Because I don't want anything to get in the way of this "season of thanksgiving", I am simply going to leave you with these thoughts.....
Few men suffered as the apostle Paul did, yet he learned how to give thanks in his circumstances....even in a prison cell. Look at what he writes in II Corinthians 4:8, "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed."
As a child of God, your days of losing are over. Because of Jesus, it should be our ultimate goal to live every day to its fullest. Every day is filled with new opportunities to live out our thankfulness for Jesus, as we serve Him. We should live every day knowing that our sins are forgiven and that we have a home waiting for us in Heaven. This fact should top everyone's thanksgiving list!
As you struggle to be remain thankful in the midst of life's circumstances, consider the response of a guy named Matthew Henry, who had just been mugged.....
"Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed."
Thanksgiving prayer: Our Father and our God, I am so thankful for your abiding joy and peace. In spite of life circumstances, I am not depressed. In spite of life's sorrows, I am joyful. In spite of despair, I am hopeful. Your love, peace and comfort keep me focused on you and I am so thankful to call you my Savior. Amen
See you Sunday.
Thanksgiving is here! In order to help all of us transition into a time of reflecting on God's faithfulness, I would like to share with you a Thanksgiving devotional from Charles Swindoll. I hope you enjoy reading it and feel free to pass it along to others.
"It's coming! That quiet, unheralded day that refuses to be glamorized is just around the corner. If you're not carful, you'll let it slip right on by with only a plate full of turkey and a passing nod. That's right, it's Thanksgiving......my favorite. Why? I prefer it because it's so healthy, so encouraging.....and so understated. No jingles to sing, no commercials to endure, no gifts to buy--just a day to be thankful. To look up and around and within and say, 'Thank you, Lord.'
Maybe these few thoughts will stimulate you to give God your own thanks in greater abundance.
LOOKING UP.....Thank you, Lord for your sovereign control over our circumstances. For your holy character in spite of our sinfulness. For your commitment to us even when we wander astray. For your Word that gives us direction. For your love that holds us close. For your gentle compassion in our sorrows. For your consistent faithfulness through our highs and lows. For your strong "No" when we need to hear it. For your surprising "Yes" when we lack the faith to believe it. For your wise "Wait" when we are impatient and rash. For your understanding when we are confused. For your Spirit that enlightens our eyes. For your grace that removes our guilt. Thank you, Lord, for all you are, all you do, all you say. If we were unable to look up into your face, Thanksgiving would be just another day.
LOOKING AROUND.....Thank you, Lord for our wonderful country, so blessed, so unique. For close family ties, so affirming, so enjoyable. For teachers, mentors, and personal heroes who spur us on. For an opportunity to be of help and encouragement to others. For the embrace of a friend who really cares. For the joy of seeing our children and grandchildren grow and learn. For an occupation that enables us to make a living. For a place to live, clothes to wear, and food to eat. Thank you, Lord, for such incredible abundance. By just looking around, we are made aware of how rich we really are.
LOOKING WITHIN.....Thank you, Lord for the gift of good health, hidden treasure easily overlooked. For eyes that see the beauty of your creation. For minds that are curious, creative and competent. For memories of past pleasures and recent accomplishments. For ears that receive the world of sounds surrounding us. For the special stimulation of taste and touch. For hands to work and legs to walk with. For heartaches that force us to rearrange our priorities. For broken dreams and lingering afflictions that humble us. For the courage to tell the truth, though it hurts. For the determination to finish a demanding task. For a sense of humor that brings healing and hope.
This is Thanksgiving, O Lord, not Thankskeeping. And so we pause to declare to you these expressions of gratitude. They are merely an overview of the thousands of things for which we are thankful. You are indeed worthy of our highest praise. To you goes all the glory! Amen." (Charles Swindoll)
See you Sunday.
This week's edition of Think, Act and Be Like Jesus revolves around a single question. How would you define the gospel of Jesus Christ? What did Jesus mean when he used the phrase in Mark 1:15, "believe in the gospel"?
What was this "gospel" Jesus was speaking of? Was it the minimum entry requirements for heaven? Was it his pending death and resurrection? Was it the "kingdom of God" that seemed to dominate his teachings? When we hear a pastor or evangelist say, "I want to share the gospel story with you, what do they share? What would you share if I asked you to stand up and share the gospel?
I'm sure some of you are waiting for me to answer this question, but instead, I'm simply going to stop, move on to another topic and allow the question to just sit out there for you to think about and wrestle with.
