The Easter Code
a 40 Day Journey to the Cross
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
You’re invited to “Journey to the Cross” with us as we follow the journey of Christ through the places, people, and events in His life, all the way to His resurrection. 
 
Over 40 days, beginning Wednesday, February 26, we will connect as a Church family through personal Scripture readings, personal prayer times, weekly church services, and more.   
 
Every day, we’ll share an important “Code Word” to think on, from the devotional book “The Easter Code”, written by O.S. Hawkins.   As we read through The Easter Code,  along with reading daily messages from the pastors on facebook and our website,  we will have a profound experience as we prepare our hearts and minds for Resurrection Sunday.  
 
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to make this a meaningful time with Jesus during this season of Lent.   
 
Devotional books are available so you can follow along at home during this journey of faith.  The devotionals can be picked up between Church Services on Sunday, or in the Church office.

Day 29 – Journey to the Cross – Rev. Jonathan Rager

Hello First Family,

Today’s devotion is shared by our Pastoral Care Pastor, the Reverend Jonathan Rager. Enjoy!

 

Code Word: HAMMER

Have you ever hit yourself with a hammer? As a teenager growing up on a farm, I was always in a hurry to finish a job. While repairing the roof of our barn, I missed the nail and hit my finger hard. It immediately turned black & blue and my fingernail had a dent in it. The end result of my foolish rushing of the job was a visit to the doctor and having a hole drilled into my fingernail releasing pressure and fluid. “Ouch”

 

A hammer can be used for good as well as bad. Consider the hammer that nailed Jesus to the cross. When we think about the horrible pain it caused our Lord and Savior, we immediately think of the hammer as a bad use of this tool by cruel and foolish people.  But if we examine what Jesus did for us, His words on the cross and how this had to happen to pay for our sins and rescue us from eternal fire and separation from God, we must admit that the use of this hammer was for good.  However, it just does not make any sense that God would want to do that for us.  John 3:16 is the most amazing verse in the whole Bible. “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.

 

By the way; the pain that I experienced with my finger is NOTHING compared to the pain and agony that Jesus endured for me. No one has ever, or will ever, come close to having that kind of pain.  Join me in thanking our Lord for His sacrifice.
See you tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.

 

Rev. Jonathon Rager


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Day 28 – Journey to the Cross – Dr. Jason Harrison

Hello First Family!

Today’s devotional comes again from the pen of Dr. Jason Harrison, our Discipleship Pastor and Academy Headmaster. Enjoy!

 

Today’s Code Word: Gift        

We typically define a gift as, “a thing given willingly to someone without payment”.  In our modern culture, we may feel that we deserve “gifts” from the world due to our high performance, or even just for being “awesome”.  Those two concepts are in essence a form of payment.  The world will more often than not, comply with this concept – payment for earned giftedness.  Fortunately for us, this is not how God operates. 

Romans 3:23 (ESV), “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

God gives gifts to us that we cannot, and did not, earn.  God can gift us with blessings of health, performance skills, finances, and even the greatest gift of all, His Son who died for man’s sin on the cross.  The fact that we cannot earn these items, makes them all the more valuable, but also, all the more accessible to anyone who recognizes their innate sinfulness just as they recognize Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Isaiah 64:6 (ESV), “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

I am so thankful to serve the living God who clearly states that salvation is an absolutely free gift, that no one can earn through deed or action, fully available to anyone who will accept His free gift by faith alone.

See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.

 

Rev. Dr. Jason Harrison


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Day 27 – Journey to the Cross – Dr. Jason Harrison

Hello First Family!

Today’s Code word devotional comes from the pen of Dr. Jason Harrison. Enjoy! See ya Monday  on our Journey to the Cross!

 
Code Word: Presence
 

              Even devout Christians often struggle with the concept of what it means to be in God’s presence.  Maybe you have even wondered what being in God’s presence even means if God is omnipresent.

               First, we need to try to understand the concept of God’s “all-pervading omnipresence” verses His “manifest overt-presence”. 

              His omnipresence can be viewed as His overall effect on His creation, when we are in right relationship to Him.  Consider these two verses:

  • Psalm 16:11 (ESV),  “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
  • Psalm 21:6 (ESV), “For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.”

 

              Then we have His overt presence.  This is where God actively engages man by performing miraculous and extraordinary acts of power and glory.  Moses experienced this several times with God.  Some examples would be with the burning bush, and when he received the ten commandments.

             Either situation reveals the glory and majesty of the living God who permanently dwells in His children, in the form of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:13 (ESV)

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

 

              Today’s focus verse is from Hebrews 13:5 and states all we need to know about the Presence of God in our lives, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Praise the Lord as you ponder this thought today.

 

Rev. Dr. Jason Harrison


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Day 26 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

Today’s Code word is Open.

This code word is a great one for us to consider to day when so many of the things that we are accustomed to are closed. We can’t go to sporting events, our favorite restaurant, the gym, or even to church. But let me say emphatically, the church is still OPEN!
 
