Memorial Service for Bro. Joe Burnett/Sunday Services

Greetings to All:

As most of you know Bro. Joe Burnett Passed away on Friday, May 1st, 2020 while in the care of Haven Hospice in Orange Park. We will be observing a memorial service for Bro. Joe on Friday, May 8th, 2020 @ 11:00 a.m. I urge you all to come and pay your respects to Sis. Glenda as your condolences will be a great comfort. We will have a time of fellowship and refreshments served in the Fellowship Hall following the service.

Last Sunday morning (May 3rd) was a huge success. Thanks to all who came to one of the two services that were offered. We will continue to offer two morning services at 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. as I believe people are ready to worship inf God’s House once again. You are welcome to attend either service. If you are not quite ready to venture out for fear of Covid-19 I understand. For that reason we will continue to stream the 11:00 a.m. service on Facebook. However, if you do attend in person please abide by the following directives:

  1. Immediately upon entering the building use the hand sanitizer located inside the front door.
  2. Please refrain from handshakes, hugging and kissing.
  3. Please keep appropriate distancing at all times unless you are with your immediate family members.
  4. You are welcomed and encouraged to wear a covering for your mouth and nose.
  5. Wash your hands often.
  6. If you are ill (fever, coughing, shortness of breath etc…) please stay home and watch the service on Facebook at 11:00 a.m.
  7. Sometime during the service please tell your pastor how handsome he is (#7 is optional!).

Let’s all resolve to keep safe during this terrible pandemic and continue to pray for those in the medical profession, first responders and each other.

God bless you and keep the faith!

Bro. Delton

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Upcoming Schedule

Greetings to All:

Just a quick note to keep everyone up to date on the schedule for our “virtual” services. The sermon for this coming Sunday, April 19th, 2020 will be broadcast at 11:00 am sharp. The title for this message is “What’s In a Name.” Tune in, this one will be different. We will continue every Sunday morning and will begin at the same time.

Beginning Wednesday, April 22, 2020, I will also broadcast a mid-week service at 7:00 pm. This too will continue every week at the same time. If you have any pressing prayer requests please submit them to me at wd40144@gmail.com by 4:00 pm on Wednesday of each week. These requests will be shared with those who are tuned in on each Wednesday night.

I look forward to the day when we can congregate together once again but I am also thankful that we do have a medium where messages can be brought. In the meantime please stay safe and protect yourself if you have to go out. If Sybil and I can help in any way please call us. We are currently, like most of you, hunkered down and praying for the demise of this hideous virus. I have to admit that I am getting a bit nervous because Sybil keeps watching reruns of “How to Commit the Perfect Murder” (just kidding).

God bless you all and I pray that I will get to see your smiling faces very soon.

Bro. Delton

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An Easter Prayer

Greetings to All:

I would like to take a moment and thank everyone who tuned into this morning’s message on Facebook. I am humbled by the many nice remarks that were posted and the great response to the message. What I am going to tell you may make you doubt my sanity (as if you haven’t already!). I didn’t think that using a different medium to communicate with you would be fulfilling but I feel a sense of relief that I can speak with you, not face to face but for now it will have to serve as the next best thing. I look on the bright side of everything and the bright side of having my message transmitted remotely spares me from the constant harassment of Bro. George. I look forward to sharing a message with you every Sunday @ 11:00 a.m. and am looking to expand by bringing a mid-week (Wednesday) message as well. I will let you know in advance when that will begin.

It is my sincere prayer that we all take time today to reflect on the empty tomb and what it means to our faith. Remember to thank God for the unspeakable gift of our Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation He brought to us. Spend as much time as you can today with loved ones and cherish every moment that God has given. Please, take a few moments to pray for our country, our health care workers/first responders and our church.

I am going to encourage you again to stay safe, stay in touch with each other and pray. I trust and believe that God CAN and WILL bring us back into His house!

God bless you all and have a blessed Easter.

