Fruit Cove Baptist Church


Pastor Tim's Blog

Joy in Giving

During a visit to Korea, two American businessmen were surprised to see a young farmer hitched to a plow that was guided by his father. Later they learned that both father and son were Christians who sold their only ox to provide money for a new church building. “What a stupendous sacrifice!” said one of the businessmen. “Not really,” replied a missionary accompanying them. “They were only sorry they had but one ox to give to the Lord’s work.”

As Americans we often give what we can afford to Kingdom work, but only infrequently (if at all) give a gift that costs us dearly. Jesus commended the widow who came and gave “all that she had to live on” to the offering at the temple. Others gave out of what they had and still had plenty. What we don’t see is the look, not of austerity and suffering, but of joy since “the Lord loves a cheerful giver.”

Those who cannot imagine smiling while giving a sacrificial gift have never given one.
There is a joyfulness in generosity that getting and keeping cannot match. But the only way to know that joy…

…is to give.

The Fog of Anxiety

For more than 70% of us in America, anxiety is a choice.  It is a trickle of thought that now has cut a channel in our brain and thought process, and every thought flows into it.  It takes some effort to extract ourselves, even if you are a Christian.  It fogs our thinking.  The moisture required to create enough fog to shut down a city block or, as we learned tragically last weekend, to crash a helicopter, consists of less than two teaspoons of water.  Philippians 4:6-7 were the most highlighted verses recorded in Bible apps in 2019.  They give us a formula for clearing the fog of anxiety from our lives.

“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which passes understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”      Philippians 4:6-7.

We must first REJOICE IN THE LORD.  We have to recalibrate how we find contentment, satisfaction, and even how we define happiness, and it begins here:  REJOICE IN THE LORD.  Rejoicing in the Lord presupposes that we KNOW Him.  Is that true for you?

The second thought is we must intentionally, even ruthlessly RELEASE OUR ANXIETY.  Some of us have a death grip on anxiousness.  And yet, it is a poisonous serpent that is killing US!  We just don’t know how to let it go.

Jesus addressed this very problem in Matthew 6… Jesus ends His approach by assuring us of this one thing:  God will provide the strength we need for ANYTHING life brings to us WHEN WE NEED IT but not before.  Like the Israelite’s gathering manna in the wilderness, they could only collect and keep enough for one day.  Then they had to depend on and TRUST IN the Lord to bring them their supply for the next day.  This is a principle that follows God’s dealing with people throughout the Bible.  Give us TODAY… THIS DAY… our daily bread.  It keeps our face turned toward God, and not our own strength to survive.

The third principle is this; we must make our REQUESTS KNOWN to God.  God wants us to pray!  He wants us to pray for everything… with THANKSGIVING.  “God I’m taking my child to the doctor today but I am making request to You to help the doctor find the right medicine or treatment.”  “God I have a meeting today with a prospective client… help me to have the right approach to gain their business.”  “Lord, I am lonely and need a husband or wife.  I am going on a date, but I’m asking You to lead me to know if this is a person You would want me to relate to.”  “God I’ve got a test today… lots of stuff on it I’m not sure I understand.”  Do you pray like that?  Is your prayer life vital, real, ongoing with God or is it just, “Oh by the way God, would you bless this or that?”  We are to “pray without ceasing.”  We are “in all things to give thanks and pray.”

And the fourth and final piece of the puzzle is to RENEW YOUR THINKING.  Let’s go back to a fundamental place:  Anxiety is a battle in our minds.  It’s about how we think, but also about what we think ABOUT.  Our thoughts sometimes make God much too small.  We make God smaller than He really is.  We make it seem as though God isn’t aware of our issues… or He isn’t smart enough to fix them… not strong enough to handle them… not big enough to know our future… not compassionate enough to care what we’re going through.  Yet Jesus said, “the very hairs of your head are numbered.”  How much time do you spend looking at yourself in the mirror fixing your hair?  Some of us don’t have to spend much.  But others do… a lot.  Yet as much time as you or your stylist spend looking at your hair, tell me how many hairs you have right now?