We need a reminder today that the church is not located at 6050 Palm Coast Pkwy.  The church is a living organism that is more alive and open today than most people give it credit for.  We, brothers and sisters in Christ, are the church and we should be more active and present and engaged  in this current environment than we ever have before.  So, to dispel any rumors, the church is still open for business – the business of the Kingdom – to make disciples and to share the Gospel.  We should always be ready to receive those who are hurting and in need with open arms and open hearts. In this way, we emulate our Father in heaven. O.S. Hawkins reflected on the Father’s heart in the story of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:20.  When the son went his own direction and left the Father, the Father did not become bitter and closed off to the son. He remained open and, in fact, was looking for his son to return. This is good news for us!
 
Our Heavenly Father has His arms open wide when we go to Him repenting of our sin and asking for help in our various times of need.  I am encouraged to think that the Lord is waiting for me to come to Him and take my anxieties and fears to Him, to receive His strength, hope, and encouragement in exchange.
 
Today, as we are engaged in the process of opening doors, drawers, letters and The REFRIGERATOR, let’s remember our Father who is standing with open arms to forgive us and encourage us in our times of need. We serve an amazing and loving God! Praise the Lord! See ya tomorrow on Our Journey to the Cross!

 

Pastor Kevin


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Day 25 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

 

Today’s Code word is Wash

In this season that we are in with the COVID-19 pandemic, our global response has been a renewal to wash our hands and keep our distance from others. When we wash we focus on our hands to make cure they are clean and as germ-free as possible. Today, O.S. Hawkins focused on the hands of God and the way that He deals with His people. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father let his son go. He did not force him to stay or guilt him into submission. He let him go with open hands and kept an open heart for him to return. God does the same thing with us. We are free to go in any direction that we want. Most of the time we are traveling in a direction that would lead us further from the Lord rather than to Him. He doesn’t force His hand and allows us to wander until we return to Him. O.S. Hawkins highlights the reason that God deals with us with an open hand, “Like the father in this story, your loving, heavenly Father has an open hand toward you. You are not a puppet. You are a person, with the ability to make decisions in life. And so, He lets you go . . . because the love you can voluntarily return to Him is indescribably valuable to Him.” What an amazing love our Heavenly Father has for us.

Today’s focus verse, in Romans 8:38-39, is a great reminder that no matter how far we travel away from God, NOTHING can separate us from Him, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Today, as you wash your hands, let it be a reminder of God’s love and care. See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross!

 

Pastor Kevin


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Day 24 – Journey to the Cross – Rev. Jimmy Freeland

Hello First Family,

Today’s Code word devotional comes from our newly ordained pastor, the Reverend James Freeland. Enjoy!

See you tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross,

Pastor Kevin

 
 

Good day church family!

Today’s code word is Welcome.

“Excuse me, I think you might be sitting in my pew.” Perhaps you’ve heard these words in church before. Or worse, perhaps you’ve said them. Either way, this is just one of a myriad of examples of an unwelcoming heart found in churches the world over. In my mind, this is merely an opportunity to speak to someone I may have never met. It might even be a way to get to know a regular church member that I haven’t had the opportunity to connect with before. Maybe, just maybe God could use this interaction to foster a relationship with another lost soul, or a soul that is hurting, or a soul that could just use a smile and a kind word. Maybe this is just one more chance to shake off that negative attitude, hand over your pew, and be Jesus to someone. In Galatians 3:28 we read, “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Friend, the Lord isn’t concerned with the status of a person before they know His Son, and He is certainly not concerned with whether or not you get to keep your pew! So, scoot over, and allow both the person next to you, and the Lord Jesus Christ to dwell there. I promise you won’t regret it.

 

Pastor Jimmy


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Day 23 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family,

Today’s Code word is Politics.
 
Wow! Do we have to bring politics into our Journey to the Cross?! Politics have divided our society like nothing else in the day that we live. You are either a Democrat or a Republican, or a liberal or a conservative. There is no in-between, no moderate approach, no conversation, no give to any position. Our country, communities and the church are being ripped apart because of partisan politics and how divided we are have become. O.S. Hawkins refers to the story of the Good Samaritan told in Luke 10:30-37. The Samaritan did not allow political and ideological differences to get in the way of a neighbor who needed his help. The Good Samaritan responded to the person’s physical need in spite of their differences. I am going to make a statement that some of you will disagree with – some things are more important than POLITICS!  Jesus sets the example for those who are following Him. Jesus left the comfort of heaven, stepped into humanity, and came to our rescue to fulfill our need.
 
In the same way, we are to leave our comfort zone (political opinion) step out in faith and meet the needs of those around us, even if we do not agree politically. Our calling is to be like Christ, not to stay true to a political opinion. Imagine for a minute,  standing at the Bema Seat of Christ described in Romans 14:10-12. This is the place of reward for those who have placed their faith in Jesus. We will give an account of our lives and be rewarded according to the way we lived our lives for Christ. The Bible does not say that we will earn a reward for being a good Democrat or Republican! Many Christians are wasting their time, resources and talents to prove they are right in their political opinion, rather than prioritizing their Christian testimony. Politics has become an idol that has divided man from man and man from God. When we repent of this sin of political idolatry and leave the comfort of our own opinion, we can be used by God to minister the Gospel and answer people’s most pressing need. Let’s follow Jesus example and teaching from Matthew 5:44, “But, I say to you, love your enemies.” See ya tomorrow on our journey to the Cross.

