Dear Friends in Faith,
For the past few weeks we have been talking about Jacob. We talked about how God remained faithful to Jacob throughout his unfaithfulness. The Lord remaining faithful to Jacob was not based on Jacob’s own merits but on God’s unwavering commitment to keep his promise. The Lord said to Jacob in Genesis 26:4, “in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” God had also made this promise to Abraham.
Like Jacob, we are blessed not because we are good. We are blessed not because of our good looks and charms. We are blessed, in spite of our recklessness in the faith. We are blessed in spite of our unfaithfulness. We are blessed in spite of who we are.
We are about to start the Advent celebration, the coming of our Lord. Let us remember what Advent is all about. Advent is about the coming of our Savior. I pray that you would open your heart to welcome this baby. God’s promise of salvation to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob has become true for us in Jesus Christ. Jesus is why we are to celebrate this season.
Welcome to the Season of Advent and Merry Christmas!
Dear Friends in Faith,
In 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, Paul says, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” Some of the mysteries Paul refers to, have been revealed to us through the work of Christ Jesus. Our salvation was a complete mystery before the coming of Christ. No one knew how we were going to be saved, then Jesus came along. Now we know, if we believe in Him, we will not die, but we will live.
I believe also, we are the stewards of the resources we are given. Being good stewards of the resources entrusted to us are our Christian responsivity. Our current board of trustees takes this responsibility seriously. This year alone, we have been able to change the side doors, installed security lights, fixed the chimneys and replaced the roof. We have done all that due to your contribution and the due diligence of our trustees. We are still working on a few more projects: replacing the windows, the parsonage’s kitchen, the Fitzgerald and Trull Building’s bathroom. I am grateful that we have a board of trustees dedicated to improve the condition of the church building.
Furthermore, some of you were rightfully asking why didn’t we take some of the money to replace the roof from our investment. Please allow me to explain why we should not do that. Our church is financially stable but not financially secure. Over 30 % of our budget is based on the revenue we receive from the Cell Towers. If the technology were to change tomorrow and those companies were to no longer need towers, it would be hard to cover our expenses. Looking ahead, I and the board of trustees came up with a plan to bolster the church’s investment(s). three years ago, we had only, $75,000, today the church has over $200,000 invested. The plan is simple, just add a little bit of money to the investment account whenever we can. The goal is to replace the percentage of the cell towers with the investment interests. The plan is working, we need to continue to invest!
Every improvement, we’ve made so far, we have paid for. The reason why we can pay for the improvements is because of the way your hard-earned money is being managed by our trustees. I usually do not write about church finances; however, I think this was important to do and important for you to know.
We are to be good stewards first and foremost because of the spiritual blessings we receive in Christ Jesus. Second, we are to be good stewards because we are entrusted with the Lord’s resources. Remember,” it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.”
Dear Friends in Faith,
A few years ago I told you about Melchizedek, one of the persons I admire a great deal in the Old Testament. I know the name is tough to pronounce, but give it a try. There is a lot to be said about this Person. Some have called Him the Righteous Governor, an Exalted Person, and others have called Him a Super Human Being. All of these descriptions of Him are good, but I would rather take Him at His name. His name means the King of Righteousness. He is a Christ-type in the Old Testament.
Now why do I have to talk about this King of Righteousness in a pledge drive? I think for two reasons: 1st) He blessed Abram (Abraham) before Abram praised Him. This means, before we can do anything to glorify or to thank God or to even come to church, He blessed us. Do not take my word for it, just look at your life, your family and the good friends you are blessed with. 2nd) After being blessed, Abram in turn gave a tenth of everything he owned to the King of Righteousness. This is not to say the more we give the more we will receive, but rather it is to say because we have been blessed by our Lord, our King of Righteousness, therefore we give (see Gen14:17-24, and Heb 7:2).
Enclosed you will find an estimate of giving card and a postcard. What I am asking you to do is to prayerfully consider what you can give in 2018 to support the Lord's ministry here at First Baptist Church of Tewksbury. Write your estimate on the postcard and mail it back to First Baptist Church by March 25. On that Sunday, we will place our estimate in the pledged box at the end of the service, and then we will lift up our pledges before the Lord in prayer.
I give to the Lord because I have been blessed. I hope you feel the same way and give according to the way you have been blessed.
I thank you for your faithful support of First Baptist Church of Tewksbury.
Yours in Christ,
Dear Church Family and Friends,
The Christmas story is a familiar story that needs to be told over and over again in an unfamiliar way. The birth of a baby was a familiar occurrence in the time of Mary and Joseph, but the announcement of the birth of Christ was so unfamiliar that Mary was perplexed by the appearance of the angel. We note in Luke 1:28-32a that "the angel came to Mary and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. "You see, this is a wonderful story! This is a story about the most precious gift being given to those who deserve it the least.
We all have been blessed in receiving the gift of salvation through our Lord. Though the story of the birth of Jesus may appear to be familiar, we still need to share it with our family, friends and children in a new way. I think going out of our way to be kind, compassionate and sympathetic to others might be a new way for us to spread the Good News. We have to share it because Jesus is our only hope.
