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First Baptist Church Rockwell, North Carolina
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Devotions
Tuesday, 31 October 2017

How many of us like suprise parties? Have you ever had to plan one? Goodness, there is much behind the scenes and secrecy that has to go on. What is the number one rule? Don't tell the special someone what is going on! Before the party, we send them out on a decoy mission to distract and buy time, as we prepare the place for the surpise event. Special guests have to arrive at a certain time and not tip off the party. When the person finally arrives we can let out our secret, "Surprise!" 

Jesus tells the disciples, Peter, James, and John, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead." Can you imagine getting told to not be able to tell others what you just saw and heard on that mountain? You saw Moses, Elijah, glorified. You saw Jesus transfigured in all His glory. You heard the voice of God the Father! And you can't tell. 

Jesus answers their confusion and question about the prophecy from Malachi about a forerunner, a promised Elijah, to come with the news of John the Baptist. Jesus said in verses 11-12, "Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise, the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands." 

The disciples expected an Elijah prophet to precede the Messiah and usher in a new kingdom altogether. They wanted someone to overthrow the Roman government and rule over them. John did come and did prepare the way for Jesus. He preached on repentance and looking for the Messiah to come. Only the people, namely the religious leaders, did not like nor listen. They had him beheaded. John suffered for the coming of the Messiah. Jesus was sharing that his time of suffering was coming soon as well. Suffering had to come before the splendor was truly seen. The transfiguration glorification was going to happen after the Son of Man suffers for mankinds sin. 

This is what we know. The disciples had to wait to tell their secret. They had to wait for His ressurrection so that all things will make sense. We some 2000 years later benefit that we don't have to keep the secret. We are commanded to go and tell. We are not to keep the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection a little secret for our own little world, little family, little community. We are to tell the world that Jesus saves. 

This is the impact of this day, October 31, 2017. 500 years ago, Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses on the Wittenburg door. He challenged the authority of the pope and the unbiblical practices of the church. This marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation to which we find a return to the scriptures as authority, faith as only avenue to salvation, and freedom to worship from under state or church controlled authority. Because of Luther's boldness and courage to make a stand for the Bible, for salvation in Jesus Christ by faith alone, can tell the world about Jesus, His sacrificial death on our behalf and His resurrection from the dead so that we can be saved and free from sin and death. Tell someone today about Jesus! 

Posted by: Pastor Matthew AT 08:11 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, 30 October 2017

I often remind myself of how much I complicate life. With schedules, deadlines, choices, and results, I often try to make like much more difficult than I should. It is easy to get out of balance, to push too hard, to get too busy, that you miss the simple things of life that make it worth living. To this, God has a word. 

God has given us this life. In Jesus Christ we are promised "life, more abundant." But what is the secret to getting through it? What is the secret to making it through difficult times of hardship and sorrow? What is the secret to not getting to "high" on the mountaintops that the "fall" in the valley is hard to get up from? It is Jesus. 

Back to where we left off in Matthew 17, in the middle of the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, we have now a divine encounter of not only glory of Jesus, of Moses, of Elijah, but in verses 5-8, these words we read, 

"While he (Peter) was speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!' And when the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were much afraid. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, 'Arise, and do not be afraid.' And liftting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus Himself alone."

This encounter gives us two clear truths to remember in order to endure this life we are faced with. First, Listen to Jesus. God the Father speaks down and commends His approval and love for His Son Jesus. Just in the same manner as He did at Jesus' baptism by John, so we see similar words. Only this time, a phrase, a command is given for all of us to hear even today. The Father said to listen to Him! In all the distraction and noise of the world around us, it is imperative, it is so vital that you listen to Jesus. To listen to Jesus is to seek His face. It is to pray to Jesus. It is to read His Word and hear Him speak. It is to be still and know He is God. When we listen to Jesus, we are given guidance to our steps, direction for our decisions, and purpose for our lives. We can still be busy with kids, work, activities, but if the busyness is not guided by Jesus then it will overtake us. Jesus will take the backseat. This transfiguration was so that Jesus would be lifted up. For Peter, James, and John had to see the coming chaos in just a short time when everything in their world and what they knew was going to be challenged as Jesus is arrested, tried, and hung on the cross. The Father is telling them to listen to His words, listen to His teachings, listen to His truth so that you will not be knocked off the rails and flail aimlessly in the world before you figure it out. Listen to Jesus. 