 

Pastor Kevin


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Day 22 – Journey to the Cross – Deacon Mike Robinson

Hello First Family!

Today’s devotional thought comes from one of our amazing servant leaders, Deacon Mike Robinson.  Today’s Code word is Lunch. Enjoy!  

 

  Across America, lunch is usually a meal that is grabbed on the fly so that we can get back to work, to class, or to whatever we have going on during the day.  We grab just enough to sustain us and sometimes through our quick choices, things that are not healthy for our bodies.

     Our Christian lives are sometimes like that.  We do just enough to make us feel good about our walk with Christ and are not really expanding our relationship with Him.

     Like Andrew, who found the little boy with the 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread, we don’t think we have the resources to accomplish the task at hand. What we fail to understand is that Jesus can bless our endeavors and make them more than enough when we give Him our all, just like that little boy.  We will strengthen our faith in Christ when we allow Him to be in control and utilize what we offer up in the way He has already ordained.  Through Christ, we can see our resources, even if they are small, grow into more than we ever expected.  We are blessed for striving to do what is right for Christ and for trusting that He can fulfill what He wants to accomplish through us.

     We need to stop looking for the possible and depend on the God of the impossible.  Only then will we keep our eyes on Him and understand that in everything, God is in control.  Whether it’s a building project, a volunteer project, disaster relief, or anything else, if we are following God’s will then we shouldn’t be moaning and complaining about how that particular event will be accomplished because God already has it worked out and His ways are so much better than ours.

     So when you go to grab lunch again, think about how God can use that little meal to bring about big changes in your daily life by the simple act of putting your faith and trust in Him.  God is never caught by surprise.  Even if what we do seems small, we always end up reaping blessings because of our faith and obedience to Him.  On our journey to the cross, we need to be looking beyond the size of our lunch to the power that brought resurrection and salvation to a lost and dying world.

     See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross!

 

Mike Robinson


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Day 21 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family,

Today’s Code word is Return. This is a loaded word in Scripture. Return means to go back to a position, place or state that you have already been. After reading Revelation 2:4, one could say it was necessary to return to our first love. The Apostle John records the words of Jesus concerning the church of Ephesus, “Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” OF course in my mind the first thing I think of when I hear the word return is the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ! He will return to set all things right. Revelation 19:11-16  speaks of this glorious event, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

O.S. Hawkins refers the lesser known story in Luke 17 of the 10 lepers being healed and only one returns to thank Jesus. There is something about thankfulness for the things done for you that communicate love, humility, and gratitude. Unfortunately, many Christians today have become accustomed to the good things of the Lord and are growing less and less thankful. A global event like the Corona Virus has made many stop and be thankful and more appreciative for the everyday blessings of the Lord. Today’s focus verse is from Psalm 107:1, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” I think there is a song that goes along with that! We should confess an ungrateful and entitled heart for the sin that it represents and return to the Lord with a thankful heart for His great mercy and love for us. Spend some time today, wherever you are social distancing at, to return to the Lord and just thank Him for all that He has done. See ya Monday on our Journey to the Cross.

 

Pastor Kevin


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Day 20 – Journey to the Cross – Deacon Jerry Patton

Today’s Devotional thought comes from one of our Deacons, Jerry Patton. Enjoy!
 

Today’s Code word is Newspaper!

As a former newspaper editor, each week I had to choose what “news” to put on a page for printing and what was less worthy of receiving space in our paper.  Determining what was fact (truth), what could not be proven, or what was just somebody’s opinion, was a daily task needed to be done to ensure that what we presented to the readers was honest and trustworthy.  Sadly, today what is presented in most media as truth is more propaganda than truth.

The dictionary describes a newspaper as:  “A printed account of news; a publication containing news and comment on current events.”   That seems to pretty well describe the Bible as well.  While it was written more than 2-thousand years ago, reading it today is just like reading current events.  As we move closer to the day of the promised return of Jesus, God’s Word tells us of what we can expect and what’s about to happen.  And just like a newspaper, there is good news and bad news in the Bible. 

The Good News is that Jesus died for our sins and offered Himself as a sacrifice to pay the debt we owe for our sins. (Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”)

The bad news is that if you don’t personally accept His sacrifice as payment for your sins then you have no hope of paying that debt and will suffer the consequences for all eternity.  And don’t get the idea that this doesn’t include you.  As Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Today’s verse for meditation is from II Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

This is a great reminder that God sent us His only Son to pay the debt we owe so that we can look forward to that day we will forever be with Him… A day that may be here very soon.

So, today, think about the mercy that God extended to us through the death of His Son, to cover our sins and give us the promise that we will be with Him forever. What Amazing love He has for us!

 

In His Service,

Jerry Patton


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Day 19 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

Today’s Code word is Temperature. O.S. Hawkins picks the word temperature to remind us that just like scientific truth is narrow, so is spiritual truth. Water freezes at 32 degrees, not 33 degrees or 34 degrees. (unless you are in Florida and then everything below 50 degrees is freezing! Lol!)  Hawkins also points out that mathematical truth is narrow, 2 + 2 = 4, not 3 and not 5.  Just like scientific truth and mathematical truth, spiritual truth is also narrow – Jesus is the only way to receive the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, not good works and not sincerity.  Our Journey to the Cross must pass through faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. This is the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.

