First Baptist Church
Newton, IL

Worship News Update - 1/11/2022

Greetings folks!

We are hoping your New Year is starting well!  

Wednesday Night Ignite takes place this Wednesday at 6 p.m.  We start with pizza and then there are activities for all age groups!  Hope to see you!

On Sunday, January 30, Jen Bricker will be with us in our morning service.  Click on the link below to get an introduction to her if you are not familiar with Jen, or even if you are.  We are looking forward to having her and her husband, Dominick, with us and hear her story of faith and inspiration.  We will be taking an offering for her and her ministry that morning.  

Everything Is Possible

Blessings to you! 
Pastor Steve

Pastor Steve Willis

Sunday January 23, 2022

Like many of you, I have been the subject of numerous types of scans - x-rays, CT scans, bone scans, nuclear scans, myelograms, MRIs, and ultrasounds. Just the other day, I read about EXPLORER. According to their website, "The EXPLORER consortium is a multi-institutional group established to design, build and utilize the world s highest sensitivity positron emission tomography (PET) scanners for a wide range of biomedical research applications in human patients and volunteers." This is on-going research to improve the technology behind PET scans so more can be seen with less radiation. They are working to make this available and affordable. All of these are helpful so that medical folks can see what problems there may be without invasive procedures.

I remember my first Xray at the old General Hospital in Ironton, Ohio. I was about 5 and had fallen out of a tree, injuring my arm. I had no idea what they were going to do to me when they took me in this room with some big machine that looked like it feasted on little boys for lunch. But all was over in a little bit. The Xray revealed no broken bones, and all was well.

We need regular "spiritual scans." The only person with this technology is our Father in heaven. We need to ask him to look within and reveal any failures and weaknesses that need to be corrected. We should ask him to show us areas where we need to improve. There are always areas where changes need to be made. Asking for a "scan" can be intimidating, but we need to ask the Lord to look into our heart and show us things that make him sad.

Psalm 139:23 - 24 says, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." We need to make this request on a regular basis - and we don't even have to worry if our health plans cover the costs. The price has been paid.

Pastor Steve
Saturday January 22, 2022

Many churches have cemeteries near the church. The church I attended as a boy in Ohio had one that was visible through the windows on one side of the church and the windows in front of the church as well. An addition to the church in the early 60's blocked the view through the front windows. Well, the cemetery was visible in the summer months when they opened the windows. We didn't have AC back then.

I read an article once that put a different slant on the reason for having cemeteries near churches. When a church has a cemetery that is visible through the windows of the church, the pastor has a constant reminder of the gravity of the ministry. Reminding people of their need to develop a relationship with the Father has the utmost importance. The people who fill the pews of the church will someday fill a space in the cemetery.

Death is the inevitable conclusion for all of us. The reminder that a cemetery affords to us is appropriate not just for ministers. Solomon tells us: "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart." (Ecclesiastes 7:2) Let us remember this as we order our lives and as we pursue activities and goals. Our lives are short, and we are responsible for determining the course of our life. Putting our lives in God s hands helps us to follow the right course.

Pastor Steve
Friday January 21, 2022

Showing preferential treatment to others is bad form. Openly treating some with great respect or care while treating others with indifference or even ignoring them is not what we should do. Unfortunately, this happens in many arenas, even our churches. Often, this takes place in family relationships. Parents, or even grandparents, have their "favorites." Simply put, this is not right. Parents should not show favoritism for one child over another either intentionally or unintentionally.

I seem to have a preference for Jacob just now,but let me use another illustration from his life. Consider the example of Jacob and his treatment of Joseph. This led to Joseph s brothers contemplating fratricide, which actually didn't happen, but nonetheless led to mistreatment that caused a great deal of pain for Joseph. It took God's intervention to correct and even use for good what they did to him. You can read all about this story in the latter chapters of Genesis.

We should not tempt God with our treatment of others. James 2:1 speaks to this issue directly: "My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism." We should treat each other equally and show love, care, and affection to all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is the desire of Christ, and we should determine to treat each other equally well.

