Fruit Cove Baptist Church

Pastor Tim's Blog

Money Matters

Well, of course it does.  What an obvious title for this column.  It matters a great deal in fact.  Without it, we can’t buy food or medicine or clothing or pay our mortgage or rent or utility bills.  Of course it matters.

But for some, it matters far too much.  It is something that supplies us with more than life’s necessities.  It provides us with security and with status and with self-worth.

There is a balance we must strike in our relationship to money.  If we are irresponsible and place too little emphasis on it, we may find ourselves homeless and on the street.

But if we place too much emphasis on it, we find ourselves in the position of worshiping money as an idol.  Those are extremes, I’ll grant you.  But they are both real dangers that some face.

Our money matters.  It matters on earth, of course.  But did you know that your money also matters… in eternity?   Our ability to be generous with what God entrusts to us to manage (“stewardship”) makes an eternal difference.

Author Randy Alcorn wrote,

Giving is a giant lever positioned on the fulcrum of this world, allowing us to move mountains in the next world.  Because we give, eternity will be different—for others as well as for us.

I don’t know what that statement does to you, but it is exciting to me to think that I hold in my hand that which could leverage eternity for someone.  May God help us to always be ready to see the resources He entrusts us with on earth leveraged for eternal use!

Money does matter.


Introduction to the Gospel of John Part 1

Who was the Author?

Without getting into the deep weeds of the debate, let me just say that there has been quite a bit of disagreement about exactly which “John” was the writer of this Gospel.

  • John the son of Zebedee (brother of James)
  • John the Elder
  • Disciples of John the Apostle wrote down the things he said

Only self-reference to author is “the disciple whom Jesus loved” or “the beloved disciple.”

Many of the eye-witness accounts are first-hand, inner circle kinds of reports

While it is safe for us to say that the beloved disciple was John son of Zebedee, other Biblical authorities make a case for this being a different John.  But there is ample references to make us fairly confident that John was one of the “sons of thunder,” the sons of Zebedee though other sources indicate it could have been a “John” who was not an apostle but who also followed Jesus and later became a church leader named “John the Elder.”

Why was John Written?

  • Gnosticism growing in influence: Pushing back against false theology
  • Provide a more non-Jewish theological framework
  • Fill in gaps in timeline and events not recorded before
  • Give an identity to an exiled community of Christians

What are the Distinctives?


What’s Missing?

Much if not all of the Galilean ministry of Jesus is missing

What’s Added?

  • Miracles:
    • Water into wine
    • Healing of man at Pool of Siloam
    • Conversion of woman at the well
    • Encounter with adulteress woman
    • Raising of Lazarus
  • Discourse at Lord’s Supper (Chapters 13-16)
  • Prayer in Chapter 17
  • Encounter with Peter in John 21

The Key Words in John

  • Life
  • Witness
  • Light
  • Truth
  • Believe
  • I Am
  • Father
  • Spirit

The “Signs” in John

  • Water into wine (John 2:1-11)
  • Healing of Capernaum officer’s son (John 4:46-54)
  • Healing of paralytic at Bethesda (John 8:1-15)
  • Feeding 5,000 (John 6:5-14)
  • Jesus walking on water (John 6:16-24)
  • Healing the blind man (John 9:1-7)
  • Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-48)

The “I Am” Statements

  • I AM the bread of life (John 6:35)
  • I AM the light of the world (John 8:12)
  • I AM the door of the sheep (John 10:7)
  • I AM the resurrection and the life (John 11:25)
  • I AM the good shepherd (John 10:11)
  • I AM the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6)
  • I AM the true vine (John 15:1)

01 Introduction & Survey of the Gospels


Wednesday Night Series 2021

To quote Elvis, “It’s now or never…”  I have long wanted to try to do something like this, but really haven’t had the chance.   I’m running a risk here, because this is not a light-weight devotional class.  In other words, I’m not laboring here to try and make you feel good or give you chills.  I want to teach, much like I’ve taught college classes, and my thought is this is going to “thin the crowd” a bit.  I don’t blame you.  It’s hard work, but I think if you hang in you’ll find it rewarding, and it will change the way you see the Gospels.

So I’m going to pray, and if you want to kind of slip out nobody is going to judge you for it.

I will say that this session will be a little different than the rest.  This is a general intro to the Gospels.  Next week and for the rest of our sessions up until Easter, we are going to focus on an Introduction and Survey of the Gospel of John.

Manuscript Evidence

Inspiration and Revelation

1 Timothy 3:16

2 Peter 1:20

Preservation and Transmission

What about the “Other” Gospels?