Every morning when I wake up, I prepare to walk our dog, Jack. The first thing I do is to check my weather app on my phone and see what the temperature is outside. Then I can dress appropriately.  Then, as I am preparing for the events of the day and to come to church, I check the weather app again to make sure that I dress appropriately for the expected weather.  So, in applying the temperature test to our spiritual lives, we must first check our eternal weather app, the Bible, to make sure that we are dressed appropriately for eternity.  Isaiah 61:10 celebrates, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

The most important decision that you can make today is to make sure that you are clothed properly for eternity.  Have you accepted the gift of God, which is salvation through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross?  If you have not, then you are not dressed appropriately for eternity.  If you have any doubt or question as to your preparedness for eternity, settle it today!  Please email me at kevin@fbcpc.org or call the church office at 386-445-2020 to talk about it and make sure today. 

See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.

Pastor Kevin


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Day 18 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

 

Today’s Code word  is LOGO. Our short devotional thought today features  one of my favorite guys on the planet, Brother Lee Bryant. Lee has impacted thousands of people in Palm Coast and beyond over the years through his ministry as a Deacon and Deacon Chairman at our church. He continues to be one of the most influential men in my life even today. I can honestly say that the trajectory of my life changed when I met Brother Lee. I was a successful grocery store manager that loved his career. But, when I met Brother Lee in 2003, he asked me if I ever thought about serving the church as a Deacon. The decision to follow the Lord’s leading in the calling of a Deacon led me into full-time vocational ministry in August 2006. Then, in March 2016, God called me to be the Pastor here at First Baptist. The old adage says, “A long journey begins with a small step.” Brother Lee was instrumental in my  first small step from career to calling. I am forever grateful.

Today’s Code word is the everyday word logo. We are familiar with the logos of our favorite team, favorite car, and favorite brands. We easily recognize the products and services familiar to us by their logos and branding. O.S. Hawkins challenges us today to represent the logo of Jesus Christ on our Journey to the Cross. He says something profound, “The Christian life is not a changed life. It is an exchanged life. You give Christ your old life, and He puts it away in the sea of forgetfulness. And He gives you a brand-new life, a new life in Christ. It is an awesome thought, Christ lives in me.” We literally wear Christ, His brand, His logo, so that others may see Him and recognize Him. Brother Lee says it like this, “Matthew 5:16 states: ‘Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven’. How about us using this passage as a Logo to a lost world. See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.

 

Pastor Kevin


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Day 17 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today’s Code word is Thumb.

We all have one but they all have a different thumb print. God designed us differently than anything else in creation. Have you ever wondered why your thumbprint is different than anyone else’s print? Maybe it is so we know  that we are special and unique to God our Creator. God loves us and cares about us in a way that many don’t comprehend. “He proved His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) On our Journey to the Cross, we have picked up clues as to why God would send His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins. Our thumbs give us a clue. Our unique and intentional design by our Creator helps us understand that He sent Jesus to not only pay the penalty of the sins for all mankind, but also for your sins and mine. Oh, what a great and compassionate God, full of grace and mercy!

Let’s remember O.S. Hawkins advice today as we wash our hands frequently, “Today, when you wash your hands, look at your thumb and let it remind you that no one has a thumb print or DNA just like yours. You are an individual, indescribably loved by God. Let Him love you today.”

See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.

 

Pastor Kevin


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Day 16 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

 

What a great weekend we had with our friends in church and afterwards!  Friends just seem to make life a little sweeter. They are a true blessing from God!
 
Today’s Code word on our Journey to the Cross is Friend.  O.S. Hawkins recalls Jesus’ words from John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Friendship is a unique type of relationship in which all parties choose to be part of the relationship. In a friendship, there is give and take, yielding and compromise, and needs met. Jesus teaches that there is no greater love than when one friend chooses to sacrifice themselves for the friendship. In this act, these friends are exhibiting great humility and love by not demanding their own needs be met first. Instead, they are also looking out for the needs of others. Philippians 2:4 commands, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” If we truly desire to be like Christ, then, this is the type of friends that we will be. Jesus literally laid down His life for His friends, you and me.
 
Today’s focus verse says it all and is found in 1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.” Ponder the “greater love” of Christ today as you interact with your friends. See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.

 

Pastor Kevin


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Day 15 – Journey to the Cross – Rev. Jonathan Rager

Hello First Family!

I am looking forward to seeing all of you in church tomorrow! Today’s devotional thought comes from our Pastoral Care Pastor Jonathon Rager. Enjoy!

Pastor Kevin

 

Code Word: MENU

 

Face it, our lives revolve around food. We are always looking for that perfect meal when we order from a menu. If we find more than one item that we really like, we must make a choice which one to order.

Does God care what food we put into our bodies? How about what we drink? What about the things we do throughout the day?