Bro. Delton

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GOOD FRIDAY

Greetings in the Name of the Lord:

I am currently sitting in the seclusion of my study at home reflecting on “Good Friday.” Sybil and I cannot ever remember observing this sacred day the way we find ourselves observing it in 2020. I just want to give you a few words of encouragement in these unusual times that we live in. The Covid-19 has changed the way we worship and our fellowship dynamics but it can never change the fact that God is still sovereign and if you know Jesus as your Savior God is now and always will be your Heavenly Father.

I want you to consider something I feel we sometimes lose sight of. When Jesus was hanging on the Cross of Calvary His last recorded words were, “It is finished.” The first point I want to make (and it is emphatic) is that Jesus did not say, “I am finished.” The last three words uttered from the cross ring through all eternity with a resounding shout of victory that was accomplished on that day through the sacrificial death of the Son of God.

Someone’s last words can tell you so much about their personality, accomplishments (or lack thereof), and regrets. For instance, Voltaire, the French infidel who despised Christians and their faith in God said, “I am abandoned by God and man. I will give you half of my wealth if you give me six months to live.” Contrast the words of an infidel with the words of Stonewall Jackson, a godly Confederate general. He had been shot (accidentally) in the left arm by one of his own men at Chancellorsville. His left arm had to be amputated and pneumonia set in. Eight days later he died. His final words were, “Let us cross over the river and sit in the shade of the trees.”

Now, my observation is this: One man faced death with agony and dread begging for a little more time while another faced the inevitable with dignity and assurance of something better. What made the difference? “It is finished.” The infidel had rejected and blasphemed God while the godly man had made his eternal destiny sure through the “Blood of the Lamb”.

“It is finished.” In essence God the Son is telling God the Father I am in complete control. Father, every jot and tittle, every word and deed, everything you have given to be accomplished through me is now a complete work. Then, in one final sovereign act, “he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30). Pay special attention to the fact that He gave up the ghost. No man took it from Him which is a fulfillment of His words in John 10:17-18, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

In closing I would like to make an observation that I pray will clarify this act of love of the Son of God dying on the cross. Christians understand that salvation, that precious gift they have was given freely and they have accepted the finished act of Christ. If you are reading this and you are not a Christian then please let me urge you to understand and grasp those precious words, “It is finished.” You cannot add to something that is finished or completed. In other words, you cannot be good enough, work hard enough or give enough to be accepted of God. You have to trust in the atoning Blood of Christ to accepted of the Father.

In his poem “Elegiac Verse,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote: “Great is the art of beginning, but greater the art is of ending.” Thank you God for giving us Your Son. Thank you Jesus for the great art of ending what the Father sent You to do. God bless you all and may the grace and peace of our Lord and Savior be with you all.

Bro. Delton

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Virtual Easter Service

Greetings to all:

I just want to take a moment to invite everyone to tune in to a “Virtual Easter Service” on Sunday, April 12th, 2020 @ 11:00 am sharp. I will be broadcasting live from my office at church on Facebook. All you need do is open Facebook and go to South Middleburg Baptist Church.

I want to thank Bro. Randy Winter (Sis. Jean Kilts grandson) for the technical advice he gave me in getting this set up. Also thanks to Sis. Jean, we aggravated her to total despair in testing our video and audio connection.

Hopefully I can get this down to a fine science and we can at least have live messages delivered via Facebook. I know it will lack the same flavor as personal fellowship but at least we can communicate through this medium until we can be together again as a church family.

In the meantime keep praying, stay safe and just know that Sybil and I are praying for you.

Bro. Delton

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Maundy Thursday

Greetings in the Name of the Lord:

As we continue with our battle with Covid-19 I pray that all are doing well. This is a good time for us all to catch up on our reading and Bible study and I have taken advantage of that aspect of “social distancing!”

Yesterday (Monday, April 6th) Sybil and I were working in a flower bed just to spend a little time outside. Then it happened… the spirit moved. (I hasten to add that I am dubious of the Holy Spirit being involved in this incident!). Sybil asked me, “Do you see anything on my back?” I couldn’t lie to my wife because there was a small lizard crawling around on her back. When I informed her of this uninvited guest she let out a sound comparable to a Screech Owl in distress and took off running. I jumped in the car and caught up with here just north of Keystone Heights (okay, I concede there is a small bit of exaggeration here!). By this time the lizard had decided that he didn’t want anything to do with us and had jumped off Sybil’s back and hitchhiked back to Middleburg. This incident in our lives has given a whole new meaning to the old phrase “leaping lizards.”

