The Greatest Gift of All

Pastor Robert Hammond

Over the years, I have read innumerable Christmastime articles that reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.  Predictably,  they contend that Christmas is less about receiving gifts and more about time for family, reflection, and, of course, for giving gifts. 

That all sounds good.  But, I really like to receive gifts.  

One Christmas season, I was invited to share the story of the best gift that I ever received.  A friend invited me to share my story with a woman in his family who has been fighting a terminal illness.   I quickly accepted the invitation to visit her at a local nursing home.

When I entered her room, I introduced myself and prayed with her. Then, I began telling her the story of the most wonderful gift that I had ever received.

I told her how, when I was a boy, a man took a book and told me the story of a Father who understood the importance of giving like no one else.  The man described a Father who was so concerned for others that he was willing to send his only son to die for them. 

I told her how that Father’s gift was motivated by unfathomable love.  And I told her that his son shared that love so perfectly that he was willing to shed his blood and to die for me. 

Puzzled, the women in the hospital bed turned away.  And then she turned back toward me. 

I explained that the book that was read to me was the Bible. And I explained that Father who was described to me is God the Father.   I continued that the son who was offered by his own Father is the long-prophesied Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

I explained that God the Father sent his son both to be born of a virgin in Bethlehem and to die on the cross at Calvary – exactly as had been prophesied in the Scriptures.  And I told her why he did that:  According the Bible, I am a sinner.  Because of that, I deserve death – eternal separation from God.  But, according to the Bible, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I told her that I had received that gift and I explained how she might receive it, too.  I explained that the Bible teaches that our good works aren’t good enough to earn forgiveness.

I told her how Jesus said, “ye must be born again.”   And I told her that Peter, the Apostle, said, “Repent (turn away from sin) … and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” I explained that Salvation is a free gift that must simply be received by turning away from sin and by placing one’s faith in Christ. 

That night, she too decided to receive the greatest gift that I have ever received – the gift of eternal salvation.  She prayed and received Christ as her Savior. Because of her decision to receive Christ, she may know with certainty that, whenever her battle with illness ends, she will be in Heaven with her Savior.  That’s a great Christmas gift indeed.

Have you received the greatest gift of all – the Lord Jesus Christ?    

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Responding to the Outcome of the Elections

Pastor Robert Hammond

Recently, I read, "The way you respond to disappointment with authorities in the society, at the job, at church teaches your children how to be under authority. The attitudes that you display teach either Biblical submission (i.e. to God-ordained authority) or unbiblical independence and rebellion."

We would do well to remember that we are called to obey civil leaders unless they compel us to disobey God: In Acts 5:29, the Bible says, " ...We ought to obey God rather than men." To obey God is to obey the authorities that He ordains.

In Romans 13, the Lord commands, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation."

Lord, help us to have a right heart toward authority. Help us to respect the authorities that you ordain. Give us a heart to be obedient to pray for our leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Lord, give us a heart to glorify you through our obedience to the authorities that you ordain for your purposes.

A Statement Regarding Orlando

Pastor Robert Hammond

On this Flag Day, I would like to encourage our church members and friends to pray for our nation.  Please pray for those impacted by the Islamic terrorist who struck Orlando.  And pray for people to come to Christ. 

I am thankful that it is clear that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only true answer to the hatred and violence that is being fueled by the teachings of Islam.  

Today, we would do well to be reminded of several Biblical truths:  

1.  The Lord Jesus Christ came to shed his blood upon the cross for all sinners - including those who practice the sins of homosexuality and the worship of false gods;

2.  The New Testament answer to the sins of homosexuality and false worship is the preaching of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ;  

3.  Rather than hating sinners and committing violence against them, we are called to take the gospel to them in love.  In 1 Corinthians 15:34, Paul reminds the church members that "...some have not the knowledge of God." And he immediately added, "I speak this to your shame."  Indeed.  Let us never allow hate to stand in the way of sharing the gospel with those who need it most. 

Two weeks ago, we spent a Saturday on the streets of Queens sharing the gospel with the Muslim and Hindu communities there. This Saturday morning at 11:00, we will take the gospel into our own local streets.

