Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 @ 11:10 AM

Jesus told two parables about the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 13:44-46.  In those parables he explains to those listening that the Kingdom of Heaven is "The Greatest Treasure."  The kingdom is so valuable that a person would willingly give up anything in the world to obtain it.  Would you give up everything to obtain the Kingdom of Heaven?  I guess that depends on what the benefits of the kingdom are.  What is it that makes the Kingdom of Heaven so valuable?  That's the topic of Sunday's sermon at Church on the Hill.  Make note that this Sunday we will have one combined worship service at 9:00 a.m.

This Sunday will be my last worship service for Church on the Hill.  I am retiring after serving as the Lead Pastor for this church for 23 years.  Diane and I thank you for the privilege of serving the people of this great congregation.  Sunday's service will be a celebration with lots of music and and sharing in the Lord's Supper.  I've chosen "The Greatest Treasure" as for the sermon because it summarizes what I've been preaching about for 23 years.  I can't think of a better parting gift than offering you "The Greatest Treasure" you could ever receive.  I hope you'll join us Sunday on the Hill in Riverside!


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 @ 7:04 AM

Jesus' famous "Parable of the Prodigal Son" is really "A Tale of Two Sons" and the love the Father has for his children.  Each of us can identify to some extent with one or both of the sons in Jesus' story.  Neither son really understands the Father's love and as a result each one makes poor choices and exhibit attitudes not worthy of the Father's son.  However, in spite of his children's shortcomings, the Father never falters in his love for them and desire that they would know him better.

This Sunday in worship at Church on The Hill, we're going to take a fresh look at Jesus' story of "A Tale of Two Sons."  If you don't know God our Father well, come meet him and discover his great love and never ending patience for you.  If you know the Father and believe in him, you'll discover the importance of becoming more like the Father in your love, in patience and acceptance of others.  Worship services at Church on The Hill at at 9:00 a.m. (traditional) and 10:45 a.m. contemporary.  Hope to see you at church this Sunday!



Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 @ 11:29 AM

In Hebrews 12:1-3 we're taught that following Jesus is like running a race.  Following Jesus is not a sprint, it's a marathon.  It's about living one's life in such a way that we'll make it to the victory stand after the course has been run.  Our example in running is none other than Jesus Christ who faithfully did God's work and kept running, even when it took him to a cross.  Jesus tells us in Mark 8:34 that if we want to be his disciples, we must be ready to take up our cross daily and follow him.  Living life that way is a marathon that requires grit, determination and a commitment to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Many Christians set out to follow Jesus but struggle to keep running.  They allow the concerns of this world to hinder them and weigh them down.  Sin entangles like an untied shoelace with one false step causing them to trip and fall.  We have to overcome the things that hinder and entangle and keep us from running the race and winning the prize.  The secret to running an effective race: keeping our eyes on Jesus.  Jesus taught us how to run.  The better we know Jesus the more effectively we will be able to complete the course.

Why does following Jesus and running the race matter?  It matters to Jesus.  Jesus died so we could run the race.  Running the race matters to us.  We want to have a meaningful and satisfying life and accomplish the things God put us here to do.  And running the race matters to the "cloud of witnesses" the believers who came before us, those who are part of our church family today and those who will come after us.  Each of us matters for the continuity of the Christian faith.  If we don't run our race, those who ran before ran in vain and those after us may never have the opportunity to run.

I hope you'll join us at Church on The Hill this Sunday as we learn about following Jesus and running the race with him.  Are you running the race?  Do you want to get into the race?  Are you running in such a way as to take your place on the victory stand?  Find out more when we worship at 9:00 a.m. (Traditional Worship) or 10:45 a.m. (Contemporary Worship).


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 @ 4:37 PM

We've all heard the proverbial wisdom, "The family that plays together, stays together."  There's probably some truth in those words.  This Mother's Day Sunday I want to share some Biblical wisdom, "The family that loves together is better together."  Love is the glue that holds every marriage and family together.  The family is the place where each person should expect to be loved unconditionally, just the way they are.  On Mother's Day we honor mothers who know how to unconditionally love their husband and their kids.

