Key Passage: John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

Big Picture Question: Who can heal our bodies? Jesus has the power to heal our bodies.

Christ Connection: Isaiah the prophet said that the Messiah God was going to send would make blind people see. (Isaiah 35:5; 42:7) The Messiah was here! Jesus was the promised Messiah, and He made blind people see. Jesus did a miracle. In the same way, Jesus helps us to see and understand the truth about God so we can be rescued from sin.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story takes us to the outskirts of Jericho where a man named Bartimaeus sat by the side of the road begging. You see, Bartimaeus was blind. As Jesus traveled from Jericho, He passed Bartimaeus. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was passing by, he cried out to Him, using a messianic title: “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Socially, Bartimaeus would have been considered unimportant—certainly not important enough for the attention of someone as popular as Jesus. Perhaps Bartimaeus was used to being ignored by passersby, but Jesus stopped and reached out to him. Jesus said to Bartimaeus, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51).

Bartimaeus answered Jesus’ question with a plea of faith: “Teacher, I want to see!” Bartimaeus believed that Jesus could heal him, and Jesus did. Bartimaeus had nothing to offer Jesus. He knew he was needy, and he begged for mercy. Jesus is willing to help those in need.

The prophet Isaiah wrote that the promised Messiah would open the eyes of people who were blind. (Isaiah 35:5; 42:7) He was here! Jesus was the promised Messiah. Even if we are not physically blind, we are sinners. In our need, we can cry out like Bartimaeus, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Sinners can’t see the truth about God until Jesus opens our eyes and saves us.

Family Activity: Read Mark 10:46-52 or invite one of your children to read the passage aloud. Talk about how Jesus showed His power over sickness. Reinforce the big picture question and answer. Lead kids to write short prayers in response to Jesus’ question for Bartimaeus “What do you want Me to do for you?” Kids should pray for people who need Jesus’ healing or who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Dear FPC—
As we approach Pentecost on Sunday (remember to wear red to worship!), we are praying for a renewed experience of God’s Spirit in us. With millions around the world through Thy Kingdom Come we are praying for friends to experience God’s love in a new and powerful way. I hope you will join us in this!
Here is today’s reflection:
READING
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8.37-39
REFLECTION
We expect there must be something that can separate us from the love of God. But God is saying, ‘I don’t care where you are,
what you’re doing, how far away you are: my love for you will not change.’ Sometimes we think that God’s love is dependent on the way we act. But God is saying, ‘Listen, not even the heights of this earth could separate me or stop me from loving you.’
Christianity is first a relationship with God through Jesus, not first a series of activities! The love of God is ultimately expressed in the Cross of Christ, which stands for all time as the sign and assurance of God’s unchanging love.
PRAYER
Loving God, thank You for Your love from which nothing can separate us, and which does not depend on our efforts. Please reveal this love and the peace it brings, in the lives of the five people I am praying for.
ACTION
Think about how you can show someone that they are loved and known by God.

Join us on Sunday as we celebrate the reality and protection of God with us through his Spirit.

Grace and Peace to you this week!

Pastor Steve

Key Passage: John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

Big Picture Question: Who will always take care of us? God will give us what we need.

Christ Connection: Jesus fed more than 5,000 people! Only God’s Son could do that! He gave them food when they were hungry. But the people needed something even more important than food. They needed someone to rescue them from their sins. Jesus was getting ready to do just that. Jesus always gives us what we need.

Dear Parents,

This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, kids will learn about Jesus’ power to provide. Jesus’ disciples had been working hard, teaching people and healing them. Jesus called them to go away with Him to a place where they could rest. By now, Jesus’ popularity was so great that finding a place to be alone was difficult. When Jesus and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee, the crowd of people were already waiting for them on the other side.

Jesus saw the crowds. He wasn’t frustrated or angry. He didn’t tell them to go away. Instead, He had compassion on them because they were lost—like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who seeks and saves the lost. (See Luke 19:10; John 10:14.)