"...who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

Click to learn more about knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Biblical Principles of Dress for Christian Ladies & Gentlemen

Pastor Robert Hammond

At Long Hill Baptist Church we take care to avoid imposing unnecessary rules upon members.  That said we must not ignore the fact that the Bible teaches principles that govern our conduct.  In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul teaches church members to “….put off concerning the former conversation (conduct) …. and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”  There, the LORD calls believers to take up new, Godly standards of behavior.  One such standard involves our dress. 

In 1 Timothy 2:9, Paul urged Timothy to teach that “…women adorn themselves in modest apparel…”  Here, we see that the LORD cares about how we dress.   Therefore, this is a topic that must not be ignored.   Individuals and families desiring to obey the LORD must consider what the Bible teaches regarding modest dress. 

Consider three Biblical principles that should guide our dress:

1. It is important to dress in a way that minimizes temptation for others.  In Matthew 5:28, Jesus warns, “… That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”  Lust is not a small sin; Jesus equates it with adultery.  Believers need to understand that immodest dress frequently causes others to lust, i.e. to sin. In 1 Corinthians 8:9, we’re urged to avoid becoming “a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” And in 1 John 2:10, the Bible commands,  "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him."  Christians are called to take every reasonable step to avoid causing a fellow-believer to stumble in his or her walk with Christ.

Instead, the Bible repeatedly implores us to love one another.  In 1 John 4:11, we read, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”  True love involves action.  One way that a believer may choose to demonstrate love is to avoid dressing in a manner that encourages lust!

Application:  Demonstrate love by avoiding clothing that draws attention to one’s figure.  Avoid clothing that is tight-fitting or revealing.  Ladies should avoid short skirts / dresses and tops that are low-cut or sleeveless.  “If you’re going to err, err on the side of caution!”

 2. The Bible teaches that our attire should be distinct to our gender. In Deuteronomy 22:5, we read, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment…” Our culture continues to fight an all-out-war against this Biblical principal.  But God desires a clear distinction!

Application:  Christian ladies and gentlemen should dress in a manner that is as distinct to their gender as possible.  Men should avoid clothing that is feminine.  I encourage ladies to wear modest dresses or skirts.  I specifically discourage ladies from wearing pants / slacks or shorts. 

3. There’s a Biblical reason for ladies to wear longer dresses / skirts. You may be surprised to learn that the Bible defines a bare thigh as nakedness! (Isa. 47:2- 3). However, that is God’s perspective. As such, I encourage ladies to wear dresses or skirts that are no shorter than knee-length when seated.

Is there a simple approach to dress that honors Biblical principles?  Yes!

Gentlemen may honor Scripture by choosing clothing that is neat and modest. Avoid clothing that is either feminine or that projects an immodest, rebellious or worldly appearance.  Avoid shorts that do not cover the thigh.  

Ladies may honor Scripture by wearing modest skirts or dresses that cover the knee when seated. They should avoid low-cut necklines or any tight-fitting attire. 

Parents:  Please teach your children and teens to observe these Biblical principles (Deut. 6:7).

This article is intended to be a help and encouragement.  If you have questions or concerns, please see the pastor. 

What did Jesus mean by his description of John the Baptist in Matthew 11:11?

Pastor Hammond

In Matthew 11:11, Jesus states:

"Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

I understand Jesus to be teaching at least three key ideas here:

  1. John had a faith / faithfulness that was greater than anyone who had previously lived (other than Christ, that is);

  2. Despite John's spiritual "greatness" on earth, all the saints in heaven are spiritually greater than John (who was still in an imperfect condition on earth). John still had a sin nature; he was subject to sinful thinking. I praise God that, because of Christ, we have the certain hope of living in a perfected condition in heaven!

  3. The phrase "he that is least in the Kingdom of heaven" seems to refer to the different degrees of reward in heaven (for service on earth). The saint who receives the smallest reward in heaven will still live in a spiritually-perfected condition. Therefore, that Saint in heaven is spiritually more perfect than was John (who was still on earth).