Now back to reality. Thursday, April 9th, 2020 is Maundy Thursday (always on the Thursday before Good Friday). What exactly is Maundy Thursday and where and how did it get its name? I hope to give you some answers to these questions in these next few words.

Maundy Thursday is based on a passage of Scripture in John 13:5-35 with special emphasis on the “New Commandment” as given is verse 13:34. Jesus was speaking and said to His disciples, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34). This is a concept that has been lost by many of God’s people in the day that we live in. The word “Maundy” taken at face value is a ceremonial command. In the instance of Maundy Thursday it is so called from the ancient custom of washing the feet of the poor on this day, which was taken to be the fulfillment of the “new commandment.”

If you read all of the text in John 13 leading up to the new commandment you will readily recognize the humility, selflessness and love exhibited by Jesus toward His disciples. It might interest you to know that in chapters 1-12 love is used 12 times. In chapter 13-21 love is used 40 times. I believe “love” is the key word in Jesus’ farewell message to His disciples.

Love must be the distinguishing mark of Jesus’ disciples. Jesus’ new command closely resembled the Mosaic commands to love the Lord (Deut. 6:5 – “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”) and one’s neighbor as oneself (Lev 19:18 – “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”). Now, compare these two Old Testament passages with Mark 12:30-31- “30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

Elsewhere Jesus said we must love even our enemies (Mt 5:43-44 – “43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” While the command to love God and one’s neighbor was thus not new, Jesus’ example (“as I have loved you”) was unparalleled, as was His insistence that we should love our enemies. Put another way and taken in context, the Old Testament told us to love our neighbors. The New Testament tells us to love our enemies!

In theory the impulse of this new commandment sounds easy enough. In practice we find that it is much harder to achieve the impact that Jesus desired (“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35). When loving your enemies seems to be a mountain too high to climb just remember Jesus has given great evidence of His love for us, He bled love at every vein.

 I am praying and inviting you to pray with me for a rapid demise of this horrible virus that has assailed our nation and our world. It has separated us bodily but not spiritually. Sybil and I (Sybil has just stopped hyperventilating from the lizard fiasco) miss you all and are praying for you. We pray to see you soon!

Bro. Delton

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Palm Sunday

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

It is my sincere prayer that you all are getting along during this trying time of Covid-19 outbreak. My prayers and thoughts are with you and I urge you to heed the advice of our medical professionals and practice “social distancing” and stay at home as much as possible.

We celebrated Palm Sunday yesterday and without being in church and worshipping with you it just wasn’t the same! However, I thought I would take time to share my thoughts on this historic event in Christian history.

First of all, let’s put this whole scenario in perspective. It is certainly true that throngs of people were in Jerusalem to see Jesus and to worship Him as Messiah. There were also many people there to see the man who had achieved so much notoriety by raising Lazarus from the dead several days earlier. John tells us of the scene in Bethany (two miles east of Jerusalem), six days before the Passover, “Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.” (John 12:9). There were also those who had much more clandestine intentions, to arrest Jesus (“Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.” John 11:57).

Jesus left the clamor of this scene and departed into Ephraim (John 11:54) to escape the sinister plot of Jewish authorities to arrest Him. In my own mind I believe the air of excitement and anticipation that preceded Jesus into Jerusalem had settled on the whole of the population, Jew and Gentile alike.

I find it interesting that John is the only Gospel that identifies the branches cast in the way of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as “Palm” branches. John 12:13 tells us, “Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Compare John 12:13 with:

“And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.” Matt. 21:8, And

“And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.” Mark 11:8, And

“And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.” Luke 19:36

Why is this significant? In the expansive panorama of God’s Word there are little orbs of truth that intrigue me. For instance, did you know that Solomon used the Palm as a symbol of beauty? “This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.” (Song 7:7). The Palm Tree had long been a symbol of the righteous, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.13 Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;” (Psalm 92:12-14). The palm is also symbolic of rejoicing (“And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.” Lev. 23:40) and triumph (“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” Rev. 7:9).