During His agonizing prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus made it very clear He preferred that something different would be considered and allowed by the Father other than the agony, pain and suffering that was ahead. However, His obedience to the will of the Father took priority over His desires. He said to the Father; “Not my will, but thine be done”.

Are we willing to set aside our desires and preferences in all our decisions and submit to the will of God? 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whatever we eat, Whatever we drink, and Whatever we do; Do all to the glory of God”. The next time you look at a dinner menu, ask God for guidance before you order. Then thank Him for the meal and to guide you on how much of it to put into your body. Even the small decisions in life must bring “Glory to God”.

 

Rev Jonathon Rager


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Day 14 – Journey to the Cross – Deacon Roger Wendell

Day 14: CODE WORD: “UP”

 

It’s sometimes hard for me to get my head around the fact that Jesus, the Son of the Almighty God of the universe, ever felt “forsaken”.  Yet in Matthew 27:46, while He was hanging on that cross in my place, that’s exactly what it says. As He bore the sins of the entire world, God the Father could not even look at Him, and thus Jesus felt all alone and forsaken.  

Webster defines “up” as:  “in or into a higher position or level.”  Although I was saved at the ripe old age of 7, in a storefront church in Wilmington, NC, on a very hot July night in 1955, over the years, somewhere between college and the US Army, I had become so busy with my life and work, that I no longer put God on the top shelf.  He was still there, but in the background.

Sometimes, like the farmer who hit his mule over the head with a 2 x 4 to “get his attention”, God has to put us on our knees so that we have nowhere to look but “up”.  It was then that the Lord took His own 2×4 and hit me over the head with it and put me in the ICU at Womack Army Hospital at Ft. Bragg, NC.  I really must have looked good, because as soon as my mom walked in, she took one look at me and promptly passed out.  As I remember, I was in ICU for almost a week, and was finally forced to slow down, think, and reassess my priorities.  I realized that while I might have forgotten about Jesus, for some incredible reason that I may never understand, He had never forgotten about me.  That’s when I began to look up again.  I recommitted my life to Him, and put Him back on the top shelf where He belonged.  I became much more involved in my church, in missions, jail ministries, and formed a quartet that He has blessed to sing coast to coast, singing His praises and spreading the gospel through song.  I can never make up for the years I wasted, not truly serving my Savior, but with His help, He is now truly not just my Savior, but Friend, and Lord of my life. Keep looking Up!

 

Deacon Roger Wendell


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Day 13 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family,

Today’s Code Word is Lost.

Lost is an adjective describing the condition of someone or something or a verb in the simple past tense and past participle of lose. O.S. Hawkins makes a distinction between what we typically describe as lost is really something that we left someplace and can’t find it easily. To have lost something means that we can never repossess it. To have left something means that we can go back to the point in time or the place in which we left it and regain or repossess it. For instance, I often times say to Ann, “I have lost my glasses again!” Then Ann, will ask a series of questions that will cause me to retrace my steps until I find the glasses right where I left them. I did not lose my glasses, I left them somewhere. The same principle applies In our Journey to the Cross.
 
In Revelation 2:4, the Apostle writes to the church at Ephesus, “You have left your first love.” We have not lost our first love, Christ, but sometimes we leave Him and have a difficult time finding Him. So, we must retrace our steps and discover where we left Him. Then, we can repent and recover our intimacy and start to make progress on our journey again. This Code word is an encouraging reminder that we can never lose our love for Christ, although we may leave it from time to time. Today’s focus verse comes from Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid…for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will never leave you or forsake you.” That thought is worthy to ponder! See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.

 

Pastor Kevin


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Day 12 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Jeff Dawsey

Today’s Code word is Ordinary.  Speaking strictly about Christian circles, there are three types of people: extra, ordinary and extraordinary. I will break these down.

Extra – “trying too hard, over the top, excessive, maybe a little dramatic. Doing more than what the situation calls for. Often a little inappropriate.” No one will admit this, but we all know people like this. Some of us are these people. And, while their hearts may be in the right place at times, these “extra” people tend to rub others the wrong way, and I believe the most important issue with “extra” people is that they are extremely religious…in a bad way.

Ordinary – “with no special or distinctive features; normal.” Ordinary people tend to get a bad reputation because, well, anyone can be ordinary. If ordinary was a day, I think we would all link it with Monday; it’s the mundane, usual, everyday things that take place. So, who would want to be that, right? While I’d agree that ordinary isn’t the way we should seek to be, I am convinced it is the launching place to where we should all seek to rest at: extraordinary.

Extraordinary – “very unusual or remarkable.” I want to share a story of a teen who was so “ordinary” but became extraordinary, due to his former state.

Ever heard of David? Of course, the kid who killed Goliath. We all learn the story as little children. But, what most fail to understand about David is how he mustered up the courage to take on the battle, when Israel’s entire army shook before the giant Philistine for 40 days.

In his everyday life, David served his family as a shepherd. He was disregarded by his brothers, and his dad didn’t even think to bring him inside for the Prophet Samuel to consider as Israel’s future king. But, what his family didn’t know was that God was developing his faith in a literal “poopy” situation.

David loved those sheep! He recounted two instances where he killed both a lion and bear to protect those sheep. Because he learned of God’s delivering power for sheep, he KNEW God cared more about His nation AND His name, so David readily accepted the challenge and easily defeated Goliath.