 The four Gospels we have are not the only Gospels in existence.  We know, for instance, that there was a Gospel of Judas and a Gospel of Thomas, neither of which made it into our canon (list of approved books) of New Testament Gospel accounts.  There were a number of other gospels circulated, especially later in the first century when the Gnostics began writing Gospels that fit their teaching.

There’s a lot of discussion about Councils and church authorities (bishops, overseers, etc) who decided which books were included in the New Testament.  But their decisions were not based on votes and behind closed door discussions.  Those present in the decision making were pastors of churches, representing regions of churches and people who had traveled broadly.  One of the first criteria to be evaluated was, “is this book used widely in the churches?”  The Spirit of God used the people of God and His church to determine which books bore witness to the truth.  After the canon was closed, no other books were included even though other Gospels were being written.

What Are the Gospels?

Gospels are NOT NECESSARILY biographies of Jesus

If they were biographies, we would have a great deal of detail about His life from age 12 to 30, and we have none (though some of the rejected gospels offer thoughts:  one said that when Jesus was an adolescent, people saw Him healing wounded birds).  (Others said when He walked on the sand, He didn’t leave footprints).

But even with FOUR Gospels we have major gaps in the timeline of His time on earth.

If they’re biographies they aren’t thorough ones.

Gospels are WITNESSES to Jesus

Do the Gospels agree?  Not word for word.  But they do not contradict each other.

“The car swerved off the road and hit a tree.”
“A tire went flat and caused the car to swerve off the road and into a tree.”
“One of the front tires blew out and caused the car to swerve….”
“The right front tire blew out and caused the car to wreck.”

Which statement is correct?  All of them.  Four people saw an accident, but from four different angles.  They see the same event, but don’t describe it in the same way.  Yet there is no contradiction.

The New Testament Problem:  Gospels as Apologetic

Each of the Gospels had a different purpose and focus, with a different audience in view.  Some of the Gospels are heavy weighted toward a Jewish audience.  Others clearly aren’t.

For instance, Luke’s Gospel is addressed to a Hellenistic Roman individual named “Theophilus.”  By his name, we know he is a “lover of God,” so he was at least introduced by his parents to God.  But some believe he was the judge who was deciding Paul’s fate, and Luke (who traveled with Paul as a doctor and historian) was offering an educated and detailed defense and explanation of Who Jesus was (in Luke) and how Paul had come to be arrested (in Acts).

Authorship and Dating of the Gospels

The dating of the various books is a matter of great controversy and debate. However, we can generally date them as follows:

  • 1 BC–1 AD The birth of Christ
  • AD 30/33 The death and resurrection of Jesus
  • AD 48–67 The letters of Paul
  • AD 55–75 The Gospel of Mark
  • AD 60s–80s The Gospels of Matthew and Luke
  • Late AD 60s–80s The Gospel of John13
  • AD 60s–90s The General Epistles and Revelation14

Focus of the Gospels

  • Matthew: Jesus as Rightful King
  • Mark: Jesus as Son of Man
  • Luke: Jesus as Son of God
  • John: Jesus as Word of God:  Word made flesh…


GOSPEL OF JOHN—Intro Comments

Begin at the end:  John 20:30-31

What do we need to believe?

“That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God”

That Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT promises

    • Genesis 3–a child born to put things right
    • Psalm 2–all injustice will end
    • Isaiah 55–suffering servant
    • Daniel 7–“one like a son of man”

That Jesus is God

What does it mean to believe?

Not “belief in belief”

Not intellectual assent

“I believe that bridge can hold my weight”

Belief is walking across the bridge

Belief means to trust…to put your full weight down

Why do we need to believe

That you may have life, and life everlasting

    • John 1:4
    • John 3:16
    • John 5:24
    • John 11:25-26
    • John 14:6


Advent Day 26 – To Those Who Grieve

I write this final blog of Advent 2020 to a select group of people… men, women, and children who are grieving.  Grief and Christmas do not really belong together.  Christmas should be a time of joy, of celebration, of family gatherings and festivities around the Christmas tree.

Yet for many it will not be that.  This year, our nation mourns the hundreds of thousands of dead who passed away from Covid or a Covid related illness.  The world at large mourns many others.  But more specifically, maybe you buried a loved one in the past weeks or months.  The grief is still fresh.  The memories bring a flood of tears to your eyes.

This is my fourth Christmas without my wife by my side.  I still don’t know what to do on Christmas.  I can get lost in my children and my granddarlin’s joy which helps enormously.  Yet, there is still much I must do alone.

The first Christmas was hardest, no doubt.  Pam’s death had just happened in August, and I was still in the early stages of processing her death and my father-in-law’s death which happened not quite two months prior.

Since that time, I have grieved the death of my mother and last year, one like a mother to me in my mother-in-law, Shirley.  Each death had its own particular pain, and each piles on top of the other in seasons like Christmas.

