April 1st, 2019

“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
-1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

How does Jesus look at a Church? Paul in 1 Thessalonians gives us a pattern for a church.
 
A church is a place where people know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Our objective is to find people who are in need of the love and reconciliation through the saving blood of Jesus and share our experiences.
 
God wants a surrendered church, committed people. Thessalonians were not people who talked about it, but they were imitators. They did not just talk about their Christian experience, they lived it. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” In Ephesians once again Paul says, “Follow God’s example.”
 
The church was committed to one thing “Christ-likeness.” They were committed to being like Jesus, not to another individual with shortcomings.
 
A. W. Tozer said, “If you have a hundred pianos you want to tune and you start tuning one to the other, what a mess. But if you have a tuning fork, tune all the pianos to that one tuning fork, and they’ll automatically be tuned to each other.”
Paul says the Thessalonians’ church didn’t have it easy because Satan was not too pleased so he brought dissension. When a church that is saved and surrenders to imitating Christ, it is going to antagonize the world. There is going to be suffering but it will have the Holy Spirit to help it through its suffering.
 
The Thessalonian church was also a soul winning church–Thessalonians 1:6-8, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it.” Paul says because of your actions, people are talking about you everywhere I go. What a testimony for a church.
 
Heine, the German philosopher, once said, “You show me your redeemed life, and I might believe in your redeemer.”
 
The world saw such exemplary lives and dramatic transformation in their character, the world could not believe it. It created a platform for the church to go proclaim the power of God’s word.
 
The Thessalonian church was a saved, surrendered, suffering, soul winning church but they did not stop there. They also talked about the second coming of Christ. The Lord wants us to remind the world that He is coming again. But this time as a King and Judge of the world.
 
How does Jesus look at our church? A saved, surrendered, suffering, soul winning and looking forward to HIS second coming or otherwise? It is something to think about.
 
My desire is to be like the Thessalonian church, vibrant, enthusiastic, joy overflowing and others looking at us and saying we can see Jesus in full glory. “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” 2 Peter 3:14.
 
Have a wonderful spring, enjoy all the blessings God has given us and be grateful for His mercy.
 
God bless,
Pastor Shaker

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March 1st, 2019

We take great pleasure and feel blessed that Jake Hahnemann has taken the position of Family Pastor here at First Baptist.  He will begin his ministry on March 1st.

Jake grew up in Wisconsin where in the third grade he received his first Bible and that is when he had first thoughts of becoming a pastor.

After high school, Jake attended Greenville University where he studied music and
in 2014 received a Bachelors of Science in Worship Arts.  It is also where he met Hannah, his wife. 

Jake has experienced, coordinated, and used his leadership skills in ministries such as worship, music, small groups, youth, community outreach, discipleship, and counseling.  He loves music–plays the guitar, bass, drums, piano, trombone and enjoys writing and recording his own music. His favorite worship album is Shane and Shane: Psalms 2. 

He is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Biblical Counseling at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Hannah and Jake will soon be married 5 years and earlier in their marriage, they traveled around the country in a camper with a ministry doing outreach to carnival workers.  Hannah’s family lives in Anna, Illinois.  They have two beautiful children, Emma, almost 3 years old and James 3 months old.

Right now Jake’s favorite Bible verse is 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”

We welcome the Hahnemann family to the FBC Family of Faith.  Please pray for them as they move and transition to Murphysboro.

I love the church. She is Christ’s bride and the key to cultural transformation. In that sense, every church is great. But let’s be honest, there are a ton of churches that leave much to be desired when it comes to truly making a difference in their congregations and communities. So, when you plug into a church that is getting it done, it’s a true blessing.
 
Of course there are no perfect churches, but there are many that are pressing toward the high water mark we see in Scripture.
Here are 10 signs you may be going to a great local church :

1.  It is led by a team of godly leaders not a Lone Ranger pastor who gathers Tonto-type leaders around him to say “Yes, Kemo Sabe” to his each and every idea (Titus 1:5 -9 ) .

2.  The Gospel is central to every sermon, program and meeting (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4).

3.  People are using their spiritual gifts not just watching the “stage team” exercise theirs (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

4.  It, like the early church, is integrated, fully representing the demographic of the community in which it resides (Ephesians 2:11-21 ). By the way, my buddy Derwin Gray has a lot of great material (blogs, sermons, etc.) on this particular point.

5.  Love, demonstrating itself in friendliness, generosity, internal/external care programs and community involvement, dominates the atmosphere ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 ).

