Sovereign Grace Family,
A Quick Recap
In light of the ongoing “Pandemic,” several weeks ago, with the approval of the elders, I decided to cancel our congregational gatherings. Even though almost every other church in America canceled services, this was still one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make as a Pastor. I did not enter into it lightly.
I believe we, as a congregation and me, as the Pastor have a responsibility to strive for a good reputation with our larger community. Jesus walked in favor of God and men (1 Timothy 3:7). In joining with our community in this, we are seeking to maintain a good reputation and seeking to love our neighbors.
We should also pursue being good model citizens. Paul makes it clear that believers should obey the laws and submit to civic leadership (Romans 13:1-8; Titus 3:1-3). When we do not do this, we become part of the problem instead of the solution. We must always endeavor to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. Only when the civic law violates our faith, then are we called to practice civil disobedience, just like Peter did (Acts 4:18-20).
My goal in cancelling our public services was to help with the current safety threat and to stand with our community seeking to slow the spread of the virus so that our hospitals and other medical providers could get better prepared for the potential mass influx of patients. In light of this, on two-week intervals, the elders and I prayerfully moved to postpone our gatherings.
In the mean time, we have tried to take advantage of other means that we have to reach out to our fellowship. As most of you are aware, we have been posting weekly messages as well as Bible and book studies seeking to promote intentional times of being in God’s Word. We have also promoted some interaction together by posting songs regularly for singing and reflection in home worship and short articles encouraging family worship. We understand it is not the same as seeing each other in person and worshipping together face to face but we also realize God is sovereign over illness, disease, governments and everything else in His creation.
Wise counsel from Martin Luther for our current situation…
Martin Luther was both a wise citizen and a reformer during the “Black plague” that killed over 25 million people! Here’s how he put his faith into action:
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it.
Where do we go from here? There is light at the end of the tunnel…
Our government has issued a current stay at home order and a prohibition of public gatherings through the end of this month. As a church we will honor this and not meet for at least two more weeks. However, our goal is to meet again as a congregation the first Sunday in May (May 3). If the Lord permits, we will begin by meeting together for worship at 11:00. In this, we still want to be cautious and caring for others. So, just to be clear, we will NOT have Disciple Hour on Sunday mornings nor will we have our Wednesday, mid week service. I feel we have done our part in lessening the mass influx of sickness and yet we still must get back to meeting together for worship. Please pray to this end.
When we do meet, we desire to take balanced and common sense precautions for the safety of those around us. We will make every effort to clean and sanitize our building and restrooms. We will have hand sanitizer at the front door for each of our attendees. Please utilize these and other precautions.
That’s my update,
Grace to you and peace,
Thomas Watson- The Art of Divine Contentment (Chapter 7-9)
Chapter 7: Reasons Pressing to Holy Contentment
Thomas Watson begins this chapter with some reasons why we should engage in contentment or seek to be content. He cites…
Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
1. God’s precept. Here we could say, we should be content because God has commanded us to be content. He writes that it is charged upon us as a duty.
The same God to tells us to believe also tells us to be content.Read More
The Death, Burial and Resurrection of Christ
The Death, Burial and Resurrection of Christ
Text- 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Truth Taught-Christ’s death, burial and resurrection are at the heart of the Gospel.
Today, we are looking at the genuine Gospel, which as Paul writes contains the factual historical events of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
Unfortunately there are many false gospels promoted in churches today. Whether we like to admit it or not they have on some level impacted us. One reason they influence us is because they are so widely accepted today. We have heard them or parts of them enough that we may even believe them to a degree. We must be very cautious when it comes to something someone calls the Gospel. The Gospel is the message of salvation and that message must be the same message that is found in the Bible. Since it is the only means by which we hear how it is sinners are saved it must be the genuine message. We should also realize all false gospels are demonic even if the people delivering them are seem very nice and make promises that are music to our ears. If their gospel does not line up with the Bible’s Gospel then it is from Satan. The devil loves to destroy the true Gospel whenever he can. He loves it when people go to church every Sunday hearing a false gospel. He laughs when people are deceived by a false gospel and enter hell thinking they are headed to heaven. This shows the importance of being accurate with what we call the Gospel.Read More
Thomas Watson- The Art of Divine Contentment (Chapter 4-6)
Chapter 4: The Second Branch of the Text
As we continue through this great Puritan classic, the author Thomas Watson focuses our attention on the second half of the verse Philippians 4:11…
Philippians 4:11 (ESV)
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
In the original language the final branch of this verse, as Watson puts it, has four words, in every state content. This text is like a precious jewel: little in quantity but great in worth and value. What does Paul mean by this phrase, in every state content? I know people who are in comfort and ease and I know people who are struggling. What Paul has learned is that he can be content and satisfied no matter his situation or state. What exactly did Paul learn?Read More
Truth Taught- It is only the pure in heart who will be happy in the presence of God.