This season, our family passes through our first Christmas without “Mamaw.”  It hasn’t “felt” like Christmas for several years now, meaning it doesn’t feel like Christmas used to feel.  The old homes we visited have been sold and life goes on.  We can’t go backward.

But you press through it.  I promise you, grieving friend, next year will be easier.  And the following easier than that.  As I learned personally, grief is not just something you “get through” or “get over” like a disease.  It is a condition that changes your heart, and you learn to live not just with the pain, but with the fresh grace God gives us to bear it.  We press on.

The added dimension is this.  I have learned to look for something from Christmas that goes beyond sentimentalism, as important as that is.  I have learned to live with the reason the first people to receive the message that a Savior was born experienced: A joy that comes from looking again at Jesus, the reason for the season.  Beholding Him afresh.

And this Christmas, I wish for you the same “great joy!”

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!””  (Luke 2:10-14 ESV)


Advent Day 25 – A Christmas Poem

The joy of the season is not in the light,
The twinkle and tinsel and stars, oh so bright.
The joy of the season means all this and more.
It comes from our Savior, so meek and so poor,

Who lay in a manger surrounded by hay
And worshiped by shepherds and angels, He lay
In the arms of His mother all lovingly say,
“What child is this before us we pray?”

How silently, how silently the humble Christ is given,
Whose body would be torn, and by spear and nail be riven.
No gift could e’re match the wondrous One,
Who lay in the hay on that first Christmas morn.

So as we sing, and celebrate the season
May we never forget to mention the reason
The joy of the season is not in the light,
But in the Christ child, born to us that night.

Advent Day 24 – Incarnation

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory….”

Incarnation is not a Biblical word. It is a theological one and creates a category and a language system by which we can try and grasp its meaning. It is not an easy reality for us to put our minds around.

Dorothy Sayers, a British essayist, and novelist, said:

The incarnation means that for whatever reason God chose to let us fall… to suffer, to be subject to sorrows and death—he has nonetheless had the honesty and the courage to take his own medicine…. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He himself has gone through the whole of human experience—from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death…. He was born in poverty and… suffered infinite pain—all for us—and thought it well worth His while.

God became flesh. He became One of His created beings, in a body that was prepared for Him. But this was no special protective armor He entered. It was as vulnerable as you or me, as humanity as we are, and required an enormous humility to undertake.

God became flesh. He became flesh to enter into our struggles, our restrictions, our limitations, and our joys and our pain. He came as a Jewish man in the most difficult part of their history as a people, under the occupation of Rome.

And He became a servant. Not just a “houseboy” or a waiter. He became a “slave” literally. He was treated as, and died as a slave: No honor, no respect, no rights, no sympathy. Slaves were little more than tools that bled.

Yet in that humility, the Bible tells us “we beheld His glory.” Though He had laid aside the privileges of equality with God (See Philippians 2), His glory continued to shine through. And it shines through to us at Christmas as we visit and sing anew the wonders of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

“Veiled in flesh, the godhead see, hail th’incarnate deity…”

Advent Day 23 – When did Christmas Begin Part 2

“He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:2-3 ESV)

This One called “the Word” was in the “beginning before the beginning” with God.  The Second Person of the Trinity was not an afterthought on the part of the Father.  God exists as a UNITY, and co-exists as TRINITY.  Being expressed as TRINITY does not in any way compromise His UNITY.  God is One.

But deep in the counsel of eternity, the decision was made that this “Word” would be the One Who would enter time and the earth as an infant.  Again, Christmas and the plan of salvation are not reactionary events.  They were intentionally planned.  Carried out personally by “the Logos,” (“the Word”) Who was “creator of all things… without Him was not anything made….”

So, the plan?  The Word was going to become one of the beings (called humans) that He created.  Enter the world through a virgin girl who had never known a man.  Come to the people He created, to perform an operation of rescue that was unheard of prior.  Become them, to save them.  God with us.

What a plan.  What a love.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Advent Day 22 – When Does Christmas Begin

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…” John 1:1

Biblically we can go back no further than John 1:1 in tracing out the Christmas story.  It begins “in the beginning” with the second person of the Trinity, called “the Word.”  While many in our culture would answer the question, “Where did the Christmas story begin?” by talking about Bethlehem and angels and shepherds and wise men, it actually goes much, much further back.

We don’t know really how to talk about “infinity” and “eternity” in the sense of locating “the beginning” but literally it means “in the beginning of the beginning,” or one translator put it “the beginning before the beginning.”. Literally it says, “in A beginning,” not “THE beginning.”

John did not intend with these introductory words to locate a beginning “point” for the Savior, as though there is linear time in eternity.  It does not.  At least time as we know it, measure it, and understand it.