6.  Most likely there is a thriving small group program where members truly can have great biblical conversations, share struggles and pray with/for each other (James 5:16).

7.  The people are being inspired and equipped to share their faith.

8.  The teaching/preaching is biblical, theological and immensely practical (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 4 :1-4).

9.  Ministry to children and teenagers are top priorities, not afterthoughts (Titus 2: 1-8) .

10.  Intercessory prayer fuels everything. It’s the engine, not the caboose, of how the church rolls from top to bottom (1 Timothy 2:1-8).

These are 10 signs you may be going to a great church.  What are some other signs?


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February 1st, 2019

”I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Psalms 139:14
 
This Psalm written by David is so special because it brings us a confidence which we lack sometimes–we second guess ourselves about our self worth. The Psalmist brings out that we are God’s very special people.
 
Let us visualize David sitting on a hillside watching his father’s sheep and having nothing to do but think. His thoughts are turning toward God. He is aware that God knows so much about him. We know Jesus says in Matthew 10:30-31, “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” We need not fear, He even knows the number of hairs on our heads.
 
David is reminiscing about when he was fearfully and wonderfully made, God cared for him enough to “knit him” together in a marvelous and awe-inspiring way. This led him to realize and believe that God cared so much that HE would always be there for him.
 
Psalms 13:7-10 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” God would be there for him wherever he was, and God’s love for him gave him value and purpose. There are people who believe that we are a complex collection of chemical interactions; some even think that God does not exist.
 
David, as he watched the sheep, is feeling the breeze blow over his body, looks at his hands and feet, he can feel his heart beat and watches how his chest rises and falls with each breath. He knows it is not an accident, but designed by God himself.
 
We are created by God for something more than selfishness and seeking pleasure. We are made to do great things.
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,” it says we are God’s workmanship and are created to do good works.
 
David was thinking positively about himself. He had confidence and courage not based on his personal abilities and potential, but upon God’s power and grace.
 
David was a man who faced giants and led his men against the enemies of Israel. His confidence was based entirely on the realization that he was created in the image of God and was special to Him.
 
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me” Psalms 139:1-5. David knew God valued him and gave him a purpose.
 
This Psalms 139 was a love song for David. He was declaring his undying love for God. He expresses his adoration of God. He twice asked God to examine his heart to make sure it was clean and acceptable. Nothing in David’s life mattered to him nearly as much as God. He was in love with God. The Bible tells us that David was “a man after God’s own heart.”
 
This is where we want to get in our relationship with God. It’s when we truly realize how much God cares for us that our lives take on new meaning and purpose.
 
This is good news to us who know and love God because no matter what we do or where we go we can never be far from God. Paul says in Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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.”
 
I encourage you today to be yourself, be who God has designed and created you to be, and stop searching for approval from others. God has created you exceptionally and uniquely for a reason and when you do that you will experience God’s overwhelming peace and joy.
 
Have a blast–God knows you and loves you like no one else can.
 
God Bless.
 
In Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker

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January 1st, 2019

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:4-8
 
Paul, what are you talking about? Being anxious is what I do most of the time. What if it is the norm? You seem to start with a saying “Rejoice in the Lord and finish with Rejoice always” (it is a hard thing to do). These are the thoughts that are going through my mind as I read these words in Philippians.
 
Paul was sitting in a cell with no windows and maybe would receive one meal a day. But his attitude was amazing. He knew his days were numbered but wanted his church to know life is to be enjoyed in all circumstances. Paul’s attitude teaches us an important lesson: our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances. Paul knew that no matter what happened to him, Jesus Christ was with him. Paul had his joy and inner peace in Christ. He wanted his church to know it is easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously.
 
Imagine never being “anxious about anything.” It seems like an impossibility. We all have worries on the job, in our homes, at school, etc. Paul’s advice is to turn our worries into prayers. If you want to worry less, pray more. When you start to worry, stop and pray. We need to accept that we are not in control. God is. Let God’s peace guard our hearts against anxiety.
 
Paul would like us to program our minds and thoughts that are true, noble, light, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praise worthy. Replace harmful input with wholesome materials. Ask God to help you focus your mind on what is good and pure. Paul’s writing from a prison cell is a great example. He could be complaining, whining and thinking of all the discomfort but instead he says rejoice again, rejoice. Just as Jesus gave these words in Luke 21:34, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.” If we are not careful our hearts will be weighed down with anxieties of life.
 
a) Let us Celebrate God’s goodness. Rejoice in the Lord always. (vs. 4)
b) Ask God for help. “Let your request be made known to God” (vs. 6)
c) Leave your concerns with him with thanksgiving.
d) Meditate on good things. Think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. (vs. 8)
 
C A L M
(Taken from Max Lucado’s book, Anxious For Nothing.)
 