Second, Look to Jesus. The disciples understood the gravity of the voice that spoke and who it was, Almighty God, and did what is only right and natural, they bowed and fell on their faces. Then it is Jesus, like He did on the boat in the storm, like He did when He appeared after His resurrection, who speaks do not be afraid. Get up, it's ok, I am with you. Do not fear. I am right beside you. I am here in this moment with you. See Me and only Me. To this we notice an important truth, all of a sudden Jesus is alone. Moses and Elijah have departed. Only Jesus remains. All they saw when they opened their eyes was Jesus. Can I share with you just how joyful and refreshing that is? Regardless of the difficult hours you have endured, in spite of the pain you have been through, just close your eyes, take a deep breath, listen to Jesus and then do not be afraid for when you open your eyes, look to see Jesus. He is sweet to the eyes, good for the vision, and needed for our hearts. When I see Jesus, I can have peace that passes all understanding. When I see Jesus I can rest in spite of the chaos and busyness of my schedule. When I see Jesus I can see the little things, good things of life that often get overlooked. 

Very simply, today, listen for Jesus and look to see Jesus. 

Posted by: Pastor Matthew AT 08:18 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, 27 October 2017

"Imitation is the highest form of flattery." This is very true and often repeated when we see something good being imitated in another. But what about the bad that gets copied? Every parent deals with the burden to watch what you do and what you say around your kids. For they will copy and act just like you do. 

I had to grasp this myself. I get very excited while watching my favorite college team. Either football, (don't ask right now) or basketball (reigning national champions :) ) will get my energy level boiling over. I have been known to get so frustrated, so loud that I act like I don't have any sense. Well, that came to be seen quite clearly one day watching my son throw a tantrum just like mine over a ballgame we were watching too. Reality check set it. The truth is this: We will be become like what we behold. 

In Matthew 17, the opening four verses bring us Jesus on a mountain with Peter, James, and John. He is transfigured, or transformed right before their eyes. This means that He is not just an ordinary man, He is changed into an angelic shining glorified being, much like an angel, much like what His heavenly body looks like. In this state, Moses and Elijah also appear in the same form. Let's get this straight: This event is not about putting emphasis on Moses and Elijah. This event is not about Peter, James and John. This event is about Jesus. This is about Jesus who will be glorified and lifted up. 

Let's consider the meaning of Moses and Elijah. Moses represented the law. Elijah represented the prophets. Now Jesus fulfills both the Law and the Prophets. Jesus is talking with Moses and Elijah. What are they talking about? In Luke's gospel, the conversation was about Jesus' upcoming death in Jerusalem. The greatest and most glorified aspect of Jesus will be coming soon in His death and resurrection and then His appearance before His ascension. This future event will catapult salvation for all of mankind and return Jesus to the Father in a glorified state, to which He forgo for a time (Phil. 2). 

Peter speaks up and says, "Lord it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." The idea was simple. Can we stay here forever? Can we get some popcorn and enjoy the show? Do we have to leave this moment? There are moments in life where we just don't want to end. Pictures can only help us remember the time, but the feelings, the emotions, the joy, the happiness all culminated in that moment. A wedding day, a birth, a vacation, a recognition, a graduation, all are "mountains" of joy where everything else fades away. It is like a dream that we don't want to wake up from. 

Peter's problem is he is placing Jesus on equal ground with Moses and Elijah. Just like many in our world today, Jesus is equal to Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Buddha, any other great prophet or teacher. To this we find application today. The end of chapter 16 is about seeing the Son of Man in His glory with the angels. This is a glimpse of that special moment. Jesus is what we shall become. He is our Master and future. You want to follow Jesus? You want be a true Christ follower? Spend time with the glorified Jesus. He will rub off on you. Before you know it you will imitate Jesus. We are not called to like Moses or Elijah. Both were great men of God but both failed in other forms. We are called to be like Jesus. He is the glorified One to which we shall be changed and be glorified after ourselves. Look up, find a tabernacle, camp out in the presence of Jesus. The more you are with Jesus and His presence the more you will be like Him. 

