Love From Your Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters of FBC,

And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. (Num 21:7 ESV)
On this National Day of Prayer, the above verse is a tremendous reminder to us of the power of prayer!  Notice that the man of God here prayed for the people in response to their confession of sin.  The answer to the prayer was the Lord telling Moses to put a serpent up on a pole, and all who looked at it would be healed.  In John 3 we see the beautiful parallel in the message of the cross.  Whoever looks to Jesus and His atoning work on the cross, will live!  Let’s be in prayer for our community and our nation, that there would be a genuine revival which leads to repentance and turning to Christ by faith!
I want to thank you for so many words of encouragement and prayers for our family this week, as we’ve dealt with the serious downturn of Elizabeth’s mother’s health.  She remains in Salem hospital, still struggling to breathe.  There has even been talk by one of the doctors of sending her home in a day or two and calling in hospice.  So please continue to pray for Judith, and for all the family.  This is certainly difficult for Elizabeth, so thank you again for your love and support of her.
This Sunday of course is Mother’s Day.  We are once again having our annual Brunch in honor of our ladies.  Thanks to the men who are heading up the cooking, etc.!  Please come and join us with the whole family, or by yourself!  This Sunday from 8:30 to 10:00 am.
I will be speaking on “Waiting on the Lord” from 1 Samuel 1:1 — 2:11.  Please read this wonderful true story of Hannah’s prayer for a son, of her dedication of that son to the Lord, and of her song of praise as a response to His gracious provision.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael


Love From Your Pastor

Hello FBC!

And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him.
 (Numbers 7:89)
Have you been entering into the Lord’s presence to speak with Him?  Are you hearing His voice speak to you through His Word?  I don’t think there’s a better way to mature in our faith than to meet with Him regularly!
I appreciated what one of my devotional Bibles had to say about Numbers 7:  “Then lengthy, repetitive description of the offerings of the 12 tribes throughout 12 days for the dedication of that altar serves to underscore two points.  1) The altar was the focus of worship, where God was encountered through the blood of sacrifice.  2) Every tribe of Israel had a vested interest in the worship of God and was responsible to support the ministry.  Even these gifts, however, were out of God’s gracious provision, as He enabled the Israelites to ‘plunder Egypt’ upon their deliverance.
The grace signified by the altar has been fulfilled by the cross as the heart of the church’s worship (Heb. 10:19-22), spread through the church’s proclamation (1 Cor. 1:18-25), and reiterated by the church’s sacraments (Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 11:26).  Out of God’s gracious provision in Christ, we all the more gladly support the ministry of the church (1 Cor. 9:13-14; 2 Cor. 9:1-15).”
This Sunday we will have opportunity to reflect again on the cross and what that has accomplished for us, as we partake together of the elements of communion.  Please be there for that important time of remembrance.
We’ll be continuing in our series on the life of David with a message from 1 Samuel 24, “My Hand Shall Not Be Against You.”  As you read the passage in preparation for Sunday morning, consider the differences we can see in the consciences of David and Saul.  How can we develop a conscience that is more sensitive to the ways of the Lord?  I hope you’ll join us for this message!

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Love From Your Pastor

Hello Friends!

He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
 (Luke 20:25)
This passage in our reading in Luke today (20:19-26) is intriguing.  Notice what the Gospel Transformation Bible says about it:  “Despite the crafty intention of the religious leaders, the great wisdom of God incarnate in Jesus is on clear display here.  Jesus takes the politically charged question about paying taxes to Caesar and turns it into an opportunity to stump His opponents and to draw more people to marvel at God’s ways.  Jesus’ answer also raises the matter of the Christian’s experience of living as citizens of two very different kingdoms, the earthly and the heavenly (Phil. 3:20).  This reality of our dual citizenship is the source of great conflict internally and externally.  From within, we struggle to reorient our lives toward God’s radically different present and coming kingdom, even while living in this world.  From without, we encounter persecution and discomfort in this sinful and God-opposed world (2 Tim. 3:12).  Jesus does not eliminate this dilemma of our existence, but He does give us a vision of how to approach these matters.  All of the world is God’s, but in this overlapping age we must acknowledge that there is an authority and order to society that must be obeyed (Rom. 13:1-7), even while our ultimate allegiance is to God.”
We are certainly dual citizens!  While we live
in this world, we are not to be of
 this world.  Are you faithfully rendering to God all the things that are His?
This has been a rough time of sickness for a lot of people.  I myself have been hit with it pretty good this week.  I pray you are all doing well, or at least, are on the mend!
This Sunday I will continue our series on the life of David.  We will look at 1 Samuel 20 and the friendship between Jonathan and David.  I’d encourage you to read it ahead of Sunday.  What kind of qualities do you look for in a good friend?  What kind of a friend are you?  Do you have someone of whom you can say, you love them as your own soul?  Beyond that, what does it mean to you that Jesus calls His disciples “friends” (John 15:13-15)?  Are you His friend today?
Speaking of friends: in 1993 I was a new student (as a junior) at Western Baptist College (now Corban University).  I became good friends with a young lady.  It truly did start out as simply a friendship, and we referred to each other as “buddies”.  It wasn’t long though, until that young lady grabbed ahold of my heart.  I look back now 23 years later and thank God that this beautiful young lady is not only my best friend, but also my amazing wife!  As we celebrate her birthday today, I am amazed at the incredible person the Lord created when He made her, and how He has caused her to grow spiritually so much that she is more wonderful to me than ever.  Happy Birthday Elizabeth Beach!
Happy to be a friend of God and of all of you!
Love From Your Pastor,
Michae


Love From Your Pastor

Happy Friday FBC!