The miracle Jesus performed that evening—feeding 5,000 men plus women and children—is the only miracle during Jesus’ earthly ministry that is recorded in all four Gospels. God was clearly at work. The same God who provided manna for the Israelites in the wilderness multiplied loaves and fish to satisfy the crowd.

But Jesus’ didn’t intend to only meet the people’s physical needs. He came to satisfy their spiritual needs as well. By feeding the five thousand, Jesus provided for the physical needs of the crowd. The next day, Jesus called Himself the bread of life. (John 6:35) Only Jesus is able to satisfy our souls by providing forgiveness, friendship with God, and eternal life.

Family Activity: Set a cracker on the table. Ask your kids if the cracker would be enough to feed your family. Review the Bible story in Matthew 14:13-21. Allow kids to list below some things your family needs on a regular basis. Lead your family in a time of prayer, thanking God for His provision and asking Him to continue to provide for your family’s needs.

Dear FPC—
Try to imagine how the first disciples felt when Jesus ascended to heaven. First he is killed, then he comes back, but now he’s gone? What do we do? Jesus promised that he would send his Spirit to be with them, guide them and empower them. But not yet. After the ascension they had to wait for the Spirit to come. They waited 11 days, praying and seeking God’s help until the Spirit arrived on Pentecost.
This year we are walking with the disciples after Easter, and we are going to use this time between the Ascension and Pentecost to pray. We are praying for Jesus’ Kingdom to Come—in our hearts, in our lives, in our homes, on earth as it is in heaven. And we are praying for 5 friends to come to know Jesus better.
We have lots of information and resources available on our Thy Kingdom Come page, but here are three things you can do now:
Download the Thy Kingdom Come app to your phone and use it over the next 11 days to pray each day.
Join us for the Festival of Prayer this Saturday, May 23, at 10 am on Zoom. Just email the office or a pastor for the zoom information.
Check out the Family Adventure Prayer map! There is even an augmented reality app that you can use with it!
What a great way to get ready for a fresh move of the Spirit in your life—pray for it and invite Him in! Join us for Thy Kingdom Come!
I’m looking forward to worshipping with you on Sunday as we consider how our new life from Jesus doesn’t protect us from hard times, but does carry us through them. Blessings on your week!

Pastor Steve

Key Passage: John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

Big Picture Question: Who has power over creation? Jesus has power over creation.

Christ Connection: Who is Jesus? Jesus’ friends knew He was a good man and a good teacher. When Jesus calmed the wind and the waves, He showed His friends that He is the Lord. Jesus has power over everything He made!

Dear Parents,
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Over the next five weeks, kids will discover that Jesus is powerful. In today’s Bible story, Jesus showed His remarkable power over creation. After a long day of teaching, Jesus and His disciples got into a boat to cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. When their short sailing trip was interrupted by a violent storm, the disciples found themselves in danger with nowhere to turn—except to the One who created all things.

The Sea of Galilee is actually a freshwater lake in northern Israel. It sits nearly 700 feet below sea level and is surrounded by tall hills and mountains. The geography contributes to strong downdrafts and sudden storms that can quickly overtake the lake. This type of windstorm is what the disciples faced as they crossed the sea with Jesus.

Several of the disciples were experienced fishermen. They had spent significant time on the Sea of Galilee, but this storm was so strong. The waves overtook the boat, and the disciples were afraid they would drown. As the disciples panicked, what was Jesus doing? He was sleeping! The disciples woke Jesus. The situation was out of their control, but their reaction was full of irony: “Teacher! Don’t You care that we’re going to die?” (Mark 4:38).

The disciples obviously did not know why Jesus had come to earth. Jesus had come to rescue people from sin. Did Jesus care that the disciples were going to die? Absolutely. But He was going to rescue them from something greater than physical death by drowning. Jesus would save them from spiritual death when He died on the cross.

Who is this man? the disciples wondered. Jesus’ disciples knew Jesus was a good man and a good teacher. When Jesus calmed the wind and the waves, He showed His disciples that He is also God. God rules the sea and stills its waves. (See Job 12:15; 28:25; Ps. 33:7; 89:9; 107:25-30; Amos 4:13.)

