Office Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00 A.M. - 4:30 P.M. Sunday Sunday School 9:00 AM Morning Worship 10:30 AM Children's Church 10:30 AM AWANA 4:00 PM Evening Worship 6:00 PM Wednesday Family Supper 5:00 PM Mission Friends 6:00 PM RA's & GA's 6:00 PM Youth Group 6:15 PM Prayer Meeting 6:30 PM Choir Practice 7:30 PM
Mission: First Baptist Church of Pine Castle is a body of believers in Christ, voluntarily joined together under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Our mission is to know Christ better and make Him known to others.
Operating as usual
I remember when I first got a pair of glasses with transition lenses. If I stood in one place, and looked straight ahead, I got a nice clear view of distant objects. If I sat in a chair and trained my eyes downward, the pages of my book appeared completely in focus. The problem came when I tried to walk and turn my head to look around or up and down. Suddenly, unidentified objects swirled across my vision, causing me to feel off balance. I felt that I was surely going to fall down!
I didn’t believe the eye doctor when he said that I would soon get used to them. But in an amazingly short time, everything came back in focus, with no effort at all on my part! What a relief it was to walk across the room without weaving from left to right and back again.
It’s interesting that a lack of focus can be so disconcerting. Tasks that should be easy become complex, and a disgruntled frame of mind is sure to follow. If I had to wear a pair of out-of-focus glasses indefinitely, I wouldn’t be a very pleasant person to live with.
It’s easy to tell when your glasses are out of focus, but it is more difficult to detect when your life is out of focus. Things like worry, ambition, jealousy, anxiety and pride worm their way into our minds, destroying the peace that we should by enjoying. Let’s look at several Bible verses that remind us how we can keep our focus on God, and not be distracted by the attitudes of the world.
Psalm 145:1 “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.”
Philippians 3:20 “ But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,”
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
Matthew 6:21 “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Psalm 86:11 Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”
AND, my very favorite:
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
If you suspect that your life might be getting a bit out of focus, try this experiment: Ask a friend to switch glasses with your for just a moment. Chances are, their glasses will have a different prescription, and you will instantly have blurry, unfocused vision.
Then ask yourself, “Do I want to live with my life out of focus, just as my eyes are now blurred and confused?” Then give their glasses back and use your clear vision to read and meditate on the verses above.
[02/21/21] Food pantry need for March: Peanut Butter (and/or jelly). Please bring to church with you any Sunday or drop at church office during the week. Thank you!
Ash Wednesday and Lent
This past Wednesday was the first day of Lent, known as “Ash Wednesday” on the church calendar. If someone were to ask you just exactly what Lent is all about, you could give them this definition: “Lent is the Christian season of preparation before Easter. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ—his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial, and resurrection.”
You are probably aware that ashes represent mourning and penitence in the Bible. If you have never been to an Ash Wednesday service, you might be interested in how the ashes are used. First of all, you really have to plan ahead, because on Palm Sunday of the PREVIOUS year, you would have burned the Palm Branches used at church and saved the ashes for the following year.
I came very close to throwing out a jar of Palm Sunday ashes before I learned about this custom. I was helping with “spring cleaning” at another church, and I didn’t see any value to the jar of ashes that I found. But someone more knowledgeable than I kept me from throwing them away. (That may be why I was never asked to come back for a spring-cleaning day at that church!)
This is how those special ashes are used in the service: The members of the congregation come forward one at a time and the priest or pastor dips his thumb into the ashes and makes the sign of the cross on the person’s forehead with the ashes. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest or pastor applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he says these words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
The somber observance of Ash Wednesday services usually includes a time for repentance. A Psalm of penitence written by King David is often read aloud. I would like to share with you Psalm 51:1-10. (ESV) When God confronted David about his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, this Psalm was David’s response. See if you can absorb the feeling of David’s great sorrow and remorse, and his desire to receive God’s forgiveness:
1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
I read a meaningful footnote about the word create in that last sentence: "Create in me a clean heart, O God." The Hebrew word for create that David used in the Psalm is, “bara,” the same word used in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The word “bara” means “to bring into being from nothing.” This verb is used in the Bible only in reference to God, because God alone can create something from nothing!
This produces a powerful word picture when we read David’s request of God. David knew that his heart was dark and stained and damaged by the terrible sins of adultery and murder. Asking for forgiveness was only the first step in being reconciled with God. His repentance needed to include a determination to rid his life of such terrible acts. No amount of patching up or trying to clean the stains would do. He needed God to create a new and pure heart in him.
Praise God, that God is both able and willing to create new hearts in those who come to him in repentance.
Wednesday Prayer Service
A NECESSARY AND DANGEROUS PRAYER Living the Lord's Prayer
This week Sunday will be Valentine’s Day, a day which was set aside by a Pope in the 5th century to honor St. Valentine. Usually, holidays have a very clear-cut origin but it hasn’t been determined exactly which man by that name deserved that honor. As one online article phrased it, “The history of Valentine’s Day is shrouded in mystery.”
It wasn’t until the 14th or 15th century that the day was associated with romantic love. In 18th century England, the practice of giving flowers, candies and greeting cards became more common. Cards with hearts and doves and cupids became known as “valentines.”
I was interested in the fact that it took Valentine’s Day 1300 years to flourish into a well-known practice. If Hallmark cards had been available a few centuries earlier, I believe that would have happened much faster! I am quite sure that the Pope from the 5th century would be astounded that this year an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards will be sent.
While Valentine’s Day is a celebration of romantic love, I would like to compare it to a much greater love, which is eternal, and is available to all mankind. In Genesis 1:1 we can read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.“ God’s creation culminated with this event in Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness. . . “
And this is when the “love story” began. Let me show you some verses that could be printed on valentines from God to us:
I John 3:1: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
I John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.”
