Key Passage: Matthew 28:19-20 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…And remember, I am with you always.”

Big Picture Question: Where is Jesus today? Jesus is alive and in heaven.

Christ Connection: Jesus left earth and returned to heaven, but He did not leave us alone. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us do God’s work on earth while we wait for Jesus to come back and make everything new!
Dear Parents,
This week’s Bible story comes from Acts 1:3-11 and centers on Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus showed His followers that He is alive. (Matt. 28:9-10; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:16-17,19-20,26-27; 21:14) Jesus taught them about Himself and about God’s kingdom. (Luke 24:25-27,44-48) Jesus told them that He would soon return to the Father. (John 20:17)

Jesus directed the Eleven to go a mountain. When they arrived, Jesus appeared. Some of them worshiped Jesus, but some of them doubted. (Matt. 28:17) Some of them wondered if Jesus was going to overthrow the Roman government and set up His kingdom on earth. “Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” they asked. (Acts 1:6)

Jesus said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8). Jesus also told them to remain in Jerusalem until they received the Father’s promise—the Holy Spirit. Those who repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus’ death and resurrection would be baptized by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:5) The Holy Spirit would give them power to live holy lives and take the gospel to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

After Jesus told the disciples these things, Jesus was taken up into the sky—right in front of their eyes! (Acts 1:9) Suddenly two men stood on the mountain next to the disciples. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven?” they asked. They said Jesus would return the same way. (Acts 1:11) Until Jesus returns, His followers need to work faithfully.

Jesus is alive in heaven, waiting to return for His people. Jesus told the disciples He was going to prepare a place for them, and when we die, we will be with the Lord in heaven. (John 14:1-3) In the meantime, Jesus has not left us alone. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be with us and help us do God’s work. One day Jesus will return to make all things new and to rule as Lord over all.

Family Activity: Ask your family members to tell about a time when they felt lonely. Read Acts 1:3-11. Jesus’ disciples were probably sad that Jesus would not be with them any longer, but Jesus told them that He’d send Someone who would be with them forever. Jesus didn’t leave us alone. When we love and trust Him, the Holy Spirit comes to be with us and help us do God’s work. We don’t have to be lonely when we remember that God’s Spirit is always with us!

Key Passage: Matthew 28:19-20 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…And remember, I am with you always.”

Big Picture Question: What job did Jesus give His friends? Jesus said to tell everyone about Him.

Christ Connection: Jesus told His friends that everyone they went they were to make more followers of Him. Jesus’ friends could do this because Jesus is in charge of everything, and He promised He would be with them. When we follow Jesus, He promises to always be with us too. Jesus’ mission to His friends is our mission too. We are to make more followers of Jesus.

Dear Parents,
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He appeared to His disciples over a 40 day period. At one point, He appeared to over 500 disciples. Then He appeared to James, His half-brother, and the rest of the apostles. (1 Cor. 15:5-7) During that time, Jesus taught them about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3) Some disciples wondered if Jesus was going to restore the kingdom of Israel. (Acts 1:6)

Jesus and the Father had a different plan for the disciples. Jesus directed the Eleven to go to a mountain, where He appeared to them again. When Jesus appeared, they worshiped Him, but some still doubted. (Matt. 28:17) Before we condemn the disciples who doubted, they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. (Luke 24:49) Without the Holy Spirit, the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. (1 Cor. 1:18)

On the mountain, Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission. First, Jesus stated that all authority had been given to Him. Before the resurrection, Jesus had authority as God the Son. Through the resurrection, however, the Father gave Jesus far more than even Satan had promised. (Matt. 4:8-9) Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God subjected everything to His beloved Son. (See Heb. 2:5-9.)

Jesus commanded His disciples to go into the world and preach the gospel, the good news about Him. The Great Commission is not just for missionaries far from home. All believers are called to share the gospel with others, to teach them to obey God’s commands, and to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus finishes His commission with a profound promise: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

Talk to the kids you teach about the importance of living out the Great Commission. The good news about what Jesus has done to rescue us from our sins is too great to keep to ourselves. Before Jesus went back to heaven, He gave the disciples a job to do. Jesus wants His followers to teach people everywhere about Jesus so they will trust in Him as their Lord and Savior.