Pastor Steve
Thursday January 20, 2022

Holly the Cat was determined to make it home. She had been in her owner's motor home in Daytona Beach, Florida, during the running of the Daytona 500 some years ago. Holly was startled by some fireworks and bolted from the vehicle. Her owners searched frantically, but Holly was not to be found. Despondent, they traveled the 190 miles south to their home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, without their beloved cat.

Then something remarkable took place. A few weeks after their return home, they received a call from a pet shelter in their town telling them their cat had been found. They didn't believe this at first but when they arrived at the shelter, sure enough, Holly was waiting on them. She had been identified via a microchip imbedded in her skin. Holly was a little skinny, but otherwise just fine after having walked the 190 miles from Daytona Beach to Palm Beach Gardens to rejoin her family. A real-life "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey" had taken place!

How in the world can you explain the determination of this cat to get home? This is absolutely incredible! I think little Holly puts us Christians to shame in the determination department. This is a great picture of how we should be as followers of our Lord - completely focused and absolutely committed to following Him no matter what. Our love for the Savior should help us locate him no matter where we are. Our desire to follow him should help us overcome anything that would keep us from serving him and giving him our best.

We need the attitude of Peter. Upon hearing the teaching of Christ in the synagogue in Capernaum, many "followers" of Christ left him saying "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" (John 6:60) Christ asked the Twelve, "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Peter responded, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God." (Vss. 68-69) Develop this level of determination and you will never have a problem finding your way home.

Pastor Steve
Wednesday January 19, 2022

Complete dependence upon God is an absolute necessity if we are going to experience his power and his provision. We know this is true, yet often we only learn about complete dependence though bitter experience. George Muller, a minister in the 19th century, was informed by the governing board of the orphanage he oversaw that there was no more money for the orphanage, he rejoiced. He told them their utter helplessness would make them depend more upon God. They did, and God met their needs.

Let me use an illustration from the life of Jacob again today. Jacob was completely terrified about a planned meeting with his brother, Esau, whom he had wronged many years earlier. He knew that Esau was coming with 400 men the next day, and fearful of the consequences, he devised a plan to ensure the survival of half of his family. That night, he met a "man" by a stream. The "man," of course, was God in human form. Jacob wrestled with him all night until the "man" touched Jacob's hip and caused it to be dislocated.

Exhausted and in great pain, Jacob could only hold on to the "man" and plead for his blessing. Free from his own efforts and after expressing total dependence upon God, God told him, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome. (Genesis 32:28) The change in name indicated there was a change in Jacob. He was indeed blessed by God,and went on from there with God's blessing and a perpetual reminder of God's intervention.

p> You don't need to wrestle with God all night to receive his blessing. All you need to is declare your total dependence upon him. Then you can receive his power and his favor. Pastor Steve
Tuesday January 18, 2022

Deceit is never a pretty thing. None of us like to be deceived, and shame on us when we deceive someone else in some way. Genesis is the first book of the Bible and is a book full of tales of deceit. I find it very ironic that there are so many accounts of deceit in Genesis. From the first deception perpetrated by Satan himself to the ending account of brothers lying to protect themselves, stories of deceit are there.

A story I find especially compelling is the infamous tale of Jacob's deception leading to the theft of a birthright. You can read about this in Genesis 27. It is hard to wrap our heads around what took place in this event, and it is equally difficult to understand the result. In spite of his devious activities, Jacob ended up being blessed by God, and became, literally and spiritually, the father of the Jewish nation.

Certainly, we should not use the experience of Jacob as a model to emulate, except for the part about his turning things around and beginning to trust the Lord instead of trusting in his own wiles. As we see God using Jacob in spite of all of his back-handed ways, we come to realize that God can use us in spite of our failures. This is indeed something we should take from the account of Jacob.

A statement Jacob made later in life showed that he grew to "get the message" about how he should live life and how he should view his relationship with God: "I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant." (Genesis 32:10) That is so true for all of us. We are unworthy, yet God uses us anyway. Isn't that something?

Pastor Steve
Monday January 17, 2022

Today is a holiday honoring the birthday of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was born on January 15, 1929. He was killed by an assassin's bullet on April 4, 1968. After beginning his ministry at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, King was propelled to national prominence through his activism that led to movements and marches on behalf of civil rights.

