Or should it be said, charges. There were three spirited charges on Sunday, Oct. 3rd, at Gospel Light as Evangelist Thomas Bard was here at Gospel Light preaching. Bro. Tom was in town visiting with his son Peter, daughter-in-law Leah, and his three grand-kids. He had the rare opportunity to hear his son preach in the Sunday evening service.
Charge One: Faith – It seems there was a misunderstanding right from the start. During the offering, Brother Tom Bard thought he heard that visitors were to place the visitor cards in the plate and “keep the money”. He said, as he started his morning sermon, that he wished he had sat further back in the pews as there may have been more money to take when the collection plate went by. (Note to Pastor Giardino: we may be a little short with funds this week.) As it turns out, Bro. Tom instilled his sense of humor throughout his preaching.
Brother Tom Bard sermon was on the importance of saved Christians exercising faith in there daily lives. He said “there is nothing simpler than to be a Christian”; we need to try to make things simple so that our relationship with God can work. Bro. Tom used Abraham as an example of someone who simply believed God; God was able to bless Abraham, who was told his seed would be as the stars in heaven. “God doesn’t make you do anything; He just speaks to you”, Bro. Tom said, “God wants you to believe Him.”
Using his own testimony, Brother Tom explained how, once he knew there was a God, he knew he was going to hell. It took him 6 months to believe that eternal life was free through grace. He read Romans 4:13-16 to drive home the point that grace comes through faith, i.e. believing in God. Not only do we “need to allow God to do his will” so that we can receive “His promises from the Word”, Brother Tom explained, but “people will see your faith when you believe God.” “Your kids and your neighbors need to see God.”, he continued, “By how you live, as a witness for Christ, they can see God.” Brother Tom’s charge to us: “Live your life like you need God…Do you live by faith or by your wits?…Will you allow God to do something in your life by believing him?”
Charge Two: Stand in the Gap – At the start of our Sunday evening service, our hearts were stirred by the wonderfully blended harmony of Jeremiah, Mateo, and Gabriel singing “There Was a Lamb in Jerusalem”, accompanied on piano by Michael G. Next, Brother Peter Bard took command of the pulpit and affectionately warned that he had picked up on his father’s preaching habits after hearing his sermons for 27 years. In Ezekiel 22:23-30, Bro. Peter had us read how God had looked in three places: “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” Ezek 22:30. (1) The prophets and priests were using the ministry for their own ends. Not caring about truth, they would take the Word and twist it to bring in people and money. (2) The leaders would destroy souls for dishonest gain. At the founding of our country, our leaders sought God. Today, corrupt leaders seek profits and kickbacks, forgetting to lead. (3) God looked among the people, but they had turned wicked.
Reminding us of today’s ministry opportunities, Brother Peter, listed several “gaps”: in the mission fields, at the pulpit (for those called to preach), the Sunday school rooms, the music ministry, and the the empty seat right next to you. Brother Peter’s charge to us: “When was the last time you got on your knees and asked God for fellowship?…Is there one today who will stand in the gap?…Is God not worthy even if it will cost you everything?”
Charge Three: Do We Glory in Tribulation? – Evangelist Tom Bard followed his son to the pulpit at the Sunday evening service, saying “As a preacher, it is a blessing to see your son preaching.” He started his charge by reading from Isaiah 55:6-9 and Romans 11:31-32. “Life is different after being saved; it’s a whole new way of living.”, Bro. Tom contended. “The Holy Spirit is supposed to be the one working in your life”, he said, and “it’s not easy to get used to.” “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8. You learn that you are here on earth to serve God, not the other way around. Not everything that happens in our Christian lives is necessarily pleasant, however, “all things work together for good to them that love God” Romans 8:28.
Brother Bard used the life and experiences of missionaries to illustrate his point that, when you serve God, you “are in a fight”, you “will get hurt”, and you “will suffer loss”. Missionaries, he said, “are the heart of the church” because they have entered into the “devil’s territory” and lead the fight for souls. Your motivation to give to the Lord should not be to receive multiple rewards, but because we love the Lord. Brother Tom spoke of Paul’s “resume” in II Cor 11:16-28. The chronicling of Paul’s many painful experiences would not get him hired by any church today, but “this is God’s way”, he said. Presenting ourselves as living sacrifices is our reasonable service (Rom 12:1). Paul gloried in his infirmities (II Cor 11:30).
If we are not where God wants us in our lives, it may be because we might not like the inconveniences and we don’t have the “guts” to handle tribulation, Brother Tom explained. Likewise, we fail to pray, “but prayer is God’s way”, he said. We don’t see the effect of God in our lives because we don’t pray; “we are supposed to pray.” Brother Tom’s charge to us: “Grace is the means by which God enables you accomplish his will…We need grace more than anything…Grace is given to you after you are saved to help you get through.”