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encouragement from our pastor


  • encouragement #5 from pastor

    At times, I don’t feel I have control over events in my own life, let alone control over the great events that affect everyone like the Covid 19 pandemic.  What does the bible mean when it says that “all things belong to you”?

    • Not that Christians actually own everything and have a right to take it from others.
    • Not that they have control over “all things” that happen to them.
    • but that . . .
    • Christians are given everything that God knows they need in order to experience all that He knows will benefit them.
    Examples of what God gives us:
    • “Paul or Apollos or Cephas” – all the people that God brings into your life to benefit you whether they are friends, enemies, introverts, extroverts, personalities like us or not.
    • “the world” – everything in the world that affects us; the time and place of our birth, our parents or lack of parents, education or lack of it, employment or lack of it, etc. etc.
    • “life” – He gives us life itself which contains all of the other things we experience.
    • “death: - Even death is a gift because it opens the door to His presence.
    • “things present” – whatever is now happening is part of God’s wise/good design for us.
    • “things to come” – whatever is going to happen to us is part of God’s wise/good design.
    • “all things” – everything mentioned or not mentioned above

     

    “all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ”

     

    All the things mentioned above belong to us because they are God’s gifts to us.  They all work to bring about His wise and good will in our lives. They are given to us because Christians are united with Christ; they belong to Christ and because they are united with Christ . . .

     

    “and Christ belongs to God”

    Christ belongs to God because Christ shares in the divine nature.  He has always been the eternal Son of God and always will be the eternal Son of God.  Having been united with Christ, we are united with God and all of God’s holy desires for us are given to us.


  • encouragement #4 from pastor

    How do you explain things like the Coronavirus?  In an ultimate sense, of course, it has something to do with the fall when sin and it’s awful consequences entered the human race and affected everything in our physical world.  But what about today, the next 24 hours, this week?  What am I supposed to feel and believe about it all?  I see no purpose, no benefit except what God tells me about the discipline/training that is involved in all things.

     

    King Solomon tells me what to do with my frustrations.


    Trust in the Lord with all your heart

    Trust involves a sense of confidence.  It is when we decide to have confidence in God.  The basis of our confidence is God’s word – what He has promised to do on our behalf. Solomon tells me to involve all of my heart (that place where my will makes its decisions) in trust/confidence in the Lord.  In order to do this, I must believe that He is and that He is all of those things the scriptures say He is, infinitely good, wise, powerful, loving.


    And do not lean on your own understanding.

     

     When I lean, I rely on something for support.  If all I have is my own understanding of things, I have quite a limited perspective (because of my experiences, education, personality, etc.).  Is there someone with a better understanding than I have?  I have to admit that I do not have a complete and undistorted understanding.  What am I to do?


    In all your ways acknowledge Him,

    To acknowledge God is to decide to recognize Him in everything that happens in my life. It is to sincerely assume that every situation and circumstance has something to do with the will of the good and wise God.


    And He will make your paths straight.

     

    This can also be translated “He will direct your paths.”  Both meanings give the assurance that God will supervise our lives, the decisions we make, the actions we choose will not be made in a vacuum­­­ without His loving supervision.  Even our mistakes will serve to bend our hearts toward Him. God will not leave us on our own but promises that

    • our trust in Him and
    • our leaning on His understanding and
    • our acknowledging Him 
    • results in our lives being moved in the direction that He knows is best for us. None of this is done perfectly but really.


  • encouragement #3 from pastor

    The Coronavirus infects and destroys the body.  Sin infects and destroys the soul.  God has obviously chosen to not exempt His people from either infection.  He is not obligated to explain to us why He has ordained it to be this way.  Instead, He has chosen to allow us to come to know Him through these two infections in a way we would not have come to know Him otherwise.

     

    Isaiah tells us that when we learn to wait on God, we come to know His strength.



    “. . . those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength”

     

    The concept of wait is not passively sitting by and assuming that God will do what God will do.  Neither is the opposite of being active, i.e., doing nothing.  Waiting on God means to not run ahead of Him and try to do what only He can do.  It means to actively expect Him to do what only He can do. We wait on God when we actively trust and believe and expect that He will bring His will into every situation of our lives.