Through King s efforts, awareness was heightened of the plight of minorities because of racism and changes were made in attempts to thwart bigotry. In the famed "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, King said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Racism is something that should be foreign to the follower of Christ. Galatians 2:26 & 28 remind us of the equality that exists in Jesus, "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. . .there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Allowing racism goes against the mind of God and is simply a sinful attitude. The words of King ring out against racism, but more importantly, so does the Word of God. We should not have to dream of a non-racist society among believers, it demands to be real.

Pastor Steve
Sunday January 16, 2022

Another noteworthy feature of the Sequoia is the root system. The Sequoia does not have a taproot, but a matting, spreading, network root system that goes no deeper than 12 - 13 feet. This is pretty interesting considering the size of the above-ground part of the tree. What makes this work is that the system covers an extensive area. In addition, Sequoia trees are not very "competitive." That is, they don't exploit the resources available so that their presence threatens other trees. Actually, root systems of the trees intertwine, adding stability and strength. Isn't that interesting? They are kind to others, cooperative with others, and helpful to others. This is why Sequoias are predominantly found in groves. You will usually not see a Sequoia standing alone.

I think we can learn a lot from these trees. A big reason for their visible majesty is the cooperation and assistance provided at the invisible level. As a result of their cooperation, they grow big and strong. They are able to weather storms that come their way. They share what they have so that others can thrive. They support each other and are there for each other in times of need. I don't need to beat the pulpit on this one, do I?

What we see in the root system of the Sequoia is what we should see in our lives. This is what we should see in our churches. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 tells us, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 2 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Isn't it amazing how much we can learn from trees?

Pastor Steve
Saturday January 15, 2022

Some of you have been able to visit the Sequoia National Park and witness for yourself the wonders of the Giant Sequoias. I haven't, but I hope to at some point. I cannot imagine trees that big and majestic. One of the things that has helped them become so large and awe-inspiring is fire. Sequoias need fires to thrive.

This sounds contradictory, doesn't it? It would seem that fire, with its ability to consume wood and destroy plant life, would be the enemy of sequoias; however, these trees need fire to thrive. Up until the 1960's, fires in the sequoia forests were extinguished to prevent destruction and loss. Eventually, research showed that the fires were necessary for the survival of the trees. Although the fire caused damage, as one might expect, the fires were beneficial for a number of reasons.

Fires help seeds to germinate by clearing the forest floor, and the ash fertilizes the soil. Heat kills insects and fungus that attack seedings. Trees that compete for the seedlings' sunlight, moisture, and nutrients are destroyed. Once burned, an area is less flammable for several years, giving seedlings a good start. Speaking of starting, the seedlings got their start because the heat opened up cones and released seeds. So, fire is necessary.

As much as we don't like to admit it, we need fire in our lives. Of course, I'm not talking about literal blazes. I'm talking about the circumstances we face that cause adversity and struggle. Times of pain can be used by God to shape our character, build our faith, and provide strength to endure.

Someone once wrote, "To get everything you need for life, pain is an absolute necessity. Without pain, you would never truly appreciate what hope is. Without pain, you would too easily forget your need for God." We wish this were not so, we would rather not have pain and pain is not pleasant, but pain brings lessons and gives us what pleasantness can't. When we look at our struggles with proper perspective, we are led to increased faith and important lessons for continued growth in life.

Many scriptures remind us of the presence and purpose of pain. "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." (I Peter 4:12) Paul says, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18) and "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." (II Corinthians 4:17)

God gives us strength and comfort as we endure pain. He tells us, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18) and "Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5) Look to God for help when you face the fires of struggle. God will bring you through the fire with changes and strength that can t be attained otherwise.

Pastor Steve
Friday January 14, 2022

Upon occasion, I have spoken with folks who say, "I have a difficult time reading the Bible there is so much I don t understand." I do admit that there are teachings in the scripture that present a challenge as to what they actually mean. My response to this issue is to focus on what you do understand and use that to guide your walk with the Lord.