Family Activity: Make a list as a family of all the things you like to talk about with family or friends. Beside that list, make a list of the people you see often that you talk with or could talk with. Remind kids that Jesus asked His disciples to tell others about Him and help them become followers of Jesus. Read Matthew 28:16-20. Discuss how you might talk about Jesus with the people on your list.

Dear FPC—
Hurricane force winds in Utah! Seriously? I’ve about had it with 2020! My prayer is that you are safe and well and have your power on. I’m staggered as I go around town and see the scope and breadth of the destruction. It is really amazing that more people were not hurt and that more homes were not damaged. Trees mostly seemed to find a way to fall on the street or the yard. At our house we are still waiting (on Thursday afternoon) for a return of power. That means out with the stuff in the refrigerator, it means chilly mornings as we get out of bed, it means gratitude for candles in the evenings. And for Kindles! There is a big pine tree in our neighbor’s yard just north of our lot. Because of the slope of the hill, that tree’s roots are above the roof of our house—it just sits up above the retaining wall at the back of the lot. Thank God that tree is still standing up there and not lying down with us!
So on one hand I am very grateful that we have gotten off with so little damage. At the same time, I am reminded of how much we rely on electricity, cable, internet, hot water, heating and air conditioning, etc. All of those things need power to work. One wire down disrupts so many things! It is the same with our relationship with God. When we clear the way and reach out, God’s Spirit pours through us, and empowers us, just as we talked about last Sunday. But it is easy for the storms of life (or our own distractions) to “disrupt the service.” Then we sit around wondering why things aren’t working! We all need Spirit power at work in our lives every day! I encourage you to daily invite God into whatever you are doing today. Just a simple prayer can make a huge difference. Something like: “Good morning Lord Jesus! Please be with me today and use me in all that I do today. Amen.” Let’s turn the power on in our lives!
This Sunday we will be welcoming new members into our congregation and talking about the importance of prayer in our lives, including the importance of praying for each other. I hope you can join us!

May you feel God’s blessings to you through whatever storms may bring—

Pastor Steve

Key Passage: Matthew 28:19-20 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…And remember, I am with you always.”

Big Picture Question: Will Jesus ever stop loving us? Jesus will never stop loving us.

Christ Connection: When Jesus was arrested, His friends ran away. Jesus did what He came to earth to do—rescue people from sin. Jesus showed His friends that He still loved them and wanted them to follow Him. Sometimes we make mistakes as we follow Jesus too. Jesus rescued us from sin. We know He forgives us and wants us to continue following Him.

Dear Parents,
After Jesus’ resurrection and His appearance to the disciples, seven of the disciples returned to Galilee, near the Sea of Galilee. It was the same sea where Jesus had called four of His disciples, promising to make them fishers of men. (See Luke 5:1-11.) Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples decided to go fishing. Perhaps they felt it prudent to return to the fishing business since Jesus had died and resurrected. Their stint as His disciples was apparently over—or so they thought!

In Bible times, nighttime was the preferred time for fishing. Fish caught at night could be sold fresh in the morning at market. But at daybreak, the disciples had caught nothing. Jesus stood at the shore, but the disciples did not know it was Him. He called to them, “Men, you don’t have any fish, do you?” (John 21:5). Then He encouraged them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. They obeyed, and they were unable to haul in the catch because of the large number of fish.

John, the disciple Jesus loved, knew right away who He was. “It is the Lord!” John exclaimed. Immediately, Peter tied his outer garment around him and jumped into the sea, swimming to shore about 300 feet away. When the other six disciples arrived in the boat, they found Jesus sitting beside a charcoal fire with fish and bread. “Come and have breakfast,” Jesus said. Jesus ate with His disciples, then turned to Peter.

The disciple who had told Jesus that he would die for Him (Luke 22:31-34) had denied Jesus three times. (Luke 22:54-62) Jesus asked, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” Peter responded, “Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.” Jesus told Peter to feed His lambs. Two more times Jesus asked this question, and on the third time, it grieved Peter. “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You,” Peter said. (John 21:17) “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said again, and then told Peter how Peter would die to glorify God. “Follow Me!” Jesus said. (John 21:19)

Jesus’ plan for the disciples did not end with His death and resurrection. When Jesus first called the disciples to follow Him, Jesus had promised to make them fishers of men. Instead of catching fish, they would tell people about Jesus. (Luke 5:1-11) The disciples had left Jesus when He was arrested, but Jesus still wanted to use them in God’s plan to rescue people from their sin. Jesus is a Lord who forgives us and makes things right again.