“It is not God’s will that you lead a life of perpetual anxiety. It is not his will that you face every day with dread and trepidation. He made you for more than a life of breath-stealing angst and mind-splitting worry. He has a new chapter for your life. And he is ready to write it.”
 
We have an amazing year ahead of us because Jeremiah 29:11-13 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” When we seek God, his plans will prosper. We need to make that commitment intentional.
 
Have a wonderful New Year.
God bless,
Pastor Shaker

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December 1st, 2018

“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.” John 3:16
 
As Christmas approaches I have been thinking of how it was when I was a young boy. It was a time when our family came from far and near. It was a time to be with my cousins and nephews whom I had not seen for a year. It was a time to be with my aunts and uncles, help grandma make cookies and grandpa would sit and tell us stories. It was a good time to reflect back on God’s blessings and also sad to remember the people who were not with us. It was a time to remember the past family gatherings. I do miss those times as I have grown older but still have a family to celebrate. At Christmas, I do wish that all of us could get back together. I know one day we will because of Jesus.
 
As I was pondering how Christmas got started in history, I came across some interesting information that I would like to share with you.
 
Christmas was not celebrated till after biblical times. The early Christians of the New Testament church celebrated the resurrection (Easter) but not the birth of Jesus Christ. In fact Christmas was not given any kind of official recognition by the church until the middle of the 5th century.
 
The reason for this was so many Christmas customs seen to have roots in paganism. They were resistant to some of the rituals of the holiday. The puritans in early American rejected Christmas celebrations altogether. They even deliberately worked on Christmas day to make a point. There was a law passed in England in 1644 that Christmas day was an official working day.
 
In America on Christmas Eve 1822 Clement Clarke Moore, a minister with children on his mind, shared a poem titled: “Visit from St. Nicholas.” It was about Santa Claus and is now known as “the Night Before Christmas.” Thus the door was opened for the holiday. In 1834 Charles Dickens published “A Christmas Carol,” a story about charity, hope, love and family. The story made people take a second look at their values.
 
Now we are moving to more commercialism than the heart of what Christmas ought to be. We need to ask the question as Christians, how do we observe Christmas? Do we do this for the Lord or for our self-gratification? Do we even think about why and how we celebrate it? Christmas should be an opportunity to exalt Jesus Christ.
 
Christmas is after all about giving. We are celebrating the greatest gift ever given–God’s Son. God’s gift was first of all a gift of love to an unworthy world. He gave not because He had to, but because He loves us. Our love should reflect that. We need to keep our perspective especially in the minds of our children. It can be one of the most blessed and enjoyable aspect of Christmas.
 
Christmas has become too commercial and materialistic. Every year Christmas buying gets worse. Some of the gifts are not practical. It just sits there after the holidays collecting dust. Our society is literally filled with the unnecessary, the insignificant and the meaningless. Some gifts are just obligatory.
 
This Christmas let us focus more on who Jesus is, why He came, what He did, and is coming back to take us with Him. Going back to where I started, let us bring back the old time celebration of being together with family and friends and remembering God’s goodness and blessings.
 
The Samuel family will spend this Christmas with the church family.

Hope you have a blessed Christmas!

In Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker


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November 1st, 2018

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” -Philippians 4:6
 
Thanksgiving time is slowly approaching. Many of us are preparing our homes in anticipation of friends and family coming. Some of us are cleaning and may do some baking in advance. Others are thinking about how big a turkey they will need to feed everyone or perhaps just want to relax and watch football all day. Whatever the case may be, you are making plans for Thanksgiving.
 
In all our planning we need to allow time for God. It is God who allows us all the blessings and gifts bestowed on us.
 
As I look back, we did not have a special celebration for Thanksgiving in India. I’m so grateful we do in the United States of America. It is an exclusively American Christian holiday that everyone celebrates.
 
First of all, we need to thank God for our gift of salvation. We should have praise on our lips. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” Hebrews 13:15.
 
Secondly, Psalm 30:4 reads, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” We need to set aside a time to think of God’s attributes and His Holy Spirit living within us.
 
Thirdly, we need to thank God for His inspired word, and the truth it teaches us about Him, His son, and His plan for our salvation (2 Timothy 3:16).
 