Love is the foundation of our Christian faith.  God loves us unconditionally.  No matter what our sin, God offers grace and forgiveness, bought at the high cost of Jesus' death on the cross.  Jesus said, "Great love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for his friends."  (John 15:13)  God's love is the model for the love we want in our families. 

In all of literature, the best definition of God's love, applied to human relationships, is found in 1 Corinthians 13.  This Sunday, as we honor our mothers, I will be speaking about the kind of love that is available for our families.  We can have "agape," unconditionally love, for our spouse and for our children.  I would suggest we are best able to love when we've experienced God's love rich for us.

At Church on the Hill we love moms.  This Sunday, on Mother's Day we'll celebrate our moms and honor them.  So moms, bring your families.  Children, bring your moms to Church on The Hill.  You'll be glad you did.  All of our worship will be built around the amazing love of God.  In the message I'll talk about how we can bring that same "God" level of love into our family relationships.  This Sunday we'll have identical worship services at 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., so choose the service that works best for your Mother's Day plans.  Allow the worship of God enrich your celebration of Mother's Day!


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 @ 4:04 PM

Let me officially welcome you to Church on The Hill.  For the last 145 years we have been the First Baptist Church of Riverside.  But times change and God has given us a new vision for our future ministry.  We're changing our church's name because some fringe groups have defined what it means to be Baptist in our culture.  Their definition does not fit who we are and who we want to attract to our church.  We've chosen a name reflecting our location, the church on the hill on Alessandro Blvd., about a mile south of the 91 freeway.  The name "Church on the Hill" identifies us with our community.  We want everyone who is looking for a church home or wants to learn more about Jesus to know they're welcome here, no matter their background.

We want you to join us for a birthday party this Sunday (May 5th) as we celebrate the birth of Church on The Hill.  We'll celebrate in both services as we worship the Lord and my message will be "Church on The Hill - Why Are We Here?"  We want to share our vision for the future with you.  After both services there will be birthday cake, party favors, a photo booth to take your picture to commemorate the day, and a ministry fair featuring a number of our our outreach ministries.  This is a great time for you to find out more about Church on The Hill.  Our Sunday schedule is Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.  We have children's ministry (Kingdom Kids) and adult small groups and classes both hours.  Junior High and Senior High youth meet at 9:00 a.m.

If you're looking for a church or sense God prompting you to investigate a relationship with Jesus, we invite you to come check us out.  You can join us as we begin something new and be part of what God among his people on The Hill.  Whether you're a church member or our guest, we want you to join our celebration.  We hope to see you in church this Sunday!


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, April 25, 2019 @ 6:58 AM

On Good Friday Jesus showed us just how much he loves us.  He gave up his life for us on a cross so that we can be forgiven and saved and spend eternity with him.  Jesus says in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for his friends."  We know Jesus loves us because he laid down his life for us.

However, on the night of Jesus' arrest, Peter failed the test of love.  When he had the opportunity to speak up on Jesus' behalf, he denied him three times.  After the resurrection, in a story told in John 21:15-21, Jesus meets some of the disciples on the shore after they've been fishing.  Jesus takes Peter aside and asks him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"  In the same way Jesus questions Peter, Jesus wants to know if we love him.  But talk is cheap.  As we see in this passage, Peter not only says that he loves Jesus, he's going to have to do some things to show Jesus he loves him.  Peter will give his time, energy, resources and ultimately his life for Jesus.  

Jesus asks us the same question he asked Peter, "Do you love me?"  If we love him, it has to be more than just words.  Are we living our lives in such a way as to show Jesus we love him by our service to him, our values and by the way we live our lives.  When Jesus looks at your life, is there evidence that you love him?  In fact, Jesus' first question to Peter is, "Do you love me more than these?"  The disciples have been fishing.  Peter was a fisherman by trade.  Jesus is asking, "Peter, do you love me more than your boats, your nets, the fish and the money you made in your profession?  Do you love me more than all these things?"  Our love is not worthy unless Jesus comes first before everything else.

This Sunday, when we worship at Church on The Hill, we'll follow up Easter with Jesus resurrection appearance in John 21 and his final conversation with Peter.  We'll learn what it means to love Jesus and how to show Jesus we love him in the way that we live our lives.  We hope you'll join us for worship this Sunday to find out how Jesus wants you to live  so your love for him is seen in everything you do.  Our worship times are 9:00 a.m. (traditional worship) and 10:45 a.m. (contemporary worship) with children ministries both hours.  Hope to see you on The Hill!


