Love From Your Pastor

Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You.  (Psalm 63:3)

Better than life itself.  Not many things in this world can be described with those words.  But there is one thing – the steadfast love of God.  In the original language (Hebrew) that word for “steadfast love” is chesed, usually describing the loyal, faithful, covenant-keeping love of Yahweh, the God of Israel.  Now there’s something we can have confidence in, put our hope in, take comfort from.  Will your lips praise Him today for His steadfast love which is better than life?
This Sunday I will be continuing our sermon series on “Jesus’ Last Week” with a message on “THURSDAY: The Last Supper”.  Please read Matthew 26:17-30, and consider the meaning of this remembrance of our Lord’s death.  We will be having a time of Communion following the service which will be a little different than we have normally done it.  Come with your heart prepared for a meaningful time of worship and study together.
One month from today is Easter Sunday!  PLEASE BE PRAYING!  Pray for the people in your oikos, your relational world, and look for opportunities to share the love of Christ with them.  Invite them to join you at FBC.  We will be having 2 services on Easter Sunday: at 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM.  We are anticipating the 11:00 being quite full.  If a number of you would consider attending the 9:00 service, even if that wouldn’t be your first preference, that would be great!  Consider it a ministry.  Unless of course you’re bringing a friend with you who would rather go at 11:00.  The week before Easter, we will be doing 4 Days of Prayer again.  5-9am and 5-9pm each day.  Set a goal, mark it on your calendar, and join us!  Families and children welcome too!  We pray in 45 minute chunks each hour, so you can come for one of those or more.  I’m looking forward to seeing how God will be changing lives and transforming hearts through His church this Easter season!
Thank you for your prayers for our team in Haiti.  They’ve returned safe and sound, and we look forward to hearing what the Lord did in and through them.
Praising Him for His steadfast love (which is better than life)!!!
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael


Love From Your Pastor

Hello Friends!

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.  (Ps. 56:3)
That verse seems pretty self-explanatory!  It reminds me of a song I’ve been hearing on the radio lately that says, “Whom shall I fear?  I know who goes before me.  I know who stands behind.  The God of angel armies is always by my side.  The One who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine.  The God of angel armies is always by my side…”  Are you trusting today?
Just a reminder that tomorrow, Friday at 7pm, we will have the Sunday Feelin’ concert at the church.  There will be a love offering received for Child Evangelism Fellowship.  Please come enjoy Southern and Country Gospel music with us!  And if you can, please bring some finger foods to share for a time of fellowship afterwards.
This Sunday we will continue our trek towards Easter with our sermon series on “Jesus’ Last Week”.  The subject this week is the teaching at the Mt. of Olives, from Matthew 24:1-31.  There is a lot of debate and many various approaches to understanding Matthew 24.  I don’t necessarily intend to solve all of the mysteries and every debatable issue about prophecy in this message.  The main purpose of our study will be to consider the events preceding Christ’s return and the importance of being ready for Him.  Please read the passage prayerfully, and come ready to hear from Him.  Most importantly, be ready for His return!
 

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi Friends!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
I have always loved this blessing.  It was originally a blessing that Aaron and his sons, the priests of Israel, were instructed to use to bless the people of Israel.  What a beautiful reminder of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to His people!  As I was praying for some of you (those on my “Thursday list”) today, this was the blessing I was praying for you.  And I ask God to make this a blessing that you all experience today.  Are you in need of His blessing?  Do you need to know He “keeps” you?  Do you need a reminder of His face shining upon you?  Are you in need of His grace today?  Do you need the peace that can only come from Him?
REMINDER: This Sunday Daylight Savings Time begins!!!  So remember to “Spring forward” your clocks on Saturday night so you can show up for Sunday School and worship service at the right time on Sunday morning!!
This Sunday we will continue to look at the “Last Week” Jesus, by discussing the Clearing of the Temple in Mark 11:12-19.  Please read that ahead of time.  Consider what it means that Jesus would show what I would call “righteous anger” in this situation.  Also consider what it means to be “A house of prayer for all nations.”
 

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi Friends!