The blessings of knowing and growing in God’s truth should be a source of unending thankfulness.
Fourthly, we can rejoice that God does not merely save us, but through His spirit and His scriptures, He refines and sharpens us to serve Him. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
 
As we turn on the evening news, it seems like the world is gripped by chaos, moral, social and economic problems that dominate, but solutions are scarce. But, thank God we have an eternal and compassionate God we can depend on.
 
We also need to thank God for the churches that have stayed the course in proclaiming God’s truth in spite of pressures and many other struggles.
 
As we sit around our turkey/ham dinner surrounded by family, let us not forget His blessings. Maybe each of us can share and count our many blessings with each other in God’s presence.
 
Let me encourage you not to allow this Thanksgiving to come and go without taking inventory of our blessings, giving gratitude is not something that should pass from our minds with the passing of the season. It’s an attitude of a God focused response to circumstances that should continue each moment, of each day, of each year.
 
The Samuel family is thankful for all the many things which have transpired and are grateful to the church family as well.
 
Have a blessed Thanksgiving.
 
In Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker

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October 1st, 2018

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. – Colossians 1:27
 
In this letter to the church of Colossi, Paul writes in spite of his suffering, he is rejoicing because there is hope. Hope and love are things everyone needs. Hope gives direction.
 
Our hope is Jesus Christ. Without Him we would not have hope for anything beyond this life. The above verse tells us Christ is in us, knowing that brings us hope. As we look at our lives we get discouraged and loose hope. We know He loves us, He is in us and there is no need to despair.
 
Since Jesus is our source of hope, this verse tells us that the Holy Spirit’s power can bring joy. People everywhere  are looking for happiness, wealth, good times and fame. But we know peace and joy can come from within us because of the Holy Spirit living in us. Those who do not know or have Jesus as their strength do not have that hope.
 
The worldly material, power, and fame does not give us hope as Jesus does. Those things only bring disappointments and heartache. The Psalmist say in Psalms 42:5, put your hope in God; Psalms 62:5 says, “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” again we read hope comes from God.
 
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.“ It says God plans to give you hope and a future.
 
Hope is given to us by God. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:3-4) 
 
God in His mercy set hope before us. It becomes our anchor in times of despair as you look forward to the inheritance before us in eternity.
 
Throughout the Bible we see great saints like Moses, David and others were successful because of their faith.
 
When we display our lives before others, our hope touches them and helps them to see who our God is. Our hope builds others and brings joy and happiness. we become the conduit of God’s love to others.
 
In Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” We are told we will be rewarded for what we have done throughout our lives.
 
HOPE GIVES US DIRECTION.
 
God bless. Have a beautiful fall, enjoy the colors and the gentle breezes as we look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
 
In Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker

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September 1st, 2018

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” -John 1:1-5
 
As a young man when I first read this passage I did not understand clearly what John was writing. Most people said to me I need to read the Gospel of John so I could see God’s love for me. It took me years to understand these verses. Now I feel, how could I have been so clueless.
 
God was, God is and God will be. There is no beginning to God and there is no end to God. Our infinite mind cannot comprehend it. We need to accept it. But our world always wants everything explainable. If God is explainable by man, I do not need him. I would rather have a God who is so big and capable that He could carry me through my struggles and problems which seem to come out of nowhere. I would love having a God who says rest in me, I will take care of you, trust me things will fall into place.
 
Scripture says that the number of God’s years is unsearchable. In Job 36:26, “How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.“ We will never know the first time God was God. He is eternal. God was never bound by time as we perceive it. That’s why God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to our world in human form. Jesus followed God’s instructions in the physical world and showed us that God can be trusted and He had a plan. God’s plan for Jesus was to go through all the things you and I go through, pain, suffering, disappointments, betrayal, loss of loved ones and more. Jesus was emotional; He cried, got angry, He was compassionate. He loved and He was patient and more. That’s why He could say I have overcome the world and you can too.
 
David in Psalms 139:7-10, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” says it doesn’t matter where we are, He still can guide us.
 
To show us humans that we must not despair–Jesus entered and became man, imprisoned in flesh and restricted himself to help us see it is possible. God in Jesus went from needing nothing to needing air to breath, food to eat, shoes to walk. Oh what a transformation because we need Him. He was willing to set aside being God and humbled himself to be a man. God gave up his heaven’s crown for a crown of thorns.
 
