PASTOR’S BLOG

 
BE BLESSED BY GOD’S WORD THROUGHOUT THE WEEK

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

Read more...

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.

Read more...

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

Read more...

June 1st, 2017

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding.” – Ephesians 1:7-8
 
As I was walking towards the Garden of Gethsemane I saw a man begging and asking for alms. It has since imprinted in my mind. I have been pondering why? The land where my Savior came should have beggars, people who are still blind to the grace which is available to all.
 
Grace is God’s voluntary and loving favors given to those He saves. We cannot earn salvation nor do we deserve it. Without God’s grace, no one can be saved. Many of us use the word grace without realizing it is greater than we imagine.
 
Grace is not often found in human nature. People do not give something for nothing, people often expect payment for everything they offer.
 
A. W. Tozen says, “Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefits on the undeserving..”
 
E. Stanley Jones, a missionary, once said, “Grace is free, but when once you take it you are bound forever to the giver.”
 
Max Lucado in his book Grace says, “The meaning of life. The wasted years of life. The poor choices of life. God answers the mess of life with one word GRACE.”
 
Do we understand grace? We sing “Amazing Grace”, preachers and teachers explain it. Have we been changed by grace, shaped by grace, emboldened by grace, softened by grace?
 
Look at the thief on the cross next to Jesus Christ. He had done nothing to merit divine grace, on the other hand right up to the very end he was cursing, taunting and mocking Jesus, even though he himself faced certain death and judgement. But you see the grace that was given to this thief was most assuredly a divine gift granted to him freely.
 
When grace happens, we receive a new heart. He returns a favor. “ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.” (Ezekiel 36:26) Grace is everything Jesus. To be saved by grace is not an idea, church membership or doctrine. Grace brings us into His presence. It is incredible, awesome–the words cannot describe.
 
“Grace is God loving, God stooping, God coming to the rescue, God giving himself generously in and through Jesus Christ.” -John Stott.
 
Hebrews 10:22 says, “Let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, because we have been made free from a guilty conscience.”
 
Author, Stephen Brown, notes that a veterinarian can learn a lot about a dog owner he has never met first by observing the dog. What does the world learn about God by watching us His followers on earth?
 
We better be aware of who we are representing because of grace given to us, so undeserving.
 
Going back to the beggar, I was that man, it was the grace of God, now I am a child of God. I want to close with the Apostle Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
 
Have a blessed summer. Enjoy what God has given us and thank Him for all His blessings.
 
Yours in Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker

Read more...

May 1st, 2017

 

“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” -John 3:16-17
 
As a young child I remember singing “Jesus loves me this I know.” This song has always been with me throughout my life. Throughout my life I have been blessed by His love toward me through tough times and good times.
Recently, our church gave us the privilege of visiting the Holy Land. While we were there, we visited several places Jesus travelled, met with people, did miracles, ultimately was crucified and arose to sit at the right hand of God. During the visit, I really understood my childhood song “Jesus Loves Me.”
Jesus left everything to come to earth. Not only that, the land He came to was not anything like the beautiful hills and mountains of our country or the never ending streams and landscapes either. It is a place which is dry and drab. There were no roads or conveniences but falling rocks and occasional rainfall. We did not see the acres and acres of trees and flowering bushes we see here. The guide shared that they didn’t receive sufficient rainfall on a regular basis to grow enough crops to feed their people. Everything had to be imported. I can go on and on but Jesus did come because He loved me. He came to a family where they did not have much. He wanted to identify with people like me. He had to work as a carpenter’s helper. He understood day to day living. Jesus interacted with people who were fisherman, the unwanted lepers, blind and crippled, also with people who were in authority, rich and well to do. He understood life in many aspects. He was with the people at weddings, at funerals, at the synagogs. He also served at the campfires and sat with people of means. Jesus understood despair, needs, suffering, shame and not being wanted and being abused. Why? Because “Jesus loves me.” The visit to Israel made me realize to what lengths Jesus went to get me back to Him and tremendous sacrifices He made, accepted humiliation and pain for me. So don’t let me take it for granted–all the blessings I receive each and every day.
I must also recognize His dedication to spending time with His father, being obedient to His father, following through the commitment He made to die on the cross at calvary. Why? Because “Jesus loves me.”
As a visitor to Israel, I realized fully why the disciples were so dedicated, even to die for Him. Others like Paul, Timothy, Jude and Barnabas were willing to spread the gospel wherever they traveled and paid the price.
My hope is let me not call myself a Christian to have a comfortable life, a blessed life and forget what Jesus did for me. The least I could do is to follow His footsteps of servant hood, obedience and commitment to proclaim His message through my life.
 
Lead Me to Calvary
“King of my life, I crown Thee now Thine shall the glory be lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow Lead me to calvary. Lest I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget Thine agony, lest I forget Thy love for me, lead me to calvary. May I be willing, Lord, to bear daily my cross for Thee even Thy cup of grief to share Thou hast borne all for me. Lest I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget Thine agony, lest I forget Thy love for me lead me to calvary.” Now I know fully how much “Jesus loves me.”
 
In Christ’s steps,
Shaker

Read more...