And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’!  All things are possible for one who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24)
I love this interchange between Jesus and this dad in Mark 9!  It’s almost humorous to think that someone would say to Jesus, “If you can.”  Sadly, though, that often still seems to be the attitude of many of us.  Do we really believe that Jesus is who He says and can do all things?  When our faith is wavering, we would be wise to emulate this father’s reply: “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Last Sunday I didn’t get to one important point I wanted to make in the message, simply because I got a bit emotional on another point and had to move on!  But in 2 John 10-11, it says, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”  Now, there is debate about what this means in practice for us.  But I had planned to quote from an interesting statement by F.F. Bruce, so here it is: “The command not to receive any one who does not bring the teaching of Christ means that no such person must be accepted as a Christian teacher or as one entitled to the fellowship of the church.  It does not mean (for example) that one of Jehovah’s Witnesses should not be invited into the house for a cup of tea in order to be shown the way of God more perfectly in the living room than would be convenient on the doorstep.  Even less does it mean that disagreements on church order should be treated as deviations from the teaching of Christ and used as a ground of exlusion from church fellowship… But for a church, or its responsible leaders, knowingly to admit within its boundaries the spread of teaching subversive of the gospel is to participate in what John describes as wicked works.”  So, as far as I’m concerned, the decision on whether or not to allow people from cults who show up at your door into your home is a personal decision which may vary from situation to situation.  There can at times be great benefit from letting them in and explaining the truth clearly.  Sometimes it can become a fruitless debate that just causes frustration for all involved.  So it takes much prayer and asking God for wisdom to know how He wants you to respond to that knock at the door!
 

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi Friends!

Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. (Proverbs 10:6)
The above verse reminds me of something I’ve heard many times from Pastor Dee Duke:  “Much Prayer = Much Blessing, Little Prayer = Little Blessing, No Prayer = No Blessing.”  Don’t you think we should want “much blessings” from the Lord?  What are you using your mouth for?  Much prayer?  Let’s be people who seek the Lord “without ceasing” and so experience His blessings!
On Sunday I will be finishing our short series on 2 John.  Please be sure and read it again in preparation for the message.  We are challenged to “abide in the teaching of Christ.”  What does that look like in a believer’s life?
On February 28, the “Son of God” movie will begin airing in theaters.  I want to encourage you to go see it sometime that first weekend.  And perhaps that would be a good thing to invite people from your oikos (those 8-15 people in your life who don’t yet know the Lord) to watch with you.  Go see the movie and then invite them out to dessert or coffee and see if there may be some discussion or questions about Christ.  The timing would also be great to invite them to join us at FBC for the next sermon series: “Jesus’ Last Week”.  I will preach 8 messages, beginning March 2, that follow Christ during that most crucial week, from the Triumphal Entry through the Resurrection.  The series will conclude Easter Sunday with the message on the Resurrection.  Invite someone to come for all 8 weeks!  Please be praying for this important series of messages!
 

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi Friends!

I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)
In the daily Bible reading today, we read a number of powerful accounts.  First was the encouraging event in Exodus 35, where the people gave so willingly and generously toward the contribution for the tent of meeting, that Moses had to actually tell them to stop giving because there was more than enough!  I’m still looking forward to the day we can stand up on a Sunday and say, “Stop giving!  You’ve given too much already!”  Then there was the powerful account in Matthew 27 of the crucifixion.  That event is the apex of all of the Bible, and in fact all of history.  I was intrigued again today by the response of the centurion and those with him who witnessed the earthquake, etc. when Jesus died, and exclaimed, “Truly this was the Son of God!”  But as far as one verse that I thought would be great to encourage us with, Psalm 34:4 is it.  Actually, all the verses I read in Psalm 34 (vs. 1-10) were excellent.  But there’s something about the great hope that comes when we remember that when we seek the Lord, He answers!  No matter what may come in our lives that could instill fear in our hearts, we have audience with the One who can deliver us from every fear!  No wonder the Bible repeatedly says, “Do not fear!”
The cancellation of our worship service last Sunday was unprecedented in my pastoral ministry.  I’ve only officially served as senior pastor since 2002, but I’ve never had to do that before.  Numerous pastor friends around the valley said the same thing this week.  I am looking forward to seeing you this Sunday and preaching God’s Word!  Hopefully I will remember how to do it!  Just kidding.
 

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi my freezing FBC friends!