Now, I am not saying we should simply ignore what is challenging. We should continue to study to gain insight. We should give the Spirit time to help us understand the meaning. What I am saying is that we shouldn't obsess over what we don't know to the point that we neglect to focus on what we do. Don't be so distracted by what is unclear that you fail to see and apply what is clear.

Not many of us would say, "Well, I don't understand fully how an internal combustion engine works, so I am not going to drive my car." Yet, when it comes to the scripture, we don't fully use what we know to be true because we are so concerned about what we don't know.

I John 5:20 tells of a truth we know and should always apply, "We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." Use what you know to be true and let the Lord help you with what you need to know. This is something that is important to understand - as God's people we should love the truth, look for the truth, and live by the truth.

Pastor Steve
Thursday January 13, 2022

"Ignorance is bliss" is a phrase that can be traced back to a poem written by Thomas Gray in 1768, "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College." Now, this little piece of knowledge is something you probably wish you were ignorant of, isn't it? Sorry for the confusion I have introduced into your life.

Actually, thinking of the phrase brings up a question. I cannot claim credit for this - the question was posited to readers of The Guardian some time ago. Readers were asked: "Is ignorant bliss better than knowledgeable gloom?" We live in a time when knowledge is readily accessible; however, knowing things can come with a price. Knowing things can bring fear, dread, gloom, and uncertainly. Much has been written about knowing things or not knowing things and which state is to be preferred. Would you rather remain unaware and happy or know things and be sad?

One writer came to this conclusion, "When considering a topic, it often helps to boil things back to their essence. What s the purpose of life? Many would agree that it's being happy or as Aristotle put it, to live a 'good life'. If you agree with this then you have to agree that being ignorant is (at least most of the time) bliss."

My thinking about this brings me to this conclusion: Know all you want, but put your knowledge in perspective. I want to know things, but I put all I know through the filter of a Higher Knowledge. Knowing about nuclear warfare, Covid 19, societal tensions, personal struggles, is frightening and can bring about gloom. What is helpful is placing what you know in a proper perspective. You do that by relying on the One who has more knowledge than you. If you don't utilize His knowledge, then knowledgeable gloom is in your future.

We need to follow Solomon's advice, "Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind." (Ecclesiastes 12:11-12) Trusting God's knowledge takes out fear. Believing that God will set all things right helps to deal with present gloom. God tells us, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10) When you trust in God, knowledge is bliss!

Pastor Steve
Wednesday January 12, 2022

I get a kick out of the proliferation of exercise equipment that offers a virtual reality experience while you are exercising. The reason I get a kick out of this is I thought of this a long time ago while walking on a treadmill in a rehab center following one of my surgeries. Of course, I never did anything with the thought. I really was not on equipment much, except during times of therapy, but someone did go with the idea. All I can say is good for them. I would imagine there are a number of you who could probably make this same statement about ideas you have had.

The reason I had the idea is, well, working out on a treadmill or a stationary bike, no matter how fancy, can be boring. A lot of energy is expended, and you never really get anywhere. I know there are physical benefits, but the work can still be a bit mundane.

This is sort of like trying to live life without God. Solomon describes this in Ecclesiastes 1: "'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.' What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. What has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, 'Look! This is something new?'"

In contrast with this, when we live with the Lord, we are greeted with newness continually. Lamentations 3:22-23, says, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." II Corinthians 5:17 tells us, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." When you walk with the Lord, you are not on a treadmill, and you certainly experience more than just "virtual reality."

Pastor Steve
Tuesday January 11, 2022

Today is a day that Cowboys fan rue. This is the 40th anniversary of "The Catch." On this day in 1981, a pass from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone as time expired led the San Francisco 49ers to victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game. San Francisco went on to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl that year. San Francisco became the "team of the decade" while it would be almost a decade later before the Cowboys would even reach the playoffs. Cowboys fans would love to forget this, but ESPN won't let them. Video of Dwight Clark leaping over Everson Walls is still featured frequently in shows and commercials.

Now, this was just a game, and in the grand scheme of things matters little. But it goes to show how important a single act can be. We sometimes think that what we do won't matter. We sometimes pursue an activity that we won't think will make that much difference. However, that action could bring about a consequence that we will have to live with the rest of our lives.