Needless to say, we should aim for spiritually "great" service on earth (humble, obedient service) so that we may enjoy a great eternal reward in heaven. Both will glorify our Lord!

Lord, help us to faithfully serve you "with all humility of mind" (Acts 20:19). 

Aiming to Reach the World for Christ

On April 11, 2016, this article appeared in the Trumbull Times.

This month, Long Hill Baptist Church is celebrating the congregation’s 59th anniversary in Trumbull.

“We’ve come a long way since the church was started by a small group of local residents in 1957,” says Pastor Robert Hammond. “While our congregation remains smaller, we’re thankful that God is using us today to reach people both locally and around the world.”

Despite it’s smaller size, the church supports 10 missionary families that are establishing new churches in the United States as well as countries including Canada, England, Kenya, Ghana (West Africa), and the Philippines.

For Hammond, an important part of that effort is getting the Bible into the hands of people who desire to read it.

“We’re partnering with a ministry called Northeast Baptist Seedline to assemble and distribute portions of the Bible to people around the world,” explains Hammond. “Last fall, our members assembled five thousand scriptures for distribution both here in the area as well as in the Philippines.”

The scriptures are provided to people at no cost, says Hammond.

This month, church members will be assembling scriptures in the Kannada language for people in India. The church will dedicate those scriptures in its anniversary service on Sunday, May 1.

“It’s rewarding to see boxes of scriptures piling up in the sanctuary for the dedication service,” says Hammond. “And it’s exciting to know that, after 59 years, the efforts of a small number of people in Trumbull are still impacting lives both locally and around the world.”

The community is invited to learn more by attending the congregation’s 59th-anniversary service at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 1.

Long Hill Baptist Church is located at 100 Middlebrooks Ave.

For more information, visit the church web site at www.LHBaptist.com or contact Pastor Hammond at 203-268-5104. E-mail may be sent to office@LongHillBaptistChurch.com

Anniversary Weekend Schedule:

Friday, April 29, 2016

  • 6:00 p.m. - Potluck supper followed by scripture assembly project

Saturday, April 30, 2016

  • 10:30 a.m.- Gospel outreach 

  • 12:00 Noon -  Pizza lunch followed Scripture assembly project. 

 Sunday, May 1, 201

  • 11:00 a.m. - 59th-Anniversary Service.  Guest speaker  Scott Sandy of Northeast Baptist Seedline.

  • 12:15 p.m. - Anniversary dinner.

  • 2:00 p.m. -   Evening service (No 6:00 p.m. service today) 

"Why do I need Jesus since I already believe in God?"

Pastor Hammond

"Why do I need to believe in Jesus since I already believe in God?" That is an excellent question, indeed!

The simplest answer I can offer is that Jesus taught that we cannot have a relationship with God the Father unless we have a relationship with God the Son. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). Earlier, Jesus also said, "If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me." I'm sure you'll agree that this raises an important question: Why did the Father send Jesus?

The Bible teaches that we've all sinned against God. The Bible says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23). The Bible also teaches that our sin separates us from God and makes it impossible for us to have a relationship with Him. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Therefore, we have a problem that needs a resolution.

We understand from Scripture that God has always required a blood sacrifice to cover our sins. Hence the bloody animal sacrifices carried out by the Jewish people throughout the Bible in the Tabernacle and the Temple. We see that God's plan was for the Jewish animal sacrifices to forshadow the coming of Christ, the Son of God -- the ultimate sacrifice. In fact, the Bible teaches that God had worked out this plan even before he created the world. "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold...But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (1 Peter 1:18-20).

Consider how the Biblical Jewish Temple and Tabernacle picture Christ. They both had one door leading into the outer court (symbolizing the idea that there is just one way to God). Also, they both had an alter (where bloody animal sacrifices were performed) between the door and the place of God's special presence -- picturing the idea that God can only be approached as the result of a blood sacrifice. We understand that this design was God's way of preparing hearts for the idea that Christ would come as the "one way" and the final, perfected blood sacrifice through which we may have access to God the Father-- and a real relationship with Him.

