A Vision that Changed the World

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, November 17, 2016 @ 10:16 AM

In the Old Testament we're told that God chose Israel to be his special people.  They were to obey God and faithfully serve him, and in turn God would bless Israel.  Israel would then be a witness to the world and people of all nations would come to Israel to worship God.  But Israel was not obedient and had not been faithful.  Jesus came to earth and died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin.  People who put their faith  in Jesus would now become his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

As we follow the story of "ACTS: The Church Alive!" the church in Jerusalem has grown and spread to Judea and Samaria.  But the growth of the church hasn't crossed the boundary of appealing directly to Gentiles and accepting Gentiles as equal partners in the church.  In the first century the walls of division between Jews and Gentiles were high and strong.  It was going to require something amazing for Jewish Christians to welcome Gentiles in - and something amazing is exactly what God had in mind.

God knew a high profile leader of the church would have to be the first to welcome Gentiles.  He chose Peter, the rock upon whom Jesus would build his church.  But Peter had the same prejudices against Gentiles any Jew had.  So to break down the walls God gave Peter a vision - a vision that changed the world (see Acts 10).  It was a vision in which God made clear to Peter that the cultural and religious differences between Jews and Gentiles no longer matter.  The vision convinced Peter to accept the invitation to go to Cornelius' home, where many Gentiles believed in Jesus and were saved.  Peter then went back to the leaders of the church in Jerusalem to tell them what God had done.

Jesus calls all of us to be world-changers.  He wants to give us a vision for how we can be witnesses to the people in our world: our family, friends, neighbors, and the people we meet at work, school or in the community.  Everyone who experiences the love of God from us, each person who hears us tell about our experience with Jesus, when someone puts their trust in Christ because of our witness, we've changed the world.  If you are a follower of Jesus you have been given a high calling.  You are Christ's ambassador.  When you represent Jesus you are making a difference in the world and in people's lives.

In this Sunday's sermon I'll portray Peter as he seeks to understand the vision God has given him and accepts the invitation to go to Cornelius' house.  We'll discover that God has a vision for us and an invitation to be his witnesses to others - and in the process we can change the world.  I hope you'll come worship with us and find out more about "A Vision that Changed the World" in Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. or in Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 @ 4:09 PM

When God speaks, do you hear him?  I guarantee God is speaking to you.  There are important things he wants you to know.  If you're not hearing from God, it's not because he isn't speaking.  It's more likely that you haven't tuned your ear to what he is saying.  It's like a radio.  There are many different stations.  One station may have an important message you need to hear, but if you're not tuned to that station you'll miss the message.  God is speaking to you, but it may be you're tuned into the wrong station.

This Sunday, as we continue our study of "ACTS: The Church Alive!" we come to the story in Acts 9 of Saul's conversion.  I think God tried to speak to Saul in various ways to tell him to quit persecuting the church and to follow Jesus, but Saul didn't hear him.  God finally had to knock Saul off if his high horse and blind him with a brilliant light to get his attention.  When God wants to communicate his truth to you he may not go to such extremes to get your attention.

On Sunday we'll learn how we can tune in to the practical, real life truth that God is trying to communicate to us.  God wants to tell us about his love and our need to be forgiven and saved, a salvation he's freely given through Jesus Christ his Son.  The God who created you wants to tell you what you were created for and the plans he has for your life.  God wants to give direction for your life to make it abundant and full.  He wants to give you words of comfort, assurance and encouragement when you need to hear them the most.

Do you hear what I hear?  Come worship with us this Sunday in Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. or in Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m. and listen to God's word for your life.

Remembering Jesus

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Friday, November 4, 2016 @ 2:19 PM

Our church has had a long traditional of celebrating the Lord's Supper on the first Sunday of every month.  This is a very healthy practice.  We tend to have short memories (I know I do!).  The Lord's Supper (or Communion) reminds us how much Jesus loves us, that he willingly died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  It reminds us that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8). 

We are not saved by doing good works or by living a good life.  So often at funerals I hear people say, "So and so (the deceased) was a good person, so I know he/she is in heaven."  No, throughout his/her life he/she was a sinner who has no place with a holy God unless his/her sins have been forgiven by believing in Jesus.  The best known verse of the Bible makes it clear, "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" (John 3:16).  Jesus made clear the necessity of having a relationship with him when he described himself in John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me." 

Other religions are not just other paths that lead to God.  The Bible makes clear that other religions are idolatry that dishonor the one true God.  The necessity of following Jesus as "the way" is why it is so important for us to be Jesus' witnesses (Acts 1:8) and ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) to people everywhere so they will have the information they need to make a reasonable decision to believe in Jesus.

Celebrating the Lord's Supper reminds us that Jesus is our hope and the hope of the world.  Our relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in our lives and should be treated as such.  Jesus takes priority over everything else.  Jesus said in Mark 8:34, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."  Each and every day we get up in the morning with a commitment to follow Jesus and serve him, sacrificially if necessary.  Without the monthly reminder of the Lord's Supper we might forget the daily commitment we have to live for Jesus.