God tells his people to live uprightly and watch how they act: "Act according to whatever they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left." (Acts 17:11) Watch your acts, as you don't know how far they might reach!

Pastor Steve
Monday January 10, 2022

After his election to Parliament, a man brought his family to London to show them the city. He told them all about his new position and showed them some of the sights. His little 8-year-old daughter was really enamored with Westminster Abbey. Feeling a bit of pride, Dad asked, "What, my dear, are you thinking about?" She replied, "Daddy, I was just thinking about how big you are in our house, but how small you look here!" Well, there you go.

Now, it really wasn't out of line for the Dad to be elevated a bit in his mood as he showed his family around and talked about his new digs, but we do need to avoid excessive pride. Paul warns us to not think more highly of ourselves than we should. Romans 12:3 tells us, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you."

This issue has been around for a while. About a thousand years before Paul penned his comments, Solomon wrote, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18) Feeling good about what you've done is one thing. Having you be the main topic of conversation in your interaction with others is another. Learn to distinguish between the two and keep things in perspective.

Pastor Steve
Sunday January 09, 2022

How often do you let other people change your mood? Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter/waitress, curt boss, or an insensitive employee ruin your day? Unless you are the Terminator, for an instant you are probably set back on your heels. However, the mark of a successful person is how quickly she/he can get back her/his focus on what is important.

It is so easy to let others "rule" our moods. What can help is to focus on the One who should rule our mood. Then, whatever others might throw at us, we can rest assured that we are in the care of someone who truly loves us and has nothing but our best interests in mind.

Paul talks about being content regardless of the circumstance, and I think this includes treatment at the hands of others. He says in Philippians 4:11-13, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

The secret is to focus on the One who can give you strength. Paul did this, and it allowed him to say, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice (Phil. 4:4)!" So, concentrate on what God has to say to you, on what He wants for you, on His plans for you. Then, when others have negative things to throw at you, you can rest assured in the knowledge that Someone who is a lot more important doesn't have the same opinion.

Pastor Steve
Saturday January 08, 2022

Mark Twain said, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." There are times when we need to speak up and be heard. There are times when we need to let our opinion be known. There are times when we need to take a stand for an important issue. There are times when we need to speak up for the cause of Christ and let others know about what he has done.

On the other hand, there are times when we need to hold our tongue because saying something would be the wrong thing to do. This is especially true when we are angry and frustrated. We need to avoid critical statements aimed at hurting others. We need to avoid careless comments that reflect bad judgment and unclear thinking. Twain put it well, and his comments reflect biblical principles. Proverbs 17:28 says, "Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues."

There is a time to speak up and be heard. There is a time to keep silent. The wise make the distinction. Make every effort to be wise in order not to speak foolishly. Speech is a powerful tool that has the power to build up and the power to tear down. Work on being a good builder.

Pastor Steve
Friday January 07, 2022

Yesterday was the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, a day known as Epiphany. The observance of this day usually focuses upon the travels of the Magi to visit the new King that has entered the human race. The visit from the Magi has always fascinated me - "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him (Matthew 2:1-2).'"

There is so much mystery surrounding the visit. Who were they? Where were they from? They followed a star, but how in the world did they get all they knew from the star's appearance? The word "epiphany" actually means "a sudden insight." I have always desired more insight with regard to these enigmatic visitors from the east.

Another interesting aspect of their visit is how it stands in contrast to the reaction (or more accurately, non-reaction), of the religious leaders of the day. A lot of people heard about the birth of Christ from the shepherds. Bethlehem is right next door to Jerusalem. It would be hard to imagine that they didn't hear something; but, there was no investigation at all, until Herod raised questions as a result of the visit of the Magi.

Many people are in danger of missing Christ today because they "overlook" him or ignore him. You cannot ignore Christ. The religious leaders did so, and it came back on them. If you ignore Christ, it will come back on you as well. So, be a "wise person" and follow the "Star!"