Posted by: Pastor Matthew AT 09:01 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, 26 October 2017

Everyday we need something to look forward to. Everyday we need something to help us look to the possibility of the day. There are times when this is not hard for exciting and anticapated events. There are times when this is difficult with sad and sorrowful times are upon us. 

Either way, we need to keep looking ahead. Jesus tells us here to close this chapter, "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."

Jesus is giving all people something to look forward. The reminder for us all today is what you look forward to seeing is dependent upon who you know. For the person who does not believe and know Jesus, this coming of the Son of Man will be terrible. He will judge you according to your works, which regardless of your interpretation of good and bad, will be condemned for our works, (righteousness) is as filthy rags because of our sin. Your reward will be eternal damnation, separation from God, in the literal and physical place called Hell. 

On the other hand, for the believer, the one who has denied themselves, taken up their cross, and follows Jesus, this is what we long for. We look everyday for Jesus to come in all His glory! We look everyday for Jesus to come and call us to heaven! These two verses give us such strong hope for everyday, no matter what it brings, no matter what good comes, no matter what bad comes, for Jesus promises to come back and get the children of God. When He comes, He will reward the believers as well as judge the ones who do not believe. We then are to be doing Jesus' kingdom work, so that when He comes He will find us faithful, ready for the reward He shall bring for us. Are you living with the hope of Jesus' return today? Are you looking for the Son of Man to return? Everyday is another day closer. Die to self and live for Jesus. 

Let us labor and work until Jesus comes! May we be found faithful at His return!

Posted by: Pastor Matthew AT 09:26 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 25 October 2017

As simple as it sounds, it is all about Jesus. Jesus is not a narcissist. Remember before throw those words out to devalue the greatness of Jesus, the world does exist because of Him. He is the image of the invisible God. He is the second person of the Trinity. So yes, everything is all about Jesus. Without Jesus nothing that was made was made. 

So here in verse 24 of Matthew 16 Jesus says, "If anyone desires to come after Me," He is being serious. What we do notice is connecting the previous teachings in just this chapter alone, there is Jesus pointing everyone to Him. You need Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God. You need Jesus to build His church. You need Jesus to suffer and die and be raised again on the third day. All these things point to the important truth: In order to live with God in harmony and fellowhip in this life and the one to come you must come to Jesus. 

You must come after Jesus. You must come to Jesus. Now to truly and rightfully come to Jesus, He provides three things. First, deny yourself. No man can serve two masters. You must relinguish control of your life and heart and works. You must admit that you cannot save yourself. You must admit that Jesus is the only Savior. You must turn control away from yourself and come to Jesus. This is the hardest step for most people. Letting go of their rights and will to their lives and then turning to Jesus. Verse 25 indicates that those who cannot deny themselves are attempting to save their lives on their own will lose it. But those who lose their lives for Jesus will find it. 

Secondly, take up your cross. Jesus went to the cross for you and I. He went to buy our pardon. He went to die our death. He went to pay for your sin and my sin. To deny yourself, is to turn to Jesus, to believe in His death on the cross for your sin. To pick up your cross, is to now make Jesus Lord of your life, to keep denying yourself, for the name of Jesus. You are now bought and pardoned, you now have a new Master. Taking up your cross, is your new identity, your new allegiance, your new purpose. To this we with radical abandonment throw all of the world's desires and goals aside for the cross of Jesus Christ. For I shall boast in nothing more than the cross of Jesus Christ! 

Thirdly, follow Me. Jesus is clear, put aside the former things, the things of the flesh, take up my things, my sufferings, my salvation, my goals, and follow Me. Walk in humility as I did. Walk in purity as I did. Follow Me into the streets. Follow Me into the homes of the outcasts. Follow Me into the ways of righteousness. 

So let me challenge everyone to let go of your personal rights to yourself, to turn to Jesus and let the Master and Lord of your Souls and Eternity tell you where to go and what to do. Follow Jesus above all else. Lose your life for Jesus and you will have gained more than enough. Hold to this world and you will die with this world. Cling to Jesus. 