Today we are highlighting verse 8.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Here Jesus shows us that those who will see God as His children are those who are pure in heart. Here as with the earlier, poor in spirit our Lord is very specific as to what sort of poverty He is looking for and what sort of purity He is looking for.
In this verse, Jesus is reminding us what King David wrote in Psalm 24. What Jesus tells us here in verse 8, David goes on to explain it to us in Psalm 24. David helps us to understand what Jesus is thinking about when He simply says pure in heart. Jesus has in mind Psalm 24 and it serves as a commentary for verse 8.Read More
Thomas Watson (c. 1620-1686), the Puritan preacher and author, was probably born in Yorkshire, although the exact place and date of his birth are unknown. He studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (BA, 1639; MA, 1642), where he was apparently a diligent student. Certainly his intellect is apparent in his writings, which show a profound grasp of the English language, as well as a solid understanding of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. He quotes from the early church fathers, and his familiarity with the breadth of the scriptural canon is stunning. Cross-references from the entire biblical corpus are sprinkled throughout his sermons, revealing a deep understanding of many texts obscure to most modern day Bible students.
In about 1647, he married Abigail Beadle, daughter of John Beadle, an Essex minister of Puritan convictions. They had at least seven children in the next thirteen years, four of whom died young.
During the Civil War, Watson began expressing his strong Presbyterian views. He had sympathy for the king, however. He was one of the Presbyterian ministers who went to Oliver Cromwell to protest the execution of Charles I. Along with Christopher Love, William Jenkyn, and others, he was imprisoned in 1651 for his part in a plot to restore the monarchy. Although Love was beheaded, Watson and the others were released after petitioning for mercy.Read More
The Christian Counter Culture (Part 5)
God Has Made His People Merciful
Truth Taught- Because God has extended mercy to us we have been changed into merciful people who must extend mercy to others.
If we are going to really understand what mercy is especially God’s mercy we must have a solid grasp on why we so desperately need His mercy. No one does this better than the Apostle Paul in the beginning of Romans.
In the Book of Romans the Apostle Paul begins his teaching by first covering the fact that all humans are in a desperate situation. He begins this section of the Book that extends from 1:18 to 3:20. In these pages he covers some very important points and not too many are pleasant to hear but he knows, they are vital to hear.
Truth Taught-God uses disease to destroy our idols and test our faith
As Christians we often need to get our thinking back in line with God’s Word. It’s hard to read or listen to any news or scroll through blogs without hearing something about this virus that has within a few weeks changed much of our everyday lives. This has perhaps caused anxiety, fear, and even some frustration among the many followers of Christ. How are we to think given our current situation?
Since the fall in the Garden of Eden there has been sickness and disease. It’s not a new thing to the human race historically but it is something new to us.
In the beginning it was not like it is now.
Genesis 1:31 (ESV)
31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
What changed things from being very good to what we have now is the introduction of sin into the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Sin brought disease and sickness with it. As part of the curse God brought sickness, thorns, and death into His perfect creation.
We read these truths and we have read them before but now we are living it and many questions are being asked of God. Why is this taking place? Why are people dying? Why are You doing this?
The first thing we need to avoid is our mental formulas of cause and effect. No one knows why God is doing this. Many have alluded to some sort of judgment and maybe they’re right. But we cannot say for sure whether it’s judgment or not. God has in the past used plagues as a form of judgment but that does not automatically mean that is what this is.
There are at least two places in the NT where Jesus wants to make a point concerning sickness/calamities with personal sin. He blows away the disciple’s mode of thinking and possibly ours as well.
Luke 13:1–5 (ESV)
13 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
What is Jesus’ point here? His point is that those who Pilate murdered were not any worse sinners than those who escaped so it’s not necessarily always someone’s personal sin that brings about calamity. What we should be reminded of in these times is the surety of all our deaths eventually. We should take this opportunity to repent of our sin. So the why question is not the most important question to be answered. What’s most important is where are you concerning your relationship to God through Jesus Christ?