So, I believe John’s attention to detail has a special meaning in drawing attention to the “palm” branches that were cast into the path of Jesus.

Matthew (Matt. 21:9), Mark (11:9), and John (12:13) records the people shouted “hosanna” as Jesus made His entry into Jerusalem. Dr. Luke summed it up this way, “And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;” (Luke 19:37).

The word “hosanna” carried special significance for the Jew of this era. The word itself actually means “save now.” Its use had messianic as well as eschatological (doctrine of last things) overtones. When the people cried “Hosanna!” to Jesus (“Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” – Matthew 23:39) as He entered Jerusalem, this was a messianic proclamation. The “Coming One” was already recognized as a messianic title (Zechariah 9:9 – “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”).

It is estimated that there were 2 ½ million people in Jerusalem for this occasion. Some were there for the right reason – to worship the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Some were there out of sheer curiosity – to see the man that had performed so many miracles. Others were there to disrupt the ministry of this man who had turned Palestine on its ear. Come to think of it, things really haven’t changed all that much until today, have they?

Please keep yourselves safe and just know that while we may not see each other in bodily form we are never truly absent from each other through the bond of our Savior. Sybil and I are praying for you all.

Bro. Delton

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TITHES & OFFERINGS

Greetings To All:

We are going to change the way we collect our tithes and offerings. For your safety and convenience, please do not bring the tithes and offerings directly to the church. As of Friday, April 3rd, 2020 we will begin mailing our tithes and offering to the church post office box.

Now I know that many of you are asking, “why can’t I just mail my tithes and offering directly to the church?” That is a legitimate question and I will give you a legitimate answer: I Don’t Know! Just kidding. The reason I ask that you use the post office box is because there may be people who scan these pages that may not have the best of intentions for our church. In fact, they may have criminal intentions. The point is this, unauthorized people may be able to get to our physical mailbox before we do. Unauthorized people cannot get into our post office box.

Please use the following address for mailing tithes and offerings:

South Middleburg Baptist Church, P.O. Box 1557, Middleburg, Florida 32050. (Please note that the zip code for our post office box is different than the zip code for our physical address).

I pray that you all are all faring well during the current conditions caused by this hideous virus. Just remember, we will emerge triumphant on the other side and I truly believe that God will use this time to make us stronger and wiser. Ovid once said, “have patience and endure; this unhappiness will one day be beneficial.” Take a moment and think back about all of the trials of your life that have caused so much pain and heartache for a season but in turn those trials have made you much stronger.

Just remember, YOU are important to God. YOU are His child. YOU are His creation and I hasten to remind you just how important you are to God: “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7.

God bless you all and I truly long to see your smiling faces in fellowship and from the vantage point of the pulpit (yes, I truly miss it!). When we do get to congregate together again I promise to button my shirt sleeves for at least three weeks in a row. (This is for the benefit of one particular lady in the church – I can’t divulge her name but she is married to Dick Metheny).

Call me if you have need and please take of yourselves.

Bro. Delton

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CORONAVIRUS: A PERSPECTIVE

Good Morning:

As I sat doing my Bible study this morning I started to think of the myriad of emotions our nation is experiencing right now. These are strange times we are living. These are frightening times we are living. For so many who are alienated from family and friends these are lonely times we are living.

Coronavirus has changed the perspective of life for so many people and replaced confidence with doubt, health with sickness and good fortune with the downfall of both public and private economies.

The question becomes; “How do we cope with an enemy that we cannot see or in many cases fully comprehend?” To answer this question for myself, and hopefully for you as well, I started to look to the Word of God. The first thing I seek is contentment: contentment with God, contentment with family and contentment with and for those who are hurting to help them through these perilous times. I realize that on the surface this idea may sound as “pie in the sky” philosophy designed to beguile you with smoke and mirrors and sleight of hand. Not so. I truly believe that God, even in the toughest of times, wants us to be content.