Posted by: Pastor Matthew AT 09:58 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Being mindful of the truth in the midst of reality is not easy. We often for the sake of deflecting pain and suffering, emotions that run with certain circumstances do not want to think about what reality is. Can I offer you and I a note to see what is happening in the invisible reality? 

There is a bigger plan and purpose happening every second of every day in the universe. God is marching toward a global goal of glory and future restoration. There is resistance to that goal in the spiritual realm by Satan. To this Jesus in Matthew 16: 21-23 refers to. We are too quick to only see with what is before our eyes. We have to look beyond the visible. We have to see the invisible. The invisible is much more telling and impactful than the visible. 

Jesus is preparing His disciples for the upcoming trials in Jerusalem. From this point on in the gospel of Matthew, everything is pointing to the cross. Jesus is focused on the misison. Now He is ready to unveil it to the disciples. He points to His suffering in Jerusalem that will lead to His death and most importantly His resurrection. Now as a side note, can you imagine being a disciple hearing a pretty detailed view of the upcoming weeks? The thought of suffering at the hands of the religious authorities is not too bizarre given their constant attempts to trap Jesus and their jealousy over His following. Then a prediction of death, being killed is natural, not welcomed, not ideal, but natural given the animosity with the religious authorities and the Roman oppression. What sets this apart is the declaration to be raised from the dead on the third day. That is radical! That is bold! You are foretelling your resurrection. They kind of sort of believed in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, but this was hard for them to grasp. 

This leads us to good ole Peter. The same Peter who confessed the right answer about who Jesus is in just the previous verses now tries to correct Jesus about the future events to come. He says, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" On one hand, Peter was affirming Jesus' deity. You can see that Peter believed Jesus to be untouchable, unable to be killed, unable to be harmed. For surely the Messiah we have long for, to overthrow Roman tyranny, to set Jerusalem back on the map as God's place, could not be killed. Not only was this the wrong idea in the eyes of Peter about the Messiah's true role, but it was also the work of Satan in trying to get Jesus to believe He could change the upcoming outcome to avoid the suffering and death on the cross. It would climax later in the Garden of Gethsamane in Jesus' prayer to take the cup away. 

Jesus rebukes Peter and Satan. "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." Peter was being used by Satan to downplay Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection. Jesus had to suffer and be bruised for our salvation. So we can conclude that anyone, any words that downplay Christ who suffered, who physically died, who was killed on the cross and then physically resurrected is doing the work of Satan. The work of Satan is to downplay the suffering of Jesus in order to nul salvation belief. Without the suffering of a Perfect Christ, salvation is void. Without His death, there is no forgiveness and atonement. Without His resurrection, there is no victory over grave and sin. So we must hold to the gospel message of Christ, not fall prey to subtle and invisible attacks on the true Messiah and His suffering and death. May we live in the power of the Gospel today, seeing the victory in Jesus Christ!

Posted by: Pastor Matthew AT 09:14 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, 23 October 2017

The foundation to good relationships is people who keep their word. If they say, "I will" do something, be somewhere, get something and don't follow through then we lack trust in that person's word. They may have good intentions but have bad follow through. They do not keep their word. 

Well one thing is certain. God keeps His Word! Every place in the scripture where we read, "I will" from God or Jesus we can count on that. We know this will be true and come to pass. Here in the familiar passage about the church, there are two foundational "I will" statements from Jesus here. 

"I will build My Church; and the gates of hades shall not overpower it." First we cannot take the emphasis on Peter to mean him to be the first pope and most powerful of all the apostles. Jesus was simply making a play on his name, Petros, meaning little rock to reveal that through Peter the church will increase. Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost and the multitudes came to Christ, increasing the church of Jesus Christ by the thousands in one day. Jesus is giving us a promise to remember. No preacher, no deacon, no teacher, no evangelist, no megachurch builds the church of Christ. Jesus builds His church. Notice the personal pronouns in there. I will build MY church. The constant reminder for us all is that wherever you worship, wherever you attend, that is your local church. But it is not Your church nor the Preacher's church. Every church is Jesus' church. Every church is built upon Him. Here is the reason for that mentality. Jesus can only save souls not humans so He can only build the true church. We can build our own kingdoms without Christ. Only Jesus can build a lasting and sustaining church. And we see that if Jesus builds the church, it will face opposition from Satanic forces but cannot be destoyed. It may get beaten a little, bruised a little, but it will not falter. Jesus makes sure of that. 