God cares about us… a lot!  The smallest details do not escape His notice.  He sees what you’re going through right now.  Can you trust the One Who knows you best… and loves you most?

Covetousness is Idolatry

Covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). The cure for covetousness is not tossing a few dollars in the offering each week. Like chopping down a tree, an idol has to be killed at the root. And one half-hearted swing of the axe doesn’t bring it down.

We need to make an intentional, deliberate, committed effort to kill the idol of materialism, and only faithful stewardship… giving rain or shine whether it’s convenient or not… will cure it.

I am more and more convinced that the only thing that will turn our hearts from hoarding and keeping our resources into hearts marked by generosity is a renewed vision of the cross of Christ.

“For you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Who, though He was (infinitely) rich, yet for your sake He became poor that we, through His poverty, might be made rich (eternally).” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Only the reminder that our salvation was purchased at a horrible price, that our sins were washed white as snow in the avalanche of His grace flowing down from the cross; only THAT will be the motivation we need to become faithful stewards.

Captured by such a defining vision, Isaac Watts wrote, “Love so amazing, so Divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” If we are holding back from faithfulness to God in this matter, it is simply an indication that our hearts have not been fully gripped by the depth of God’s love and sacrifice for us.

The answer… the remedy is not a guilt trip from a pastor. It is a Spirit-sent vision of the grace and mercy and love of God that flowed from Calvary. That’s what chokes the idol to death.

And that’s what turns us from idolaters into worshipers, and from worshipers into stewards as we gladly give “our soul, our life, our all” to Jesus!

Disciplining yourself for godliness

So as 2020 has begun and we have entered our first weeks of a brand new decade, I would imagine that many of us have already abandoned that first flush of determination to:

Lose weight
Stop a bad habit
Read more books and less internet
Exercise
Clean out a cluttered closet/garage/shed/back porch
Learn a new language

All are great ideas, and any would add value to your life. However, there are some habits that we can incorporate for the new year that will change things eternally!

Read the Bible. All of it.
Prioritize church attendance
Begin a daily time of personal worship
Share your faith with someone
Start giving generously
Live obediently

Resolutions and good intentions will carry you so far: normally a week or two. Then we’re back on the binging train, reading snippets on Twitter, sleeping in rather than working out, or piling more clutter in the garage!

But “disciplining (training) yourself for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7b ) requires something more than resolution and good intention. It requires time, a desire to live a life truly pleasing to the Lord, and a determination to be committed until it’s finished.

So will your new year, and new decade, begin by being marked by good intentions… or godly discipline. It’s your decision.

And it’s still not too late to begin!

Download the 12 Days of Chri

Happy New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

And so, 2019 is now in the history books. A new year is upon us and not only a new year, but a new DECADE has begun! I think one of the reasons we celebrate New Years so vigorously is that something about it promises hope. Hope that the old truly has passed away. Hope that the dawning of 2020 will bring good things, and not heartache and hardship.

However, if we are placing our hope in a calendar change to wipe away the pain, bad decisions, and guilt of the past, we are grasping at a straw. And if our hope of a better year ahead is rooted in our own strength to keep promises and resolutions, well just rehearse last year’s good intentions and resolutions for a moment.

There is a way to have “old things” pass away, and to truly have ALL things made new. That way is to place our hope, not in our own efforts to do better and be better, but in placing our hope and trust in the One Who can truly make things new again.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we read, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things pass away and all things become new.” God is all about new beginnings and second chances. Our past can truly be in the past, forgiven and buried in forgetfulness. Our future can be securely rooted in a hope that will not let us down.

Start your New Year and your new decade in a way that truly brings transformation; through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, whose coming to earth we celebrated just over a week ago. He alone can bring the hope you need.

