal.

I’ve had a similar experience to King Asa, as I hope you have. I want to tell you three aspects about the God I’ve come to know.

First, the God I’ve come to know is…the God of faithfulness. He is the God who is true to His Word, the God who will never leave or forsake you. As our text says, “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you.” The God I’ve come to know is the God that Abraham trusted when he was told to sacrifice his son on the altar. The God I’ve come to know is the God that told Joshua to march around the city 7 times, with trumpets, and the walls fell. The God I’ve come to know is faithful when I’m faithful, and faithful when I’m not. The God I’ve come to know is my rock, my refuge, my ever-present help.

Secondly, the God I’ve come to know is…the God of my returns. Throughout the Old Testament history of Israel, God’s children would start out faithfully, then turn away, perhaps even turn to idols, get into distress, then turn their eyes back on God. Asa surely found comfort in Azariah’s words, “but when they turned to the Lord God of Israel in their distress and sought him, he was found by them.” The God I’ve come to know is the God that delivered the children of Israel from Pharaoh even when they doubted God. The God I’ve come to know is like the father who RAN after the prodigal son when he turned his eyes toward home. The God I’ve come to know is the God who receives me with open arms every time I fall on my knees after I’ve failed Him and turns my sorrows into joy.

Finally, the God I’ve come to know is the God of my distresses. Our text tells us that nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every possible distress. Don’t think for a moment that the God of my distresses only troubles us when we have misbehaved. The God of my distresses uses trials and tribulations, even when I’m faithful, to shape and mold me into the man He desires me to be. God is the God of the mountain and the God of the valley. He’s not a genie in bottle or a coin in a wishing well, but He IS able to move mountains at His command. He uses my distresses, that are all under His control, to teach me that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord.

The God I’ve come to know is different than the God I met – He’s more than I ever dreamed of and more. The God I’ve come to know is more full of love, more full of grace, and more awesome than I first thought. Isa. 43:1b-3a, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine. I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you. For I am the Lord your God,

Let’s pray, “Dear God, I’m so thankful that the God I’ve come to know is so much more than the God I first met. You’ve proven yourself faithful time and again. You’ve shown grace and mercy for my failures and the times I’ve wandered away, always welcoming me back. You are firmly in control of my blessings and my distress-ings, and I trust You completely. Amen”

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

It’s All About the Gospel – Blog & Podcast

In our church, we will begin Vacation Bible School this Monday. It will one of the biggest events of the year for our church with the most adults involved for a concentrated period than for any other event or series. Some churches have started to question the validity of VBS, others have cut back on it because they can’t get workers, or their attendance is poor. I’ll be honest, I’ve seen some trends in the curriculum that do not excite me, but if it’s done right, it can be a powerful tool.

When I was in seminary, I had a professor named Marcia McQuitty who made a statement that has stuck with me in regard to the church. “We have raised two generations of Biblically illiterate adults”. As sad as it is to say, I had to agree.

So when I think about Vacation Bible School, I am still a big believer in it, if it has the proper focus.

John says this in I John 4:2-3a, This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.

The focus, not just of Vacation Bible School, but everything in the church, should be the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as this passage indicates, there are people in the world that claim Jesus, but they don’t claim Him as the Christ, the Messiah, or maybe they don’t believe that He came as the only begotten Son of God in human flesh. Some believe He was the brother of Satan or was elevated from an angel status. That’s just not a Christian belief.

What makes us Christians? We are CHRIST-ians, followers of Christ, believers IN Christ, disciples of Christ. Our hope comes in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. That means that VBS and everything we do in the church should be Gospel-Centered and Gospel-Empowered. Worship, discipleship, service, missions, and yes, even fellowship should have the Gospel as its center.

So what is the Gospel?

  1. God created man – just as sin entered the world through one man through his fall – so it spread to all men.
  2. Man was separated – For the wages of sin is death – and we’ve all been born into sin.
  3. Christ surrendered life – For while we were still helpless…Christ died for the ungodly.
  4. Amazing grace, undeserved – For we have been saved by grace through faith – it is God’s gift
  5. Repentance brings forgiveness – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive them and to cleanse us.
  6. My confession solidifies – If you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

It’s because of this focus that I am still a big believer in the Sunday morning small group Bible study. You can call it Sunday School, as we still do, or Bible Fellowships, or whatever you want to call it, but it still serves the same 6 purposes, if done properly, which all have a Gospel focus.

  1. Biblical instruction – this one is obvious. There is teaching, discussion and interaction. We learn from the Word, from the teaching and from what others share.
  2. Community development – Community develops through the teaching, through the relationships that are built, prayer requests that are shared, and through fellowship.
  3. Ministry connection – Small group Bible study classes are the perfect platform to bind together to take care of needs of the members. Whether it be a death in the family, a sickness, a crisis of some sort, this family, as such, can minister to needs much more effectively than can be communicated through worship services.
  4. Entrance creation – We have multiple “entry points” in the church. Worship is an obvious one, but it doesn’t allow people to get to know one another all that well. Small group Bible study is another place to invite someone to, where they can actually interact with people in a similar stage of life.
  5. Gospel investment – The teaching should be Gospel-centered, to be sure, and classes can pray for and visit those who they are burdened about who may be lost. They can come up with a plan for investing in those they have burden for.
  6. Mission empowerment – Small group Bible study classes are just the right size groups to do ministry projects together, either as part of something going on in the church or something outside. The bonds built during this time can be very powerful.