Pastor Steve
Thursday January 06, 2022

Today marks the end of the "Twelve Days of Christmas." We sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" that was perhaps inspired from a song which originated in 1625. This song was meant to be used as a teaching aid in the church as a meaning was assigned to each day:

"What are they that are but one? We have one God alone...

What are they which are by two? Two testaments, Old and New...

What are they which are but three? Three persons in the Trinity.

What are they which are but four? Four sweet Evangelists there are...

What are they which are but five? Five senses...

What are they which are but six? Six days to labor...

What are they which are but seven? Seven liberal arts hath God sent down...

What are they which are but eight? Eight Beatitudes...

What are they which are but nine? Nine Muses...with sacred tunes...

What are they which are but ten? Ten statutes God to Moses gave...

What are they which are but eleven? Eleven thousand virgins...suffered death for Jesus' sake.

What are they which are but twelve? Twelve attending on God's Son."

The origin of the celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas actually goes back much further in church history. In 567, the Council of Tours ended a dispute. The Western Church celebrated Christmas on December 25, emphasizing Christ s birth, and the Eastern Church celebrated on January 6, focusing on the visit of the Magi and the baptism of Christ. The council declared that all twelve days from the 25th to the 6th were "holy days" ("holidays"). The term "Epiphany" is used for January 6th.

Of course, we should celebrate Christ each day of the year. It is good that we have the "Twelve Days of Christmas" to remind us of our obligation to Christ, but use each day as a day to acknowledge Him! Psalm 61:8 tells us, "Then will I ever sing praise to your name and fulfill my vows day after day." This is the true spirit of worship, and a true celebration of Christmas.

Pastor Steve
Wednesday January 05, 2022

My grandson, Cullen, likes to watch some shows he streams on YouTube. He likes to watch videos of football games and things of that nature. There is another show he enjoys watching that features a family and what takes place in their lives. They go to amusement parks. They go on RV trips. They just had a feature showing their Christmas celebration. They live on a farm, so some of the episodes features farm life. They raise sheep and the sheep are featured at times.

I was watching with him the other day. On one particular episode, they were showing some of the new-born lambs scatting around. This show took a sad turn when they discovered a momma with two lambs, one standing beside her, and one laying very still on the ground. The mother of the family was doing the narration and she commented, "Oh, she has lost one of her twins."

She continued with her comments about how sad this was, and how it was a part of farm life, but still caused emotions to rise up within you. She got a little emotional herself, which is not surprising. It was a sad situation.

There are four children in the family, and the oldest son, perhaps about 13 or 14, donned some gloves and went to take care of the dead lamb. Now, in one sense, I was surprised that they were streaming all of this detail, but they were presenting something that is reality. What happened next showed why they were continuing with the show. The son went to retrieve the lamb, and as he did, the little lamb sprang up and walked away. I felt a sense of joy myself when I saw the lamb first follow the son, thinking he was the mother, then finally get things straightened out and join the sibling with the real mother. Narrator Mom expressed her delight, of course.

What I witnessed made me think of something else. I thought, "You know, I know a Lamb who died and came back to life to make life possible for those who have really died." I thought of I Thessalonians 4:15-17, "we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (I Thessalonians 4:15-17)

The farm family was pretty happy to see the little lamb spring to life. How much greater the joy will be when the real resurrection takes place and those who are dead in Christ live again! We have a Lamb to thank for this!

Pastor Steve
Tuesday January 04, 2022

I try to keep ahead of the curve when it comes to the articles I write. This helps me not to get in a bind, and is also helpful when I am away so that I can continue to post articles. As I was writing recently, I noticed I had put the wrong date on the first few articles for January. I put 2021 instead of 2022. This is something with which many of you can identify.

Most of us have had experiences where we got confused about dates and times. How many of you have had the experience of showing up for a meeting and finding out it was ending rather than beginning? Maybe you have went to the doctor or dentist and found out your appointment was the day before. Listen, I feel your pain, My use of these examples is based on experience.

We may get confused about dates and times, but God doesn't. He always knows the right time to do things. He always knows just when to do what needs to be done for us. I extend this statement to comment on a future event that he has scheduled that will take place at just the right time the return of Christ. We look forward to this, and pray for this, and maybe sometimes wander why it isn t now, but we need to trust God with this as well. He knows the right time.