And if you ask, He will do it! You can start again when you pray the following prayer by faith:

Heavenly Father, I know my life has been destroyed by my own sin. I ask You to pardon and forgive my sins against You and against others. Please put my sin and selfishness behind me. I turn from it and turn to You by faith. Grant me new life and a new beginning as I trust in the sacrifice of Your Son Jesus on the cross. I believe He alone is my hope. Help me to walk with Him into 2020. In the name of Jesus I pray.

Amen.

“Do not despise the day of small beginnings.”

When you think about the way our culture celebrates the birth of a royal infant, who will do little more in life than fill a figurative or symbolic role, it makes the circumstances of the birth of Jesus seem even more stark to us. The paparazzi cover our magazines and web pages with pictures of the expectant princess-Mom, and we get giggly over the possibility of the name of the baby.

And yet, when you think about it, no baby’s birth in human history still has the power to snarl traffic in New York City, Washington DC, Tokyo, San Paulo in Brazil and London as does the birth of Jesus. While the world of His day on earth slept through His advent to us, it is wide awake today; even those who claim no belief in Jesus whatsoever. We cannot ignore the matchless name of Jesus.

But it just reminds us again that God loves to show up in small things; in the things ignored or despised by people; in the marginalized people; in the downtrodden. And He loves to do great things in places nobody has really thought about… places like Bethlehem. The Old Testament prophet Zechariah said, “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.” And at Christmas we remember that the greatest came from the least of people and the smallest of places.

“Do not despise the day of small beginnings.”

“And you, Bethlehem, Ephratha, though you are least among the people of Judah, from you will come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2

Merry Christmas 2019

“When the time was right, God sent forth His Son….”
(Galatians 4:4)

Christmas Day is here. The waiting. The anticipation. The preparation. The season of Advent we have been through the past weeks is a period designed for waiting. Not our favorite thing to do, I’ll grant you. But as the people of Israel awaited the first advent (coming) of a Messiah Who would deliver those who were “walking in darkness…” so the church now awaits the second Advent of our Savior.

Christmas is, according to one author, a “delightful disruption” of our ordinary life.
Certainly that is true. We are disrupted by trips to the mall, battles in traffic, visits from relatives, and extra meals to prepare. There are work disruptions, and unless you work in retail, December is one of the least productive months of the year for many corporations (well, unless you’re Amazon)!

Obviously this “disruption” did not begin with us. The first Christmas was anything but quiet. It brought anxiety, fear, and unanticipated problems of travel and lodging for Joseph and Mary. Hardly the “Silent Night” we sometimes sing about!

A few years back, we were visiting in Istanbul Turkey and meeting with some missionaries who serve there, and some Iranian pastors who were literally smuggled out of their country to meet with us. One evening as we headed back to a very comfortable hotel, we walked past a family of four…Dad, Mom, and two small children, sleeping while propped up and leaning against the hotel wall and covered with a thin blanket.

They were refugees from Syria. The dogs and cats of Istanbul were treated more humanely than these people. When we saw their plight, several of us went in to the hotel and emptied our store of traveling food and some clothing to give the family.

I can’t help but think about Mary and Joseph appearing the same way to the people of Bethlehem. Without relatives to house them, they were forced to seek lodging from the sole travelers inn, which had no room available to house them. They were forced to seek refuge and a modicum of privacy in a stable meant for animals. It was there our Savior entered the world.
“How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given.” Christmas began as a “holy disruption” of a young couple’s life, and a total disruption of their life plan. I think the pattern of disruption is still followed today.

Your Christmas this year may be disrupted by relatives who are coming or by those who can’t. We are disrupted by socials, shopping, and more shopping. The inconvenience of this “delightful disruption” may not seem “delightful” to you. But in reality, it was God’s plan all along that every person’s “ordinary” existence be disrupted by His Son.

I hope the distractions and disruptions of these days does not turn to frustration for you. It can. But please don’t miss the reminder in Christmas that God came to ‘delightfully disrupt” every human life.