Family Activity: Ask kids to write or draw about a time that they needed to forgive a friend on a sheet of paper. Guide them to fold the paper into an airplane and throw it as far away as they can. Explain that forgiving someone is like writing what he did on an airplane and never worrying about it again. Review John 21:1-19. When Jesus was arrested, His closest friends ran away. Jesus showed them that He had forgiven them, He still loved them, and He wanted them to follow Him. Sometimes we make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean that God no longer wants to use us in His plan! Jesus is a Lord who forgives us and makes things right again.

Labor Day Weekend—for me that means the end of summer and the beginning of fall—a new school year, a new church program year, a new rhythm of life, work, play, rest and worship. The beginnings are at least as important as the ending. For years when I lived in Seattle there was a big music festival over Labor Day weekend—we marked the end of the summer with a bang! Alice called them my ‘high holy days’! Three or four days of music spread across 6 or 7 stages at the Seattle Center. It was fun and exhausting! I think some kind of celebration to mark the change of season is good—are you doing anything this Labor Day?
As I look ahead to the fall, I am excited. We are welcoming new members on September 13 (can you imagine, new members in the midst of a pandemic?). Our session approved our mission study and we have submitted it to the presbytery for their approval. The next step is electing a Pastor Nominating Committee. Your nominating committee is already at work on this, and we will announce a congregational meeting soon for the election. You should expect the search process to take something like 6 to 9 months (but it could be more or less—the key thing is finding the person God is calling to lead FPC in this time).
We launch Immerse on September 20. I hope you will sign up to join an Immerse Group for this 8 week period! Whether you are a relative stranger to the Bible or it is an old friend, this experience could reshape your faith. Don’t miss out! Get more information and sign up here: http://fpcslc.org/immerse/
Finally, our session is reviewing the reopening task force recommendations this coming week. Please be in prayer for wisdom and discernment as we look for how and when we can worship together physically. Of course, we will continue to worship on line throughout as well and will keep you informed of all developments.

Blessings to you as we say farewell to summer and welcome to a new season of growing closer and walking with Jesus!

Pastor Steve

Key Passage: Matthew 28:19-20 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…And remember, I am with you always.”

Big Picture Question: What did Jesus do after He was raised from the dead? Jesus showed many people that He was alive, and He is alive today.

Christ Connection: God made Jesus alive again! Jesus visited many, many people so they would know He is alive. Jesus is still alive today.

Dear Parents,
This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us to Jesus’ appearance to the disciples in Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-29; and Acts 1:3.

Perhaps one of the most gracious things Jesus did after His resurrection was appear to the disciples, proving He was alive. The disciples were devastated to see that Jesus had died. How could He save them if He was dead? Even though Jesus had foretold His death and resurrection (Matt. 20:17-19), Jesus’ disciples believed by seeing.

Jesus showed the disciples His hands and His side to prove He was not a ghost. He had a real, physical body. Then He spoke to them: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). This verse contains the Gospel of John’s version of the Great Commission. Jesus, the One sent from the Father, was now sending the disciples to be His messengers and representatives. Jesus equipped the disciples with the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel.

Thomas, who was not with the disciples when Jesus came, had a hard time believing that they saw Him. Thomas wanted physical proof—and that is just what He got! Jesus showed Thomas His hands and His side. Thomas immediately believed.

Jesus’ resurrection proved that God was satisfied with Jesus’ blood sacrifice for sins and that God’s new covenant had begun. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul addressed how the resurrection is essential to the gospel. In verse 17, Paul writes, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”

If Christ had remained dead, His death would have meant nothing more than yours or mine. Humanity would still be without hope. Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope that we one day too will be raised and changed. God gives us victory over death through Jesus. Emphasize to the kids you teach that Jesus is alive! Share with them that they have a special purpose: to tell others that Jesus is alive. He is reigning as King today over all of creation.

Family Activity: Provide a bag of dried beans and a bucket. Guide kids to pour what they think is 500 beans onto the table. Help kids count the beans after they have poured them, collecting all the beans in the bucket. Explain that Jesus appeared to more than 500 people after He rose from the dead. Ask kids if they would believe something that 500 different people told them had happened. Review Luke 24:36-43. We know that Jesus is alive today!