"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Jesus builds and Jesus gives. We lean on Jesus to build His church and we receive the power of Jesus' authority to battle in the Spiritual world. Jesus is giving here not only Apostles, Disciples the power to heal and do miracles when He is gone, but every believer and follower of Christ the power in the name of Jesus to engage in the spiritual realm. We belong to a victorious commander and general. He has given us authority to call down from heaven in the name of Jesus against the strongholds of Satan in the hearts and lives of others. We can loose and bind according to God's authority in Jesus Christ. Everyone has access to the keys. These are not just given to the pastors or leaders of the Christian world and churches. Keys in our world still hold personal ownership and authority. So for every follower and believer in Jesus Christ who is a part of the church of Jesus Christ we have power to speak against the evil forces around us. They hold sway and power and we have the one who can tear them apart, make them flee, and overcome. We have the keys. Jesus has given them to all of us. 

So we must go out into this world, marred by sin, controlled by the prince of the power of the air, Satan, and hold to the promises of Jesus. Let Him build and take the keys He gives. We go because Jesus said He would build and give.  

Posted by: Pastor Matthew AT 08:28 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, 20 October 2017

It is natural that we do care about what we people think we are. We are even a little concerned with who people say we are. Are we kind? Are we nice? Are we mean? Are we generous? Are we stingy? None of us like to be known by a negative trait. It is also true that what we perceived about a person is truly not who they are really are once we get to know them. Some may be shy, but when you get to talk to them and know them they will talk a whole lot. 

If there is ever a person in all the world, throughout all of history, who's perception of them and their name is of utmost importance it is Jesus. What you know and believe and confess about Jesus will determine your eternity. It is that important! 

Who interesting it is then that Jesus pondered this question to His disciples. In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked them, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" He was asking what others thought about Him. You ever wondered that yourself? "Tell me dear, tell me friend, tell me child, who do people say I am?" Of course, we want to know that answer to gauge people's opinion of us. Jesus already knew it. He wanted to hear what the disciples had heard about Him. What was the gossip on the street telling them? They said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." Everything the disciples were hearing about Jesus pointed to Him as just another popular prophet. John the Baptist was unpopular with the religious authorities, but drew a crowd among the multitude for his preaching and preparing for the Messiah. Elijah was the famous prophet that called down fire on Mt. Carmel to defeat the gods of Baal. He was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire, not experiencing death. Jeremiah was the famous weeping prophet who endured the tragic fall of Jerusalem and the early exile period. All prophets who spoke mighty words for God, preached powerful messages, and did mighty works. 

Then Jesus turns it personal. Jesus always turns it personal doesn't he. He asks them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter, the one always willing to speak his mind, always willing to be in the limelight, confesses, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." This is the confession of history. Jesus is not just some prophet of old. He doesnt just teach. He doesn't just preach. No He is the Christ, the Messiah, the very one and only Son of the Living God.

Every person on the face of this planet and throughout all of history has to make that same confession if they want to be forgiven of their sin and go to heaven. Jesus must be confessed as the Messiah, the Christ, who came and died spotless on the cross, enduring the shame and punishment for mankind's sin. He is the Christ who is Risen, who is victorious over death and sin. He is the Son of God who alone can provide the access to the Father and entrance into the portals of heaven. 

But here is the key. Jesus says to Peter, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." No one comes to the Father unless first drawn by the Spirit. In our natural flesh we don't want salvation, we don't need a Savior. Only when the gospel is preached, when the Spirit opens the door, when the thought is given in our minds by the Spirit will be understand and confess Jesus as Christ and Lord. You don't and can't save anyone. But God can save all! He draws, He moves, He brings things about in order for people to hear the good news about Jesus and the gospel of grace. Then by the faith that comes through the Spirit to believe and confess, we are born again and saved. 

Your eternity hinges on who you say Jesus is. The eternity of your family and friends hinges on who they say Jesus is. A confession is not just words. It is a heartfelt conviction of what you know to be true and verbally affirm. Do you confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God? 