I hope you'll come worship with us at First Baptist Riverside this Sunday and celebrate the Lord's Supper.  Remember the place your relationship with Jesus has in your life.  Remember that you owe Jesus your life and the hope of eternity is in him.  Recommit your life to following Jesus every day.  He'll be present with you, forgive you, save you all along the way when you remember him!

God Has A Plan

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 @ 5:59 PM

God has a plan - that's the message we find in Stephen's sermon in Acts 7.  God's plan is universal and affects all his creation.  God's  has a plan for our world, for the church and for each of our lives.  God's plan is revealed in the lives and experiences of Old Testament heroes like Abraham, Joseph and Moses.  The full revelation of God's plan has come through God's Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus fulfills God's plan of salvation and he's the hope of the world.

The thing that amazes me is, while I consider myself totally insignificant in the context of the world, as a follower of Jesus Christ, God aligns his plan for my life with what he wants to do in the world.  There are things God is doing today that affect my life and things God is counting on me to do that will further his plan for other's lives, for my church and that will ultimately will affect his universal plan.  I get to play a role in what God wants to do in the world.  Amazing!

This Sunday we'll discover in Stephen's sermon what God's plan is and how we, as his people, fit into his plan.  God's plan is a plan of salvation that involves faith and grace and obedience.  God's plan involves us accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and our Lord.  I hope you'll come worship with us and learn more about God's plan for your life.  We have Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.  If you have questions about what faith in Jesus is or if you're looking for a safe place to learn more about Jesus, you're welcome here at First Baptist Riverside.


Posted by Connie Senturier on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 @ 11:02 PM


 I’ve had the good fortune to play on some very good basketball teams over the years.  It’s a joy to play the game when you’re on a team and all your teammates know their role and are ready to do their job.  To play to win and have success is an exhilarating feeling.

 “Teamwork” is the concept God had in mind when he formed the church.  The Bible says the church is a body – the body of Christ.  Each of us as believers make up the many parts of the body.  Each of us has a specific function or functions that the Holy Spirit has given us the spiritual gifts to be able to perform.  God expects every part of the body (every person in the church) to fulfill their function and do their job.  If anyone fails to do their job, then the body is disabled and severely handicapped.

 In Acts, chapter 6, we see the first steps the early church takes in functioning like a body.  Up to Acts 6 the apostles provided leadership for all the ministries of the church.  Now a new need has arisen and the apostles just can’t do any more.  Therefore they appoint “Deacons” to be in charge of the ministry to the widows.  As the church grows and ministries increase more people are required to step into leadership roles and to serve in the area of their giftedness.

 This Sunday we’ll learn about “The Art of Teamwork” and how important it is for every Christian be ready to serve Christ.  If we Christians, who make up the church today, don’t get into the game and learn to play as a team, then we’ll fail at the task Jesus has given us.  As Christians we’re not just playing for a trophy, we’re playing for lives that hang in the balance between heaven and hell.  We play as a team to win the game.  Find out your place on the team at First Baptist Riverside this Sunday, traditional worship at 9:00 a.m. or contemporary worship at 10:45 a.m.


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, October 12, 2016 @ 12:40 PM

This year's election has brought into focus one of the biggest problems facing America today: a daunting lack of integrity among our country’s leaders.  We can certainly look back at American history and find presidents and other elected officials who showed a shocking lack of integrity.  However, I can't think of a time when we've been faced with a choice between two candidates whose moral and ethical failures have been exposed so blatantly and yet seem to feel no remorse, no need for repentance and give us no reason to think they'll change their behavior in the future.

It seems that many people have decided to hold their noses and vote for the candidate they consider to be the lesser of two evils.  It's sad to think our nation has sunk to such a level. 

While many of our political leaders are lacking in integrity, the same should never be said about followers of Jesus Christ.  We are to be Jesus’ ambassadors wherever we go (2 Corinthians 5:20).  As we grow spiritually, we’re to become increasingly holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:13-15).  We are to live our lives in such a way that if our actions are exposed publicly, we will have no reason to be ashamed (John 3:20; Ephesians 5:13-20).

This Sunday I’ll be preaching on “The Integrity Factor.” As Christians, we are a counter-cultural movement of Jesus followers and integrity matters! The story of Ananias and Sapphira gives insight into what the integrity factor is for Christians. I hope you’ll join us for worship this Sunday at our traditional service at 9:00 a.m. or our contemporary service at 10:45 a.m.

A Daring Faith

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, October 6, 2016 @ 9:13 AM

Living for Jesus requires "A Daring Faith."  Our Christian faith is a movement, it's a cause to live for that's far greater than ourselves.  Christ makes a difference in the world.  In fact Christians are commissioned by Jesus to be world-changers.  If you think being a Christian is a nice quiet way of life, then go back and reread the Bible.  Christianity is a daring faith.

This Sunday our study of "ACTS: The Church Alive!" takes us to Acts, chapter 4.  Peter and John are arrested because they've been teaching and preaching about Jesus in the temple.  The next day they're made to stand before the most powerful leaders of the Jewish faith who tell them to quit talking about Jesus.  But Peter and John refuse to remain silent.  They will obey God rather than man.