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 ESV)
These two women are a challenging reminder of priorities.  This is not a statement by the Lord telling us that serving is bad.  Obviously the Bible has a lot to say about serving the Lord, serving others, and so forth.  What is emphasized here is the attitude and mindset of the person who serves, as well as the incredible value of sitting with the Lord and listening to Him.  Martha was distracted.  Jesus says she was anxious and troubled about many things.  Do those words describe you today?  They often do describe me.  What was the good portion that Mary had chosen?  She sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.  Are you busy, busy, busy – all with good things?  Are these good things that you are busy with distracting you from the most important thing?  I’ve seen a book title (though I haven’t read the book) that is, “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.”  That’s the challenge for us today, isn’t it?
A couple things I want to remind you of this week:

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Love From Your Pastor

Hello FBC Friends!  (Hope you’re enjoying this sunny Thursday!)

Remember, O LORD, what has befallen us; look, and see our disgrace!
 (Lamentations 5:1)
Some of us are using the same Bible reading plan this year, and we finished up Lamentations today.  I preached on Lamentations a couple years ago, but every time I go through it I’m again reminded of some of the great lessons for us today from this often-neglected prophetic book.  Once again I love what the Gospel Transformation Bible says here:
“As chapter 4 mirrors chapter 2, so chapter 5 returns to the desolation of chapter 1.  But there is a significant difference, for here hope is a constant theme.  This hope grows out of the realization of guilt, the confession of which leads to hope in God’s mercy (5:1-18).  The plea that God should remember (v. 1) becomes a plea for restoration (v. 21).  The author realizes that Israel’s sin is not momentary.  The reference to the sins of the fathers (v. 7) only demonstrates this people’s continuing lineage of sin and in no sense diminishes their guilt (v. 16-18)
Though Lamentations focuses on one particular horrifying event, it becomes relevant for all time.  Its darkness reveals the utter lostness of sinful humanity.  But through the storm clouds streams a bright beam of hope that stems from God’s mercy.  This hope in the covenant faithfulness of God finds its full realization in Christ as He takes the weight of our rebellion upon Himself on the cross of Calvary.

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Love From Your Pastor

Greetings FBC!

“I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.”
 (Jeremiah 15:21)
I love that our God is a DELIVERER and a REDEEMER!  But interestingly, this promise from the Lord to Jeremiah came as part of an admonition to repent.  I liked what Paul House says:
“Did Jeremiah want to keep standing with God?  If so, he had to repent.  Happily, Jeremiah did repent.  His willingness to hear God’s Word and change his ways set an example for all God’s servants, including His best, such as Peter (John 21:15-19) and John (1 John 1:9-10).  Daily repentance is part of walking with God.  It provides a bridge from self-service to renewed service of the living God.” (ESV Men’s Devotional Bible)
So let’s walk with our Deliverer and Redeemer in daily repentance!

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Love From Your Pastor

Hello FBC!

Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.  Keep My statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you.
 (Leviticus 20:7-8)
Sometimes wading through Leviticus can be challenging, I admit.  But there are also amazing truths that help us understand powerfully the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, and the efforts God goes to in order to bring His people into restored relationship with Himself.  I like what the Gospel Transformation Bible says about Lev. 20: “Leviticus 18 listed unholy practices the Israelites were to avoid in the realms of sexual immorality and illicit worship.  This chapter now describes the penalties that come from engaging in those practices.  These penalties emphasize the seriousness of sin, the importance of addressing it among the Lord’s people, and the reality of the Lord’s justice for those who persist in it (see Acts 5:1-11; Gal. 6:7).  But Grace is not absent.  The penalties serve as warnings of sin’s consequences and of the pain of distance from fellowship with God.  If God did not love His people, He would not so warn them… The chapter also emphasizes that experiencing these penalties were not the Lord’s intent for humanity.  His desire is that people experience His blessing and good pleasure as they walk in close fellowship with Him in His ways.  It is this same desire that prompts Jesus to call us to take His yoke upon us, learning from Him how to walk in God’s ways, in this way finding rest for our souls (Matt. 11:28-30).”
This Sunday I will be starting a new series — “DAVID: A Man After God’s Own Heart”.  The first message will be from 1 Samuel 16:1-13, “The LORD Looks at the Heart.”  I am excited about what God will show us about our hearts and our relationship with God through this series on David!  I’m even more excited about how the stories of David point us to the ultimate Son of David, our Lord Jesus Christ!  Please read the passage prayerfully in preparation, and join us Sunday at 10:30!  We will also be remebering the Lord’s death together as we partake of communion.  Another good thing to read and meditate on in preparation would be Isaiah 53, which I plan to read from on Sunday.