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 @ 2:45 PM

On Palm Sunday Jesus came into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, accompanied by his disciples, to fulfill the prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9.  The people of Jerusalem lined the road leading into Jerusalem, waving Palm Branches and laying their cloaks on the road before Jesus as a first century red carpet ride.  They shouted "Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"  They proclaimed him their King, but they did not understand the significance of Jesus' kingship.  If they understood the significance of Jesus coming as King to Jerusalem, they would not have proclaimed Jesus King on Sunday and shouted "Crucify him!" on Friday.

It's important for us to understand what it means for Jesus to be our King today - because that's exactly who he is.  Jesus is King because he is God.  He is the creator of everything there is - if he made it, it's his.  By the way, that's true for us too - if Jesus made us, then we are his.  Jesus is King because he's already been declared King in heaven and we will spend eternity under his rule.  Jesus is King because all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him by God the Father.  We tragically underestimate Jesus if we don't understand that he is our King.

But Jesus is not like any other king.  Kings tend to be proud, but Jesus is humble.  Kings tend to hold on tightly to their power and authority, but Jesus gave up everything (including his life) to come to earth to save his people.  Most kings don't care personally for their people, but Jesus loves us and wants to have a personal relationship (friendship) with us.  Most kings are interested in enriching themselves, but Jesus came to enrich us and give us life, an abundant and full life now and eternal life in heaven.  There is no other King like Jesus.

The question for us, will we acknowledge Jesus as King in our lives?  Very similar to the word "King" in the Bible is the word "Lord."  Jesus Christ is our King, he is our Lord.  He expects that we will let him rule in our lives.  We will obey his commandments and do what he instructs us to do.  When we make decisions, we align our decisions with the values of our King.  Jesus as King has a right to expect his people to serve him.  He has a right to expect the financial support of his people and not just leftovers.  As King, Jesus has a right to ask us to give our lives for the cause, to "take up our cross daily and follow him." (Luke 9:23).  Consider what it means that Jesus is your King.

If you want to know more about Jesus is your King, come worship with us on Sunday, April 14th at Church on The Hill in Riverside.  Our Sunday services are a 9:00 a.m. (traditional) and 10:45 a.m. (contemporary).  


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 @ 5:00 PM

You never know when you'll have an opportunity to make an eternal difference in someone's life by telling them about Jesus.  That's why Jesus instructs his followers, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).  Our Jerusalem, our first responsibility to be witnesses, is to the people we know, what we call our oikos (household): family, friends, neighbors, and the people we know at work or school.  The Apostle Paul writes, "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us..." (2 Corinthians 5:20).  Being a witness for Jesus and an ambassador is not something we choose to do, it is who we are as Christians.

Our Bible Story this Sunday comes from Acts 16 when Paul and Silas are thrown in prison for preaching the gospel and healing a slave girl from an affliction her masters were making money from.  While in prison they witness to the other inmates through their prayers and songs, and when an earthquake throws open the prison gates, they save the jailer's life and lead him and his family to saving faith in Jesus Christ.  You never know when you'll have an opportunity to speak up for Jesus.

Many Christian do not share their faith because they feel inadequate to tell others about Jesus.  But that's never an excuse God gives us.  We need to know the basic tenets of our faith so that we can share them with someone else.  Each Christian has their own testimony of why they chose to believe in Jesus and what he has done in their life.  We need to be prepared to say these things because we never know when we'll have an opportunity to tell another person about Jesus.  Paul wrote, "Be wise in the way that you act toward outsiders (unbelievers) ; make the most of every opportunity..." (Colossians 4:5).

For members of Church on The Hill in Riverside, this is an important time for us to be able to talk to others about our faith in Jesus and about our church.  Easter is on April 21st and people are interested in learning about Jesus and the significance of his crucifixion and resurrection during this time.  We should be inviting the people we know to come with us on Easter Sunday to hear about Jesus.  On May 5th we'll go public with our name change, we will no longer be First Baptist, but Church on The Hill.  Again, that's a great time to invite others to come find out what's up on the Hill in Riverside.

