Favorite Verses

1. John 3:16

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

2. John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

3. Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God...

4. 2nd Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousnes...

5. Matthew 11:28

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

 

 

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January

From the Pastor's Desk:

“Jesus Tries to Talk People Out of Following Him”
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” -Luke 14:25-27.
Recently, I’ve enjoyed meeting with a number of wonderful people who wish to (and have) become members here at First Presbyterian Church in Mattoon. When speaking of the reasons they feel called to join FPC, they consistently speak of the warm spirit of fellowship in worship and the church’s obvious love for mission and for people. Church, your Christ-empowered hospitality is winsome. God is doing wonderful things through us.
In Jesus’ day, too, the evident love and presence of God drew a crowd. People recognized God’s Spirit in Jesus and wanted to be around Him. This, I’m sure, delighted Jesus and the disciples. After all, Jesus came to earth in order to save people and draw them back to God.

However, Jesus needed to make sure that people really wanted to become His disciples, not just His fans. And so we have passages like the one above from the gospel of Luke, in which Jesus says hard, challenging (awful?) words. “If you want to be my disciple, you have to be willing to put me above everything else.”
Talk about high enrollment costs! “Hate” your Dad and Mom, your spouse and kids, your brothers and sisters, and your own life? Ouch. David Platt, Christian pastor and author of the book Radical, commented that Jesus seems to be talking people OUT of following Him.
Now, let me emphasize that Jesus isn’t advocating for hatred. Don’t get thrown by this particular use of the word “hate” in that passage above. Jesus is clearly a proponent of love (there are countless passages which emphasize that). Jesus is in no way justifying cruelty to family members or to yourself. The disciples understood this.
But the Lord IS saying that following Him must come first. If there should arise a decision between either following Jesus or pleasing people, the disciple is to choose Jesus.
But, seriously, Jesus, why are you being so mean and so demanding?
Here, I believe, is the answer: Only that which is placed under the Lordship of Jesus is redeemed. The early church preached that there is no other Name (other than the Name of Jesus) by which humanity is saved.”
If we don’t put our valuables in the bank, they can not be protected by the bank. In the same way, if we do not place ourselves and our relationships and all the gifts we’ve been given under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, they are not sanctified. Rather than keeping us close to Jesus, they are liable to take us away from Him.
Remember that Jesus also said: “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If Jesus is not our greatest treasure, than we are trusting in something else to save us. Jesus asks us through these Scriptures: “Is that wise?”  Jesus is simply being up front about the cost of truly seeking Him first. It won’t always be comfortable. It will mean challenges and trials and difficulties. But it will bring rewards far greater than the world can offer.
I love it when people join our church. That fills me with such joy! Both our new members and our long-time members are such a blessing! Yet let us all remember that our first priority is being and making disciples of Jesus, not just adding to the active membership roll.
God bless you all, and let’s have a truly blessed and God-honoring 2019. May Jesus use FPC to expand His Kingdom, and make committed followers of Jesus Christ!

Yours in Christ’s love, Pastor Matthew

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