This next week will be a busy one on our church campus. Next Wednesday at 10:30am in the Fireside room, FBC will host our monthly Adults on Mission gathering. Our speaker will be Randy Adams. Randy is the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention. In addition to providing vision and direction to an organization that serves over 500 churches in the northwest, Randy serves by filling the pulpit for pastors who may be away at a conference or on vacation and teaches at Gateway Seminary. Don't miss this great opportunity to hear how God is moving in the Northwest.
Also on Thursday, we will celebrate Thanksgiving a week early! Our Young @ Heart group would like to invite all of you to join them for a special Thanksgiving meal and time of sharing how God has blessed us this past year. Lunch begins at noon and yes, we will have turkey! For those of you who work, consider spending your lunch hour with us. You won't be disappointed!
Finally, this Sunday we will wrap-up our series on "Glimpses of Jesus in the Old Testament". Having looked at the story of Jesus, the promise of Jesus and the identity of Jesus, all from an Old Testament perspective, this week we will focus on his mission. Why was Jesus sent? Was the mission of Jesus to die on a cross for our sins, or could there be something even more significant that he came to accomplish?
See you Sunday.
"That Day". When I think of how the ancient Israelites spent their evenings, I often wonder if they spent at least a portion of this time, sitting around a campfire, talking about "That Day". Or how often the boys and girls would sit quietly in their tents whispering amongst themselves about "That Day". Old leathered men slowly stroking their beards wondering if "That Day" would come before their own days would end.
For generation upon generation the Hebrews had been waiting for "That Day" the blessed day when he would come! The Anointed One.....the Messiah......the Christ. Because on "That Day", the I Am's saving presence would come in person as the One who was special, who was anointed. The One who would save. The One who would heal. They waited for the promised Messiah, as their language spoke it.
They knew he would come. The only question was when. Through beatings and slavery they waited. In prison camps far from their destroyed homes they waited. Even in times of prosperity, they waited with great anticipation for God to fulfill his promise of a Savior......a King!
Then one day in a dirty barn he came. The story that God had been writing for 40+ generations was complete. The intricate prophecies that had been passed down from generation to generation were exactly fulfilled. The Messiah had finally come! It was just as it had always been promised.
For the last 2 weeks, we have been looking at the story, of and promise of, Jesus as expressed in the Old Testament. Join us this week, as we continue to look for glimpses of Jesus in the Old Testament. This week, we will look at the identity of Jesus. Who was this baby, who would grow up to be a carpenter from an insignificant gentile community called Nazareth? Could he really be the Son of God? What does the Old Testament reveal about his true identity?
DON'T FORGET TO TURN BACK YOUR CLOCKS BEFORE YOU GO TO BED ON SATURDAY NIGHT!
See you Sunday.
I know this edition of TAB is coming to you a little bit earlier than usual, but we have a lot going on here at FBC and I didn't want you to miss out on all the exciting stuff that God is doing on our church campus.
For example, tomorrow is our monthly Young @ Heart Luncheon. This month the menu features crockpot soups and salads, along with what is always an amazing selection of desserts. In fact, I might even skip the crockpots and go straight to the desserts! SSSHHH....don't tell anyone, it will be our little secret.
Also, this coming Saturday will be a busy one for our church and community. The morning kicks-off with a rummage sale, hosted by our Chinese church. The rummage sale takes place from 10:00am to 4:00pm, with all proceeds to go towards creating and supporting a Chinese campus ministry on some of our area college campuses. This would be a great opportunity to go through your garage/house and donate some gently used items that you no longer need. Items can be dropped off at the church tomorrow from 10:00am to 3:00pm and all day Friday from 9:00am to 9:00pm. Please consider donating to help Pastor Tom and his team reach the next generation of Chinese students with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The rummage sale will be immediately followed by our Trunk O' Treat community outreach event. Trunk O' Treat will take place this Saturday in our church parking lot from 4:00pm to 7:00pm and will include food, candy, carnival games, a bounce house, hay ride, pumpkins and more. Please spread the word to your neighbors, friends and relatives.
It's also not to late to help. We are still in need of cars to use for the trunk o' treat area (if you're not sure what do to with your car, just show up and we will take care of the rest!) We could also use volunteers to help at the food station (we will be selling hot dogs/chips/drinks) and with the popcorn machine. If you would be able to help by bringing your car or volunteering your time, please email doug at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know where you can help.