This Sunday in worship we'll learn about our call to be Jesus' witnesses.  We'll learn how to be prepared to enter into a conversation with others and invite them to our church.  This is your responsibility to Jesus, but we'll help you do it if you'll join us for worship  at Church on The Hill at 9:00 and 10:45 a.m.  You never know when you can change someone's life for eternity - so let's get ready!  Hope to see you here!


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 @ 3:27 PM

We're pretty hard on ourselves sometimes.  We know our weaknesses and failings, resulting in negative self-thoughts and low self-esteem.  An example of this in the Bible is Gideon.  Gideon lived 3300 years ago when the Judges ruled in Israel.  Israel were oppressed by the Midianites, who raided Israel's territory, stole their stuff, and enslaved their people.  Gideon is found by an angel of God, threshing wheat in a winepress, essentially hiding from the Midianites in a hole in the ground.  The angel greets Gideon with the words, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior."  No one would have thought of Gideon at that moment as a mighty warrior.  But God looks at Gideon and knows what he can become if he will trust in the Lord.

God wants what's best for each of us.  He wants us to achieve our full potential.  So, we need to quit defining ourselves by our limitations, and instead see ourselves as God sees us.  I need to know who God says I am, and so do you.  This Sunday's sermon is "Who You Say I Am."  We will look at Gideon's story and see what God accomplished through him.  We'll look elsewhere in the Bible to see who God says we are.  When we find our identity in God it unlocks the door of possibility and hope in our lives.  It gives us confidence to serve God and do great things for him.

As we wrap up our March sermon series on "God's Power to Transform Us," we'll see how God transforms Gideon by giving him a glimpse of what would be possible if he trusted in the Lord.  That's a discovery I pray every believer will make.  If you can see yourself as God sees you, you can become everything God created you to be.

If you want to know who God says you are, come worship with us this Sunday at Church on The Hill.  We have Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.  Hope to see you this Sunday on the Hill!


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 @ 4:35 PM

Do you remember what it was like in elementary school when at recess, or PE, teams would be chosen for kickball or basketball, and you would be chosen last or not chosen at all?  It hurts not to be chosen.  We feel left out, like no one loves us.  I want you to know that you're a "chosen one."  You've been chosen by God.  God chose to create you.  God chose to save you through Jesus Christ his Son.  If you're a Christian, God has chosen you to serve him.  It's a privilege to be chosen by God.  You're someone special!

This Sunday in worship we'll meet Saul from the New Testament Book of Acts.  Saul was not a good person.  We wouldn't think God would want anything to do with him.  Saul began persecuting the church, throwing Christians into prison, and in some cases participating in their murder.  He hated Christ and the church.  But God chose Saul to be saved.  On the road to Damascus, Saul met the Risen Christ and discovered Jesus is real.  Not long after that Saul - later known as Paul - was chosen by Jesus to be his apostle to the Gentiles.  Paul seemed to be the last person God would want on his team.  But God knows the heart.  He knew Paul would become one of his best players.

From the story of Paul, we know that God knows our hearts.  He loves us and wants to save us, if we'll believe in him.  God knows our potential.  He knows our capacity.  And so when God chooses us to to be saved, he knows how we can best serve him.  The good news for Christians today is that God has chosen us to be saved.  However, we need to understand that God has also chosen us to serve.  He has a place in his kingdom where our abilities and temperament are needed.  He calls us to serve in that capacity.  The question is, what has God chosen you to do?

Has God chosen you because you would be great serving in a ministry of the church?  Has he chosen you because there are one or more people that you can tell about Jesus and invite to church?  Has God chosen you because of your passionate prayers for your church and the needs of others?  Has God chosen you because you have the resources to provide for the church's ministries?  Has God chosen you to represent him in this community, in your neighborhood, at your place of work?  God has chosen you for a reason.

This Sunday, at First Baptist Riverside, from Paul's story, you'll discover that God has chosen you for a reason.  He loves you and has a job for you to do.  You'll never be complete until you discover why you've been chosen.  Come worship with us on Sundays at 9:00 a.m. (traditional worship) or 10:45 a.m. (contemporary worship).  We hope to see you here.

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