Key Passage: Matthew 28:19-20 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…And remember, I am with you always.”

Big Picture Question: What did Jesus teach His friends on the road to Emmaus? Jesus taught that the Bible is about Him.

Christ Connection: Jesus showed His friends that the Scriptures tell about Him! The whole Bible is about Jesus. The Bible tells us the story of what God to save His people through Jesus, His Son.

Dear Parents,

Jesus’ death and resurrection should not have surprised the disciples. Sometimes Jesus spoke metaphorically about His death and resurrection. (See Matt. 12:39; Mark 14:58; John 2:19; 3:14-15.) Other times, Jesus plainly told the disciples that He would be betrayed, crucified, buried, and resurrected three days later. (Matt. 17:2; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22) In fact, Jesus had spoken so frequently of His death and resurrection, the chief priests and Pharisees asked Pilate to place guards at the tomb in case the disciples stole Jesus’ body. (See Matt. 27:62-66.)

On resurrection morning, the angel at Jesus’ tomb asked the women, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5). Even when Peter and John ran to the empty tomb to see it for themselves, Peter was amazed but uncertain (Luke 24:12), while John believed (John 20:8).

That same day, two disciples were walking to Emmaus, arguing about recent events. Jesus began walking next to them, but God prevented them from recognizing Him. (Luke 24:16) Jesus simply asked them what they were arguing about. They stopped walking. How could He not have heard about what happened over the last three days?

The two disciples had hoped Jesus was the Redeemer of Israel. Their hopes were crushed because Jesus had died. Graciously, Jesus explained to them why the Messiah had to die, starting with Moses and the Prophets. Jesus showed them how the Scriptures point to Him. (Luke 24:27; cf. John 5:39)

When they reached Emmaus, the disciples urged Him to stay and eat. As soon as Jesus blessed the bread and broke it, “their eyes were opened” and they knew they’d seen Jesus. (Luke 24:31)

Teach your kids the Bible is not a moralistic tale. The Bible is about Jesus. When Adam and Eve sinned, God began working out His plan to send Jesus to rescue people from sin. (Gen. 3:15) All of the Old Testament points forward to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection—the time when Jesus would bring God’s promised salvation for sinners.

Family Activity: Give each family member a Bible. Call out a book of the Bible and challenge each person to find it. Vary the difficulty of the book being found. Read Luke 24:13-35. Remind kids that Jesus taught that the Bible is about Him. Tell kids that no matter where they turn in the Bible, they can know that it all points to God’s plan for Jesus to come to earth, die on the cross for our sin, and rise again three days later as a picture of His victory over sin and death.

Dear FPC—
I can’t believe it is August 20. It feels like August just started! Even in the middle of this weird summer the sudden rush up to September seems to be happening. All around the church there is a drumbeat of progress and forward movement. Your mission study team is meeting TODAY and hopes to finish its work on the mission study. The next steps are for our Session and the Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry to approve it. Your Reopening Task Force is finalizing its recommendations to Session with a plan and metrics for when and how to do a phased reopening. Session meets next week with a full agenda!
Then coming quickly after that, starting one month from today is Immerse—our congregation-wide read through the New Testament. You’ll find information, resources and more on our website very soon. A key part of this experience is talking about what you are reading with others—joining a group. Some of our existing groups are choosing to discuss Immerse together during this 8 weeks, and others are forming new “book clubs” to discuss. Either way, I hope you will join a group. What a great way to connect with others and to learn from one another!
This Sunday in worship we will turn to Paul’s remarkable description of Jesus’ Upside Down Victory. I hope you can join us in worship—either live on Facebook Live OR YouTube, or whenever is convenient for you during the week.

Blessings to you as the drumbeat of September builds for all of us!

Pastor Steve

Key Passage: “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written…about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.” Luke 18:31

Big Picture Question: Why did the widow give all she had? The widow loved God more than money.

Christ Connection: Jesus said that the widow had made a big sacrifice to help those in need. Jesus would soon make a big sacrifice Himself, but He was going to give something much more important than money. He was going to give His own life to help those in need—all of us who need a Savior.