Let’s take a moment to look at Job. In a matter of hours this man had lost everything he had worked for. His family (except for his wife) was destroyed and Job was reduced to a bed-ridden carcass full of boils and sores. The life of this godly man has been held up high in the sacred pages of Scripture to show us that trials can pound our lives like a heavy-weight boxer, but the Lord can pick us up from off the mat when we’ve been knocked down physically, emotionally, or spiritually, and give us victory. He (God) is our source of strength and stamina.

The book of Job reveals the animosity that Satan has for God and those who are godly. It also shows us the limitations that God places upon Satan. It also reveals the assistance, strength, and care that we get from the Lord. God used Job to show us that nothing just “happens” in our lives. God has a path for us to follow that sometimes may be extremely difficult, but leads to great blessings. Paul talked about this. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

We do not always understand the ways of God. (“8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8). However, we can trust and walk daily with Him in all of the adversity we face. King Solomon had an interesting thought on this subject: ” 14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.” Eccl. 7:14

Which brings me to contentment once again: God gives us all our lot in life. He brings us good at times, at other times he stings us with adversity. But here’s the point: We shouldn’t let ourselves get out of joint when trouble comes, or when we find it hard to make sense out of things. Just trust the Lord. He always does what’s good and right, and He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5).

Even the great apostle Paul agreed with the concept of contentment: “11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11.

My prayer for you is this; stay apart from contact with other people as much as humanly possible, keep your faith strong and viable by prayer, bible study and talking on the phone with other Christians and above all, stay close to God and He will always be there with you.

Sybil has come up with a very unique way of wiling away the hours. She asks me to run as fast as I can through the living room while she sits on the couch eating Bon-Bon’s and throws darts at me to see if she can hit a moving target. (Has anyone got a spare box of Band-Aids?). I am forced to come up with another way to help her cope!

Keep smiling, keep praying and keep the faith. Love you all and hope to see you in church very soon.

Bro. Delton

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Coronavirus Church Activity Update

Greeting All:

I am writing to you all from the secure bunker I have affectionately named the “Corona Cave.” Sybil and I have “hunkered down” except for doctor appointments. Speaking of doctor appointments, I have not intended to be aloof or secretive but for the past week I have been on a health roller coaster. I know some have speculated that I might be infected with coronavirus. Let me assure you that is not the case for Sybil or I. It seems, according to my doctor, that my gall bladder has become unhappy with our living arrangement. I am going to see a specialist on Tuesday and prayerfully my gall bladder and I can reconcile our differences and if not arrange for a divorce!

Many thanks to Bro. Dick and Sister Carolyn Metheny for the food they delivered to us today. What a blessing these two are to our church and our family. Bro. Dick brought up a very good point…what are people to do with their tithes? Here is my temporary solution. On Friday night, March 27th, 2020, from 5 pm to 7 pm, Sybil and I will be at the church. The lobby doors will be unlocked and we will be sitting in the hallway. The offering plates will be just inside the door. At 7 pm Sis. Laurel will be there to secure the funds in the safe. If this arrangement does not work for you or the thought of going out makes you uncomfortable, please call me and I will arrange to have your tithes picked up (no human contact required!).

Now, the bad news. We now have thirteen cases of coronavirus in Clay County. Our County is in a state of emergency and Governor Ron De Santis has declared Florida a Federal Disaster State. If you have listened to the news you probably have become aware that New York City is the epicenter of the virus on the East Coast of the United States. Many of those folks are flocking to Florida and North Carolina to escape the rapid spread of this dreaded disease. However, many of these people are already infected and are adding to our number of infected cases. Let’s pray that this nightmare will soon be over.

I sure miss all of your smiling faces and our fellowship at church. As I look into the immediate future it is about as clear as muddy water. The one SURE thing I can tell you is that God is still on the throne and there is nothing that escapes His omniscience. Please stay in touch and believe me, as soon as I feel we can congregate together once again, we will resume services. In the meantime, stay the course, keep the faith and pray for each other and our nation daily. Sybil and I love you all!

Bro. Delton

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