I hope you see that David wasn’t born extraordinary. And, he also didn’t have to try hard or go over the top in his efforts. But, he came to see God in his ORDINARY lifestyle, and God promoted him to extraordinary.

In this Easter season—and going forward—remember that God doesn’t need “extra” people. He simply needs those who will consistently and ordinarily obey Him. With that, He makes us extraordinary.
 
Pastor Jeff

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Day 11 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

 

Today’s Code word is Cook.
 
This is a word that my mentor, Pastor Dennis, used to use on occasions where an idea would be introduced and he was not sure how to accomplish it. He would say, “Let’s let that cook for a while.”  The sentiment behind this usage is that we allow things to simmer in our spirit pondering opportunities and solutions to the ideas that are presented. O. S. Hawkins lists a few episodes in the life of Mary as she is a witness to the miraculous proclamation of the birth of Jesus, the  virgin birth and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. In Luke 2:19, concerning the proclamation and angelic announcement, Mary “pondered” or mixed all of these things up in her heart and allowed them to “cook” in her spirit. On our Journey to the Cross it is beneficial for us to ponder or “allow to cook”  the life, ministry, and message of our Savior. We will begin to appreciate more the sacrifice that He made for us and allow it to impact our lives in a greater way.
 
Today’s verse is a great one to ponder and can be found at Matthew 25:23, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Now, “let’s let that cook for a while.” See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.

 

Pastor Kevin


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Day 10 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

 

Happy Monday! I am thankful for the time we shared in the Lord’s house this weekend. We kick off this week’s Code words with the Code word Sign”.

We are inundated with signs each and every day. We have become immune to the presence of most of the signs and don’t give them very much thought. We come across street signs telling us which way to go or not and inform us as to where we are in any given moment. We drive by  business signs alerting us to the businesses that are available to us. We see construction signs, detour signs and real estate signs giving us information that we soon forget. O.S. Hawkins uses the Code word Sign to remind us of another type of sign that we sometimes under value In our Christian faith. The sign that he refers to is the sign of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Today’s focus verse is from Isaiah 7:14, which states, “The LORD Himself will give you a sign; behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” The Hebrew word for sign is defined  as a signal, a distinguishing mark, a remembrance, a token or proof. The virgin birth of Christ is a distinguishing event that would serve as proof of His identity as the Messiah, God’s Son. We cannot journey to the cross without the virgin birth.

Today as you go about your way, and ignore most of the signs around you, take a minute and reflect on the sign that God gave you and me, to help us identify and know His Son. We serve such a good God! He desires that we know the Way, in which we are going, by giving us a sign to follow. Don’t ignore the Sign. See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross!

 

Pastor Kevin


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Day 9 – Journey to the Cross – Rev. Jonathan Rager

Hello First Family!

Today’s devotional thought comes from our very own Brother Jonathon Rager as he shares the Code word Sheep

 

I grew up on a family farm in Michigan where among many different kinds of animals we had a small flock of 12 sheep. I still remember their names: Dixey, Daisy, Katie, Lilly, Suzie, Sissy, Sam, Queenie, Sunshine, Princess, Dottie and Willie. The Bible says that we are all like sheep. (Isaiah 53:6) A sheep will wander away from it’s Shepherd and get into trouble by either getting lost or getting hurt. We do the same thing by turning away from “The Good Shepherd” Jesus Christ and going our “Own Way” not “God’s Way”. Our only hope of surviving eternity is to accept Jesus’ payment for our sin by His shed blood on the cross, His death, His burial and His resurrection from the dead.

This powerful metaphor from the Bible, about the relationship between the Good Shepherd, and His sheep should encourage us who belong to Jesus to keep listening to “The Good Shepherd” to be safe under His leading and protection. Just like I remember the names of our sheep so many years ago, Jesus knows our name and we respond to His voice and follow Him.

As the sheep of “God’s Pasture”; “True Believers,” we are to care for each other as well. We are also to reach the lost for Christ. This old song from Sunday School of long ago says;

  1. “Hark tis the Shepherd’s voice I hear. Out in the desert dark and drear. Calling the sheep who’ve gone astray, Far from the Shepherd’s fold away.
  2. Who’ll go and help this Shepherd kind, Help Him the wandering one’s to find? Who’ll bring the lost ones to the fold, Where they’ll be sheltered from the cold?
  3. Out in the desert hear their cry, Out on the mountains wild and high; Hark tis the Master speaks to thee, Go find my sheep where’re they be.

 

CHORUS: Bring them in, Bring them in, Bring them in from the fields of sin. Bring them in, Bring them in, Bring the wandering ones to Jesus.

 

See ya soon!

Rev. Jonathon Rager


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Day 8 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

 

Today’s Code word is Gate.