Finally, before I wrap up this week's edition of TAB, Rose and I want to say a huge "THANK YOU" for "pounding" our pantry with some great food! Also, I want to say a special "thank you" to Nancy Hester for putting it all together and for the Hester's and Bells, who packed up and delivered the food. I have attached some pictures that were taken just after the food was dropped off at our house.
Over the last 9 months, you have reached out to our family in so many ways. We are truly blessed to be a part of the FBC family! Thanks for "taking in" this goofy, wayward family from California and for giving me the opportunity to serve as your pastor.
See you Sunday.
First of all, I need to say a huge "Thank You" to Larry Annes for preaching in my place this past Sunday. It is awesome to have men like Larry and Norm who are able to unpack the word of God, each in his own unique style. In fact, if you missed Larry's message this past Sunday, I would encourage you to go to our church website, click on the Sermons and Resources tab and listen to his message.
As Larry wrapped up his message, he made a statement that I would like to build on as we begin a new series this Sunday titled, "Glimpses of Jesus in the Old Testament." The text for Larry's message was a Psalm of David that focused on our sin and the forgiveness that God provides for us through His Son Jesus. In fact, near the end of Larry's message, he said this, "Jesus makes available to us payment for our sin. That's the Good News". Remember, Larry's message was based on an Old Testament passage written by a King who would never experience the presence of Jesus, yet still experienced the heart of the Gospel, which is the grace and forgiveness provided by God through His Son Jesus. How can this be?
For most of us, the Gospel or "Good News" about Jesus begins in Matthew 1:18 or Luke 2 and continues throughout the New Testament. However, for the next few weeks, I want to take us on a journey through the Old Testament, in search of the story of Jesus, that as we will see, is actually interwoven throughout this often unread portion of the scriptures. As we go through this time together, my hope is that by the end of our journey, we will all come to understand that Jesus is not just the central figure of the New Testament. Jesus is the central figure of the entire Bible......both Old and New Testament. Jesus didn't just drop into Bethlehem from Heaven. He came with a story. He came with a promise. He came with an identity and He came with a mission, all of which is revealed, throughout the pages of the Old Testament.
This Sunday, we will focus on the story of Jesus. Between now and Sunday, I would encourage you to read Matthew 1:1-17. As you read through this long list of boring "begettings", remember this, for any Jew who knew his Scriptures (and Matthew is writing primarily to a Jewish audience), every name has a story behind it. Every name comes with an event, a period in history and a memory of their national past. Through this list, Matthew is saying that we can only understand Jesus properly if we see him in the light of his family tree. So as you read these names, some that are familiar and some that are not, think about the story behind each name. Do some research, learn a little bit more about these long, lost relatives of Jesus.
Come this Sunday, ready to catch a glimpse of Jesus in the Old Testament.
Have a great weekend!
In I Chronicles 28-29, we read how King David gathered the nation of Israel together to cast vision for and ask their help with, constructing a temple for the Lord. In this magnificent story, David not only asked for financial assistance from the people, but he sacrificially unleashed his own storehouse of wealth, so that the work could begin. David then urged his leaders to also give generously to the "building fund".....and they did! The remarkable thing about David and his leaders is that they gave willingly and rejoiced at the privilege of giving back to God.
In verse 10 of I Chronicles 29, David shares in their rejoicing as he prays this magnificent prayer of praise and adoration to the Lord. God had blessed David richly, so he blesses God thankfully! His words are a short course in theology. He acknowledges God's greatness, power, glory, and majesty. After all, God owns everything, everything comes from Him and when we give, we only return to the Lord that which He has graciously given to us.
David goes on in this prayer to assure the Lord that the offerings came from his heart and the hearts of his people, and that they gave joyfully and with sincerity. David prays that his people might always have hearts of generosity, gratitude, and joy.
This prayer of David is one that I am praying for FBC. During my short-time here, I have witnessed incredible generosity from our church family. From the Annie Armstrong offering, to crates full of school supplies, to our own church budget. In all of this, you have shown to be faithful stewards of what God has given to you.
As your pastor, I want to take this opportunity to say, "Thank You", for your faithfulness in giving towards our church finances and would ask that you commit yourselves to remaining faithful as we close out this fiscal year.
In Philippians 4:19, we read, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." To date, God has supplied for all of our church needs.
Below are two figures, one represents what we have received to date and the other figure represents our expenses to date. As you will notice, we are continuing to operate in the black.
FBC Receipts (offerings/designated donations/other income) $403,705
FBC Expenses (including loan payment) $398,981
Celebrate with me as we continue to trust in God to meet church's financial needs.
See you Sunday.