Jeremiah 31:3: “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Psalm 136:26: “Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.”
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We all know that “love stories” on earth are not eternal. Even couples who celebrate their 50th Golden Anniversaries will eventually be separated in death. In comparison, this is what we can expect when we accept God’s love:
Romans 8:37-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I hope that you receive something on Valentine’s Day this year that is a token of love from someone you cherish. But greater than that, I want you to be reminded of the great love of our Father, God, exhibited through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. Those who accept God’s Valentine and desire to belong to Him have received a treasure that is beyond comparison.
[02/10/21] Do we have any craft vendors at our church? We will be having a Spring Fling Craft and Vendor Fair at the church on Saturday, April 10. If you are interested contact Suzi Spencer at [email protected]
I am a great lover of fiction, especially Christian fiction. Any moments of my day that are free from other responsibilities, you will find me reading a book. I might say that all the books I’ve read could stretch around the earth at the equator. Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I’m sure I have made my point that I LOVE to read.
If I had a conversation with you about my favorite books, I might say something like this: “Oh, I just love Lynn Austin.” If you were a fellow book lover, you would know what I meant - I love to read books that Lynn Austin has written. I can’t really say that I love the author, because I’ve never met her. But I have great admiration for her writing skills, and I’m so glad that God gave her the ability to write such enjoyable novels.
Have you ever thought about God being an Author? Exodus 31:18 says “When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.” I love to picture this occasion in my mind, and think how precious those tablets were, having been touched by God Himself.
But, when we think of God as an Author, there is an even more important scripture to consider. Let’s read II Timothy 3:16 to see what we can learn about God’s authorship of the Bible: “ All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”
Isn’t “God-breathed” an interesting phrase! It describes the process by which God inspired a series of men to write down the events and truths that He gave to them. When we read different books of the Bible, we can see that the authors had different writing styles. So, we can’t really say that they were “taking dictation” from God. God allowed their own writing abilities to shine through, but God Himself supervised the writing and the message.
Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Anything written by man could not have that kind of power. It is God’s inspiration of the writers of scripture that makes the Bible “alive and active.”
How does reading the Bible lead to our loving the author? Well, we might call the Bible “The Autobiography of God.” Instead of being the HISTORY of mankind, the Bible is HIS STORY. It tells of God and His relationship with man. In the very first chapters of Genesis, we are told that God created us in His own image. Though mankind fell into sin, God never gave up on us. He devised a plan whereby His precious Son, Jesus, gave His life to redeem us.
Three numerical facts reveal how amazing the Bible is: 1) The Bible consists of 66 books, 2) which written by 40 authors, 3) over a period of 1500 years. Any other project with that description would be a hodgepodge of unorganized writing. It was God’s guiding spirit that produced a book that is unified and tells us everything we need to know about having a relationship with the Author.
When we believe in God and accept Jesus as our Savior, then HIS STORY becomes OUR STORY. Every book of the Bible holds treasures that reveal God’s love for us. The greatest expression of God’s love is given to us in 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.”
When you read your Bible today, tell the Author how much you love Him.
Everyone who is part of my hymn-loving generation will probably recognize these words as the title and opening line of a favorite hymn. If I were a hymn disk jockey, I’d play this song every day on my radio station, because it is a masterpiece of faith and praise.
We owe our thanks to Joachim Neander who wrote the German hymn in 1680 and Catherine Winkworth, who translated it into English in 1863. I’m impressed with the “staying power” of a piece of music that is still relevant and loved, over 300 years after it was written!
This hymn has SIX verses, but I’ll include the words to just my two favorites, the first and the last:
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, oh, let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him;
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him. (“Aye” means “always, continually.”)
While we are thinking about this hymn, let’s look up a definition of “praise.” Here is a description from a generic, non-religious dictionary: “To express warm approval of, commendation for, or admiration for.” With that definition, there could be limitless objects of our praise. We could praise our grandchildren for getting good grades or praise our neighbor for having a lovely flower garden.
But I also found the following longer definition from a Bible-oriented article about praise: “Praise is a form of worship, which involves the whole aspect of our AWE, REVERENCE, LOVE and RESPECT for Almighty God.“ Now, there is a definition with some meat to it! Those are great words to review, to be sure that our hearts are in the right place when we want to praise God in our songs or prayers.
If we want to dig deeper in our understanding of praise, we need to go to our #1 source: God’s word. I love to look up number facts, so I can’t resist telling you that the word “praise” occurs 363 times in the NIV Bible, with 307 of those occurring in the Old Testament.
Now, don’t peek ahead – see if you can guess which book in the Old Testament contains the most uses of “praise?” I bet most of you got the right answer – it’s the book of Psalms, with the word occurring 182 times!
I paged quickly through all 182 excerpts and found a few thoughts to pass on to you.
When should we praise God?
“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” Psalm 34:1
What is one reason that we should praise God every day?
“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19
Where does the desire to praise God come from?
“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” Psalm 103:1
Who should praise God?
Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, you his servants; praise the name of the Lord. Psalm 113:1
What should be our response to “the Almighty, the King of Creation?”
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
I can’t think of anything more satisfying than praising the One who created us in such a marvelous way! I hope you will explore some of the other “Psalm Clips” and find verses that are meaningful to you.
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|Tuesday||08:00 - 16:30|
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|Friday||08:00 - 16:30|
Our Sunday worship services are: 9:00am with Holy Communion first and third Sundays Fellowship, Bible Study, Sunday School at 10:30am Festival worship times may vary; call church office for current information
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