Thursday, November 26

Luke 17:11-19
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan.

Many great short stories contain a surprise – that is, an outcome that we don’t see coming, but makes the story memorable.

This brief story, only nine verses in length, actually packs three surprises – each greater than the one before.

The first surprise is that ten lepers are made clean through faith in Jesus. In that day, leprosy was believed to be both some kind of punishment from God and incurable. Yet, these ten afflicted men come to Jesus begging for mercy and go to show themselves to the priests (the only people in that culture who could proclaim them to be clean) trusting only on the word of Jesus. He said so. So they did. And they were healed.

The second surprise is that although ten men were cleansed from the suffering, humiliation and hopelessness of leprosy, only one returned to thank Jesus. Even Jesus himself seems mildly surprised at the missing nine. “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” Jesus asked.

The third surprise doesn’t come across nearly as strongly to us as it would have in that time and place. The great surprise is that the man who came to offer his praise and worship was a Samaritan. Most of us have heard or read about the animosity that existed between Jews and Samaritans in Jesus’ day. Samaritans were considered “unclean” by the Jews and therefore were disqualified from worship in the presence of God. So for this Samaritan and former leper to wind up worshiping at the feet of Jesus is a shocker indeed!

What does this tell us about the Samaritan? What does this tell us about Jesus? What can we learn about ourselves?

It tells us the Samaritan no longer cared about the centuries-old prejudice that rendered him unworthy to worship. He was clean; he was overflowing with gratitude; and he worshiped with both humility and unbridled joy.

It tells us Jesus loves us as we are – leprosy and all – and offers to make us clean again. It tells us Jesus will receive our praise and thanksgiving – no matter what labels we have been placed on us by others.

Today is Thanksgiving Day – what a great time to return to Jesus and offer him our praise and thanksgiving.

Pastor Brian Coffey

Wednesday, November 25

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7

With the red and green lights already sprouting up around my neighborhood, it’s easy to tell that Christmas is coming! And while I look forward with anticipation to the “most wonderful time of the year,” I also suspect that Thanksgiving is the perfect preparation for our celebration of Christ’s birth. While Christmas can at times get all tangled up with our consumer-driven culture, Thanksgiving seems to resist commercialization and remains a profoundly spiritual exercise. It is the giving of thanks that reminds us of the goodness of God and the blessings he has poured out on our lives. It is the giving of thanks that reminds us of God’s love and presence made flesh through the love and presence of family and friends. It is Thanksgiving that prepares us for the celebration of Christmas!

And I believe it is the giving of thanks that will propel us as a church family to prepare the way for God’s future in our church! Week after week I hear stories of people and families whose lives are in the process of gospel transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit. Week after week I see people investing their time, talent and treasure in serving the world in the name of Jesus (gospel impact) and I am so thankful to be part of FBCG!

When we give or serve, our motive must be thanksgiving. We can give our time, talents, and treasure out of duty or obligation or guilt, but the greatest joy comes when we give out of love and thanksgiving!

May you enjoy the joy and peace of Christ as you gather with family and friends tomorrow, and may your hearts be prepared for the celebration of the Advent season!

Thanks for being part of the FBCG family!

Pastor Brian Coffey

Tuesday, November 24

Philippians 4:4-6
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

A number of years ago I came across this story about renowned 19th century Biblical scholar Matthew Henry. It seems Mr. Henry was once robbed by street thugs. He later made this entry into his journal.

Let me be thankful: first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my wallet they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed not I who robbed.

This extraordinary expression of spiritual maturity illustrates the power of thanksgiving in our lives. We can also see what might be called the progression of faith that Paul  talks about in Philippians 4. Notice the flow of Paul’s thought:

Rejoice in the Lord...

Don’t be anxious...

Pray about everything with thanksgiving...

Know the peace of God that guards your heart.

Now it’s helpful to keep in mind that Paul wrote these words from a Roman prison knowing that he might never see freedom again. So Paul knew something about hardship and anxiety. Even so he tells us that joy, thanksgiving and peace begin not with the promise of release from prison, but through knowing Christ.