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  (Matthew 24:30)
What a great promise!  Oh, that He would come today!  (Then maybe things would thaw out around here!  Guess it won’t matter at that point!)
Due to the inclement weather, we have a number of events cancelled:
1.  AWANA is cancelled for tonight.
2. The Friday night Women’s Fellowship event has been moved to Tuesday night.
3. The Saturday morning Men’s Breakfast has been cancelled.
4. The Saturday evening concert by “Sunday Feelin'” has been tentatively moved to the following Saturday the 15th.
Please keep an eye on your e-mails regarding Sunday School.  Of course this preacher is hoping this will all go away by Sunday and Sunday School and the worship service won’t be affected.  But stay tuned!
The message planned for this Sunday is “Walking in the Truth” from 2 John verses 4-6.  I would again encourage you to read all of 2 John in preparation for Sunday morning.  See if you can determine what is accomplished when we walk in the truth.
Please stay safe and warm, but more importantly stay in the grace, mercy, and peace of God our Father and Jesus Christ the Father’s Son!
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael


Love From Your Pastor

Hi Friends of FBC!

Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat. (Exodus 12:7)

The Passover event is an incredible account of God’s sovereignty, power, and grace! If you’re using the One Year Bible, we’ve been reading the last couple days about Moses’ confrontation with Pharaoh, the plagues on Egypt, and the Passover. Time and space will prevent me from going into a long explanation here, but I’d encourage you to scan over Exodus chapters 7-12, but especially chapters 11-12, which we read today. Of course the picture of the blood of the lamb spread over the homes of the Israelites points us to the perfect, without blemish, Lamb of God, who shed His blood so that we could be saved! This Sunday we will remember His death as we partake of the Lord’s Supper together. Let’s come with our hearts extremely thankful for “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

This Sunday I will also be starting a new 4 week series on the book of 2 John. The title of the series is “Truth & Love”. Not very original, I know, but it covers the essential message of John’s second letter. Please read over 2 John prayerfully this week in preparation. I trust these messages will be powerful blessings for us.


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Love From Your Pastor

Hi Friends!

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (Matt. 15:18-20 ESV)
Once again we were challenged in this morning’s One Year Bible reading with the words of Jesus.  The Pharisees were so concerned about externals – about rule keeping, and looking righteous outwardly.  Their idea of what defiled people was upside down.  Jesus was masterful at setting them straight!  But He’s also masterful at settingus straight.  What people need… what people have always needed… is heart change!  And not just a fixing of the heart, like a bypass surgery, but a total heart transplant!  And Jesus Christ is the only One who can do that.  He can replace our defiled hearts with pure hearts as we call upon Him in repentance and faith.  So, how’s your heart today?  Are you in need of a transplant?
I was so privileged this week to spend a few days at Cannon Beach at the Spurgeon Fellowship Pastors Conference.  It was a blessing to go with Randy Waldie, and meet up with Tony Villanueva there, and to hear four powerful messages from Alistair Begg on the book of 2 Timothy.  We also had deeply meaningful times of prayer and worship in song.  It truly was a time of spiritual and physical refreshment.  Thanks for those of you who were praying for that.
 

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Love From Your Pastor

Hello FBC!

Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  (Matthew 11:28)
Do you feel like you need rest?  Not just physical rest, which is important too, but spiritual rest.  “Rest for your souls” is how He puts it (11:29).  Have you been trying to earn favor with God by your good works?  Have you thought that somehow you can earn salvation by trying hard enough?  There’s only one way to truly experience rest for your soul – come to Jesus!  Allow Him to take your heavy burdens from you.  By faith, enter into relationship with Him, and you will find the rest your soul longs for.
This Sunday I will preach the final message in Nahum, “The Surety of Judgment.”  Please read Nahum 3 to prepare for worship.  Consider well the sobering message it contains.  And take comfort in the fact that the Judge of all the earth will do right!
Remeber, we have a membership class planned for Jan. 26 after the worship service.  Please reply to let me know if you plan to attend!
Also, we hope to do a baptism service sometime in February.  Have you publicly testified to your faith in Christ by obeying His command to be baptized?  If not, why not?  Let me know soon if God is calling you to do so!
How are you coming on your spiritual disciplines so far in 2014?  Even if you stumble, don’t give up!  Remember, we are “training ourselves for godliness,” which has value for all eternity!
Resting in Jesus today,
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael



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