Overcoming Fear

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Friday, June 9, 2017 @ 2:30 PM

We have many things that we fear.  Every week there is news about terrorist attacks, we wonder when one will happen where we live.  There are old diseases that were thought to be eradicated that are coming back and new diseases like Zika, with no known vaccine or cure.  We worry about losing our jobs, financial security, and with turmoil in Washington, will I be able to afford health insurance?  Most people are afraid of death.  As Christians we're afraid to share our faith because we worry about how others might respond to us or what they'll say. 

Fear has the power to paralyze us.  We're afraid, so we don't do anything.  As Christians, we can't afford to be paralyzed into inaction.  Jesus has called us to be his witnesses and serve him.  We must learn to overcome our fears.  The good news is that God provides resources for us to overcome our fears. 

This Sunday in worship I'll continue my sermon series based on the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Philippians called "The Right Stuff."  Do you have the right stuff to follow Jesus?  Philippians teaches us about the "right stuff" God gives us to follow Jesus.  One of the "right things" is the ability to overcome our fears.

I hope you'll join us for worship this Sunday to learn more about how to overcome fear.  We offer Traditional Worship (singing hymns and using our pipe organ) at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship (led by our worship band) at 10:45 a.m.  The sermon is the same both hours so come to the service that fits your schedule or your preference.  We would love to meet you and introduce you to our ministry in Riverside.

The Right Stuff

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, June 1, 2017 @ 7:55 AM

One of the best movies about America's space program is "The Right Stuff."  The movie follows the story of the training and adventures of America's earliest astronauts.  They possessed the "right stuff," the courage and qualities to lead America into outer space.

On Sunday, June 4th, I'm starting a new summer sermon series on the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Philippians.  As I read this letter again and again it becomes clear to me that Paul's intent in writing Philippians is to teach us about "The Right Stuff" for being a follower of Jesus.  The question is, "Do you have the right stuff to follow of Jesus?"  If you want to find out, I hope you'll join us for worship on Sundays in June and July or you can listen to the messages on our website.

This Sunday, from Philippians 1:1-11, we'll learn that "The Right Stuff" is a commitment to partnership.  We don't follow Jesus in a vacuum.  We learn about Jesus, grow in our faith, and serve God in partnership with other believers who love us, encourage us and build us up.  The New Testament makes it clear that there are no Lone Ranger Christians.  We are stronger together, have accountability to one another, and can accomplish far more together than alone.

If you'd like to learn more about having "The Right Stuff," join us for worship on Sundays at 9:00 a.m. (Traditional Worship) or at 10:45 a.m. (Contemporary Worship).

Our Eternal Home in Heaven

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 2:59 PM

The Memorial Day holiday was established to remember the men and women of our armed forces who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today.  Over the years, Memorial Day has grow into a day when families remember all their loved ones who have died and gone before them.  As Christians we believe that death is not the end for us.  We don't go to a grave when we die, we have an eternal home in heaven.

What must we do to go to our eternal home in heaven?  Some people think everyone eventually gets to heaven.  Other's think anyone who is a good person, lives a good life or does good works will go to heaven.  That's not true and a lot of frustrated people will miss out on where they want to go.  None of us is worthy to live in God's eternal home.  We need a Savior to take away our sins - only Jesus can do that through his death on the cross.  We are saved by believing in him. 

What is heaven like?  Heaven is awesome, far beyond anything we are capable of imagining.  Our finite minds cannot comprehend a perfect world without limits.  Life in heaven will be exciting, challenging, wonderful, and joyful.  We'll live there for ever and never be bored a single day.  Heaven is about relationships with our Heavenly Father, Jesus His Son, the Holy Spirit and all our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Does the hope of heaven affect how we live on this earth.  Absolutely!  Everything changes when we know the goal of life is not what we get and experience in this world, but what will be ours in the next world.  We love this world because we can serve the Lord and be with our family and friends.  But we look forward to being with Jesus in our eternal home.  As Paul said, "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).