He says, “Rejoice in the Lord...the Lord is near.” He doesn’t say, “Rejoice because everything is good in your life; or because you got the promotion; or because your favorite team won the game.” He says, “Rejoice in the Lord.”

For Paul, and for Matthew Henry, knowing the presence, grace and promise of Christ was the source of joy. 

Then notice that our relationship with Christ allows us to bring everything to God in prayer with an attitude of thanksgiving. Why is that? How can Paul express gratitude in prison? How can Matthew Henry express gratitude after being mugged?

Paul explains in Romans 8:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

In other words, we can pray with thanksgiving because God is always working for our good, even in the most difficult or painful of circumstances. 

The result is, according to Paul, that our hearts are guarded by the peace of God.

So thanksgiving flows from a relationship with Jesus Christ that transforms our perspective; allowing us to respond to even the most difficult of circumstances with both joy and peace.

Thank you for your word that assures me of your love and grace in all circumstances. Help me to allow your joy to transform my perspective so that I can offer you my thanksgiving in any and all situations. And may your peace guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.


Pastor Brian Coffey

Monday, November 23

This week, 10 Minutes with God will focus on the theme of gratitude and thanksgiving. May our hearts be prepared to give thanks to the Lord for He is good!

Psalm 100:4-5
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

A country farmer was visiting friends in the big city and they all stopped at a restaurant for lunch. When he was served his food, he bowed his head and gave thanks to the Lord. Several hot shot city dudes were sitting at a nearby table and noticed the farmer praying and chirped, “Hey pops, back where you come from does everybody do that before they eat?” The farmer took no offense, but looked at them with a smile and said, “Everybody but the pigs.”

Offering a prayer of thanksgiving before a meal might seem to some to be a kind of quaint habit or a kind of perfunctory ritual, but the Bible suggests that giving thanks is a prerequisite to experiencing and knowing God.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

The ancient writer is saying that we must approach God with both thanksgiving and praise. The flip side of that would be that we cannot enter the presence of God without an attitude of thanksgiving.

Why is thanksgiving so important? Why can’t we even begin to worship until we give thanks? The issue is pride; failure to give thanks reveals an arrogant heart. When we are proud we are unwilling to worship anything but ourselves.

Pride cannot be thankful because pride wants to deserve everything it gets. Consider this meal-time prayer by the animated character of Bart Simpson from an old episode of “The Simpsons”:

“We earned it; we bought it; we made it; thanks for nothing!”

A heart that assumes it deserves blessing is a heart incapable of worship.

But the giving of thanks, properly understood, is the great spiritual antidote to pride; for pride cannot exist in a thankful heart!

Forgive me for assuming I deserve your favor and goodness. Forgive me for the pride that lurks in my heart and keeps me from entering your presence with genuine praise. Teach me the humility of thanksgiving that I might worship you.


Pastor Brian Coffey

Friday, November 20

Jesus taught us that prayer is a relationship with God – and that as His children, we not only have access to God but that we can ask him to meet our daily needs. 

In this passage from Mark, Jesus goes further – teaching us that prayer also gives us access to the power of God.

Mark 11:22
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself in to the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

While we understand that Jesus is not promising to rearrange the topography at our whim – but rather is using a striking metaphor to emphasize the power of God – he does seem to be inviting us to ask not only for our basic needs – but for the “mountains” in our lives to be moved!

Do you have any mountains in your life right now?
Are your mountains comprised of emotions like anger, grief or bitterness? Are your mountains built of strained or broken relationships? Do you have a mountain of financial stress – or perhaps of illness?

Are you ready to trust God with your mountain? Jesus is simply reminding us that God is able to do that which seems impossible to us – and that prayer is what accesses His power.

Take some time to identify the mountains of your life and heart – and take those mountains to God in prayer.