The following scriptures tell us what He did: “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.” John 3:16
 
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
 
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
 
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
 
And these following scriptures helps us understand He is aware of our humanness:
 
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
 
Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.” Isaiah 49:13
 
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15
 
Jesus wept.” John 11:35
 
Now I hope we can all begin to understand John 1:1-5. We have an awesome God. We don’t have to feel abandoned. He is always near.
 
You know HE IS COMING BACK to take us to HEAVEN where He lives. I’m looking forward to it. Hope you are too.
 
God bless. Have a blessed fall with the beautiful colors in the trees and gentle breezes on your backs.
 
In Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker

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August 1st, 2018

“A psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” -Psalm 23
 
We live in an ever changing world. It seems everything changes constantly. But we need something or someone who does not change. That is God. We need someone who can be trusted, depended on, and to put our faith in–one who is that stronghold, who is our shepherd, the one who is constant, the one who gave us His own son to show us that His love was willing to sacrifice all.
 
Our God is mighty but at the same time very gentle and tender. David in Psalm 23 starts saying the Lord is his shepherd, he does not need anything else.
 
Do you think you and I could say the same with what we have, a home, a family, friends, our health–none of that is ours, everything belongs to God. Jesus said in Luke 12:15, life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.
 
In the Old Testament we read in 1 Samuel 16:7, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” God looks at the heart. He wants to see if we have compassion, are we devoted to Him, how do we interact with our fellow humans, and do we show His tenderness. He does not think of our material possessions or appearance.
 
As David says if the Lord is his shepherd he has no more wants. He seems to be very content. Are we as content as he is? We need to be.
 
Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:6-9, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” Being content is a gain and seeking to have more only brings ruin and destruction. What do we gain by contentment? You gain peace, precious time with family, self respect and you also gain the joy of intimately knowing the creator. When we rest in God, He leads us to green pastures, which are pleasant. It makes us slow down and enjoy what we have and brings rest to our body and soul. We can actually relax.
 
Most of us yearn to be in a place without worry. God says, I will give it to you. We need to trust Him and allow Him. David says in verse 6, “Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.” God’s blessings will chase us. What an imagery. We just need to stop, enjoy it and stay with God in HIS house.
 
The summer is winding down, let’s rest in Jesus.
 
God bless,
Shaker

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July 1st, 2018

“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.”  -Lamentations 3:22-23
 
As we read these verses it bring us hope because we are not alone, God loves and He is compassionate. Jeremiah is writing this poem from his own experience. He watched what was happening around him in Israel/Judah. The people did not care and lived lives contrary to what God wanted them to be. He was broken by his concern for his people, his love for his country and his love for God. He was weeping because the people were rejecting God. His heart was broken with the things that break God’s heart.
 
Divine compassion has human implications because God is compassionate. He expects His people to be the same. The mercy God extends to us sinners was by providing Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. This should motivate us to be compassionate to others.
 
Compassion is the inward urging to reach out in love to those around us who are in need, to have pity, and mercy.
Our world is filled with injustice, poverty, war, rebellion against God, all of this should move us to tears and cause us to take action. Where as we are more selfish, proud and care less for what is happening around us.
 
Every time Jesus was moved with compassion He did something special–He healed, touched and got involved. Showing compassion to the weak and needy is the duty of every Christian. In Luke 14:12-14, “Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Jesus says, invite people who have no capacity to pay back, not friends or cater to people who we know and will invite us back. If we want to show God’s compassion of love, we need to reach out to ones who are going through tough times emotionally, physically and financially, etc. True Christ like generosity means showing kindness that can never be repaid. It should be in a practical manner, personal involvement, in family context and community around us. Jeremiah in his time got involved. When we do nothing it is indifference, lack of concern and selfishness.
 
Jeremiah says, “The Lord’s loving kindness and faithfulness never fails. They are new every morning.”
 
How do we develop a compassionate heart toward others? It is through times of intimacy with God. The scriptures are filled with examples of Jesus spending time alone with His father. It was His source of power to accomplish His calling. When we tap into the Holy Spirit through our intimacy with God our hearts become tender and compassionate toward hurting people. John McArther says, “The church was not established as a country club or a fraternity house for fit, cool and stylish people. It is a fellowship of those who recognize their own fallenness and utter helplessness, who have laid hold of Christ for salvation and whose main business on earth is showing other needy sinners the way of salvation.”
 
Jeremiah pleaded with his people and wrote God’s compassion never fails and His mercy is new every morning.
Let us ask ourselves how can I be like Jesus to the world which is hurting.

God Bless,
Pastor Shaker


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