He had the perfect timing for the Incarnation - Romans 5:6 tells us, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." Galatians 4:4 says, "But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son."

promises He will come again when the time is right. Even as early as the first century, there were skeptics and detractors who spoke negatively about the seeming delay of the return of Christ. Their criticism is found in II Peter 3:4, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation."

,p> God had an answer for them. "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (II Peter 3:8-9) The delay is for the benefit of those who will come to repentance. It is a matter of grace. We may forget dates and times, but God does not. Jesus tells us that God and only God knows when it is time for his return - "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36) God has the perfect time selected. Christ will return when He is ready to come the important thing for us is to be ready when He comes! Pastor Steve
Monday January 03, 2022

Safety chains are features often found on hotel and motel doors and, of course, in many houses and apartments. The purpose of a safety chain is to allow the occupant to open the door a bit to communicate with someone on the outside without granting them full access. This can be helpful in many situations.

There is one situation where we often apply a safety chain when we probably should consider otherwise. Jesus wants to be in your life in a total way, and does not want to talk with you through a door that is only partially open because you are applying a safety chain. Revelation 3:20 says, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."

We often apply this verse to someone who has not yet accepted the message of Christ, but in reality, the passage is written to followers of Christ. He is encouraging them to "throw the door wide open" for him so that he can have full control of their lives and they can experience fully his fellowship and his presence.

The people to whom Christ addresses these comments were using their safety chains. Safety chains have their place, but not on the door to our heart when it comes to developing a full relationship with the Savior. If you have a safety chain, take it off!

Pastor Steve
Sunday January 02, 2022

Many years ago, an employee in a butcher shop was caught stealing several hams. With the price of ham these days, this would probably be a felony. When asked why he did this, he said he thought his actions were justified because he was underpaid. We can really be creative when it comes to justifying actions that are simply not right.

If there was anyone who would have been justified in acting differently than how he did, it would have been David. Saul wanted David s life and was pursing him in order to kill him. Saul was jealous of the stature that David had attained in the kingdom and wanted him out of the way. We read in I Samuel 24 that David had a chance to take Saul's life and end his torment. Instead. all he did was cut off a piece of Saul's robe to use later as evidence of his gracious act of sparing Saul's life. The scripture even tells us that the act of defacing Saul's robe brought David grief.

Saul relented in his pursuit for a time because of this, but we find him returning to the hunt in I Samuel 26 where another incident of David's grace is recorded. David's actions are written about in 26:9-11, "But David said to Abishai, 'Don't destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD's anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the LORD lives,' he said, 'the LORD himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD's anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let's go.'"

There is never any justification for wrong actions, even when we are being treated unjustly. If we need further examples of the correct response in the face of injustice, we need look no further than the life of Christ. From the time he was born, injustice abounded in the treatment of Christ. Consider the flight of his family to Egypt because of the edict of Herod to slay all males 2 and under (read Matthew 2:16ff). Other examples abound. So, don't think unjust treatment gives a reason for inappropriate behavior. Follow the example of David and his Son!

Pastor Steve


Weekly Schedule

AM Worship - 9:00 AM
Sunday School - 10:30 AM
PM Worship - 6:00 PM
Dinner - 5:45 PM
Cross Training - 6:30 PM
Prayer Time - 9:00 AM


Our Pastor

Pastor Steve Willis

Stephen G. Wllis has been the pastor of the First Baptist Church since August of 1983. He and his wife, the former Scherry Roth, are natives of Ironton, OH and were married in 1977. Steve has an A.B. in education from Marshall University in Huntington, WV and a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary. In October 2004 he received his Doctor of Ministry from Trinity Theological Seminary. He has been active in ministry since 1971, serving as an evangelist and as a pastor before moving to Dallas in 1979 and then to the pastorate in Newton after obtaining his master's degree. In addition to his ministerial duties, Steve is a member of several committees and boards in Jasper County. He has served as president of the Jasper County Ministerial Association and Newton Rotary, and is currently the secretary-treasurer of the ministerial association.