If you want to know more about our eternal home in heaven, how to get there, and how the hope of heaven affects our lives today, come worship with us at First Baptist Riverside this Sunday, on Memorial Day weekend.  We have Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.  Find out how you can be confident of eternal life in heaven.  You won't want to miss it!

Mother's Day - Essential Qualities of Every Family

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Friday, May 12, 2017 @ 3:29 PM

This Mother's Day we celebrate mothers!  There would be no families without mothers.  It's been said that the family is the foundation of our culture.  I think that's true.  The breakdown of the family over the last 50 years with an increasing divorce rate and increases in the number of children born to single women corresponds to many of the social problems our country faces.  It's time for us to identify what is necessary for families to thrive and equip our people to develop that kind of family.

This Sunday, on Mother's Day, I'll be preaching on the "Essential Qualities in Every Family."  There are certain qualities that must be present for people to be able to love one another and for children to thrive.  Find out what those essential qualities are and how you can develop them in your family.  If your children are grown and out of the house, you can still let these qualities be guiding principles in your ongoing family relationships.  If you're looking forward to marriage or to having children in the future, make sure these essential qualities exist in your family from the very beginning.

The Bible says the church is like a family.  We all are children and God and brothers and sisters with Christ and with one another.  The "Essential Qualities in Every Family" I'll be talking about this Sunday are essential for us to have healthy relationships in the church.  As Christians, we need to be part of a local church family for our own spiritual health and well-being.  Together, this Sunday, lets learn how to develop these essential qualities in our church as well as in our homes!  Join us for Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. or Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m. with quality childcare and children's ministries provided both hours.

Our Family Meal

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, May 4, 2017 @ 3:53 PM

I have some great memories of the extended family sharing a meal together at Thanksgiving or Christmas.  There are times I long for those days.  Maybe you do too.  Do you long to sit around a table with people you love and share memories that bind you together as family?

The church is a family.  We are brothers and sisters in Christ.  Jesus is the one who binds us together.  We're saved because Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins and save us.  Once a month at First Baptist Riverside we gather around the Lord's Table with our family to remember what Jesus did to make us a family.  We break bread to remember how Jesus body was broken for us.  We drink grape juice to remind us that Jesus' blood is the sacrifice that pays for our sins.

Many of us miss out on being part of a big and loving family.  But that family experience is something that's available to you and me and everyone else.  This Sunday, as we study 1 Corinthians 11, we'll discover that the most significant teaching about the Lord's Supper, as it was observed in the early church, was all about the church family coming together to love on one another and to love Jesus.

If you want to be part of a church family, you're welcome to join our family at First Baptist.  We're a large enough congregation that we offer many ministries, yet small enough that we can get to know and become brothers and sisters with people of different generations, cultural backgrounds and life experiences.  Come worship with us this Sunday, we have Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 @ 11:55 AM

The one thing that sets Christianity apart from every other religion is that we believe our founder, Jesus Christ, is the Son of God, that he died on a cross for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead on Easter Sunday morning.  But many people have a hard time believing in Jesus' resurrection.  After all, how many of us have ever known of someone who died and then came back to life again three days later?  It's outside the realm of our human experience.  It's only happened once - and the one time was when Jesus Christ rose from the grave.

I'm convinced that if we examine the evidence of the resurrection, we can make a persuasive case for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  That's why I've titled by Easter sermon "Believe!"  My goal on Easter Sunday is to convince everyone present of the reality of the resurrection and encourage them to consider the implications of the resurrection for their lives.  If you're not sure if Jesus is the Son of God or if he rose from the dead, join us for worship and consider the evidence.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that Christ has been raised from the dead, and since he is alive, we too can have eternal life.  This Sunday we celebrate the good news that God loves us, he sent his Son to save us by dying on a cross and that Jesus rose from the grave and gives forgiveness and enteral life to all who believe in him.  That hope can be yours.  Find out more this Sunday!  We have two worship opportunities on Easter Sunday with identical worship services at 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.  There will also be a special children's program both hours with an Easter Egg Hunt between services at 10:20 a.m. for all children preschool through sixth grade.