The angel says to Mary that she shall call the baby-Jesus. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High."This baby is the free gift of salvation to the world! Therefore, let us share this familiar story over and over again.
Welcome to the season of Advent and Merry Christmas!
Oct 1, 2017
Dear Church Family,
We read in Psalm 145:13b that "the LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works." Isn't that true First Baptist? The Lord is faithful! He has been to us for a 175 years. He will continue to be faithful for many more years to come. As a church, we have responded to the Lord's faithfulness by being faithful to the mission of preaching the gospel for a 175 years-that is pretty cool! Best of all we are committed more than ever before to the preaching of the Gospel.
Throughout the months of August, September and October we will be having different speakers to underline God's faithfulness and our response throughout the years as a people. Here are some of the speakers to expect: Rev. Dr. Dick Haley, Rev. Dr. Denis Hollinger, Rev. Dr. Jim Critchlow and Rev. Dr. William David Spencer.
Sunday, October 22, is our main celebration. We will have a thanksgiving service follows with a reception. Dr. William David Spencer, the author of the best seller, Joy Through the Night, will be our keynote speaker at the 10:30 am service, and Rev. Haley will be speaking during the reception. Both Dr. Spencer and Rev. Haley will be speaking about what it means to remain faithful moving forward as a congregation. I am so looking forward to celebrate with you. The Lord is Faithful!
Rev. Simeon Damas, Pastor
Dear Church Family,
After Jesus' resurrection He appeared to His disciples and said, "Peace to You" (Luke 24:36)! This was and continued to be a Jewish greeting. When Jesus as a Jewish person said "peace to you (the disciples)," what He meant was that the wholeness, and completeness of God be with the disciples.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ restores all believers to a state of wholeness and completeness. In the same spirit, I say, "Peace to You!" This is a great time in our church, a time of revival and renewal of faith. I am exciting about what the Lord is doing here at First Baptist. More people are feeling the touch of the Spirit of God. More people are experiencing the completeness and the wholeness of the presence of Jesus Christ. This Easter season is just a reminder of the achievement of Jesus on our behalf. Now as believers, we too can say that through the Resurrection of Jesus we have been made whole and complete.
I hope you all have a good Easter with your family and remember to stay in the spirit of Jesus' resurrection, because we have been made complete.
Peace unto you this Season,
Dear Friends in Faith,
April 23 will be an important day in the life of our church. This is the Sunday on which we will express our intended investment in the church for the coming year. Although we do not always think of financial giving as an opportunity to tangibly express our love, devotion and thankfulness to God, it is nothing less than that. There will be a 'pledge box' placed in the vestibule, where you will be able to place your pledge until the 26th of March.
I hope you would prayerfully consider what you will be pledging this year, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to talk with me before or after service or during the week.
To some this might be uncertain financial times, therefore we hesitate to increase our commitment. Yet I believe that God gives us the strength to do what God leads us to do. Robin and I will try to increase our giving this year, for I can tell you that the Lord has been faithful to us. So if you feel the same way, please join us in this endeavor.
A New Resolution
Stephen Shapiro offers the following interesting statistics concerning New Year's resolutions:
Forty-five percent of Americans usually set New Year's Resolutions; seventeen percent infrequently set resolutions; thirty-eight percent never set resolutions.
Eight percent are always successful in achieving their resolutions; nineteen percent achieve their resolutions every other year; forty-nine percent have infrequent success; twenty-four percent (one in four) never succeed and have failed on every resolution every year.
Forty-seven percent set resolutions related to self-improvement or education.
-Thirty-eight percent set resolutions related to weight
-Thirty-four percent set resolutions related to money
-Thirty-one percent set resolutions related to relationships
-The younger you are, the more likely you are to achieve your resolutions (thirty-nine percent of those in their twenties achieve their resolutions every year or every other year, while less than fifteen percent of those over fifty achieve their resolutions every year or every other year).
How did the resolutions from last year work out ? Did you keep them? As this survey tells us, it appears that most of us make those resolutions as an exercise. I know I have made quite a few, and never really kept them.
Maybe this year we are to make one together, and try to work hard to keep it. Let's make together a new resolution. The Psalmist recommends that we sing a new song. He says in Psalm 33:1-3:"Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts."
Now why do we need a new song? We sing a new song because of what is yet to come. The song the psalmist is talking about here is more than just singing. It is more than having impressive skills of singing. It is about how to cope with the adversity of life. It is about how to live in the melody of life even when life does not harmonize. The song that the psalmist is talking about here tells us that things may be hard to overcome, life may get darker and darker, sickness may appear, but joy is sure to come with the morning. In life things may or will get tough, but it is just a matter of time for our condition to change.
A lot of people see praising God as only when there is a celebration. When things are good. I think praising God has the same meaning of having joy in the Lord. We are not praising God just because of something good, but because of what the Lord has in store for us. Because we know that whatever is happening right now, is just temporary, but what is in store is permanent.