Scherry is a graduate of ITT with certification in interior design. In Ohio she worked as a secretary and then with the Ohio Department of Health and Human Services. She was a secretary in Dallas at Dallas Theological Seminary. After moving with Steve to Newton, she took some time away from the workplace to have two daughters, Stephanie, born in 1983 and Megan, born in 1985. When both the girls were in school, Scherry returned to the workplace, first at Arndt's Stores, then as a painter with Hidden Blessings, and since 1994, as a secretary for the Jasper County Unit #1 School District. She retired in June of 2016. She is active in the church as leader of the Children's Choirs and directing the adult choir.

Megan graduated from Judson University, Elgin, IL in December of 2007, and received her ThM from Edinburgh University (Scotland) in August of 2008. She married Casey Robbins in February of 2014, and they have one child, Sullivan. She also teaches English at Williamsfield High School.

Stephanie is a graduate of the University of Illinois (2005) and received a master's degree from Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia, in May of 2007. She is now a speech pathologist with Southern Ohio Educational Services in Portsmouth, Ohio. She married Jimmy Bailey in July of 2009. Jimmy is a teacher and coach with the New Boston, Ohio, School District. They live in Wheelersburg, OH. They have two children, Madelyn and Cullen.


For those of you not currently attending church on a regular basis we would like to extend an invitation to you. Regular church attendance can make a big difference in your life. Worshiping God, learning more about Him and enjoying fellowship with other Christians is a very rewarding way to spend Sunday morning. Our service at the First Baptist Church starts at 9:00 AM and we hope you will join us soon. You will be greeted by some of the friendliest people in downstate Illinois. If you sometimes feel that there is something missing in your life this could be a great opportunity to fill that void. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life." Through faith in Him, the void you have can be filled. He said in Matthew 11:32 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

A good way to find out what you need to do to place your faith in Him is to find a church where you can learn what it means to have a relationship with Christ and what that can mean to you. If you are too far away from our location, please try to find a church near by. It can change your life. If you would like to invite Christ to come into your heart as your Savior and Lord, you may do so by simply asking him to do so. Here is what you can do to receive the free gift of eternal life he offers:

1. Acknowledge that you have sinned and need to be forgiven.
Romans 3:23 - "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
Romans 6:23 - "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord."
2. Believe that Jesus died for you and wants to forgive you and give you the free gift of eternal life.
John 6:47 - "I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life."
3. Confess your sins to him and ask him to come into your heart as your Savior.
Romans 10:9-10 - "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

If you are now enjoying all the benefits of being part of a church family, wherever it might be, we offer you a challenge. In your community there are people waiting for you to extend an invitation to them. We urge you to find them, invite them to your church and show them how a relationship with Jesus can enrich their lives. The Word of God ends with an invitation. Revelation 22:17 says, "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." Be an inviting person!

Our Church

Welcome to the internet home of the First Baptist Church, located at 400 W. Washington Street in Newton IL. This church was established in January of 1886 as the Newton Baptist Church. The first pastor was J.W Reed who served until 1891 and again from 1896 to 1898. The first meetings were held at the Presbyterian Church until 1892 when it was decided to build a new church. The actual construction was started in 1893 and completed in 1895. The first services in the new building were on April 27th. In 1957 a new educational wing and fellowship hall were added.

The name of the church was changed from "Newton Baptist Church" to "First Baptist Church" on July 25th, 1926. The church has had 31 pastors since its inception including our current pastor, Dr. Steve Willis who has served since 1983.

Our mission is to delight God by developing a church full of people whose integrity is beyond question, whose faith is beyond reason, and whose compassion is beyond compare.

Services at First Baptist start at 9:00 am every Sunday morning followed by Sunday school at 10:30. Our Sunday evening service starts at 6:00 and CrossTraining Bible study is held each Wednesday at 6:30. From September to May, we have CrossTraining classes on Wednesdays for ages 3 through the 8th grade. Our High School group is entitled CIA (Christians in Action) and meets on the first and third Sundays at 6 p.m.

We would like to invite you to join us next Sunday. You will find us to be a very friendly family of believers that loves our Lord and truly enjoys our Sunday morning fellowship.