The good news of the New Testament is that Christ did come to die on the cross as the final payment for all our sins -- fulfilling all the prophecies of the Messiah in the Jewish scriptures. Jesus Christ came as the perfect sacrifice that satisfied God’s demand for justice against our sins. Because Jesus came as God in the flesh and allowed his blood to be shed for us, eternal life is offered to us as a free gift. God paid the price for our sin Himself! And Christ rose again from the dead, too!

Our responsibility in all of this is to choose to place our faith in Christ for forgiveness of our sins. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). The word "believe" in John 3:16 means to place your trust in Christ. God promises eternal life to anyone who places their trust in Jesus Christ alone.

Jesus taught that "...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." In calling us to repent, he calls us to make a conscious decision to leave behind our old sinful ways and to turn to him. Importantly, the Bible teaches that there's nothing that we can do to earn forgiveness of our sins. Christ has already done all the work. We simply need to receive him. The Bible says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesian 2:8-9).

When you're ready to repent, you may receive Christ as your personal savior by praying a simple prayer like this:

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, I acknowledge I have sinned against a Holy God and that my sins have separated me from you. I believe that you, Jesus, are the Son of God, and I believe you shed your blood and died to pay for my sins on the cross.  And I believe that you rose from the dead. Today, I repent and place my full dependence and trust in You for my eternal salvation.  Please help me to live for you because you have loved me so very much.

A Spiritual Battle Plan

Pastor Hammond 

Do you ever feel like you’re fighting an endless battle?  The Bible is clear that Christians are, in fact,  in a spiritual battle!   In Ephesians 6:12, Paul wrote, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  The Devil knows that he's already lost us to Christ; he lost that battle.  His only remaining opportunity is to engage us in a spiritual battle in order to harm our walk with the LORD.   How can a believer be prepared for this battle?

Tactic #1:  Choose to Resist the Devil 

Praise God that Christians may know that the LORD has perfect authority over the Satan and his demons.   So, it comes as no surprise that His words offer the key to winning spiritual battles:   In James 4:7, the Bible says, " Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."  We’re promised that, when we  submit ourselves to the Lord and resist the devil, the devil feels from us!  

Tactic #2:  Choose to Find Strength for the Battle in the LORD 

Praise God, that we don't have to fight the battle our own strength.  In Ephesians 6, Pauls tells us that we may find strength for the battle in the Lord, i.e.  we can know His strength, His power and His might to overcome the devil.  See these verses:

Ephesians 6:10 ¶ Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might

Tactic #3:  Choose to Put on the “Whole Armour of God”

The LORD gives us His strength for the battle -- and he equips with the armor that protect us for the battle.  In Ephesians 6,  Paul implores us to put on the "whole armour of God" for this battle:

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;  19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.

Our armour includes the truth of God's word (v. 14),  righteousness that we have found in Christ (v. 14), the gospel (v. 15), faith (v. 16),  salvation (v. 17), and the Holy Spirit (v. 17).  Also note the critical importance of the "word of God" (v. 17) and "praying always" (v. 18).  When the enemy attacks, we need to get even more serious about being in the Bible and prayer.  The enemy know that these are powerful weapons.  So, he wants us to be discouraged from reading the Bible and from spending time in prayer.  Don't allow him to discourage you!  Pray and ask the LORD to help you remain faithful to Bible reading and prayer. 

Tactic # 4:  Choose to Separate from the Ungodly Influences of the World

The devil is a crafty adversary who conscripts the world and the people of the world to aid him in battle.   That’s a practical reason why it’s so important for Christians to separate from the influence of worldly friends and other negative influences.  And let's be reminded that the LORD has commanded us to do just that!

2 Corinthians 6:14-18  14 ¶ Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers... 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,  18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Consider your entertainments and your involvements.  And consider your social circle.  Ask the LORD to show you if you need to make changes.  And draw upon His strength to make changes that will be pleasing to Him. 

