Rick Barton Ministries, P.O. Box 1155, Gunnison, CO 81230, 970-209-8006 (C) 970-641-3583 (H)
December 12, 2014
"Good News of a Great Joy"
In the second chapter of Luke, God's word tells of angels announcing our Savior's birth to the shepherds. "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Let's "unpack" those verses for a moment.
First, they were told not to be afraid. We live in a fearful and anxious time for many. I recently read that Amazon.com says the most referred to Bible verses in their business are Philippians 4:6-7. "Be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." The shepherds were considered unclean, the poorest of the poor, yet they were being visited by an angel and multitude of heavenly hosts. Wouldn't we be afraid? Yet, they are told to be at peace. The shepherds could have courage because the angels were bringing good news to them.
Second, this good news would bring "great joy" not only to them, but to all the people. The good news that the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior, Jesus, had come! For that reason you and I can have courage as well!
I'm grateful that God brought this wonderful news first to the poorest of the poor; and then, to the Magi, the educated and financially well off. To me, it's a reminder that no one is too poor, nor anyone too well off, to come and worship at the feet of Jesus.
Last month was an exciting and productive one as we saw God's hand at work in several areas. In mid-November we had the privilege of sharing at Vistoso Community Church in north Tucson. Melva started the weekend off by sharing with the ladies of the church. I shared with the men and then spoke at two worship services. What a wonderful, receptive church family! A special treat was seeing old friends and meeting Wycliffe Bible translators. On our way home we stopped to visit our friend Dick Lowe who was in our ministry years ago. Before moving to Phoenix, Dick discipled a number of Nebraska football players. Upon arriving home we hit the ground running holding 7 services and 3 Bible Institute classes in two weeks?.
Firefighter Bible Miracle: On our way back from Tucson we received a phone call from Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society) saying they were turning over all Bible publishing to another company and weren't sure how that would affect our order. Today they called and said they were able to print our firefighter New Testaments at $2.50 instead of $4 a copy which will allow us to purchase 10,000 copies for $25,000 instead of $40,000. So far, folks have contributed $23,000 to our "Bible fund" so things are looking really good! Any funds over the publishing cost will be used for shipping and storage. Thanks for all your prayers and contributions to the fund! We know the Lord is preparing firefighters for each copy!
Rich and Shelba: When Rich and Shelba returned from St. Louis, they brought back an unwelcome flu bug. Rich has been sick for over a week and now Shelba has it. Please pray for their full recovery. They report that their trip went very well as they were able to minister to individuals, preach in their home church, and visit with family.
Great News from Guthrie, OK! Pastor Van Hudson who has been paralyzed from the waist down for almost a year was able to walk into Abell Church Thanksgiving weekend with a walker. There was much rejoicing!
Alumni News: Recent alumni Rich and Joy Kettles have been used in MI to share in a church with Rich being called upon to preach. Frank (and Steph) Goetschl who has been serving in Costa Rica is responding well to his cancer treatments! Diane Johnston, serving with Child Evangelism Fellowship in Jackson, MS, has been leading over 20 groups of youngsters each week. She is seeing great fruit with these children! Diane has asked for prayer since her support has struggled for some time. Please lift up this faithful worker.
Finances: By God's grace and your faithful investments, we are able to continue to reach out in many areas. Every bill is paid and we have been able to help others who have immediate needs around us. Thank You!
Health: Early in November the doctor thought I might have a heart problem and need a pacemaker. However, tests showed no heart problems! Now, they are testing me for a sleep apnea which can be treated. My knee is doing fine with my brace. Melva is doing well. Thank you for your daily prayers for us.
Upcoming: On New Year's Eve I lead our ski school staff in prayer on top of Crested Butte Mountain. On January 18th we share at 1st Baptist Church in Delta, CO as a prelude to holding a week of services there February 1-8. February 25-27 I lead worship at the High Ground Men's retreat near Vail, CO. In May we're conducting services in KY and, Lord willing, receiving my Doctor of Ministry degree in Louisville. Please pray that God will use these opportunities to His glory. Also, please pray that Melva and I will be strong witnesses at her schools and at the ski area. Also pray for His wisdom as we store and distribute the Bibles.
Family: Stephen and Joy (Hannah and Bethan) report many instances of God's gracious provision in Scotland. Nick and Bekah recently returned from Borneo and are working at their restaurant in Edwards, CO. Steve and Annie are doing well in LA. Annie is teaching special needs kids and Steve just finished working on one TV program and praying for the Lord to show him the next one. Tim and Sara are also doing well. Tim started a new job this week in LA and Sara is still with Dell Computers.
Promoted to Glory! Recently two of our wonderful friends went to join our Savior. Rosa Lee Belcher and Fred Glass are rejoicing with Jesus! We pray the Lord's comfort for each family. (1 Thess. 4:13)
May you have a blessed celebration of our Savior Jesus' first coming, and may we all be excitedly looking forward to His second one! We love and appreciate each of you!! Thank You!
Rick and Melva Barton Rich and Shelba Townsend