All of these are part of the Gospel. Are you an active part of a small group Bible study class? If not, you should be. If you need some help finding one, I’d be glad to help you.

Let’s pray…”Father, help all that we do in our church to be Gospel-centered and Gospel-empowered. Thank you for small group Bible studies which help in these six areas and others. Use them for Your glory and Your glory alone. Amen”

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

Fatherhood, God’s Way – Blog & Podcast

For me, I feel like fatherhood has been not only one of my greatest callings, but perhaps my greatest responsibility. With it has come great lessons, great challenges, and also great moments of victory and satisfaction, and a good bit of patience and hard work.

Whenever we can draw directly from a Biblical example for something in life, I believe that is especially helpful. Such is the case with fatherhood. We see a number of great examples in Scripture, but I believe the story of Abraham and Isaac is just about the best.

Unable to conceive a child with his wife through 50+ years of marriage, Abraham, continued to trust God. Abraham and Sarah had to be giving up on the idea of having a child by this time. God came to Abraham when he was 75 and placed a unique calling on his life – to go. Just go and trust me to tell you where. Oh, by the way, you will have descendants as many as the sands on the seashore.

Abraham shares this with his 66-year-old wife, whose reaction was so very spiritual – she laughed and laughed and laughed. You can understand, right? Why now? Why at this age? Is this really happening?

It didn’t happen immediately. They had to wait nearly 25 more years, during which time they tried to take the situation into their own hands. It had to sound like a good idea at the time. Sarah says, “since I can’t give you a child, take my maidservant – he will still be coming from your bloodline.” Nothing could happen badly through that, right? WRONG. Just exactly what you would think happened, happened. There was jealousy and anger, and Abraham had to send his maidservant and his son Ishmael away. However, Abraham and Sarah once again began to fully trust God and he gave them a beautiful son when Abraham was 99 and Sarah was 91. They named him Isaac, which means “laughter”. Sarah remembered her laughter at the first revelation by God.

Abraham cherished his son, made him his helper and then God made the biggest demand on Abraham that any father could ever have to respond to.

Genesis 22:1-2,After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. “Take your son,” he said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

Abraham had to be thinking “God, you told me I would have descendants, plural, and now you are going to take away the only one I have, the one I waited nearly 100 years to have??” But God was teaching Abraham the characteristics of a Godly father. Abraham was not a bad father to sacrifice his son in this way, He was following the call of God on his life. Fathers, if you follow the call of God on your life, there is nothing better you can do, and He will teach you the Way.

Abraham demonstrated 10 characteristics of a Godly father…A model for each of us, and something to pray for those fathers in our lives. A Godly father…

  1. Hears the Lord’s Word – Abraham walked with God daily and a Godly father gets his instruction from the Word
  2. Does the necessary work – There’s no short-cuts to fatherhood. He must be a disciple-maker, show love, teach.
  3. Commits to the journey – Once you hear “I’m pregnant”…. Teachers can tell quickly which dads are checked out
  4. Is a worshipping man – There’s nothing more valuable to the discipleship of a child than to be in the home of a worshipping dad
  5. Does the hard jobs – Abraham is faced with the hardest task, and never hesitates
  6. Trusts God for provision – God will provide the lamb. Honor God and He WILL provide. Give God the first and best
  7. Disciplines his children consistently – Just as the altar of sacrifice needed a particular order – children need consistent discipline, desire it
  8. Knows his children’s Owner – Abraham understood that ultimately his son did not belong to him.
  9. Leads from his knees – Abraham was on the altar, offering his son. “Abraham looked up”. We get low to look up.
  10. Takes a long-term view – Because Abraham was faithful with his first, he entrusted him with many.

The results – Abraham, Isaac, and the young men got up and they settled in a new place – and they were never the same. Abraham was the father of many nations, he’s demonstrated the Gospel for us – for God so loved. “Father, my children do not belong to me – I surrender their ownership to You and I will be Your steward. I pray for other fathers, that they too will follow Your lead in raising their children. It’s the right way and the only good way. Amen”

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

Church, It’s Time to Pray – Blog & Podcast

Have you ever been praying for something from the bottom of your heart, and this thought comes to your mind…

  • “why would God bless YOU with that? Don’t you remember what you said earlier this week?”
  • “What about your attitude yesterday? How you were short with your spouse last week?”
  • “What about the time you spent looking at stuff on your phone that you didn’t have any business looking at?”
  • “Do you think God will overlook that conversation you had with him or her?”
  • “What about when your friend asked you to help them, and you lied and said you had something you had to do?”

In situations like this, sometimes guilt grips us like super glue and won’t let us go – shuts prayer down like a water faucet. In our text for today, John reminds believers that God is bigger than our fleshly desires, failures, minds & doubts. We can come boldly to the throne in prayer, as a child comes to a loving father, knowing their request is heard,

I John 3:21-22, 21 Dear friends, if our hearts don’t  condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive whatever we ask from him because we keep his commands and do what is pleasing in his sight.