Tactic #5:  Praise God that we’ve been made “new creatures” who don’t have to be ashamed of past sins

Perhaps none of the devil’s tactics is so effective as encouraging us to focus on memories of past sin.  However, believers may also know that all  of those past sins are 100% forgiven.  You've been made a "new creature in Christ..." (2 Corinthians 5:17).  "... old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  The Bible says that when we are obedient to the LORD, we do not need to be ashamed.  In Psalm 119:6, the psalmist wrote,  "Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments."  It's those unsaved people who are still living wicked lives who should be ashamed.  And Psalm 31:17 says, "Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed..."  

The Bible also says that you can have a "good conscience" when you're prepared to give the gospel to those "evildoers" around you."

1 Peter 3:14-17  14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye:: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;  15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.  17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 

So, pray and ask the LORD to use an encounter with someone from the past as an opportunity to share the gospel with that person!  But also be sure to ask the LORD to protect you from any negative influence as you encounter people from the past.

Tactic #6 - Understand that the battle will end!

The prophet Zechariah reminds us that a day is coming when "all the saints" will come with the LORD (Zech. 14:5) to enjoy a time when the "the LORD shall be king over all the earth" (Zech. 14:9).  And shortly thereafter, the Devil will be bound (Rev. 20:2).  Praise God that we may look forward to  such a wonderful future with Christ!

Conclusion

Praise God that he has given us all that we need to prevail in the Spiritual battle that He has permitted for this time.  Let’s re-commit to availing ourselves of all that the LORD has provided!  Let’s recommit to spending time in His word.  And let’s get serious about being people of prayer.  Lastly, let’s ask the LORD for strength to separate from the ungodly influences of this world – and instead, influence those lost people through the Gospel of our savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

First published February 15, 2011.

Some Music That I Recommend

Pastor Hammond

The Greatest Gift of All

Pastor Robert Hammond

Over the years, I have read innumerable Christmastime articles that reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.  Predictably,  they contend that Christmas is less about receiving gifts and more about time for family, reflection, and, of course, for giving gifts. 

That all sounds good.  But, I really like to receive gifts.  

One Christmas season, I was invited to share the story of the best gift that I ever received.  A friend invited me to share my story with a woman in his family who has been fighting a terminal illness.   I quickly accepted the invitation to visit her at a local nursing home.

When I entered her room, I introduced myself and prayed with her. Then, I began telling her the story of the most wonderful gift that I had ever received.

I told her how, when I was a boy, a man took a book and told me the story of a Father who understood the importance of giving like no one else.  The man described a Father who was so concerned for others that he was willing to send his only son to die for them. 

I told her how that Father’s gift was motivated by unfathomable love.  And I told her that his son shared that love so perfectly that he was willing to shed his blood and to die for me. 

Puzzled, the women in the hospital bed turned away.  And then she turned back toward me. 

I explained that the book that was read to me was the Bible. And I explained that Father who was described to me is God the Father.   I continued that the son who was offered by his own Father is the long-prophesied Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

I explained that God the Father sent his son both to be born of a virgin in Bethlehem and to die on the cross at Calvary – exactly as had been prophesied in the Scriptures.  And I told her why he did that:  According the Bible, I am a sinner.  Because of that, I deserve death – eternal separation from God.  But, according to the Bible, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I told her that I had received that gift and I explained how she might receive it, too.  I explained that the Bible teaches that our good works aren’t good enough to earn forgiveness.

I told her how Jesus said, “ye must be born again.”   And I told her that Peter, the Apostle, said, “Repent (turn away from sin) … and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” I explained that Salvation is a free gift that must simply be received by turning away from sin and by placing one’s faith in Christ. 

That night, she too decided to receive the greatest gift that I have ever received – the gift of eternal salvation.  She prayed and received Christ as her Savior. Because of her decision to receive Christ, she may know with certainty that, whenever her battle with illness ends, she will be in Heaven with her Savior.  That’s a great Christmas gift indeed.

Have you received the greatest gift of all – the Lord Jesus Christ?    

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Why I Chose to Stop Celebrating Halloween

Pastor Robert Hammond

Autumn brings with it the annual debate among Christians about involvement in Halloween. Some hold that Halloween is a harmless time of fun for young people. Others see significant spiritual concerns.