When we think of a Gate, we think of a passageway through a fence or entrance into a property. A gate is an important feature in security and in transitioning from one area into another. Ancient city gates were important in biblical times as major places of trade and where the city elders would govern. Jesus referred to Himself as the Gate in one of the seven “I Am” statements in the Gospel of John. In John 10:9 Jesus states, “Yes, I am the Gate. Those who come in through Me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.” In this passage, Jesus is talking about the behavior of sheep to their shepherd. As sheep were grazing in the open pasture, shepherds would build temporary sheep pens by stacking rocks on top of each other. These sheep pens would be used to organize and protect sheep at night from the dangerous predators looking for a quick meal. Shepherds could not build the gate of the sheep pen out of rocks, so the shepherd became the gate as he would lie down in the opening of the walled sheep pen. Sheep could not get out because of the shepherd and predators could not get in. So, by Jesus saying, “I am the Gate,” He was stating that anyone who wanted to be saved had to come through Him. Thank you Jesus!

Today’s verse to ponder is from Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” When you see a gate today, think of Jesus and thank him for providing the Way. See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.

 

Pastor Kevin


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Day 7 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

 

It has been a great week of Code Words to kick off our Journey to the Cross. As a reminder, the Code words already shared are Done, Change, Probe, Hand, Condescension, Sacrifice, and Picture. Today’s Code word is Freedom.  

The sentiment of the word Freedom runs strong in our congregation. Every week, when we gather together for worship, we are surrounded by real American heroes that have served our country to fight and protect our freedom. I am so proud of these heroes and feel the impact of their sacrifice every time I gaze on our Wall of Honor. I would encourage you to stop by the Wall of Honor in the Southeast hallway of our Sanctuary building and linger for a few minutes as you thank the Lord for those that have ensured our freedom. Today’s Code word refers to Christ who ensured our ultimate freedom from sin. O.S. Hawkins recalls the story of the Exodus from Exodus 12. On the night of Passover, the Israelites took the blood of the lamb and placed it on the doorposts of their home. There, the death angel would see the blood of the lamb and pass over the house leaving it protected from the plague of the death of the firstborn. In the same way, Jesus, the perfect and spotless Lamb of God, shed His blood for humanity. And by faith, people apply the blood of Jesus to their lives to escape judgment and be free from sin.

Today is a great day to stop and gaze on the Lamb of God and thank the Lord for His sacrifice that ensured our eternal freedom from sin. Our verse today is John 1:7, “The blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanses us from all sin.” Hallelujah!

 

Pastor Kevin

 


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Day 6 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

 

Today’s Code word is Picture. Cell phones have changed everything about the way we live. They have changed the way we communicate, the way we get information, the way we spend our free time and the way that we remember moments through digital pictures and videos. I was in a meeting yesterday when one of our amazing committee members made a reference to taking pictures. The committee is planning on taking pictures of our ministry leaders and displaying them so everyone will know who they are. This committee member dated himself when he cautioned that we would need to pay for the cost of the film and processing. However, as the way that we process and store photos changes, the reason for capturing moments is the same, we want to remember.

Conversely, O.S. Hawkins uses the word picture in a different sense. He states that the Old Testament gives us a picture of the Messiah in the New Testament. In a sense, the Old Testament stories and episodes, give the reader a picture of life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Scholars call this process foreshadowing. One of the most valuable aspects of the Old Testament for contemporary readers is the preparation of the heart for the expectation and realization of the advent of the Messiah. This process of preparation can be seen in the foreshadowing episode of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22:1-14. Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. But, at the last minute, God provided a substitute and the boy was saved. God provided a Messiah, a substitute sacrifice, to take our penalty for sin. And through faith in Jesus, we too are saved! Praise be to God! Today, look around for pictures in nature, in your relationships, and in your quiet time that may give you a greater glimpse at the heart of God. Today’s verse is from Hebrews 11:6, “ But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Diligently seek Him today!

 

Pastor Kevin


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Day 5 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

 
 
Hello First Family,
 
Today’s Code word is Sacrifice. This word was not relevant when God created the world and everything in it. During the first days in the Garden, Adam and Eve did not know the word Sacrifice because the occasion for its necessity, had not occurred. Then, sin entered the world through their choice to take their eyes off of the Lord and put it on themselves. Sin caused the need for a sacrifice. Sin and sacrifice are irrevocably linked together in human history.
 
O.S. Hawkins points to the first animal sacrifice that occurred so that Adam and Eve could be clothed to cover their nakedness. His statement about the cost of sin is profound, “When the animal breathed its last breath, it became the first to know the expensive toll that sin takes on one’s life.” Our sin leads to death. God, in His mercy, allowed for a substitutionary sacrificial system to temporarily atone for the sin of mankind until the perfect Sacrifice would come. Hebrews 9:22 teaches, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.” Jesus would be the last Sacrifice needed to atone for man’s sin. Hebrews 10:10 says it like this, “By this will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.” Jesus, the Perfect Sacrifice, would pay the ultimate price for our sin and thus covering our nakedness before God once and for all. Today’s verse for meditation is from John 6:37, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” Today, ponder the mercy extended by God to cover our sins. Amazing love!
 
Pastor Kevin

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Day 4 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

What a great day in church yesterday! It is always the highlight of my week when we meet together and worship our Lord.