Family Activity: Encourage your children to retell the Bible story in their own words. Open the Bible to Genesis 1 and briefly review the story of creation. Point out that God created everything. Remind the kids that Jesus has power over creation because He is God the Son. Provide crayons or markers and invite kids to draw pictures of creation—including animals, plants, or weather.

Dear FPC—
This is getting hard, isn’t it? We yearn for connection and “normality” and even just for clear information about how to keep our neighbors safe. Please know that your Session and staff are all learning, working and thinking hard about how we should move forward as a congregation. For many or most of us our lives will continue to different from how they were in January or February for some time. What can we DO during this time?
I think this a wonderful time for the church (remember that the church is always and only a PEOPLE—you!—not a place or a building) to really make a difference. We can make a difference in our neighborhood and around the world.
Here are 3 ways we can do that right now:
Walk for Water on Saturday
Pray for our friends and neighbors. We are having a special prayer emphasis called Thy Kingdom Come from May 21 (next Thursday) to Sunday May 31 to pray for 5 friends. We will have a prayer vigil, a Festival of Prayer (on zoom on Saturday May 23), and activities for all ages to join in. For more information check out http://fpcslc.org/thy-kingdom-come/
Reach out to your neighbors. One of our members told me about how he left notes with his contact information at each of his neighbors with an offer to help or talk or check in. He says he is closer to his neighbors than ever, despite having lived in that house for years! You can do that too! To help you we are providing “Neighbor helping neighbor” door hangers. You can write your name and phone number on it, it offers to help, to talk and to pray for them. The hangers will be available next week—but you can write your own note anytime! You can knock and say hi (wearing your mask of course!) or just leave them on the step.
My prayer is that we come out of this time more connected to our neighbors and known as people who care. That is a witness for Jesus that will bear fruit for eternity!

Blessings, peace and patience to you!

Pastor Steve

Key Passage: Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”

Big Picture Question: What makes God happy? God is happy when we turn away from sin and love Jesus.

Christ Connection: Jesus told stories about people who were looking for things that were lost. Jesus told these stories to teach about Himself. Jesus looks for people who are lost, people who do not know Him. Jesus gave His life to save people from sin.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Have you ever heard a pastor say that Jesus was seeking the lost? Who is “the lost”? What does it mean to be lost? In Luke 15, Jesus told three parables to the crowd of tax collectors, sinners, Pharisees, and scribes. Jesus’ teaching brought gospel truth to the tax collectors and sinners—those whose unrighteousness separated them from God—and to the Pharisees and scribes—those whose relied on their own righteous efforts for salvation.

The first two parables are similar. In one, a man loses a sheep. He leaves his flock to find the missing sheep, and he rejoices when it is found. In the second, a woman loses a silver coin. The woman carefully searches her home until she finds it. Then, she calls her neighbors and friends to celebrate with her. Heaven rejoices when even one sinner repents.

Finally, Jesus told a parable about two sons. The younger son asked for his inheritance. He wasted his money on immoral living and decided to return to his father. Rather than rejecting his wayward son, the father embraced him. The older son, who had always been obedient to his father, reacted with anger. Think about the crowd Jesus was speaking to. The focus is often placed on the younger son—the one with whom the tax collectors and sinners could identify—but Jesus also made a point about the older son. The older son was like the Pharisees and scribes, focused on his own morality and feeling entitled to his father’s favor.

Jesus taught what God is like. A shepherd was seeking his sheep, a woman was seeking her coin, and a father was seeking his prodigal son. Jesus told these parables to teach about Himself. As Savior, Jesus seeks sinners. He paid the ultimate price—His own life—to save people from sin.

Family Activity: Play hide-and-seek, or hide something in the room and challenge kids to find it. Play several rounds. Jesus told the parable of the Prodigal Son to teach about Himself. Jesus seeks sinners. He paid the ultimate price—His own life—to save people from sin.