Years ago, when my son was young, we made the decision to stop participating in Halloween.  Our decision was rooted neither in fear of the occult nor in so-called religious legalism.  Rather, it was a decision  made in response to our growing understanding of what pleases God.

Our decision was also rooted in our understanding that Christians are involved in a real spiritual battle -- a battle against what the Bible calls "principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).  And our decision was rooted in an understanding that Halloween celebrates and exalts those very same enemies.

Many have attempted to trivialize the association of Halloween with the occult.  However,  the association of Halloween with exaltation of death, the occult and pagan practices cannot be denied. I readily acknowledge that the precise origin of Halloween is open to a degree of debate. However, it is well-established that the holiday has a strong historical link to the pagan religious practices of both the Celts and the  Druids.  The World Book Encyclopedia  states that Halloween can be traced to Samhain (pronounced "sah-win"), an ancient pagan festival celebrated over 2,000 years ago by Celtic people.   The Celts believed that, on that day,  the dead could walk among the living. 

The modern celebration of Halloween is rooted in historical efforts to "Christianize" the pagan Samhain festival by redefining it as "All Hallows Eve."  This syncretism -- the practice of integrating false religious practices into Christianity -- is clearly unbiblical.  We aren't commanded to incorporate false practices into Biblical Christianity.  Instead, in 2 Cointhians 6:17, we are specifically commanded to "..come out from among them, and be ye separate."  

In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, the LORD commanded His people to avoid involvement in the occult practices of their Pagan neighbors:

"When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.  There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,  Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.  For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD..." (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)

In the New Testament, the LORD reiterates His commands for believers to have no involvement in practices that are associated with evil.  In Romans 12:9, Paul writes,  "Abhor (hate extremely) that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." And in Ephesians 5:11, the Bible commands us to "...have no fellowship (association or companionship) with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."  To reprove is to blame or charge with fault.  In these two verses alone, we are commanded to (1) cultivate an extreme hated of evil things, (2) refrain from associating with evil practices and (3) to actively charge evil practices with fault against God.   Clearly, the celebration of Halloween has no place in the life of a genuine Christian. 

This autumn, let's be faithful to God's command to be separate from practices that are associated with evil.  Let's refrain from participating in activities that exalt darkness.  And having done that, let us develop a singular focus on exalting our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Listen to the testimony of a former witch who has now received Jesus Christ as her Savior.  Learn why she refuses to celebrate Halloween. 

Recent Reading: Spiritual Warfare & Missions

Pastor Hammond

I just finished "Spiritual Warfare and Missions," a book by by Ed Stetzer and Jerry Rankin. Although I am disappointed by the authors' use of modern Bible versions, I deeply-appreciate their zeal for Biblical missions. Importantly, they explicate the Biblical mandate upon all church members to be meaningfully involved in getting the gospel to unreached people:

(Matthew 28:19-20) "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

The authors also discuss the spiritual battle that often discourages deeper involvement in missions. And they point to the resurrection power of Christ as the answer to this very real challenge. Amen!

 

Find Real Hope

ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE, TRUE HOPE IS POSSIBLE IN CHRIST ALONE.

The Bible offers the certainty of forgiveness and eternal life.   However, you may be surprised to learn that the Bible clearly states that we cannot earn eternal life through our own good works.

In Ephesians chapter 2, the apostle Paul writes, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God:  Not of works, least any man should boast (Eph. 2:8-9).

No good works - including Baptism - are good enough to get us into Heaven.  Why is that?  In Romans 3:23, the Bible says that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."  God's perfect holiness and justice requires that a penalty be paid for sin.  In fact, in Romans 6:23, the Bibles teaches that "the wages of sin is death."  The good news is that the son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, paid that penalty for us by shedding His blood and dying upon the cross in our place. It is only through repentance and faith in Christ that our sins are forgiven.  Romans 6:23 says, "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  If you will repent and receive Christ as your savior, the Bible says that you can know for certain that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).

How may I know that my sins are fogiven?

