Fruit Cove Baptist Church


Pastor Tim's Blog

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!

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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!

Waiting for Jesus

Many hundreds of years before Jesus was born, a prophet in the Old Testament named Micah made an amazing prediction. He wrote what we just read. This prophecy predicted the exact place where the Messiah (Jesus) would be born. It was not a large city. In fact, Micah told us Bethlehem was the SMALLEST of all the families and tribes of Israel.

One of the things we may not always understand is that, while we singsongs about this place where Christ came to Earth as a baby, it was not a nice place. It was a place where shepherds would come to town for a night to take a break from keeping sheep in the fields. It was not a large village, since it only had one inn, which was already filled with travelers who came to be counted for the Roman government.

In fact, the only place left where Mary and Joseph could stay while she gave birth to the baby Jesus was a cattle shed behind the inn. There, in a place where animals would stay and be fed, Jesus came into the world to be our Savior.

Sometimes we sing or hear the song at Christmas, which says, Away in a manger, no crib for a bed. The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head. Jesus was rejected from the first moments of His life. He was forced to sleep with animals on His first night on the Earth. No room was found for Him with the people He had come to save.

So, as we look at our nativity scenes and particularly at the manger, let’s remember that Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin did not begin when He went to the cross. It began when He cried His first breath on the Earth, and inhaled the smell of cattle and sheep. The Father sent His Son to this place, to show us that no one was too unimportant or too sinful for God to love.

He was born in “the little town of Bethlehem,” just as the prophet Micah said. Knowing the place of His birth “from ancient days,” Jesus came anyway because of His love for us a

Be Thankful

“Devote yourselves to prayer—being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2)

*Be thankful*

The third component of a powerful prayer life is this: We pray with gratitude. This seems to be the missing element in many of our prayers. Gratitude should saturate everything we pray about. Paul has mentioned gratitude several times in Colossians. It was a word never far from the tip of his tongue or his pen. Be thankful. Be grateful. We are remembering the goodness of God, and His greatness as we pray. We are thankful when our prayers are answered, but we are to be also thankful when our answers are delayed, or the circumstances have shown we will not get what we asked.

I read an article recently that reminded me of something and I remind you of the same. The article pointed to our propensity to celebrate the goodness of God when we get what we were asking for and our circumstances turned out well.

But, the writer asked, is God still good when the unpleasant circumstance doesn’t change? When it seems our prayer is not answered? We do not tweet, text, or post on our social media pages our affirmation of God’s goodness when cancer takes our loved one, or the job we were hoping for falls through, or our son or daughter come home and tell us they are uncertain of their gender.

Is God still good? Well, of course He is. But our enthusiasm in proclaiming this sometimes weakens when our circumstances collapse under us. And it communicates a message that God is good when He “works” for us, but maybe we live in uncertainty about His goodness when He doesn’t seem to work in our favor.

Be thankful. Be “devoted” in prayer, Paul tells us. Our “devotion” time is an affirmation of our faith, our steadfastness in prayer, our eagerness to watch and our determination to be thankful in all things

Be Watchful

“Devote yourselves to prayer-being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2

*Be watchful*

Jesus asked His sleeping disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night His passion began “could you not watch with Me…?” How often have we fallen asleep on the watch. Our prayers grow lifeless and listless. We lose the urgency and fervency of the early moments of our prayers. It requires effort to continue to “watch and pray” -notice this- WITH Jesus!

Did you know that when YOU pray you are never praying alone?When you are watchful, you are watching WITH the One Who is our High Priest and Who “ever lives to make intercession for us!” I have walked into the Garden of Gethsemane, wondering “would I have fallen to sleep with the rest?”

We sleep on the watch because we don’t really believe we are fighting a battle as we pray… and indeed as we live each day. But as we sleep the bullets fly overhead, taking out fellow soldiers in the war. Watch and pray! You need this. Your fellow soldiers need this. And Jesus is calling you to this. Be watchful. Be vigilant. The enemy prowls like a hungry lion.

The antidote is spiritual watchfulness.

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