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BE BLESSED BY GOD’S WORD THROUGHOUT THE WEEK

November 1st, 2017

“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:39
 
Lately as I see the happenings around us it seems like the world is out of control. It is confusing and perplexing why a God of love lets things happen. You know as I listen to God’s word thru Paul, I’m relieved to know nothing can separate us from the love of God. We still serve a wonderful God, a loving God. In the midst of this dark time we as children of God have a responsibility to share His love.
 
Psalmist says in Ps. 63:3 “Because your living kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you.”
 
We need to take this lesson from the Psalmist and praise God for his love for us. I remember the story of Dwight L. Moody. Once he was preaching in Chicago, a drunk man walked into the church service and saw a sign above the pulpit that read “God is Love.” It struck him with anger, he slammed the door and muttered to himself, God is not love. If God was love, He wouldn’t love a miserable man like him. It is not true so he walked away, but the statement kept coming back to him. “God is love, God is love” so he decided to go back to the church confused and desperate and sat in the back of the church as Moody continued to preach. When the service ended and all the people were gone, D. L. Moody saw this man setting and crying. So he approached him and asked him if the sermon had touched him. The man replied, “Sir I did not listen to the sermon but the words above your pulpit “God is Love” broke my heart. So Moody sat down and explained the depth of God’s love. The man broke down and gave his life to Jesus for the first time he understood that God really did love him.
There are many people in our world today who see the chaos in the world and wonder if God is love. I often wonder why we, the Christians, who have been given and shown love have not reached out to the lonely and desperate people. Is it because we are so busy taking care of ourselves and we forget the hurting around us?
 
We have a greater responsibility to see through the eyes of Jesus, who has redeemed us and given us hope in spite of our inability to fathom the full scope of God’s love. He has revealed to us in many ways that we can clearly understand. Through the laughter of a year old or the colorful sunset, or through the fall leaves around us and many other ways that HE loves us. Because God is God, He does as He pleases, and it pleases Him to love us without cause. From the beginning of time God does not love us because we love Him. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love Him because He first loved us.”
 
God’s love is unending, so we are the extension of God’s love to the hurting and desperate world. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
 
This fall let us be the bridge to people who are blind for some reason and let them see God is love.
 
Fall colors are in full bloom so enjoy His generous love and share Him with people you come across.
 
God Bless.
Pastor Shaker

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October 1st, 2017

“Or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a
thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he
said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
 – 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
 
Cancer is a devastating and debilitating disease. It brings pain not only to the person but also to the people around them. I have often wondered how does this help in our spiritual growth. Yes, I do go through those moments when I visit the people at home, hospitals and doctors offices. I don’t have an answer but I do know it does in time.
 
Since most of you know, my friend Dan Peterson is going through this ordeal, I’m beginning to see God’s grace is sufficient. As I stood at Dan’s bedside, I was able to see what God has accomplished through his life. He has served people with disabilities over thirty years and has seen suffering and pain every day. Before that in Vietnam, he was a medic with the Marines and saw first hand the pain and suffering of his fellow soldiers. He did not just watch it, but made an effort to ease their pain and also share the love of Jesus Christ through his compassion. Through his servant hood many a young person has been mentored and are in service to God.
 
As Paul’s life underscored this truth, he was given a thorn in his flesh, three times Paul pleaded with the Lord to take it away
from him. But, the answer was “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
 
Our weakness not only helps develop Christian character it also deepens our worship because in admitting our weakness, we affirm God’s strength. Max Lucado in his book Grace shares: “A thorn in the flesh. Such vivid imagery. The sharp end of a thorn pierces the soft skin of life and lodges beneath the surface. Every step is a reminder of the thorn in the flesh. The cancer in the body. The sorrow in the heart. The child in the rehab center. The red ink on the ledger. The felony on the record. The craving for whiskey in the middle of the day. The tears in the middle of the night. The thorn in the flesh.
 
“Take it away,” you’ve pleaded. Not once, twice, or even three times. You’ve out prayed Paul. He prayed a sprint; you’ve prayed the Boston Marathon. And you are about to hit the wall at mile nineteen. The wound radiated pain, and you see no sign of tweezers coming from heaven. But what you hear is this: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
 
Grace takes on an added dimension here. Paul is referring to sustaining grace. Saving grace saves us from sins. Sustaining grace meets us at our point of need and equips us with courage, wisdom, and strength. It surprises us in the middle of our person transatlantic flights with ample resources of faith. Sustaining grace promises not the absence of struggle but the presence of God.”
 
As I watch Dan leaning toward heaven, I also see the legacy he is leaving behind. I see his unique spiritual depth, his coworkers faith in God’s goodness. I see the indelible impact he has made in my life. He is graciously allowing God to show forth His power to the rest of us. Yes, it is agonizing to see our loved ones suffer. God shows the futility of the sin filled world is only a passing phase for the eternity of glory awaiting us. So let us draw closer to the Lord who loves us and redeems us. Yes, we will all one day meet back together without our pain, heartache and suffering in HIS glorious presence.
 
Our God is an awesome God in spite of our struggles on the earth. Let me close with what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:8,
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
 
Enjoy the beautiful fall and rejoice in Him. Have a wonderful Fall.
 
God Bless.
In Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker
 

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September 1st, 2017

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness with it.” -Lamentations 3:22-23
 
Jeremiah points out that God will be faithful every step of the way. This book is about the lamentation of the prophet as he watched the way the Israelites were not responding to God’s guidance. So Jeremiah forces himself to bring truth to the forefront of his thinking. He realizes that if he does not think positively of God’s goodness he could be drawn into discouragement, despair and bitterness. Although Jeremiah is aware of the plight of the people, he understands that it is of their own making.
 