Posted by: Pastor Matthew AT 08:11 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, 19 October 2017

How easily we find ourselves concerned for the outward appearance! We dress to impress, dress to make a statement, go and do so that others think certain things about us. We want people to think we are often something more than we aren't. We live in such a world of hyprocrisy it is often hard to separate the reality of who we truly are with what we think we are. 

I have found over the years that hypocrisy is more subtle than we think. It shows up in the smallest of details not in just large portions. Simple hypocrisy in how we change the way we talk around certain people. Either to impress, or be liked, or be welcomed in such a way that we change our accent, change the normal usage of words, change the way we talk about certain things. It's putting on a mask. 

To this Jesus teaches us today. In this continued teaching to His disciples about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Jesus reminds His followers of the importance of being true to your identity in Christ and to your assessment of yourself. From the passage, "Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, 'Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.'" The disciples missed it completely. They thought Jesus was fussing at them for forgetting the bread. 

This was not about physical bread. Jesus rebukes their lack of faith and understanding. He reminds them that do you not remember who you are with? Did I not take a small amount of bread and feed two large groups of people? Did you not recall how I fed 4000 and 5000 plus people on two different occasions? Instead beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 

The leaven here is a reference to their teaching and influence. It was their doctrine that exposed their hypocrisy most of all. They had all these rules and little details to follow in every area of life that they themselves were not even doing. With such giant emphasis on the keeping of every part of the law, it opened the door for greater hypocrisy. For let's be honest, no one can keep all that. Where you lack and fail in one area you will fail in another. It isn't about outward show, but inward change. 

Jesus is challenging the disciples, and you and I today, to not be concerned with externals of the things that people see and notice, but be focused on the inward matters of the heart. For out of mouth flows the desires of the heart. To this we are challenged today to give up the hypocrisy of outward appearance and focus on the change God does on the inside when we let the leaven of the Spirit feed us, rebuke us, and change us for His glory! 

Posted by: Pastor Matthew AT 10:57 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 18 October 2017

It has been heard and said, "Christians are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good." There is not a thing at all wrong with putting our head in the clouds so to speak and think about heaven. I believe it is good to think about heaven. I think about heaven often and who is there and my anticipation to see Jesus face to face. 

I also hear the words of Jesus here rebuke a so heavenly minded thought that disregards the present reality. How true we fall into the trap of looking for heavenly signs, awaiting divine interventions, looking for glimmers of light in the darkness that we miss the present reality of God's presence. This is the charge of Jesus when confronted by the Pharisees and Sadducees asking for a sign from heaven. 

Jesus response reveals here in Matthew 16:2-4 a telling insight, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of hte times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah."

Jesus rebukes them for appealing to their authority to interpret weather but missing the obvious truth before their eyes. For all their outward appearance and righteousness and wisdom, they were terrible at understanding spiritual matters. They were in the presence of the long-promised and long-awaited Messiah in their midst and refused to acknowledge Him. The Savior was in the presence! He was here! He had arrived! Now you in your ignorance you are missing what is right in front of your face. For all your sign wanting, there is something better that you are missing that is even bigger. 

The truth for us today is to see the impact and presence of Jesus all around us. Let us not seek only some divine intervention, some interpretation of the clouds, some insight into some tragedy, all the while missing what is right before our eyes. Open our eyes Lord that we may see! Open our ears Lord that we may hear! Show us your glory! 

 

Posted by: Pastor Matthew AT 08:49 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, 17 October 2017

What are you eating? In a world of diets, concerns for healthy living, challenges to foods with preservatives, high fat content, high sugar content, we are inundated with what we eat. We are told to watch what we eat, to be concerned with how certain amounts of ingredients in food can affect us. 

Jesus came across a time when He was concerned just about the people eating at all. In Matthew 15, the end of the chapter points us to another miracle of Jesus for the multitude. He has just healed the lame and blind and sick, now He moves again, drawing an even larger crowd. What we find in this miracle feeding is the power of Jesus' provision. In verse 32, we find the heart of Jesus as well the understanding of Jesus. Jesus says to His disciples, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me for three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." 