Thursday, November 19

This past Sunday, we looked at the official's interaction with Jesus when he pleaded for healing for his son. He believed that Jesus had the power to heal, but Jesus was calling him to a deeper level of faith. Jesus responds to the official, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe."

The official looked to Jesus to be a miracle-worker. And while our Messiah has the power over life and death, sickness and health, what He offers to us is so much deeper and eternal.

Who do YOU say that Jesus is?

Take some time to read this well-known poem titled The Incomparable Christ (author unknown) that reminds us to look beyond the gifts Jesus provides to the Giver Himself. Turn this poem back into a prayer of thanksgiving to the One who provided the Ultimate Healing to the official and offers that same hope to us today.  

Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another miracle-worker.  He stands alone on the highest pinnacle of heavenly glory, proclaimed of God, acknowledged by angels, adored by saints, and feared by devils, as the living personal Christ, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Savior of the world. This Jesus was the Creator come to earth and the beginning of a new creation. He, fulfilled the commandments, and reversed the curse. This Jesus is the Christ that God spoke of to the serpent, the Christ promised to Abraham, the Christ of the Exodus from Egypt, the Christ guaranteed to Moses before he died, the Christ promised to David when he was king, the Christ revealed to Isaiah as a suffering servant, the Christ predicted through the prophets and prepared for through John the Baptist.

This is the Christ of the Bible. This is the Jesus we worship. This is the true Christ of the Christian faith. This is the One in whom we have believed. He and He alone is our Lord and Savior. Millions of Christians unite in worshipping him in every nation on every continent. He is worshipped in Clacutta, India; Osaka, Japan; Sydney, Australia; Brussels, Belgium; Nairobi, Kenya; Islamabad, Pakistan; Quito, Ecuador; Havana, Cuba; La Paz, Bolivia; Toronto, Canada; St. Petersburg, Russia; London, England; Ankara, Turkey; Jerusalem, Israel; Beijing, China; and right here in Geneva Illinois.

This Christ is not a reflection of the current cultural mood or the projection of our own desires. He is our Lord and God. He is the Father’s Son, Savior of the world, and substitute for your sins and mine.  He is more loving, more holy, and more wonderfully terrifying than we ever thought possible. He and He alone is the Lord.

Oh, that our hearts would sing his praise!  Oh, that we would know the power of his name!  God hasten the day until every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Amen. 

Jeff Frazier

Wednesday, November 18

The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. - John 4:50-53

Faith must always rest on the character of God. A man's word is no better than his character. Even if you get a man to sign a contract or agreement, that agreement is no more than a scrap of paper if the man who signed it does not intend to fulfill it. It is no better than the man who makes it. Even in our courts of law and affairs of business this is true. 

This is true on many levels of life. Albert Einstein did not come to the knowledge of relativity by performing a series of experiments which ultimately convinced him that relativity was true. He gradually saw the concept of relativity, and, convinced in his own mind that this was the secret of the physical universe, he performed experiments that he might demonstrate it to others. This is the way of truth. Most people say that “seeing is believing”, but it actually works the other way around, Believing is Seeing!

As C.S. Lewis has famously said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

This is the secret of faith; it rests on the character of Jesus Christ. Either he is telling us the truth, and we can trust what this One who is like no one else who ever appeared in human history says to us, or we must reject him and repudiate him as a self-deceived impostor who attempted to play some cruel joke upon the human race. That is where faith rests. From that ground everything else must follow.  This is what the writer of Hebrews meant when he compared our faith to a ship’s anchor that will hold us fast in the midst of doubt and confusion...

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.  Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument.  Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.  God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.  - Hebrews 6:13-19

There has never been anyone who trusted in God’s promises and was finally disappointed!

God may delay the visible answers to His promises, because He always answers in his time, not in ours.  We may not see the answer until we’re in heaven. But He is utterly trustworthy to keep His Word. If He has promised eternal salvation to those who place their trust in Jesus, then you can count on it as absolutely true - an anchor for your soul!

Jeff Frazier