     

    This active decision to place our trust in God’s goodness and wisdom gives our souls strength against the virus of discouragement, fatalism and fear.  This active decision to place our trust in God’s unseen but infinitely wise designs for us gives us spiritual, emotional and even physical strength.  It is “new” strength in the sense that we do not experience it apart from our confidence in Him.


    “They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired,

    They will walk and not become weary.”

     

    Eagles soar.  They see things from a lofty perspective.  Unlike the chicken, they have perception that is greater and reaches further than the immediate.  The person who waits on the Lord has a perspective on life tht understands that God is at work even when we don’t see it or don’t feel it. 

     

    When we run, we eventually run down.  The one who waits on the Lord is granted a strength to run (hang in there with hope) that they would not have otherwise.

     

    When we walk, we eventually get weary.  The one who waits on the Lord is granted the ability to walk (hang in there with hope) that they would not have otherwise.

     

    May God grant you the willingness and ability to wait on Him as you face the effects of the Coronavirus and all other things that infect your life and draw you away from faith in God’s unseen wisdom.



  • encouragement #2 from pastor

    To what extent is God involved in the evil such as the pandemic that causes so much fear and pain?  Is He in control or do we say He is in control just to make ourselves feel somehow better about a situation we can neither understand nor control?  Job gives us insight.


    So, who told you it would be different?  Who told you that when you are a Christian, God takes over everything in your life and nothing really bad happens to you?  Who told you that if you behave yourself, good things will come your way?  Who said that God would protect you from sickness, depression and unhappiness?  Well, whoever they were either did not understand the biblical view of the world or they just told you what they wished were true.

    • He didn’t protect Joseph from the hatred of his brothers (Genesis 37)
    • He didn’t protect Jesus from the hatred of His own creation (John 1:11)
    • He didn’t protect Paul from the attacks of Satan (2 Corinthians 12:7ff)

    “Shall we indeed accept good from God. . . “

    When things are going well, we often live with the illusion that we are doing things right (why else would things be going well?). 

    “and not accept adversity?”

    When things are not going well, we suspect that something has gone wrong and we must have messed up somewhere along the line.  Job reminds us that the degree to which we experience blessing or difficulty is in the infinitely wise, good and loving heart of God.

    “In all this Job did not sin with his lips”

    The truth is what Job said: both the good and bad times find their source in God.  We gladly accept good things as coming from God, but we change horses in the middle of the stream when bad or difficult things happen.   We assume that God had nothing to do with it.  Job knew God better than that.  Job did not attribute the bad to Satan (even though Satan was the source) but to the ordination of God. He knew that this is God’s universe, and nothing exists without His ordination.  Even evil is subject to His will.  Even the virus can afflict and damage only to the extent the infinitely good and wise will of God determines.


  • encouragement #1 from pastor

    Many are now experiencing the frustration and fear that has come with the Covid 19 plague.  Not knowing what the physical and economic consequences might be for each of us creates opportunity for fear and anxiety to invade our lives of faith.  What does the God who has power to control the universe have in store?  What might the God of infinite wisdom allow to happen to us or to our families? 

     

    David’s Psalm can teach us about maintain our faith in a time of uncertainty.


    Context:  David is experiencing a time of deep distress.  He does not specifically mention what is causing him such great distress.  Some feel that it is because David’s son is entering Jerusalem in an attempt to kill David.  Whatever it was, it is an example of the fact that just because we are believers does not exempt us from the difficulties and suffering that is part of life. 


    “My times”

    Here, David is thinking of the times that make up his life.  The times of our lives are the seasons or periods of time in our lives.  There are the regular, expected seasons of development (infancy, childhood, adolescence, adult, old age) and then there are seasons or times that come upon us unexpectedly (sickness, depression, loneliness, tragedy, etc.)  The pandemic we are experiencing is one of the unexpected and unwanted seasons. 


    “are in Your hand”

    David acknowledges that there is no period or season of his life that is experienced outside of the hand of God.  God’s hand is universal. We who believe are, along with the seasons (good times and bad times) of our lives, held by the goodness, wisdom and power of our God.  This is a place of security and love.  “But what if the thing I fear happens to me or my family?”  The hand of God is not disconnected from the heart of God.  The heart of God guides the hand of God.  What God wills for us comes from infinite wisdom and love.  It is our faith in God’s goodness and wisdom that gives us contentment knowing that we are in the hand of God.