40 Days Until Easter

Hi Friends,
Just a friendly reminder: 40 Days until Easter Sunday (38 until “Experience Easter” at FBC)!
What are you doing to prepare your heart for the remembrance of Christ’s death on the cross on our behalf, and for the celebration of His resurrection from the grave?
One idea for you:  I just received 10 copies of a book I ordered called “Growing in Christ: 40 Days to Deeper Faith.”  It is written by Arnie Cole & Michael Ross, from the Back to the Bible radio ministry, and authors of “Unstuck.”  Elizabeth has been using this devotional and loves it!  Here’s the summary from the back of the book: “We yearn for something more.  So what’s holding us back?  We want our lives to have meaning and purpose.  We want to make a difference for the kingdom of God.  So what are we missing?  We can experience the radical, thriving faith God wants for us all.  Real transformation happens as we set our focus on Jesus Christ – His message, His ministry, His miracles, His mission.  Here, in forty story-driven devotionals, the sights, sounds, and drama of our Savior’s story come alive before our eyes.  As our imagination ‘walks’ in Christ’s footsteps, we’ll begin to see through His eyes and share the compassion that took Him to the cross.”
This 40 day devotional would be a great way for you to focus on Christ between now and Easter.  I am planning to go through it.  If you are interested in getting a copy, please contact me by replying to this message or calling me at 541-979-1777.  I will try to get one to you ASAP.  The books cost $3/each.  As I said, I only ordered 10 of them, so I will get these to the first 10 people who contact me.  If there is overwhelming response, I may order more and some of you can just start a little later than the others.  You’d still be able to get started before Easter.  I look forward to hearing from you.
If you are using some other way to prepare yourself spiritually for Easter over the next 40 days, would you share that with me?
Also remember, I have asked for you to consider a day of fasting, and for you all to be praying for me and for the elders and for the future direction of our church.  I know of a few already who are taking me up on this.  I hope you will be praying, and possibly fasting & praying!  We have opportunities to pray together tomorrow, Wednesday, at 5am, at 6am, and at 7pm.  Please come join us in prayer.
Blessings on you as you pursue Christ in the days ahead,
Pastor Michael


Love From Your Pastor

And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

We have to ask, such what were some of you?  In verse 11 Paul is referring to the not-so-pretty list in verses 9-10.  Go ahead and look it up!  He covers a wide range of things describing “the unrighteous.”  We should never forget that “such were some of you.”  We need to marvel in the grace of God that washed, sanctified, and justified us in spite of who we were!  And we should have a burden for those around us who are in the “such are some of you” category, in need of the same washing, sanctifying, and justifying in the name of Jesus Christ!
Pray for Dave & Ron, & John.  Just this afternoon Dave Ezell and Ron Whitted headed to the airport to begin the journey to Terre Blanche, Haiti on a short term medical mission trip.  Please be in prayer for them, for their families and for the ministry in Haiti.  There is a day-by-day prayer letter for them on a table in the foyer.  But for today and tomorrow, we can be praying about the tiring overnight travel!  Also, John Joiner is heading tomorrow to Burundi to add his engineering expertice to a medical facility there.  His travel will be even longer than Dave & Ron’s.  Please pray for John and for an effective and meaningful time away.
Read Revelation 7:1-8.  This Sunday I am preaching on this “interlude” between the 6th and 7th seal judgments.  What does it mean to be “sealed?”  Who are these people described in the passage?  Join us Sunday as I share about “The Sealed Servants.”

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Love From Your Pastor

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (Romans 16:20)

Since the promise in Genesis 3, God’s people have been waiting for the final crushing blow to be delivered to Satan.  I believe the victory was won at the cross, so he is already a defeated foe!  Yet he is still prowling about, doing his damage.  The end of Revelation will show us his final defeat when he is thrown into the lake of fire to be tormented forever and ever (20:10).  How we long for that day!  Romans agrees with Revelation that the day is coming “soon.”  Amen!
This Sunday we will begin to see God’s judgments unfold.  I will be preaching on Revelation 6:1-17, “The Wrath of the Lamb.”  Please read it prayerfully beforehand.  If you’re a football fan, you may have heard of “The Four Horsemen”, of Notre Dame fame from the early 1920s.  What do these four horsemen in Rev. 6 represent?  Come Sunday!
Church family, I want to apologize to you.  As most of you are aware, Jeff Moritz and his family will be here for a number of events this weekend.  If you are a member or regular attender you were supposed to get a letter last week explaing the itinerary and describing the partnership the elders and I have been considering with Jeff.  Although I have been in discussions with him and with the elders for months about this, it has been pointed out to me that I did not do a good job of communicating about this to the congregation.  I am truly sorry for that.  It is not our desire to push anything through without everyone being on board (as much as possible).  So this has come across to some as being a surprise or thrust upon the church too quickly.  I want to tell you that bringing Jeff on board to help with our ministry to youth, young adults, and families is not a “done deal.”  We are not voting on anything this weekend.  We would just like to give you the opportunity to interact with him a bit and perhaps ask questions.  We wanted some of the young people to have some exposure to him also.  Again, I am sorry for how this has come across.