God is greater than our hearts. God knows all things. God will reassure the hearts of His children who seek Him earnestly. So, what is this guilt I’m feeling? What his holding me back from being bold in my prayer life? John is basically saying sometimes that our conscience overrides the Holy Spirit’s confirmation in our lives. God forgives and forgets – we receive forgiveness and sometimes we can’t forget.

John is saying the same thing he’s been saying throughout the book – love God, love his people, and trust God. THAT will be the evidence that demonstrates you are a true child of God. If you are a true child of God, then you should exercise the main avenue of personal communication – prayer.

Show me a person with a consistently growing spiritual life and I will show you a person who has a consistent prayer life. Show me a church that is growing and reaching souls for Christ and I’ll show you people who are praying for it.

Church it’s time to pray…it’s time to move from being people who are held back by something in our past or present which has lied to us and told us that our prayers don’t matter. From people whohave treated God like a genie who may grant wishes if we are good enough to being passionate about loving God. From people who are praying about the smallest details but have lost sight of the big picture.From people who think of prayer as us moving God’s hand to people understanding that prayer is adjusting our hearts to God.

I want to challenge you today to move from guilt to grace, to become bold and unashamed in prayer– your life depends on it, your family depends on it, the health of your church depends on it.

Pray Enthusiastically

  • Ask God to give you an excitement about spending time with Him, to increase your desire.

Pray Systematically

  • Schedule it early in the day – make notes and a list if you need to, maybe even journaling and recording requests and responses to those prayers.

Pray Selflessly

  • If you make it a priority to focus on God first, needs of others second, and your needs last, you’ll honor God better.
  • Warren Wiersbe once said, “When our delight is in the love of God, our desires will be in the will of God.”

Pray Categorically

  • Jesus modeled a prayer for us that started with praise and thanksgiving, moved to intercession, confession, and then requests for protection. That’s a great model for our own prayers.
  • Are you praying regularly for your family? Are you praying for your children’s future mate? For the spiritual health of your children. Are you praying regularly for your church? When you do, are you praying for Kingdom growth or are you just praying that God would “bless our church”. Come bold and unashamed and pray for what would glorify God the most.

Whatever your hesitation has been, whatever your guilt is – God’s grace is sufficient. Whatever your excuse or reason is for not having a consistent prayer life, God is better. It’s not an obligation, but a privilege. Life is hard, prayer is not.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

Motivation – a blog post and podcast

I John 3:16,16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

We have come to know love because He laid it down for us. That is powerful stuff! Christ laid down His life for people who were living a life apart from a true relationship with Christ – like Saul the persecutor, who later became Paul the missionary, Zacchaeus the thieving tax collector, the paralytic lowered through the roof, the Gerasene demoniac…and Tony Watson, yes even me – and you too.

That’s amazing enough, but what struck me this time through the passage was thinking about the motivation. Why would Jesus, who had it all in Heaven, who knew he would be mistreated, spat upon, beaten and cursed…what was his motivation to do all of those things?

When you look up motivation on the trusty internet, it gives you all kinds of lists of things that motivate people. Things like money, rewards, desire to be the best, power, fame, recognition, achievement…It seems like the world defines motivation as somewhat self-serving. Was that Jesus’ motivation? He wasn’t seeking anything like that. There must be something else. So, what was Jesus’ motivation to lay down His life? In a word, it was love.

Love was the motivation? That’s it? That’s the message? I have love for a lot of people and things but not like that

So, Christ’s love must be special, and I was created to be in His image so I need to know what that love is like. Let’s look at some characteristics of Christ’s love.

It was submissive. Christ laid down His life to be obedient to His Father. He totally surrendered His will. His love was totally His own to give, but His motivation was anything but selfish.

It was sacrificial. Jesus literally gave up His body, emptied Himself to take our punishment – to be our substitute.

It was sin-destroying. Jesus took our greatest need and made it His mission to meet it. Sin stained us permanently until Jesus covered it with His blood.

Now that is love! THAT was Christ’s motivation – He loves us that much! He desires a relationship with us.

John 15:13, No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.

There it is again! He desires to have relationship with us, to fellowship with us.

I hope you can say with me what Christ is in my life…

  • Jesus Christ is my one and only hope, my rock and my refuge, my shelter in the time of the storm. He’s the destroyer of my shame. He is my covering and my confidence. He’s my selfless redeemer, my strong tower, the source of all life, my light, my all in all. In times of trial or times of plenty, He’s my trusted friend, my healer and my victory. Christ is my defender and my stronghold. He’s my first and most true love. He is my joy and the well-spring of everything good in my life. Christ is my motivator and Christ is my motivation. I am motivated to be like Christ, for I am created in His image. I am motivated to thank Christ, and to reflect Christ. Christ. Is. My. Life.

Let’s pray… “Jesus, I want YOU to be my motivation. Your love has totally transformed my life and given me reason to live and to live differently. May my motivation be from You and have nothing to do with my own selfish goals and desires. Amen”

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX