Jesus

Remember

By Kristi Sullins

Where were you when?  This question was part of a recent Ladies Bible Study class, and it immediately stirred up great conversation. Many of the answers were the same. The Challenger explosion and 911 were events that had left their marks on us as children, youth and young adults. A true blessing to our group is the diversity of ages represented, and the best of our group happened to be sitting right next to me that morning. Ms. Lucy Stevens held us all speechless as she shared her memories of the radio announcement after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and hearing about the dropping of the first nuclear bomb while she was in her kitchen ironing. These were memories seared in her brain. Memories of events that changed everything. Even years after each of us had experienced those life-changing moments we were able to sit and remember.

I must imagine that same question would have been asked years after that Friday, that Friday that changed eternity. The young and old, rich and poor, Gentile and Jew would have had a story to tell about Friday when Christ was crucified.

Maybe they were in the courts when Christ was falsely accused and charged with crimes as He stood in silence. They may have seen Pilate try to find fault in Him, and ultimately wash his hands of the whole matter. Did they hear about the beatings from the Roman soldiers or witness His destroyed body first hand?  Maybe they had strong enough stomachs to stand on the hill of Golgotha as the man who claimed He was Messiah was nailed to a cross and hung between 2 thieves. They would have heard His cries for mercy to God for those abusing Him, and His cries when the God of the world had to turn His back because of the sin resting on Christ. Those serving in the temple would have shared hearing the temple curtain rip from top to bottom with no explanation. All would have remembered the sky, black as night, and the earthquake that shook the ground after Jesus spoke “It is finished”. Everyone would have had a story to remember about that Good Friday.

It is time for us to remember too. The Easter season is always a time of fun and fellowship. We dress in our best for church, ready for a time of celebration. That is good, but we cannot skip Friday. Sunday is the day we celebrate the empty tomb and our risen Savior. But Sunday’s celebration could have never come without Friday’s sacrifice.

Take time to remember what Christ withstood on that Good Friday. Read the different accounts given by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Talk with your children about that day. Remember His sacrifice driven by love. Remember His suffering driven by evil. Remember grace shown to the thief at His side. Remember the prophecy promises Christ kept to the letter. Remember the king of the world being laid in a borrowed tomb. Remember.

Do not over think the act of remembering. For my daughter and I, we remembered over the kitchen sink, peeling potatoes for dinner. Back and forth we shared the details we knew about that Good Friday. We talked about feelings, sights and sounds. I told her the part of the story I hate the most (God turning His back on Christ) and she told me her favorite part (heaven and earth reacting to His death). There was no fancy setting or preplanned speech. It was just the two of us, sisters in Christ, remembering.

It is your turn now. Do not reject the hard part of this Holy week. Sink deep in the story. Shed tears as you remember. Your Father’s love is so great that He sent His Son to die. Our Messiah’s love is so great that He willingly walked into hell on earth for all mankind. Let the story remind you of the impossible grace of our God, and the eternal hope we have because of that Good Friday. Remember.

 

 

 

 

 

Journey to the Cross Part Two

By Elizabeth Thomas

As a leader in Kid’s Klub, I am often surprised at how the lessons I teach the kids affect my life too. I find that although the material is written for them, it also speaks to directly to me. This week, I was faced with a difficult lesson – following God’s plan instead of my own.

Last Sunday, we taught the kids about Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. What a fun story to teach! Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, while people laid their coats and palm branches down. They shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9) and everyone seemed excited that He had arrived! It’s the hopeful, joyful part of Jesus’ journey to the cross. But as we all know, the excitement didn’t last long.

The people were hopeful because Jesus had said He came to save them (Luke 19:10). But they wanted Him to save them from Roman rule.  Even those closest to Him thought He was going to establish His Kingdom here on Earth. But that wasn’t His plan. Instead of challenging the Roman government, He challenged the Pharisees and religious leaders. Instead of setting up His political throne, He cleansed the temple. He didn’t free them from Rome like they wanted. So, the people began to doubt Jesus. Was He really going to do what He said? The Pharisees took advantage of this dissention and started acting out their plan to kill Him. The opposition among the people grew when they realized Jesus wasn’t following through with “their plans”. Eventually, they turned on Him and pleaded for His crucifixion. When He didn’t fit their plan, they lost their faith.

Isn’t this just like us? When our plans unravel, so does our faith?

I have often wondered how the people who saw Jesus perform miracles could have turned on Him so quickly. How could they have crucified the Man who came to save them? To be in the presence of God, to see His power firsthand, only to abandon Him and turn away. But then, I remember how many times I have turned away from God. How many times have I seen His power in my life and then lost my faith in Him when things don’t go my way? How many times have I forgotten to trust Him when things are difficult? How many times have I questioned His plan, without remembering His sacrifice for me?

The great news is, Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. His plan was to redeem us eternally, and He did so on the cross. Aren’t you glad that He is up in Heaven now, preparing his Heavenly kingdom for all those who chose to follow Him? During this week of remembrance, don’t forget that God still has a plan. It didn’t end with Christ’s sacrifice. He has a bigger plan for your life. He is calling you to something greater. The question is, will you follow His plan or your own?

Hearing the Words from the Cross

By Karen Polich

Dr. Earl Craig delivered a Palm Sunday message on the words from the cross. Listen to the podcast here.

The cross is known around the globe but not everyone seeks to hear to what the cross is about. The cross is God fixing the human dilemma of sin. It goes beyond what we feel to what we hear and choose to tune in.

The family word. (John 19:26-27) Jesus is magnifying family relationships as he hangs dying on the cross. Families today need encouragement and the cross reminds us that God wants us to care for each other.

The forgiveness word. (Luke 23:32-34) The forgiveness of Christ was at its very best when man was at his very worst. Jesus taught us to love our enemies and showed no limit to forgiveness. In broken relationships, God is not concerned with who’s right or wrong but with who will make the first move.

The futility word. (Matthew 27:45-46) Jesus’s words come from the depth of human experience. The greatest enemy of a Christian is not disease but despair. Jesus knows what it feels like to be forsaken. When you are at a loss for words, the Holy Spirit will groan on your behalf. (Romans 8:26)

The final word. (John 19:30) Jesus’s first recorded words were about doing His Father’s business and his final words spoke of the completion. Finishing strong is important.

Regardless of where you are today, the words of the cross can speak light into your life. Everything can be overcome by the words of the cross.

Dr. Earl H. Craig was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, on a golf scholarship. Dr. Craig has a Master of Theology and Doctorate of Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He served as Senior Pastor for over twenty years in three churches. Dr. Craig moved into stewardship ministry with RSI and became a Senior VP. This allowed him to be in over 130 churches a year for over 25 years. Dr. Craig has served on the Board of Directors for Dallas Baptist University, Mississippi College, Southwestern Seminary and Dallas Athletic Club. He and his wife Ann have been married for 50 years. They have a son and daughter and four grandchildren.

The Last Straw

By Elizabeth Thomas

As a third-grade teacher, I like to think I have a lot of patience. But lately, my students have been driving me crazy over something so silly – pencils.  They’re constantly losing them, stealing them and always, ALWAYS asking to sharpen them! I have tried to ignore it, but last Friday was the last straw.

I had refilled the pencil bin earlier that morning, but around lunchtime they told me it was empty again. As you can probably imagine, I lost it. I told them no more pencils! When you lose your pencil, find something else. Well, that was interesting. They found crayons, colored pencils or even markers to use. (Let’s just say the spelling tests were quite colorful that day….) I stood firm. I’d  had enough. It was the “pencil that broke the teacher’s back.”

This story reminds me of something we taught in Kid’s Klub on Sunday. In preparation for Easter, we’ve been teaching the kids about Jesus’ journey to the cross. People might say that His journey began when He triumphantly entered Jerusalem or during the Last Supper with His disciples. But I’ve learned that His journey started even earlier than that. It started with death.

More specifically, Lazarus’ death. The Bible says Jesus loved Lazarus (John 11:5). But when his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word that he was sick, Jesus didn’t drop everything and leave. He stayed where He was for two more days before going to see Lazarus (John 11:6). His disciples warned Him not to go, saying, “But Rabbi, … a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” (John 11:8). Now, Jesus could have saved Lazarus before He died, or even healed him from afar. But He chose to return, even if it was dangerous for Him.

When He arrived, Jesus learned that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days (John 11:17). Jesus mourned Lazarus, comforted his sisters, and then raised him from the dead. An amazing miracle which caused many Jews to believe in Him (John 11:43-45).

When word got to the Pharisees that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, a man who had been declared legally dead for more than three days, it caught their attention. They worried that people were starting to follow Jesus and they were losing control. The Bible says that from that point on, they plotted to kill Him (John 11:53). This might have been avoided if Jesus hadn’t raised Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus hadn’t made a mistake. He hadn’t “accidently” upset the Pharisees. He chose to perform His miracle, knowing that they would set out to kill Him. He literally set the last straw on their backs. Jesus was in control of His journey from the very beginning. He knew it would start with death, Lazarus’ death. And He knew it would include His death. But He also knew that His journey wouldn’t end in death.

Isn’t it a relief to know that our journey won’t end in death? Our Messiah came to earth and literally orchestrated His death to save us. Even more amazing, three days later, He rose and conquered death! He put Himself on the path to rescue us, because of His love for us?

As we enter this Easter season, don’t forget that Jesus did it all on purpose. He was tried, beaten and crucified on purpose. He saved You on purpose. Remember to be grateful that Jesus’ journey to the cross started with death, but ends with our resurrected life.

Elizabeth Thomas is a third-grade teacher with Albuquerque Public Schools. She and her family have attended First Baptist Church of Albuquerque for seven years. She is passionate about working with children and serves in Kid’s Klub on Sunday mornings.

 

The Difference

By Karen Polich

“Your tomorrow does not have to look like your yesterday.”  Michael M. Cook

Jesus loves you, not because you are good, but because He is good. He is the difference maker in a changed life. Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Fragile Growth, continued in Colossians 3:1-11 with two big areas that should change when Christ is in our lives, sex and rage. Listen to the podcast here.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:1-11

As a Christian, ideas about sex will change. (verse 5) There are things that need to be put to death. Sexual issues have three common denominators:

  • The person is in a place they clearly do not belong.
  • It is difficult to get out of a situation alone.
  • Secrets have power in the dark. There is incredible freedom and liberation when secrets are pulled out into the light. After light shines into a secret, God will use it for good.

We should rid ourselves of anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language. (verse 8) When we desire something, but don’t get it these things can come out. Disappointment over not getting something we want or need can lead to anger. Desiring something is okay, demanding it becomes an issue. Demands at our center point can be destructive. We may make others pay a penalty when things don’t go as we wanted. These things are part of the old and should be put off with the old self.

When Jesus is the center point, we live in our new identity.

You are now His, not yours. Go back to where you are anchored. He has given us a new heart and new mind. Seek Him, read His Word and apply it to your life.

 

 

 

The Gift of Forgiveness

By Michael M. Cook

Jesus doesn’t make bad people better; He makes them new.

The forgiveness of Christ is remarkable. It extends beyond all sin. Our mistakes and shortcomings don’t define us. He is eager to meet us where we are. Have you experienced the magnitude of His forgiveness? Spend time today thinking about these five characteristics of forgiveness.

Gracious. Romans 3:24 says, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Grace is not earned. It is truly a gift.

Complete. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7) I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of His name. 1 John 2:12 There is nothing missing in His forgiveness. Nothing.

Ready to Forgive. You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Psalm 86:5 that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 His goodness and love are evident in His forgiveness.

Certain. “… to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ Acts 26:18

Unequaled. Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.  Micah 7:18 There is nothing like the forgiveness that comes through Christ. It is life-changing, life-giving and the ultimate gift.

If you’ve never accepted His gift of forgiveness and new life, simply say to Him: “Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for my debt. I accept your gracious gift of forgiveness and want to follow you.” If you’ve already done this, thank God for this gift. Want to talk to someone? Call us at 505.247.3611 or email kevin@fbcabq.com

Blending Jesus

By Karen Polich

Jesus + Anything Else = Trouble – Michael M. Cook

A blended Jesus quickly derails a life. Faith can become so weakened that Jesus isn’t even part of what or who is being worshiped.

Beware of the blender. There is no need to add anything to who He is. Life around us shouldn’t guide who we serve. As we grow in our faith, have we ever thought that our relationship with Him is not weakened by what is taken away as He makes us new, but by what we add in? How can you start with something already in its purest form and then choose to add anything to it?

Pure Jesus. He’s the One. Pure faith comes when we don’t blend cultural beliefs and ideas into “our Jesus”.

Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Fragile Growth, to learn more about an unblended Jesus. He shared three elements of “pure” Jesus. (Colossians 2:6-23)

New Life. We are made new in Christ. It is God who is cutting things away from our hearts, bringing us closer to Him and who He has called us to be.

Christ did not come to make bad people good or good people better. He came to bring life. He came to make dead people live. We are made alive in Christ. Trust Him, embrace Him, be careful not to add anything else to the mix.

New Identity. Think of it as related to the debts we cannot pay. How do we reconcile all that we cannot change? There are words we shouldn’t have said and those we know we should have. There are the things we did or didn’t do. All of the things we’ve done in our imperfection. None of it is who God created us to be. What’s the answer for it all? It takes something beyond this world, beyond what we can do. He has taken it away and nailed it to the cross. We can do nothing, but He can everything. He alone brings salvation through grace.

New Freedom. We are made new, filled by the Holy Spirit and given new life. Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil. Hebrews 2:14

Seek Jesus at His purest. He is the One.

Center Point

By Karen Polich

He created you and everything around you.

We all have a center point, the authority we give our allegiance to. Who (or what) is at the center point of your life? Take a look at life and evaluate what is the center piece. Where is your worship? Is God the center? Is it money, time, work, an upcoming wedding, fitness, the next vacation, or children?