Have you allowed Him to disrupt yours?

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Do not despise the day of small beginnings.

When you think about the way our culture celebrates the birth of a royal infant, who will do little more in life than fill a figurative or symbolic role, it makes the circumstances of the birth of Jesus seem even more stark to us. The paparazzi cover our magazines and web pages with pictures of the expectant princess-Mom, and we get giggly over the possibility of the name of the baby.

And yet, when you think about it, no baby’s birth in human history still has the power to snarl traffic in New York City, Washington DC, Tokyo, San Paulo in Brazil and London as does the birth of Jesus. While the world of His day on earth slept through His advent to us, it is wide awake today; even those who claim no belief in Jesus whatsoever. We cannot ignore the matchless name of Jesus.

But it just reminds us again that God loves to show up in small things; in the things ignored or despised by people; in the marginalized people; in the downtrodden. And He loves to do great things in places nobody has really thought about… places like Bethlehem. The Old Testament prophet Zechariah said, “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.” And at Christmas we remember that the greatest came from the least of people and the smallest of places.

“Do not despise the day of small beginnings.”


“And you, Bethlehem, Ephratha, though you are least among the people of Judah, from you will come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2

Veiled in Flesh Appearing

Alistair Begg wrote about pro-golf caddy Andrew Martinez. Caddies play an important, though largely unseen role in the world of golf. As a person, Martinez is a great family man, and a great golfer in his own right. He is also a phenomenal backgammon player. He is sought after for his advice to the professional golfers on the tour.

But when it’s time for the game to begin, Andrew disappears into a dressing room and emerges in overalls that designate him as the man to carries the clubs. A servant. Nothing of who Andrew is as a person ceases to exist; he simply now occupies a different role.

When Jesus came to earth, He also “put on” flesh. “Veiled in flesh the godhead see, Hail th’ incarnate Deity, born as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel.”

But the flesh that Jesus donned was not a temporary “coverall.” He was made like us. And yet, He never ceased being the essence of Who He was in eternity past.

It’s a mystery. And yet, Jesus the “God-man” emptied Himself, and “put on” flesh and still today dwells in that same flesh-blood-and-bone body that walked the dusty streets of Nazareth and Galilee. It’s a mystery that will take an eternity to understand and to celebrate.

But we can begin the celebration here and now.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas and Family

Christmas is a word, in our culture at least, that is synonymous with family. You will find very few Christmas carols sung this time of year that don’t deal with getting with family around the Christmas tree, seeing family together for a meal, enjoying the festivities of Christmas together, coming home after being gone a long time, etc. etc.

You know what I’m talking about: The subject of EVERY Hallmark movie ever made!

But family can also be stressful at Christmas. The celebrations can push us into close proximity with family members that may be estranged. Every family has a crazy uncle or aunt who always manage to say just the WRONG thing to make everything more tense and awkward.

And Christmas can… and does… push families apart sometimes. The business and distractions of the holidays, meals to shop and prepare for, decorations to untangle, parties to attend, one more gift we have to buy. And family can take the brunt of that stress, pressing us almost to the breaking point.

The Christmas season, at least from a Christian perspective, is a time to wait… not rush. Advent allows us to treasure time together, waiting again for the coming of the Savior. Stress does not have to rule your home this Christmas. Break the family cycle; be an outlier. Refuse to allow it!
We want to make a resource available to you to help you use Christmas for its original intent: to draw your family together. To intentionally focus on the significance of Christ’s coming. To rejoice in Emmanuel’s birth. The resource is available as you leave today in the Pavilion and online at our website. It is a resource that will help bring back the meaning of Christmas to each member of your family. The devotional book titled, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” has contributions made by several members of our staff team. You’ll want to have your own copy and maybe share one with others!

Let’s come back to the stillness of the manger again this year. There, rather than the stress and business we will find joy and peace that will truly bless your family and home this year!

Merry Christmas!

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