Do You Know Jesus?

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, April 6, 2017 @ 8:15 AM

On Palm Sunday the crowds welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem, waving palm branches and laying their cloaks on the road ahead of him in a first century version of a red carpet welcome to the Holy City.  They shouted, "Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"  It was quite a demonstration.  However, most of the people who welcomed Jesus didn't know who he was.  They welcomed him as Messiah, but Jesus wasn't the Messiah, the political savior, they wanted him to be.  That's why by Friday the crowds were ready to turn against Jesus and shout, "Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!" in Pilate's court.

Today there are as many misconceptions about Jesus as there were in the first century.  Many people will focus in on a story about Jesus or a few of his teachings to proof text their perception of what they want him to be.  Some people see Jesus as a moral crusader who condemns the sins of the world.  Other think of Jesus as an advocate of social and economic justice.  Some feel that Jesus was a just good man, a teacher, a philosopher or a prophet.  I think of Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world. 

The point is, it's not up to us to decide who we want Jesus to be.  We have to accept Jesus on his terms.  That's why on this Sunday before Easter my sermon is based on Matthew 16:13-27, "Do You Know Jesus?"  Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do the people say that I am?"  The disciples report that people think he is John the Baptist raised from the dead, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.  Those were all inadequate understandings of Jesus.  So Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do you say I am?"  Peter replied as spokesman, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."  Peter got it right.  But as we see later in the story, Peter still didn't fully know or understand Jesus.

Knowing Jesus is essential if we want our faith to be strong and to be his witnesses and serve him.  This Sunday we'll get to know Jesus and seek to gain a greater understanding of what he came to earth to do.  By knowing Jesus better, we'll better understand our role as his followers.  Easter, the following week, makes a lot more sense if we know who Jesus is and what he came to do. 

I hope you'll join us for worship this Sunday and get to know more about Jesus.  Our desire every week is to encounter the living Christ as we worship him.  We have Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m. so come at whatever time or for whatever worship style is appealing to you.

If It's All God's, What Am I Doing With It?

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 @ 4:21 PM

A common mistake many of us make is that we compartmentalize God.  We put God in a box labelled "Sundays" because that's when we think about him.  Or we put God in a box labelled "Emergencies" because it only in cases of emergencies that we pray and seek God's help.  We have to realize God is bigger than any box we can put him in.  God encompasses the whole earth.  First the psalmist (Psalm 24:1) and then the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 10:26) remind us, "The  earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."

If the earth is the Lord's, I have to realize that I'm part of the earth.  What does it mean that I am the Lord's?  If I belong to him, how does that affect my life, the way I live, and the values I live by?  We tend to look at our lives selfishly, "It's my life and I'll do what I want!"  But if my life belongs to God as my creator, I can't be selfish.  My life is meant to be lived for him.  Each of us must decide what it means for us to live our lives for the Lord.

Not only is my life the Lord's, but everything I have is the Lord's.  That's a very different outlook than most people have.  We think of what he have on this earth as ours and we might generously give something to God.  But the earth is the Lord's and he generously gives us everything we have.  We are to manage it and use it for his sake.  Even when we teach stewardships ship and money management in the church, we usually think, "I'll give God the tithe, but the rest is mine."  We have to rethink our values.

In this Sunday's message we'll look at one of Jesus' last parables, "The Parable of the Talents" or the "Parable of the Bags of Gold" (Matthew 25:14-30).  I've titled the message, "If It's All God's, What Am I Doing With It?"  That's a good question!  If I believe that everything I have is God's, am I using it in a way that honors him?  Am I using what God has given me in a  way that accomplishes his purposes?

Some people think, "When the pastor talks about my money and the stuff I have, that's a good Sunday to stay away from church."  I want to encourage you to think otherwise.  Jesus says that we will be held accountable for how we use what he has given us.  We don't want to wait until we stand before the judgment seat of Christ to find out we did it wrong and mismanaged what he gave us.  This Sunday learn how you can enjoy life and the things God gives you and still manage it in ways that accomplish his purposes.  Join us for worship at Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. or Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.