If you want to add a little excitement to your life, then decide that you will obey God and live for him no matter what anyone else thinks.  That type of stand requires daring faith.  It requires courageous faith.  In our secular culture, people don't know what to do with believers who live wholeheartedly for God.  The world doesn't understand people who live uncompromisingly by Christian values.

What does it mean in practical terms to have a daring faith today?  A daring faith means we're ready to talk to our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and classmates about what our faith in Jesus means to us.  A daring faith means we're ready to serve Jesus openly for the whole world to see.  A daring faith means we won't be silent when others mock or ridicule our God.  A daring faith means we'll live by Christian values instead of compromising with the ways of the world.  A daring faith means Jesus is more important than anything else in this world and we'll follow Jesus wherever he leads us.

If you want to learn more about having "A Daring Faith" I hope you'll come worship with us this Sunday at First Baptist Riverside.  We have traditional worship at 9:00 a.m. and contemporary worship at 10:45 a.m.  Hope to see you there!

The Church Blesses Others

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, September 29, 2016 @ 2:01 PM

When you become aware of a neighbor or friend who has a need and you're able to do something to help them - it feels good knowing you've made a difference in someone's life.  You may have an opportunity to help a complete stranger by buying a homeless person a sandwich - that feels good.  When you give to a charity that feeds the hungry or assists refugees or provides fresh drinking water for a village where children were getting sick because of an impure water supply - it's very satisfying to do something.

In Acts 3, our sermon text for Sunday, Peter and John encounter a lame beggar on their way to the temple.  He asks them for money, but they give him something better.  They tell him they have no money, but in Jesus' name they will heal him.  The man begged because he was disabled, so Peter and John met his deepest need so he could live a normal life.

My message this Sunday is "The Church Blesses Others."  Jesus taught his followers to, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 12:27).  Jesus follows his command by telling the "Parable of the Good Samaritan."  Anyone can be our neighbor.  We love our neighbor by meeting needs and blessing the people we encounter.  The church exists to train and resource it's members to love their neighbors by blessing them.  Together as the church, we're to engage in blessing ministries right here in our community.

This Sunday we'll learn to slow down and recognize the needs of others around us - and identify not only their physical needs, but also their spiritual needs.  We'll learn how to help our neighbors in a way that shows them the love of Christ.  We'll also discover that blessing others is an important part of our witness for Jesus right here where we live.  I hope you'll join us Sunday, because blessing others isn't optional for believers, it's the very heart of what it means to be a Christian and the mission of the church. 

The Church Has Power

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, September 22, 2016 @ 6:23 PM

This Sunday we'll continue our study of "ACTS: The Church Alive!" as we see what happened on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to the believers.  Last week we learned the church has a mission to carry out the ministry Jesus started.  We are to be Jesus' witnesses to those who don't know him.  But in order to do Jesus' mission we have to have Jesus' power.  Jesus power during his ministry came from the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the power source for the church.

God makes the Holy Spirit available to every believer.  The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit in us.  The fruit are God-like qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual gifts and abilities to serve God and do the work God created us to do on this earth.  The Holy Spirit is our guide through life, he inspires us and gives us messages from God.  As Christians we need the Holy Spirit, it's impossible for us to please God without him.

This Sunday you'll learn how the Holy Spirit was given to the believers on the Day of Pentecost, as described in Acts 2.  You'll find out what the Spirit did for these early believers.  You'll discover how you can receive the Holy Spirit today and what the Holy Spirit can do to help you serve God and become the person he wants you to be.  I hope you'll join us at Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. or Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.

The Church Has a Mission

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, September 15, 2016 @ 9:12 AM

Many Christians make the mistake of thinking that the church exists for them.  Don't get me wrong, every Christian needs the church and needs to be part of a church family.  We need our church to encourage us and build us up in our faith.  We need the teaching and worship ministry of the church to inspire us to become world-changers for Jesus.

But the church doesn't exist for Christians, the church exists for Jesus.  Jesus established the church to carry on the mission he began during his ministry.  This Sunday, as we start our new study of "ACTS: The Church Alive!" we'll discover that before Jesus ascended into heaven he proclaimed the mission of the church: "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).  The church exists for Jesus and our mission is to proclaim the good news about him to everyone who needs to know Jesus.

I've heard it said that the church doesn't exist for believers, it exists for those who are not yet believers.  If people who don't know Jesus are going to get know him, it'll be because the church is doing it's job of being Jesus' witnesses.  The church is the hope of the world.  The church is God's Plan A for evangelizing and changing the world and there is no Plan B.

"The Church Has a Mission" to carry the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth. Every Christian has a complementary mission, to make sure that we're sharing the good news of Jesus with the people in our "oikos" - our family, neighbors, friends, and people in our community at work or school or wherever we are.  "The Church Has a Mission" and we are the missionaries!  Are you ready to embrace your role in accomplishing the church's mission?

Do you want to learn more about Jesus' mission and how you fit into that mission?  Come and worship with us this Sunday at First Baptist Riverside, Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.

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