We notice that Jesus had compassion on them. This means we felt sorry for them and understood their plight. He was sensitive to their natural needs as well as their spiritual. For three days they had followed Him, labored with Him, and listened to Him. He knew their physical bodies needed nourishment. He knew they would soon faint and be in more trouble. He knew that their eyes and ears would not be able to go any further without taking care of the physical need. So He inquired how much food they had. Disciples, still in unbelief and opposition to this intention, said they have seven loaves and a few little fish. So seven loaves of bread with some meager fish is supposed to feed over four thousand people, including women and children? The disciples by their response still lacked faith. It was only a mere chapter ago that Jesus fed the larger crowd of five thousand with similar smaller portions. 

Jesus gives thanks and tells the disciples to pass out the food to the people. A miracle occurs! Everyone ate their fill, meaning no one was still hungry cause their portion was too small. Everyone had plenty, double maybe even triple helpings and then there was still leftovers! 

What can we add to our faith and living today? For starters, we must depend on the power of Jesus' provision. We must know that God would have us not to worry for our physical needs. We trust in God who feeds the birds of the air so He surely can meet our basic needs. We also are to pray as Jesus taught us in the Lord's prayer, "give us this day our daily bread." God will meet our physical needs. More than this, is how important it is to feed on the Bread of Life. We cannot take for granted the feeding of Jesus. We cannot take for granted the fill we are able to receive in the Word of God. We cannot take for granted that all of our spiritual needs are provided for in Christ Jesus! 

We have this promise: When we feed on Jesus, we will always have leftovers! He never comes up short. He never runs out. He always has more than enough! What are you feeding on? How well are you eating at the Master's table? 

Posted by: Pastor Matthew AT 09:22 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, 16 October 2017

It seems to be very true that we fail to remember the greatness of our Savior Jesus Christ. We talk about Him on Sundays and maybe during some other "church" event we come across in the week. However, I am sure this is why we have the gospel recordings of His ministry and works. The book of Matthew is highlighting Jesus as Messiah King. This is unveiled in the particular in the ministry He does in Judea and Galilee. 

In verses 29-31 of chapter 15, Jesus is again in the Galilee region. Here are people mostly outcasted, mostly influenced more by Roman occupation than the "faithful" Jews of Jerusalem. Jesus goes up on the side of the mountain and sat down. The people in the region come not only bringing themselves, but every lame, blind, mute, maimed, and other outcasts to the feet of Jesus. Here the Bible says, "they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them." They knew who to take them to. They realized and recognized He had the power to heal. They by faith believed in this great man to heal the sick. When they all were healed, the people marveled, were awestruck, and hearing the mute speak, the blind see, the maimed walking, the people "glorified the God of Israel." 

We must recognize the power of Jesus' healing. Today consider something. We are in a disease filled world. Every generation that passes will face more threats to our health. Our medicinal research cannot keep up with the many unknown and life threatening diseases we will face in the future. Yet, not only can Jesus heal if He so chooses; we can become convinced of His spiritual healing. I am reminded today that all of us are blind to spiritual truth, deaf to the truth of God, maimed and deformed because of the sickness of sin in our hearts. We all need a Savior who can open our eyes, unclog our ears, and restore our hearts and minds for the glory of God. Jesus heals our insides like no other. We must come to His feet. We must come by faith. We must also bring others to the Savior, not for physical healing, for this is up to God's will and purpose, but for spiritual healing. He is the Great Physician of the heart. He is the Healer of the afflicted in the heart. He is Jesus! He is greater than all! Have you found healing in the name of Jesus!

Posted by: Pastor Matthew AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
    About us

    First Baptist Church is a Southern Baptist Church located in Rockwell, NC. It is a member of the Rowan Southern Baptist Association .

    Contact us

    P.O. Box 756

    Rockwell, NC,28138
    Phone: 704-279-6120

    Fax 704-279-4390
    Email: fbcrockwell01(at)Windstream.net


         SENIOR PASTOR :Rev. Matthew Laughter

    Pastormatthew(at)fbc-rockwell.com

     YOUTH/CHILDREN'S PASTOR:  Rev. Sam VanSlyke

    Pastorsam(at)fbc-rockwell.com

     

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