A Take Charge Faith

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 @ 2:46 PM








This Sunday we'll wrap up our study of "ACTS: The Church Alive!" with one of the most exciting stories in the Bible.  Paul is sent as a prisoner to Rome on board a ship.  Crossing the Adriatic Sea a terrible storm arose.  For fourteen days the ship was blown here and there by hurricane force winds and tossed to and fro by the waves.  The passengers were too sick to eat.  Finally  the ship ran aground off the coast of Malta and miraculously all of the crew and passengers made it safely ashore.

What's interesting is that in all this chaos, there was a lack of leadership.  The ship's captain didn't know what to do, thinking all was lost.  The centurion in charge of a hundred Roman troops had to be told what to do so that he didn't lose control of the ship or his prisoners.  It was in the midst of this confusion Paul, a prisoner, became everyone's leader.  There are times when, because of our faith and commitment to Jesus Christ, we have to take charge in chaotic circumstances.  We'll see in Acts chapters 27 and 28, that's what Paul did.

The Scripture teaches us that the Holy Spirit gives some believers the spiritual gift of leadership (Romans 12:8).  The church needs these good and consistent leaders as we seek to serve God's here on earth.  But many Christians, who may not feel like they have the gift of leadership, in chaotic situations and emergencies, will be expected to take charge.  As believers we have spiritual resources, faith in God, and values that help us to stay calm and make good decisions when everyone around us isn't sure what to do.  From time to time we may need to take charge for our family, at work, in the church or in the community.  God will use our take-charge faith to bless others.

In this Sunday's sermon we'll learn about Paul's take-charge faith during his shipwreck and on the island of Malta.  We'll discover several principles of leadership we can all use in crisis situations to help others.  When a loved one dies, when people at your office receive a layoff notice, when a family member is sick, they need someone with a take-charge faith to step up and lead them.  I hope you'll join us as we wrap up our study of Acts and learn about "A Take Charge Faith." 

We have Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.  The First Baptist Church of Riverside is located at 5500 Alessandro Blvd. in Riverside, CA.

Almost Persuaded

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 @ 4:37 PM

When it comes to the Christian faith, “Almost Persuaded” are the two saddest words anyone could ever utter.  Almost persuaded to follow Jesus is not enough.  If we want our sins to be forgiven, to be saved and to have eternal life, we must believe in Jesus.  Being almost persuaded or "seeking" Jesus is not enough, we have to step across the line of faith!

In my sermon this Sunday (March 19) based on Acts 26, we find Paul telling King Agrippa about his faith in Christ.  Paul finishes his message by challenging King Agrippa to believe in Jesus.  Agrippa responds to Paul in verse 28, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?"  Agrippa leaves the door open, but will not confess faith in Christ.  Paul replies in verse 29, "Short time or long - I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am..."

If you're reading this post and you've thought about believing in Jesus and becoming a Christian, but you haven't taken the final step of faith, what are you waiting for?  All the promises and blessings of being a follower of Jesus are waiting for you.  But almost persuaded is not enough.  You have to believe.  You have to choose Jesus.

Most of you reading this are already Christians.  You went from being almost persuaded to fully persuaded at some point in your life.  Now you have a job to do.  You are called by Jesus to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8), his ambassadors, as though God is making his appeal through you (2 Corinthians 5:20).  Be committed to reaching unbelieving people in your oikos (your circle of relationships: family, friends, neighbors, and people you know from work, school and in the community).  Pray for them, love them, bless them, tell them why your faith matters to you.  Don't give up until they are fully persuaded to follow Jesus, whether it takes a short time or a long time.  Never give up.  Don't be content that they're almost persuaded.

Whether you're almost persuaded to believe in Jesus or thinking about telling a friend about Jesus, come worship with us this Sunday and learn about what it means to make a commitment of our lives to Christ.  Our Traditional Worship is at 9:00 a.m. and our Contemporary Worship is at 10:45 a.m.  Hope to see you here!

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