Dear FPC,
Things are complicated. I see new life springing up in flowers and trees, and am excited about a new family being born on Saturday as Gracie gets married. At the same time, I am heartbroken by the continued death and destruction from the pandemic. And I am devastated by YET ANOTHER black man shot down for no reason at all (and frankly puzzled and a little angry that the murderers have not been arrested). Life and death—both happening at once all around us. Kindness and hatred both popping up all over.
All I can really say is Lord Have Mercy. Lord have mercy on us, on our leaders, on our broken society, on our health care workers, on people in dire economic straits—please help us! Help us to see and repent of our own racism, our own greed, our own fear and selfishness.
I encourage you to pray too. Not sure what to pray? Here are 5 ideas from our friends at the Bible App. https://blog.youversion.com/2020/05/how-to-pray-when-you-dont-know-what-to-pray/ You can also come and pray with your pastors (while masked and in your car) on Tuesday, May 12 from 5-7.
We will embark on a prayer adventure called “Thy Kingdom Come” on May 21. I am excited that we will have good activities for all ages and for families. There is a digital family adventure prayer map that uses a special augmented reality app on your smart phone! We will have a virtual Festival of Prayer on Zoom on Saturday, May 23. I hope you will join us!

Thank you to all of you who completed our congregational check in. Overall most of you are doing pretty well, for which I’m grateful. We were able to learn of some specific needs, and are following up on them. We also learned that almost all of you sense a deepened call to serve and help others during this time. You are especially eager to offer prayers and emotional support. A great way to do that is as part of our calling tree. If you are interested in joining that, please contact Bev Simpson.
As you move through this complicated week, my prayer for you is that you are source of light and life to those around you.

Grace and peace to you from our Lord Jesus!

Pastor Steve

Key Passage: Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Big Picture Question: What can you do when you hear the truth about Jesus? I can believe the truth about Jesus.

Christ Connection: Not everyone who hears about Jesus believes in Him. Some people don’t understand Jesus or they think they are happy without Him. People who hear the gospel—the good news about Jesus—and believe in Him will be blessed.

Dear Parents,
This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us to look closely at the Parable of the Sower. The Gospels record dozens of Jesus’ parables. A parable is a story Jesus told to help people understand the kingdom of God. Each parable taught a lesson and revealed secrets of God’s kingdom for those who would understand. (See Matt. 13:10-13.)

The parable of the sower would have resonated with those listening because they would have been familiar with the practice of sowing or planting seed. But the parable had a deeper meaning. It contained a lesson about God’s Word and the responses of those who hear it. In the parable, a sower’s seeds fell in four different places. Some of the seeds fell along the path, where they were eaten by birds. Other seeds fell on rocky ground. Those seeds had no roots, so they withered in the sun. Other seeds fell among thorns, and they were choked out. Other seeds fell on good soil, and they produced a crop—a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was planted.

After Jesus told the parable, He explained it to His disciples. The soil represents people’s hearts, and the seed is the word about God’s kingdom. The person whose heart is like the hard soil hears the good news about God, but he does not understand it or he rejects it. The person whose heart is like the rocky soil is quick to receive the truth, but when life gets hard, he falls away. The person whose heart is like the thorny soil cares more about the things of the world than the good news about God, and the seed cannot grow. The person whose heart is like the good soil hears the good news about God and receives it. He bears fruit, more than what was planted. In the life of a believer, the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) is evident.
Jesus’ lesson still holds true today. Not everyone believes the truth about Jesus. Some don’t understand it, some believe in Jesus for selfish reasons, and some only want part of Jesus because they love other things more. But those who hear the gospel and understand who Jesus is will become like Jesus and share His good news with others.

Family Activity: Plant a garden with your family. Check on the seeds daily to see how they are growing. Consider using different kinds of soil to see which grow the best plants.

Go further: Review the four types of soil from the parable of the sower. Encourage your kids to think about how they have responded to the gospel—the good news about Jesus. Lead them to identify which type of soil shows how they have responded. Pray together, asking God to help kids believe the truth about Jesus and share the gospel with others.