Today’s Code word is Condescension, which means a voluntary assumption of equality with a person regarded as inferior. We see condescension acted out when a parent gets on the floor to play with the child. They are getting  on the same level of a child to communicate love and presence with the child. We see condescension acted out when a doctor exhibits a caring bedside manner coming alongside the sick or diseased. But the most amazing and impressive act of condescension was when Jesus left the glory of heaven and took the form of a man. Philippians 2:8 states, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

I am convinced that we are no more like Christ than when we condescend into the world and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a lost and perishing world. Let the grace and mercy of God dominate your thoughts today while you focus on His amazing love acted out in His condescension for all humanity. Today’s verse is from John 14:18, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Praise be to God!

 

Pastor Kevin


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Day 3 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

Happy Leap Year Day! God has given us an extra day this year to make a difference. Tell someone today that Jesus loves them!

I hope you are enjoying this Journey to the Cross corporate devotional. I have seen some of you in the community this week and have been able to discuss the Code word of the day. Let’s keep the Momentum going with today’s Code word Hand.

O.S. Hawkins gives a beautiful illustration of a young child scared in the dark until their parent takes them by the hand and leads them to a safe place. He likens this to be the way that we are in life when we get disoriented because of the storms of life. It is then that the Lord comes and takes our hand and leads us to safety. When we are lost in sin and cannot find a way out, the Lord will guide us through as we repent and ask for help. Rest assured, He always leads to safety, peace and rest. So, today, cry out to the Lord for help, repent of the sin that has gotten you lost and disoriented, and allow the lord to lead your life. Our verse of the day comes from Romans 2:4, “The goodness of God leads you to repentance.” Praise the Lord! God is Good!…All the Time! Can’t wait to see all of you in church tomorrow!

Pastor Kevin


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Day 2 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Greeting First Family!

Today’s Code word is Probe This is a different word that we do not use often in our everyday conversation.  This word means to search into or examine something closely. Applying this concept to our spiritual journey, we are to probe our actions, motives and will against the model given to us in Scripture. We can ask probing questions such as, “Am I living for myself or for the Lord?” or “Is the way I treat others motivated out of self-gain or am I truly interested in living a life that benefits others?”

When we ask these probing questions, we begin to understand ourselves better and our motives come to the surface. Our motives give us a window into our heart. We begin to see the areas of our heart that are not like Christ. Then we can begin to address those areas of our heart that are far away from God by repenting of the sin and changing our minds to be like Christ.

I pray that today is full of probing questions for you and the Lord to start to peer into your heart and make progress on your Journey to the Cross. Our verse of the day is actually a prayer. So, let’s pray together with the Psalmist from Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart…See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting.” Amen!

See y’all soon! God Bless!

Pastor Kevin


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Day 1 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

 

The Code word for today is Change. Our attitude toward sin must change. The Bible uses the word Repentance to help us to understand how our attitudes are to change toward sin. Repentance means to change one’s mind toward something or a change of direction. The Greek word for Repentance is metanoia. This word gives us a picture of a soldier who is marching with his troop in formation and then about faces, or changes direction. A better illustration for us to understand today, Repentance is like a person who is driving down a street and realizes they are going the wrong direction and then does a U-turn to correct course.

 

Practically, repentance means that as we live our lives, when we realize we are sinning, we stop and change course. We leave the sin behind and live in a new way for the Lord. This is accomplished in three ways. First, evaluate your actions against God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 teaches, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;”  Second, if your sinning, decide to stop. Ephesians 4:1 exhorts, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,” And, lastly, choose to replace that sin by pursuing Jesus. Jesus commands in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

 

As we grow as disciples, we will desire to obey His teachings more and more and choose ourselves, less and less. As we Journey to the Cross together, let us strive to change our attitudes toward sin and self, while at the same time thinking more and more about the commands of Jesus and applying them to our everyday lives. Pray today for a change of mind and heart concerning your sin. See ya tomorrow! God Bless!

 

Pastor Kevin


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Introductory – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello FBC Family,

I am glad that you are joining many of us in the church for this 40 day Journey to the Cross. We are focusing our devotional time together around the events and experiences of Jesus as He journeyed to the cross in the New Testament. We will focus on key words or “Code” words each day to try to intensify our understanding of what Jesus was seeing, hearing, and feeling during His last days of ministry. I am praying that this will be one of the most memorable experiences for you and for our church family this year as we prepare our hearts and lives for the celebration of the Resurrection.


Today’s Code word is Done! Our focus passage today is found in Titus 3:5, “It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” What a great reminder. There are many today that will begin a season of giving something up or fasting from something as an act of worship during this Lent (40th) season. Many will think that this act of fasting will in some way please or appease God, that God will look at their act of fasting and grant them grace in exchange. The Bible gives us a different picture of grace. Ephesians 2:8 teaches, “For by grace are you saved, through faith.” Mankind does not work for grace, God grants it. Grace is God’s unmerited favor, meaning that man can’t earn it. Mankind is to receive the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. This is a great place for us to start on our Journey to the Cross. We must accept that what is needed for God’s grace has been done. Christ died on the cross so that we could experience the grace of God through faith in Jesus. I pray that this season will help you understand and accept that your salvation is not spelled D-O, it’s spelled D-O-N-E! Until tomorrow…

 

Pastor Kevin


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