1.  Understand that Christ died on the cross and paid for all our sins. Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice that satisfied God’s demand for justice against our sins. Because Jesus did that for us, eternal life is offered to us as a free gift. God paid the price for our sin Himself!

2.  Turn away from sin and receive Christ as your savior. The Bible teaches that, in order to receive forgiveness of sins, we must repent and place our faith in Christ.  To repent is simply to make a conscious decision to turn away from sin and to turn toward Christ.   Repentence involves achange of mind that produces a change in action.   Repentence normally involves sorrow over our past sins - especially when we realize that Christ died on the cross in our place.   The Bible say, "...there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."  (Luke 15:10)

The Bible says that "...Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). The word believe inJohn 3:16 means to place your trust in Christ. If you will place your trust in Jesus Christ as the one who paid for your sins on the cross of Calvary, and in nothing else, God promises you both forgiveness of sin and eternal life. 

Learn more this week at Long Hill Baptist Church.  Service information

Learn to Read the King James Bible: How & Why

Pastor Bob Hammond

At Long Hill Baptist Church, we use the King James Bible (Authorized Version) for all teaching and preaching.   While some modern versions can be easier to read, we observe that the King James Bible is the only version that provides an accurate translation of all of God's words.  

A variety of excellent tools are available to help believers learn to read and understand our King James Bible.  One such tool is a booklet titled, "Understanding the King James Bible: Why Use the King James Bible and How to Understand it" by Dave Olson. (52 pages, including a 10-page dictionary of unfamiliar words).  

  • Shows why the King James Bible should be used instead of modern versions;
  • Provides some common reasons for not understanding what you read in the Bible;
  • Gives some tips on how to understand the English used in the King James Bible. 

 The cost is $3.00 per copy.   Order from Help4U Publications at:  http://www.help4upublications.com/product/understanding-the-king-james-bible/

Also see these free online articles:

A Prayer Request for Thailand

Please pray for both the people of Thailand and our missionary friends there, the Williams family.   Today, we received the note below from the Williams family:

What does martial law mean for Thailand?

At present it means military checkpoints and traffic jams at specific intersections in Bangkok. Otherwise, business continues as usual throughout the country. At least for the present.

Many are relieved at this peaceful intrusion of the military, and view it as a step toward ending the political tension and violence that has dragged out for the last six months in the nations capital.

Although the words, "This is not a coup," are voiced by the military chiefs, they will have to walk a very fine line to maintain order among two protest groups that are bent on civil war.

Just to clarify the scope of martial law, I have enclosed an article below from the AFP that helps to explain the situation.

Please continue to pray that the current struggle for peace in Thailand would prepare hearts to learn of Jesus Christ,  the Prince of Peace.

BANGKOK, May 20, 2014 (AFP) - Thailand's powerful military declared martial law Tuesday in a move it said was aimed to "restore peace and order" in the turbulent kingdom.

Invoking the law comes after Thailand's Constitutional Court ousted premier Yingluck Shinawatra in early May following months of protest seeking to oust her government.

But what is the scope of the military's powers? And what are the implications of the move for a nation that has seen 18 actual or attempted coups since 1932? Herewith the main points of the act:

-- The Martial Law Act 1914 gives the army "superior power" over civilian institutions in regard to maintaining public order and security.

-- The army can ban any assembly or meeting and prohibit public movement by land, air or water.

-- Military authorities have the power to censor or shut down newspapers and broadcasters.

-- Soldiers are given full powers to search, requisition, ban, seize, inhabit or destroy "any place". This includes body searches as well as vehicle, home and building inspections and scrutiny of printed material.

-- Army authorities can enlist people to work to help the military and can requisition vehicles, food, tools and weapons from any person or company at any time.

-- The military can impose curfews and prohibit access to certain areas.

-- Authorities can detain anyone it suspects of breaching martial law for up to seven days.

-- Civilian courts remain operational, but a martial court can be given authority to hear criminal trials in cases committed under martial law. It can continue to hear cases even after martial law has been revoked.