We can’t.  There was never a “time” when Jesus was not, when God was not, and when the Holy Spirit was not.  There is so much we cannot and will probably never understand about that.  We cannot even conceive of nothingness, because our view of nothing at some point has a backdrop.  For most people, “nothing” is dark, but dark itself means that something is there.

So anyway, we’re out of our depth.  We may as well talk about quarks and quantum physics, but some are smart enough to discuss those.  No one is smart enough to describe eternity.

But Christmas actually begins in infinity, in eternity, not Bethlehem.  This beginning-less One, known in eternity and referred to by the inspired writer of Scripture “the Word,” or “logos,” was not just “with” God in the sense you would sit “with” your friend in a restaurant.  He was “with” God, but He also was God.  There is no separation between the eternal Father God and the Word.

Ok, I’ve given myself a headache trying to think about all this.  It’s far superior to our ability to reason through or make sense of, but we will have all of eternity to try and absorb it.

But where does Christmas begin?

In Heaven.

Advent Day 21 – His Name Shall Be … Prince of Peace

“His name shall be… Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:7
One of the hardest places to believe that Jesus would be “the Prince of Peace” is in the midst of a war. Those who have spent the Christmas holiday on a battlefield or deployed and away from their family will nod their heads in understanding.
On Christmas Eve, 1914, this reality came home. The British and German infantry, weary from warfare, found themselves facing off over “no-man’s land.” This ground, a football field in length, was littered with the corpses of fallen soldiers, dead animals, and the hollowed-out husks of abandoned tanks.
But something miraculous happened that evening. The Germans had retreated to a monastery, and began to set it up with Christmas trees, Tannenbaum, and lights. As the evening went on, they started singing Christmas carols.
A couple of British soldiers saw what was happening, and against orders risked the long walk across no-man’s land. They approached and were welcomed by the German soldiers. Soon, dozens of other British soldiers came. A French soldier, a member of the Paris Opera, sang “O Holy Night.”
Over the next two days, the soldiers met together, exchanged gifts and souvenirs, and buried their dead. Games of soccer broke out between the soldiers. And on the evening of the second night, one of the men began singing “Silent Night, Holy Night.”
That evening, on the cold muddy, blood-soaked ground of Flanders Field, “all was calm, and all was bright.” The Prince of Peace had shown up in the middle of a war, and for forty-eight hours some homesick, weary, and hardened soldiers played, and sang like children.
Peace can come in the midst of your battlefield, too. Maybe you’re not facing off against an enemy combatant. Maybe your enemy is a family member, a marital partner, or your parents. The same One Who caused peace to break out on a muddy battlefield, surrounded by decay and death, can bring peace to your home, your family, and your heart.
Trust Him. He is the Prince. And where He reigns, there will be “peace on earth,” “peace with God,” and “peace in our hearts.” It starts with your invitation to allow Him to rule.
…Won’t you give yourself… and those you know… the gift of peace this Christmas?

Advent Day 20 – The Prince of Peace

The world has always been at war.  Man is at war with God… continually.  The Bible tells us that there is “enmity” between us and God.  And the reality is, as long as man’s relationship with God is not at peace, we cannot… indeed will not be at peace with others.

The coming Messiah, according to Isaiah, was going to be known as “The Prince of Peace.”  My, don’t we need a peacemaker in our world?  But that person is not going to be a diplomat, or a king, or ambassador, or the president.  You cannot MAKE peace if you don’t POSSESS peace.

He is the peace BRINGER, but more than that, He’s the peace MAKER.  I shared this recently in a message, but it suits this blog post so I share it again for those who might not have heard the sermon.

A few years ago, our church was involved with a church in Springfield working with the homeless.  On Tuesdays, we would go down and serve lunch to hundreds of homeless folk that would show up.

We also had the assignment of delivering bagged lunches to the residents of a high-rise, government subsidized apartment building across the street.  I usually went over with the kids we were working with from our church, mainly for security.

I was delivering meals on one floor during the Christmas season, and some doors were left partially propped open if the person inside couldn’t get up to answer the knock.  As I knocked, I looked down at the door and on it was a bumper sticker that had a picture of Jesus on it and the phrase “The Prince of Peace.”

But over time, the letter “n” in “prince” had been rubbed away, leaving a dirty streak and the word “pri  ce.” Jesus, the “price” of peace.  Indeed, He is both the “Prince” of peace, the peace maker and peace bringer.

And He is also the price paid that we may have peace with God.  “We now have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The greatest price for peace that will ever be paid has already been paid by the shedding of His blood at Calvary.  If we ever know peace, it will only come as we know Him.

He alone is “The Prince of Peace.”

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