A Christmas Wish

We'll soon be celebrating the coming of our Lord Jesus, and I believe that most people you talk to would agree that it is one of their favorite times of the year.  The one thing they may not totally agree on though is why they like it so much.  For us who are in the family of faith, we know the truth of Advent.  We know that prophecy was fulfilled, and that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.  We know that Joseph was also told of this coming King and what His Name would be.  Matthew 1:18-25, "This is how Jesus the Messiah was born.  His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph.  But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.  As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.  'Joseph, son of David,' the angel said, 'do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.  For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.'  All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord's message through his prophet: 'Look!  The virgin will conceive a child!  She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means God is with us.'  When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.  But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born.  And Joseph named him Jesus."

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Free Gift

"God saved you by his grace when you believed.  And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."  Ephesians 1:8-10

As we near the season of Advent and the celebration of our Savior and Lord coming to us, we see the season of Christmas already in the advertisements of local stores.  Halloween hasn't even come yet, and Thanksgiving is just another day on the calendar in terms of sales and what drives consumers to spend.  Although Halloween is second only to Christmas in terms of holiday retail sales, walk into any local store and you'll see trees all decorated up, new toys glistening, and all the other hot items in plain sight to get the attention of would be buyers.

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Foundations of Our Faith

I was recently listening to a sermon about the Sermon on the Mount, and specifically about the Beatitudes, and even more specifically about Mathew 5:9-12, "God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.  God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.  God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.  Be happy about it!  Be very glad!  For a great reward awaits you in heaven.  And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way."  I asked our youth group to read through the Sermon on the Mount last school year, Matthew 5-7, for a clear interpretation of what Jesus said about, quite frankly, a lot of things.  Things of life, like relationships with God and one another, and how we live as children of God are given in those chapters in His sermon.  It says that people were amazed by His teaching because He taught with real authority, quite unlike their teachers of religious law.

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We Are Family

We Are Family.  Isn't that what we would hope that anyone coming into this part of the Body of Christ would feel?  Realistically, we know it's not always the case, but this is what we should strive to become. When it's family it's personal, it's commitment, and it's forgiving in spite of our disagreements and differences.  Because when it's family we know that blood is thicker than water, as the old saying goes.  So let's all start or continue to be known as what we should be known, the family of believers and followers of the Way of Christ!

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Loving God and People with All!

"Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?" Jesus replied, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. 'This is the first and greatest commandment.   A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."  Matthew 22:36-40

This summer has so far been one where I've had the opportunity to see pre-teens and teenagers live this out.  At the "Great Escape", a middle school camp, I watched as hundreds of youth praised God in music, in games, in discussions, and in solitude.  As I've said the last few Sundays since our return, you should be very proud of the youth we have at this church.  Even when they were covering me in shaving cream and water and a substance called "yuck," I felt their love, their joy, and their peace in just being able to be kids and not worrying about anything.  I saw God shine through them and them love Him with all of themselves, and that is an awesome and humbling part of my ministry here at FPC, one that I am so thankful to have and experience.

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Let's Clarify

Clarification – making something clearer by explaining it in greater detail.  At the end of April and on the first Sunday of May I had the opportunity to share 3 messages on Matthew 6:19-34, a portion of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount where Jesus made things clearer for those who were hearing His message.  We looked specifically at money, or more clearly what we treasure.  Matthew 6:21, "Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."  Our focus during those three Sundays was on where our treasure lies, and not just our money.  Our attitude toward money should reflect what our attitude is about everything really.  Does it control us or do we control it?  Are we working for the money or is the money working for us?

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A Time of Transition

May is the time when we normally begin to anticipate the arrival of so many things.· The grass is growing, flowers are blooming, vegetable gardens are being planted, and pools are being opened.· And of course this is the time when we celebrate with those who are graduating from high school and other schools.· So with this article I want to express encouragement and gratitude for knowing and being blessed by our two graduating seniors, Cierra Brown and Corey Goodwin.

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