Dear Church Family,
This seems to have been the longest year of our lives. So much has happened in our church, our community, country and world. If anyone had asked you last year what 2020 would bring, would you have predicted any of this? It seems like every month, there’s been something new, either disastrous or traumatic happening in our nation. We have experienced political division, the coronavirus pandemic, the economic shutdown, witnessing a horrible act of police brutality leading to protests and rioting, to the prolific wildfires in the west and hurricanes in the south. Many people are terrified of what’s next. With all this turmoil and uncertainty, we are watching our neighbors struggle and lose hope. But that’s where we are supposed to step in. It’s in times like these, we are to be like Christ.
As Paul said in Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV)
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be used to His own advantage;
rather, He made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”
We can see here that Paul is calling us to not be focused on our own interests, but be concerned about the interests of others, just like our ultimate example; Jesus Christ. Jesus endured becoming human. Not just being human, but a humble servant who suffered death, and not just any death, death on a cross. So, if He who created the universe can condescend to lovingly serve us and endure death on the cross for our sins, can we not also endure hardships and trials to serve God, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and our fellow man.
This is what Paul went on to explain in verses 14-16
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold out firmly the word of life.”
Here he is calling on us to not grumble or complain, but instead shine brightly for Jesus in the midst of a “warped and crooked generation.” If our attitude is one of humbly serving one another, then we will make Christ visible, especially now, in this very difficult time.
At this point you may be feeling guilty that you haven’t been accomplishing this goal during this time. You too have been struggling with fear, anxiety, and despair. This is where God desires to lift you up, to strengthen and encourage you. You are not alone. He is right here with you, to show you that He has an amazing purpose for allowing all these trials in the world and also allowing them in your life. He is there to strengthen and uphold you, so that you can not only survive these times but be victorious over them.
“… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Since we know that God has a perfect purpose in our trials, we can lean into Him and embrace experiencing what He has for us. That’s where we want to help. Even though, we are not able to physically meet together, we are still meeting together online. We are posting our Sunday worship services on our website and also our YouTube channel (just search “First Baptist San Mateo"). You can also go to our website (www.fbcsanmateo.org) to find out how to join our Adult Sunday School class or join our Wednesday Night Men’s and Women’s Bible Study. The Children’s Ministry is meeting online every Sunday as well, and our Awana Ministry is back and in full swing. Also, you can email Pastor Marc or myself if you need anything or to have the weekly prayer ministry pray for you.
I highly encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to grow with us by joining us online for these special times together. We hope and pray that you will be strengthened as you draw nearer to the Lord in these times. Praying that you are growing deeply in the Lord in this time and that we will all be back together soon.
Grace in Jesus,
Associate Pastor of Worship and Youth
First Baptist Church of San Mateo