Let me remind you that it is because of the work of Jesus on our behalf that we are to sing a new song. Despite the adversities of life, we are to remember that we have been set free in Jesus. That is precisely why our new resolution must be a new song.
Dear Church Family and Friends,
The Christmas story is a very familiar story that needs to be told and retold in a very unfamiliar way. The reason why it needs to be told and retold is because our future depends on what happened on that Christmas night. On that night, God spoke his message of love through the birth of his Son. In the birth of Jesus Christ, God announced the Good News that eternal life had broken out on the pages of history. This News of the Lord's birth has changed our fate for the better. For indeed, it is "to us a child is born, to us a son is given."
During this Advent season, it is our hope here at First Baptist Church that you might find encouragement in this familiar story. May you hear this message a fresh and anew this Advent season.
Welcome to the season of Advent, and Merry Christmas!
"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble" (Psalm 107:1-2).
It gets a little weird to talk about politics around the dinner table on thanksgiving, doesn't it? By this thanksgiving we will know who is the president-elect. Though politics might be important to you it might not be to others, so just refrain from talking about politics this thanksgiving. Remember, thanksgiving is all about being thankful for the many blessings we receive from the Lord. In particular, the blessing of family.
This thanksgiving once again we will be reminded of the important things in life: children, family and friends and be thankful. The Psalmist reminds us also that we are to give thanks to the Lord because of His goodness and of the things that He has done in our lives. We give thanks to the Lord because He loves us, but above all we give thanks to the Lord for His blessed hope of everlasting life.
Be thankful because the Lord is good and his steadfast love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so!
Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving,
"No more Hurting"
In my experience in life and in ministry, I have seen people hurting. Some of them do not see any light or hope in the future. I am thinking of those born with disabilities that no human should endure. It pains the families to see their loved ones struggle. This reminds me of Lynn. When her parents were pregnant with her, they thought finally the Lord had answered their prayer to have a child, for they were trying for a long time. They too, like other parents had a baby shower, they too went to the stores before the birth to buy clothes and toys for their baby. They thought when the baby got older, she might become a lawyer or a doctor. They had high hopes for her. However, a few months before Lynn was born they knew something was not right; they were told that something did not look right. Lynn who is now twenty years old was born severely autistic. She depends on her parents for everything. Things that people like you and I take for granted, like going out to eat, going to the movies, going on vacation are huge predicaments for her parents. Please, do understand that her parents do not see her as a burden, because they love her. Her parents often wonder, who is going to take care of her when they are gone? Are people going to abuse her? Is she going to be ok? In so many ways, her parents are struggling and hurting, this kind of hurt is deep.
I also remember Joan, who was the pillar of her family. A single mom who worked two jobs to make ends meet. She had three young children who depended on her for everything. One day, on her way to work she felt like something was not right, she felt uncomfortable, so she called her neighbor to get her kids from the school bus, while she went to see her doctor. Her doctor for a moment thought that things were just fine, but just to be sure the doctor ordered an x-ray and an echo cardiogram, partly due to her heart condition. After the tests, Joan was told that she needed to go to the operating room right then. She went to the operating room and never made it out. Her children were left hurting, this hurt too was deep. So many people are hurting and thus wonder when is it going to end. When is it going to be over? Well, Isaiah tells us that there will be no more hurting in God's holy mountain. There will be no sadness, no tears in God's holy mountain. In Isaiah 11:9, he tells us:" They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea."
In this chapter, Isaiah talks about a shoot from the stamp of Jesse, a branch that will bear fruit. This stamp is the reason why there will be no more hurting. This stamp will be the hope of the people, it will be seen and heard from a far. Jeremiah refers to that stamp as a branch of righteousness. He says "I will cause a righteous branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land" (See Jeremiah 33:14-17). He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth." Jesus Christ is the Stamp of Jesse or the branch of righteousness. Furthermore, the angel said to Mary in Luke 1:32-33,"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." This King Jesus is good in all his ways, therefore, in his kingdom there will be no more hurting.
Little Martin Richard died in the 2013 Boston bombing. He was only 8 years old. What touched countless hearts was a poster he held which he made, that read, "No More Hurting People – Peace. "Isaiah paints the picture that little Martin pointed to, a picture of a peaceful Kingdom, a picture of the kingdom of God.
Imagine you live in a world where peace of mind is the way of life, a world where things that could hurt are non-existent. The thoughts that could hurt and destroy are a distant past. A world where self-interests become the interests of all. A world where the only intention we have is to do good. This is the world that Jesus offers in God's holy mountain. A peaceful world. Would you like to be part of God's world? Jesus makes known to us the truth of the future, He reveals to us the truth of life and immortality. He tells us that the pain, or the hurt of this world will not last forever. The infirmities of people like Lynn will certainly be a thing of the past, the sudden death of people like Joan will be no more. The wish of little Martin will be a reality. Death most certainly will be no more.