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Love From Your Pastor

Greetings Brothers and Sisters of FBC!

“It’s Friday… But Sunday’s a comin’!”  I heard part of a great sermon earlier this week, and that was the often-repeated statement.  What is it about “Good Friday” that makes it “Good”?  As we reflect on our Savior’s bloody and humiliating death for us, we must come to grips with the purpose and the results of His death on the cross.
Some of us are using the same Bible reading plan this year, and the last two days we’ve been reading the first 7 chapters of Leviticus.  A number of different offerings under the old covenant are described, including the sin offering (chs. 4-5).  Listen the the Gospel Transformation Bible note on this passage: “The Bible often uses the metaphor of impurity to describe sin.  It is a metaphor we can identify with: sin often makes us feel dirty (Ps. 51:2).  For the Israelites, their sin defiled both themselves and the Lord’s holy dwelling place in their midst.  Because of His great purity, the Lord could not allow such defilement to remain in His holy camp.  But because of His great mercy, He provided a way for the Israelites to remove this impurity: the sin offering, in which the lifeblood of an animal without blemish ransomed sinners from the Lord’s just punishment and cleansed the defilement of their sin.  The sin offering prefigured for God’s people the mercy we see in a far greater way in Jesus’ sacrificial death.  This was the ultimate sin offering (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 1:3; 13:11-12), and it was great enough to cleanse all our sins (Heb. 9:28; 10:10, 12, 14; 1 John 1:9).  Because of this, we can boldly draw near to God, knowing that because of Jesus’ sacrifice we are fully cleansed of all sin and impurity and therefore fully accepted by the Father (Heb. 10:19-22).”  Amen!  What a great truth.  Jesus has become our sin offering, once and for all!  I’d encourage you to read again Mark 15:21-39 on this Good Friday, and reflect on the subsitutionary suffering of Jesus Christ on our behalf.  Also, consider how significant it is that the curtain in the temple was torn in two, top to bottom.

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Love From Your Pastor

Happy Saturday FBC Family!

The LORD has bared His holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
 (Isaiah 52:10)
I love this beautiful prophetic promise from Isaiah!  And what struck me this morning was the way in which we are assured that this promise will come to pass.  How?  The answer is in the following chapter – Isaiah 53!  If you didn’t read that today, that would be a great passage to meditate on.  Our hearts absolutely must be filled with gratitude and praise as we contemplate the Suffering Servant, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow I will be continuing our series in Titus with a message on Titus 1:5-9, “Above Reproach.”  This passage contains Paul’s requirements for Titus as he appointed elders/overseers for the churches.  But I believe it is a passage that all believers should study with the goal of growing in the character qualities described there.  In fact, Gene Getz (author, pastor, professor) wrote a very popular book based on this passage (and 1 Tim. 3, also elder qualifications) called
The Measure of a Man.
  The idea is that every man in the church should be measuring himself by these standards.
While we are on the subject of elders/overseers, this would be a great time to request continued prayer for us who serve in this capacity at FBC.  It is a challenging and rewarding calling.  Especially continue to pray for Alan Blake’s recovery in speech and motor skills.  Please keep praying for me in my pastoral responsibilities and especially pray for my prayer life and my preaching of God’s Word.  I recognize I desperately need your prayers!  Also please pray for Mike Kirk especially diligently today.  His sister Suzy looks to be passing along from this life soon due to cancer.  His family could use your prayers for comfort and encouragement.
Also thank you for continuing to pray for the Search Task Team as we follow up with various applicants for Associate Pastor of Family Ministry.  There are reference checks going on, various phone calls with applicants, and another skype interview this coming Tuesday.  Please keep praying for God’s perfect will to made clear in this process.
Thank you for your prayers!  Looking forward to our worship and fellowship together tomorrow!
Grace and peace to you!
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael


Love From Your Pastor

Happy St Patrick’s Day FBC!

And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”
 (Mark 6:4)
Those of us following the same Bible reading schedule this year started reading the book of Mark this week.  That is one of the reasons we looked at Mark 6 last Sunday, and zeroed in on a few of the key things Jesus said.  The statement in verse 4 struck me again today, and I’m trying to continue to think through it.  But isn’t it amazing that the people who thought they knew Jesus the best, actually were some of the most mistaken about who He really was?  It’s easy for people to have a familiarity with stories about Jesus, but be way off in terms of understanding His true identity.  It’s also easy for people to think they know a lot about Jesus, but for their hearts to be far from Him.  I’m hoping and praying that I, along with my family, will continue to draw close to Jesus, grow in our love for Him and faith in Him, and be used by Him to help others come to an understanding of who He really is.
This Sunday we’ll continue in Mark by looking at the “triumphal entry” in Mark 11:1-11.  It would be good to read that ahead of time and join us as we worship Him with our “Hosanna!” this Sunday!  Do you know what “Hosanna” means?
Don’t forget, men, about our monthly Men’s Breakfast this Saturday at 7am!
Also Saturday, everyone is invited to the all-church work day from 9am to Noon.  There’s plenty of sprucing up to do as we prepare for Easter!

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