Ancient Artifacts Prove Bible Facts

When-the-Greeks-Returned.jpg

Pastor Robert Hammond

In March 2014, my wife and I viewed a special exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago that dealt with the Greek influence on Egyptian art and religion in the 4th century BC ("When the Greeks Ruled Egypt").  Some of the artifacts deal with Ptolemy, a Greek ruler of Egypt (who was a "prince" of Alexander the Great but "not his posterity.") This was exciting for us because, roughly two centuries earlier, precisely that situation was predicted by the Old Testament prophet Daniel (see Daniel 11:3-5).

Of course, the museum exhibit failed to connect their artifacts to the Bible facts.  Nonetheless, Bible-believers may choose to employ God's word to understand the true significance of these artifacts.   And having done that, we may be tremendously encouraged by the prophetic accuracy of God's word!

Daniel 11:3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. 4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.  5.And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion. 

I Can't Do That!

Pastor Bob Hammond

Long Hill Baptist Church, Trumbull, CT

All too often, that's our excuse for not doing what God has clearly called us to do.   Who hasn't argued with God - claiming  there's just no way for us to obey Him in a certain area. We're especially good at offering up this excuse when it comes to sharing the gospel. 

For the past several weeks, we've been encouraged to see a few church members participate in our weekly Saturday morning gospel outreach.  What a joy to see people obey the Lord's command to "go" to our neighbors who are without Christ (Mat 18:19-20). 

And yet, I remain burdened to see more of our members participate in our door-to-door outreach efforts.  Some may think, "that's just not my thing."  Others may be inclined to say, "I'm not able to speak well." And many may feel, "I don't have the time." Let's be honest:  these are just excuses for disobedience.  Moses tried some of these same excuses - none of which were acceptable to God!  That fact is that we are all called to go.  The Lord asks that we "go into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." (Luke 14:23). 

If God asks us to do something, He will make it possible.  Let's be reminded that Paul told the Phillipian church members,  "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." And that is true for every one of us, too.

This weekend, I'd like to again encourage every able-bodied church member to glorify Christ with your obedience to go. If you're not comfortable enough to speak, go along and pray silently. But do go - choosing to change "can't" to "can" - through Christ and for His glory.

We'll meet at church this Saturday morning at 10:00 AM.

A Challenge to Memorize Scripture

Pastor Robert Hammond, Long Hill Baptist Church

I pray that many have taken-up the challenge to begin reading through the entire King James Bible this year.  If you haven't already started, why not begin in Genesis 1:1 today?  Remember, reading just three and one-half chapters each day will allow you to read the entire Bible in one year.   Spouses may find it especially helpful to read the Bible aloud together.  My wife and I have recently started this practice; I find it to be a great help and encouragement. 

Now, permit me to also encourage you to be memorizing scripture this year.    In Psalms 119:11, the psalmist writes, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."  Here, we observe that committing the word of God to memory is a great aide to our growth.  Permit me to encourage you to take up the challenge to memorize at least one verse each week this year. 

There's a number of good approaches to memorizing scripture.  

If you are new to memorizing scripture, it will be extremely helpful to begin memorizing individual verses (and short passages) that deal with a variety of doctrines.  Here's a link to download a list of 53 verses / short passages:  https://db.tt/Sp89EVQj

Tools that can help.  As a tool to help you memorize each verse, consider using index cards to create flash cards (with the reference on one side and the verse on the opposite side).  I've also created "digital flashcards" that may be used online to help memorize the same 53 verses & short passages.  See the online flashcards at http://quizlet.com/_k0zjh

If you have already memorized many verses, consider taking-up the challenge to memorize complete chapters and even entire books of the Bible. In recent memory, a number of our teens memorized the first chapter of James.  While this may seem like a daunting task, we have the Holy Spirit to help us! 

The important thing is to have a plan and to be in the habit of memorizing scripture.  Also, consider asking someone to partner with you to quiz you and to keep you accountable each week.  A final note:  As you pray for the Lord's help to take up this important challenge, also pray that the LORD will protect us from pride that can come with success!

Lord, please grow us in 2014 -- to thy glory!