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi Friends,

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
This passage from our daily Bible reading two days ago has long been one of my favorites!  We would all benefit from meditating on this frequently.  The inexhaustible love of God is so amazing!  Look at this list of all the things that can NOT separate us from His love!  It sure seems to cover all the bases.  Chew on this today – nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Tomorrow I will be preaching on Revelation 5, “Worthy is the Lamb”.  Please read that passage and think about the worship that is due the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ!  Consider what He has accomplished for us in His sacrificial death, and in His resurrection.  An amazing phrase that stands out in this text is that John says he saw “a Lamb standing, as if slain.”  How can something (or Someone) which was slain be seen to be standing?  We worship the Lamb for His death and for His resurrection.  God’s love is nowhere better seen than in this.
We will also be remembering His sacrifice for us with the ordinance of Communion.  Let us examine our hearts and seek the forgiveness and cleansing that can be accomplished for us because of the shed blood of the Lamb.
Worthy is the Lamb!
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael


Love From Your Pastor

Hi FBC Friends!

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And He (Jesus) said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40, ESV)

“The order of these two great commandments is important. Jesus did not teach that, in order to be in a loving relationship with God, his disciples must first love their neighbors. He taught instead that the “great and first commandment” is to love God with one’s entire being, and elsewhere Scripture makes clear that this love for God is possible only because God loved believers first (1 John 4:19; see also Rom. 5:8). A loving commitment to God, initiated by God himself, results in love for one’s neighbor. When we love God, we love what and whom he loves—because we desire to please and honor him.

In 2 Corinthians 8:1–7, Paul demonstrated how this works in practical terms. He used the Macedonian Christians as an example of unselfish generosity, to urge the Corinthian Christians toward the same kind of generosity. Although poor themselves, he says, the Macedonians gave beyond all expectation: “they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us” (2 Cor. 8:5). Jesus’ disciples do not earn God’s favor by loving their neighbors; they love God because he has shown them his grace and mercy through the sacrificial love of Jesus, and this love for God overflows in love for others (Eph. 4:32–5:2).” (Gospel Transformation Bible)

What a great reminder of the ultimate priority in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ – love!  Are you loving God with your whole being?  Are you loving your neighbor as yourself?  What practical ways is that being demonstrated in your life?


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Love From Your Pastor

Hi FBC Friends!

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.  For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. (Romans 1:8-10)
I believe that the most important thing I can do for you is to pray for you.  That, along with faithfully teaching and preaching the Word of God, is my primary purpose.  I am trying to faithfully pray for you by name each week.  It is helpful when you put prayer requests on your cards on Sundays.  And you can also call or email with prayer needs.  But I also pray regular for God to be at work in your life, for you to grow spiritually, and I thank Him for you.  I am grateful to God for you, and praying for your growth in the faith!
This Sunday I will be preaching on Revelation 4:1-11, “An Open Door to Heaven”.  This is one of the most profound passages in all the Bible describing the worship of Almighty God in Heaven.  Worship is a 7-days-a-week activity for followers of Jesus Christ, not a Sunday-only event!  In order to truly benefit from the corporate expression of worship on Sundays, we each must be worshiping the Lord privately throughout the week.  We worship by spending time with Him listening to His Word.  We worship by praying to Him – Adoring Him, Confessing our sins, Thanking Him, and presenting our “Supplications” (requests) to Him.  We worship by the way we live our lives to His honor and glory.  We worship by serving “the least of these.”  Please read the passage in Revelation before Sunday, asking God to open your eyes to the glorious throne room scene.  And begin now to prepare your heart for a wonderful time of corporate worship on Sunday.  The order of service will be a bit different: we will sing, pray, hear part of the sermon; sing again, hear another part of the sermon; sing some more, hear the last part of the sermon; then sing again, then receive the offering while watching a worship-full video.  (The kids will still be dismissed about mid-way through the service so they can go to Junior Church and Children’s Church.)  Come prepared to worship our great God before His throne!

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi FBC (sorry this is later than normal again)!
Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them.  And he rejoiced along with his entire household (pan-oikos, his whole ‘oikos’) that he had believed in God. (Acts 16:34)
I read the story of the conversion of the Philippian jailer yesterday (Acts 16:25-34) and am always encouraged by it.  I love the rejoicing that can come about for an entire “oikos” (household, or even sphere of influence) when someone comes to faith in Jesus Christ!
Tomorrow is “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday”.  I hope you will be able to make it.  We will here from a special speaker: Debbie Tracey from Pregnancy Alternatives Center in Lebanon.  There have been exciting things happening there, and there are some big visions for the future!  You can learn a little more about them here:
I will also be sharing what the Bible says on the issue of “The Dignity of Human Life”.  We hope to share both the truth and the grace of God on the matter.
Another place for good information is Eternal Perspective Ministries, led by Randy Alcorn and located in the Portland area.  He is the author of many books, including ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments, and Why Pro Life?  Their website is:  www.epm.org.
I am looking forward to seeing you tomorrow, and have been praying for you this week.
Thankful for the gift of life…
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael


Love From Your Pastor

Hi FBC!