Jeremiah focused his mind so he could break out of this pattern and cycle of despair. What Jeremiah did was something we need to do as well. We need to engage our will and purposely focus on things other than our problems. We need to intentionally think about all the goodness we have had in God.
 
First of all we need to be thankful for our salvation. Verse 22 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” It states because of God’s great love we should not be consumed–His compassion never fails. God stands by the people He has chosen. God loves us because He promised to love us and nothing can cause Him to break his promise. As bad as we often think things are, if it were not for God, things would be much worse. We all can look back in our lives and see how God has brought us through our difficult times and circumstances. Compassion literally means “to be moved in the heart out of love for another.”
 
Verse 23 says, “They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” They are new every morning, think of this, each and every day we are given new blessings not old ones recycled. They are new and fresh every morning. God’s blessings are never too early or too late. 
 
God will give us more if we need more or if we need something else, He will give us that as well. Because His love for us is so immense He will never withhold anything. We need to remember He gave His son Jesus to die on the cross for my needs and sinfulness. His compassion will never fail.
 
How encouraging, refreshing and wonderful that we have a God who is always faithful, in spite of our shortcomings. God can be trusted. We often talk about God’s love, power and greatness but fail to rest in his assurance of His faithfulness.
 
Jeremiah saw the destruction of His beloved city, Jerusalem, His people taken into captivity. It would have been easy for him to question God, but Jeremiah says “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
 
God is consistent in His character. God is Holy, God is merciful, God is truth, God is love. There is no change in Him. Psalm 33:4 says, “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” God is faithful to say He is true to His word.
 
We can rest assured that God always keeps His promises. There is no greater hope than knowing that God is totally reliable.
 
I praise God for His mercies each morning. We may be faint and weary but our Heavenly Father is all powerful, His feelings are steady. He is unchangeable. The song “Great is Thy Faithfulness” sums it up all for me.
 
What an encouragement to live for Him no matter what our needs are. We can count on God’s faithfulness. We are hoping to have a great fall. Hope you enjoy the change of colors and glorify God’s blessings.
 
In Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker
 

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August 1, 2017

Pastor Shaker is one of the seventeen individuals giving their time and energies to minister to a small church in Jamaica so he was unable to write an article for the August newsletter. He gave me a few very beautiful devotionals written by FBC member, Joan Mifflin.
 
Joan has worked diligently as a spiritual leader at FBC (Sunday School teacher, Deacon, circle hostess, board member, prayer warrior, etc.) as well as for many years she was in the Pastoral Care Department at St. Joseph Memorial Hospital until she retired. Some of her devotionals have been published by leading daily devotional magazines. She has touched and changed many lives for God’s kingdom. We are truly blessed to have her as a part of our family of faith. I hope you enjoy this devotional as much as I did.
 
“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” -Matthew 8:17
 
Thought for Today: He Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sickness.
 
Have you heard the song, “I Believe in Miracles for I believe in God?” Do you believe in miracles: Are they only something that happened a long time ago? Not so. A miracle can happen to you anytime and often does. It is something so wonderful, so out of the ordinary, so unexplainable that you know it is surely an act of God. Many of us have walked through the fires of serious illnesses, death of a loved one, loss of fortunes, rejection from friends and family. Many have laid down, pulled the cover around our heads and prayed that God would take us home–get us out of pain that wracks our bodies and numbs our mind. Instead of giving into our cry of defeat, He gives a miracle of grace. Grace to keep going when we feel as if we can’t. He lifts us up, dusts us off and sets our feet on a straight path. Then it’s up to us to keep going.
 
Prayer: Praise you Father! Your love is so wonderful, it shows us that You care so much for your people. Help us to share this love with someone today who says they don’t believe, because we do believe and you are the miracle God.
 
Amen.

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July 1st, 2017

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37
 
Lately, I have been pondering the question “What does God think of me?” because as I read the scriptures, it is clear to me what God thought of me even before I was born. In Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” He says “I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.” In Psalm 17:8, I am the apple of His eye. In Deuteronomy 7:6, God tells me I’m His treasured possession. In Galatians 3:26, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,” He is saying I’m a child of God. In Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” I’m an incredible work of art. I can find all over the scriptures what God thinks of me. Paul in his letter to the Romans tells me “I’m more than conquerors.” I should be ecstatic about God’s opinion of me. But we seldom take His word.
 
We are troubled by what others around us think of us. I’m too thin, too fat, no one wants to be around me, or I don’t have this or that. Does it really matter what others think of me compared to what the creator God thinks of me?
 
You know most of us Christians know how the story ends. If you have forgotten, read Revelation which tells me we won. God is on the throne and I’m going to be sitting next to Him. My confidence and hope is in God. I know I’m God’s treasured possession.
 
When I first started pastoring, I didn’t feel like a pastor, and I didn’t look like one either. It took a few years to realize it didn’t matter whether I looked or felt like one, I was chosen by God to “serve” HIM.
 
So when I look into the mirror in the morning, I ask myself, what does God think of me? I’m assured I’m God’s treasured possession, I’m God’s child. How did I behave yesterday in my walk. Did I make Him proud, did I disappoint Him, how was my attitude toward others, my speech, my thought process, etc., because I did try to please in every way possible my earthly parents, peers and others.
 
I now have a poster in my office which says, “What Does God Think of Me?”, so I focus on it everyday. I will please my God, because I will spend eternity with Him and also share the joy of being with my heavenly father.
 
Finally, this is what I know!
  • I’m a citizen of heaven. (“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:20)
  • I’m God’s messenger to the world. (“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8)
  • I’m God’s disciple maker. (“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19)
  • I’m the light of the world. (“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14)
  • I’m Jesus’ friend. (“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15)
Hope you are having a wonderful summer. God’s blessings will be upon you.
 
Your’s in Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker

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