What happens when Jesus is the center? Get ready. When Jesus is at the center you know, He won’t leave things the same. He’s going to ask you to love those who hate you. He’ll drive you to give more away. Your time, resources and priorities will become His. He’s not going to leave you alone.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—  if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians 1:15-23

Why should Jesus be at the center?

  1. He made you and everything around you. The Son is the image of the invisible God. He is God, full and complete. Jesus lived among us in flesh, fully God. (Hebrews 1:3, John 14:9) Jesus is the first-born over all creation. Everything was created through Him and for Him.
  2. He bought us. (Colossians 1:19) We have been reconciled to God through Christ.

When Jesus is the center point, we see fruit and results in our lives.

Fragile growth is just that, it’s fragile. God never intended for us to stay as we are. He has plans and a purpose for every life. When we put Jesus at the center point of our lives, we can live life as it should be. What is your center point?

Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Fragile Growth, here.

 

 

 

 

Preparing for the Lord’s Supper

By Karen Polich

The new covenant is final. Gone are the old ways of ceremony and sacrificial offerings. Through Jesus Christ we are no longer bound to this. Jesus came as the fulfillment of God’s plan to reconcile His people. He served as the ultimate sacrifice.

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:10

Sunday, Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church will spend time together honoring our Lord and Savior through the Lord’s Supper.

The Lord’s Supper represents what Jesus offered. We live in complete forgiveness of sin, once and for all, through Christ. We should approach the observance of the Lord’s Supper with reverence and worship. What greater gift than the gift of salvation? To be truly reconciled with God through Jesus Christ is the ultimate picture of grace.

It is a time of reflection. Where is your heart with God? Take an honest look at your relationship with your Lord. Are there things you need to lay at Christ’s feet? Forgiveness is free. There are no strings attached and no need to “earn” your way. Christ is there with outstretched arms, waiting for you.

I am the way, truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

It is a time of worship. We serve a mighty God! Hidden in Christ, we stand before Him in perfection. (Colossians 3:1-4)  Having examined your heart, it is time to focus on what Christ has done for us and give Him the glory He deserves. Let your heart give thanks and praise to the One who sits at God’s right hand. Jesus is worthy of our praise.

The Lord’s Supper is a time for all believers to worship together, forgiven and free from the bondage of sin. In preparation for Sunday, spend time in prayer and read Hebrews 10:1-10.

For more information about worship service times, visit our website, www.fbcabq.com.

 

A Humble Witness

By Ty Haguewood

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”  John 1:29-34

Greatness is not measured on some type of outward success but rather an inward faithfulness to God. It is vital for us to understand that the “Great Ones” are only great because of their faithfulness to God.

The world desires for us to believe that greatness is a characteristic of someone who has had outward success such as a certain income or social status like fame. The men that we will be discussing in the next several weeks are men who gave their life to following the Lord.

John the Baptist has such an incredible testimony. I am extremely challenged by the life of John for several reasons. I just want to give you two life changing truths that John the Baptist taught me.

John’s entire life was leading to the moment he would meet his Savior, Jesus.

I remember months ago reading the story of John the Baptist when the Lord revealed something HUGE to me. I have always been a person that thought purpose was an outward calling. After God saved me, I became obsessed with figuring out what my “purpose” in life would be. I stumbled across the testimony of John and was broken by the beautiful testament of John’s faith. I mean this dude’s purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus and before he could even see the ministry of Jesus completely fulfilled he is beheaded. Meditating on the simple, “Behold, the Lamb of God…” left be baffled to say the least. John’s entire life was fulfilled when he met Jesus, his hope had arrived.

Shouldn’t that be our response to the Lord? BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD! John saw the Lamb approaching and he was compelled to start shouting and crying out those bold words. Can I show you something special? The Lamb that approached John is the Lamb that ransomed you and I. John showed me that our purpose is Jesus.

John’s faithfulness was not dependent on whether he would receive a great reward. His faithfulness was dependent on the Savior that would soon be coming.

John was called to baptize with water and preach of the coming Messiah without having known when or who this Messiah would be. This is crazy to me!! The calling God placed on his life was good enough for him because of the God who called him rather than the outcome that would come of his life. Our obedience and faithfulness to God should never be dependent on an outcome. Faithfulness to God looks like following Him regardless of where that ends up and how crazy you may look in doing so.

John’s life does not end in the greatest of ways. After being imprisoned, John the Baptist is beheaded. The Lord used the life of John the Baptist to shape and mold who I am today. My earnest desire is to get to the end of my life having had faith like that of John. Let me leave you with some words from our Lord and Savior, Jesus about John.

When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7:24-28

Listen to The Humble One via podcast here.