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.  For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek Him, and the power of His wrath is against all who forsake Him.”  So we fasted and implored our God for this, and He listened to our entreaty. (Ezra 8:21-23)
This passage struck me this morning, because I saw how Ezra, who was devoted to studying, living, and teaching God’s Word (see Ezra 7:10), led his people to fast and pray.  He and the people sought the protection of God and His guidance for a long journey.  I think we in the modern church often totally neglect fasting, to our detriment.  It can have a major impact on our prayer lives.  We have a journey before us, as we consider this new year of 2015.  I like this note from the Life Application Bible: “Before making all the physical preparations for the journey, Ezra made spiritual preparations.  Their prayers and fasting prepared them spiritually by showing their dependence on God for protection, their faith that God was in control, and their affirmation that they were not strong enough to make the trip without Him.  When we take time to put God first in any endeavor, we are preparing well for whatever lies ahead.”  I try to spend one day a month in fasting and prayer, besides the daily prayer goal I have.  Would you try to do that once?  Between now and the end of the month, choose one day to fast (not eat) and dedicate extra time that day to prayer.  Pray for your own spiritual growth in the coming year, and pray for First Baptist Church – for God’s guidance and power for effective ministry this year.

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Love From Your Pastor

Happy New Year FBC!!!
Another year is coming to a close, and the next one is just over the horizon.  I enjoy taking some time at the end of a year to reflect on God’s many blessings from throughout the year, the lessons learned, the prayers answered, and the people who have touched my life.  It’s also a great time to think about new goals to set for a new year, as well as hopes and dreams for the days ahead.  I also enjoy coming to the end of a year of reading through the Bible.  This year a number of us used the One Year Bible, and today our readings completed the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs.  I get excited about beginning again with a new plan for reading through the Bible.  This year I (and any others who want to join me) will be using the ESV Daily Reading Bible, which uses the popular reading plan developed by Robert Murray M’Cheyne.  I already sent info about that to you in a previous email.  There are copies of the plan on a table in the foyer at church.
There were some powerful truths from today’s reading, including this from Malachi 3:8, 10 – Will man rob God?  Yet you are robbing Me.  But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’  In your tithes and contributions… Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house.  And thereby put Me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.  I have enjoyed the notes from the Gospel Transformation Bible this year.  Part of the note for this passage says, “Our giving is a diagnostic window into how we view God.  If we see God as the gracious giver of all good gifts, we will desire to excel in the ‘grace’ of giving (2 Cor. 8:7).  If we view Him as a hard taskmaster whose service is a burden, however, it will be visible in our reluctant giving.  The issue is our attitude, not the amount (Luke 24:1-4).  Through it all, we remember Jesus, who ‘though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich’ (2 Cor. 8:9).  We are cheerfully generous not in order to pay God back, but in light of His great and lavish generosity toward us.  What else could we do?”  So friends, what are your Giving Goals for 2015?

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Love From Your Pastor

Merry Christmas FBC!  (Yes, I know I’m on vacation, but I needed to tell you about this now.)

A number of you have been reading the One Year Bible along with me this year.  Thank you to all those who have been doing that!  It’s pretty neat to be talking about something I read that day, and know that many of you read the same thing.
I was having a hard time deciding what I was going to do for 2015.  I originally thought I’d just use the One Year Bible again, which I’ve used many times over the years.  But then I found what I think is a good deal on a Daily Reading Bible using a plan developed by 19th Century Scottish pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne.
So I decided to get one, and a few extras to give as gifts.  If you want to get the same one, here is the link to buy one:
Of course, you can also just print up the plan and follow along in your own Bible.  You can get the PDF of the plan here:
Whatever plan you decide to use, I hope and pray that you will make it a goal and a priority to spend time every day in God’s Word in 2015!  I think it would be great for many of us from FBC to use the same plan, so we can “compare notes” and “be on the same page.”  Thanks for considering it!
And by the way, THANK YOU so much for such a generous Christmas gift to my family!  We are absolutely blown away by your kindness.  We love you and thank God for you.
Oh, and don’t miss this Sunday at FBC – Jeff Moritz, missionary with InFaith, and brother of our Jeremy Moritz, will be speaking at the morning worship service!
Have a Merry Christmas and a Christ-centered New Year!
Pastor Michael
Psalm 143:5-6
Revelation 15:3-4



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