Dear Parents,
This week’s Bible story comes from Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4, and it focuses on the widow’s gift. While Jesus was in Jerusalem in the days leading up to the Passover, He often taught in the temple complex. The scribes and Pharisees questioned Jesus in hopes of tricking Him into saying something that would provoke the Romans against Him (Luke 20:20) or would make Him seem like a blasphemer. But all their questions simply proved that Jesus, the Son of God, had a wisdom and authority that could only come from God. (Matthew 22:46; Mark 12:34)

After warning the people against the scribes, Jesus sat down where He could watch people give their offerings. The treasury of the temple was located in the women’s court. Thirteen trumpet-shaped receptacles were set up to receive donations, purification offerings, and the half-shekel tax. Jesus watched as the wealthy put large sums of money in the offering boxes. Then a poor widow put in two small copper coins.

Jesus summoned His disciples and remarked, “I assure you: This poor widow has put in more than all those giving to the temple treasury” (Mark 12:43). Undoubtedly the disciples were astonished. The widow had given the smallest amount of currency in Jesus’ time. Hadn’t Jesus noticed all the others giving more?

The widow was desperately poor. Jesus mentioned that she had given everything she had to live on. The woman, who should have been a recipient of charity, instead gave to God, trusting Him to take care of her needs. The wealthy people, however, had given out of their surplus. They gave a lot of money, but it did not really “cost” them much.

Jesus gave up everything He had in heaven to come to earth and save us from our sins. Jesus even gave up His own life, dying on the cross in our place. When Christians know and love Jesus, we can serve Him as the Lord of our lives. Out of love for Jesus, we offer everything we have. God takes care of His children and rewards those who seek Him. (Matt. 6:31-33; Mark 10:29-31; Heb. 11:6)

Family Activity: Ask each family member to go get the best gift she has been given recently. Guide each family member to show and tell about her gift, explaining why it is her favorite. Remind kids that everything we have is a gift from God. Read Mark 12:41-44. Discuss ways you can serve Jesus with what you have, no matter how much or little.

Key Passage: “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written…about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.” Luke 18:31

Big Picture Question: What did Jesus call the temple? Jesus said the temple was His Father’s house.

Christ Connection: Jesus was right to be angry when He saw people were using the temple in a wrong way. God is holy and must be worshiped in the way He says. Jesus came so that people would no longer have to offer sacrifices to worship God. Now we can meet with God anytime and anywhere. Jesus came to sacrifice His own body so we can worship God forever.

Dear Parents,
In preparation for the Passover feast, Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke also describe Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. Herod the Great completely rebuilt the temple in 20–18 B.C. as part of his architectural projects. Herod’s temple was surrounded by walls and gates, with specific places for Gentiles, women, and men to worship God and offer sacrifices.

When Jesus entered the Court of the Gentiles, He was furious to see people buying and selling in the temple. Animal sacrifices were required for participation in the temple, since God declared that all Jewish men must appear three times before the Lord each year, and they must not appear empty-handed. (See Deut. 16:16.) For many worshipers traveling from all over the Roman Empire to take part in Passover, it was easier to purchase unblemished animals for sacrificing in the Court of the Gentiles. There, they also exchanged foreign currency for the temple taxes and offerings. So why was Jesus angry at the people?

The merchants buying and selling in the temple were treating the temple as a market or bazaar, not like the house of prayer for all nations that God had intended for it to be. (See Isa. 56:7.) The moneychangers’ prices were so exorbitant, they were practically robbing the people. (Mark 11:17) On top of that, people were using the temple courts as a shortcut to get to their businesses. The Gentiles who wished to worship God in peace were surrounded by greed and extortion.

After Jesus threw out the merchants and moneychangers, the chief priests and the scribes wanted to destroy Him. (Luke 19:47) Jesus was angry that people were misusing the temple, the place people could go to meet with God. Today, Christians do not go to a temple to meet with God or to offer sacrifices for sin. Jesus died on the cross as the final payment for sin, and God’s Spirit lives in us!

Family Activity: Guide your family to discuss times when they were angry for the wrong reasons. Ask them how they could have responded differently. Read Matthew 21:12-17 together. Jesus was angry for the right reasons. People were sinning by misusing the temple, which was the place people could go to meet with God. Today, we don’t have to go to a temple to meet with God because God’s Spirit lives in all who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.