Another time Jesus’ disciples thought their assumptions were a given that they began to build opinions based on their faulty reasoning.
John 9:1–3 (ESV)
9 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
What was Jesus’ point here? While sin is always part of the equation, this man’s blindness was not a result of God’s judgment but God’s mercy. The disciples assumed that blindness was a result of someone’s sin, in other words, it was the judgment of God on this man when actually is was a planned event so Jesus could heal him and receive glory.
In light of these verses, I’m wondering if we might think together of another possibility concerning this current flu pandemic? Could God be doing a wonderful work in us and in our neighbors?
Disease is radical, it shows us and destroys our idols.
Our world spends trillions of dollars to create a false sense of security. Just think of all the ways our world seeks for security in everything except in God through Christ. Trillions of dollars spent on the world’s military so the nations can feel secure and yet something as small and microscopic as a virus can in a few weeks shake the world’s security. This is a work of God’s grace to show the world that they are not secure after all. Our idol of security is lying in a sickbed and that is a work of God’s goodness to remind us that security can only be found in Him.
The outbreak of the coronavirus has caused massive disruption to the world’s economy, shuttering schools, offices, and businesses, and dramatically disrupting trade and travel for weeks. Fear over the virus’s rapid spread beyond China sent the U.S. and global markets tumbling and forced numerous businesses to lay off workers, many businesses shutting down and closing up shop. The financial hardship caused by this public health crisis exposes our fears of instability and loss.
All the effort spent to shore up our economy over the years can be wiped away in a few short weeks by something so small and microscopic as a virus.
So, since man cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24) and since we get so distracted by money it could very well be God’s goodness to remove it from us?
Disease offers us a healthy reminder of our weakness and limitations.
Psalm 90:10 (ESV)
10 The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Psalm 90:12 (ESV)
12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Since self-sufficiency is pride would it not be loving for God to show us just how weak we really are? It’s like a featherweight boxer going into the ring with the world champion heavyweight. It would be a good thing for someone to tell him he is not very strong compared to the champion. Beloved we are very weak and extremely limited. Something as small and microscopic as a virus can take our pride away. God is good to tell us or in this case show us that our strength should only come from Him.
As the faith of believers is tested and tried it comes out of the fire stronger than ever before. Struggles reveal what we truly believe about God. They shake us and shout to us PUT YOUR TRUST IN THE LORD!
1 Peter 1:3–7 (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
God’s ways are not our ways neither are His thoughts our thoughts. Would we be wrong to say in the spirit of the Beatitudes… Blessed are those who have their idols removed and their faith tested so they can embrace Jesus all the more?
Dear Church Family we can rise above this world’s fear and be thankful to God that even through difficult days He is doing a wonderful work in us.
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (ESV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Philippians 4:6–7 (ESV)
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Until we are together face to face, remember God is doing a wonderfully good work in us.
Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Various commentaries on Luke’s Gospel and John’s Gospel
Dear Church Family,
In these days we find ourselves in a new place. We have never experienced quarantines, lockdowns, closures, banning of mass gatherings, national emergency from a virus etc. While I do think on one hand there is a fear that the lost world is projecting through the media because of this unknown intruder we, as God’s people do not need to fear but trust Him in all things.
The Bible is very clear when it tells us to trust in the Lord. True trust doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take some balanced precautions. The key is while taking precautions, we trust God and are not afraid. For example, we lock our doors at night before we go to bed we lock our cars when we leave them in a busy place. We take these actions and still trust God.
A precaution that we really don’t necessarily want to take but believe it is what we should do is to cancel our church services for the next two weeks during this emergency situation. As your elders we feel this is the best way we can shepherd and care for you. We cannot in good conscience risk your health and the health of others during these days. So, to best care for you and love our neighbor we believe this is the best mode of action.
We met last week while many larger churches cancelled because there was a ban on 100+ people gathering in one room together and our numbers are fewer. However, on Monday based on input from doctors and the CDC our Governor reduced that figure to 50+ that impacts our church. Based on Romans 13 we are called to submit to our government and local authorities because God has instituted them. We would never submit if we were being told to stop preaching the Gospel but in this case I do believe doctors, healthcare providers, CDC and our governor have our best interests at heart.
We will closely monitor the situation and update you regularly.
Please take this time and pray for our church family, contact each other regularly to see if there are needs you can meet, stay in the Word, pass along any verse(s) you find encouraging, call, email and text each other. Pray that through the world’s fear and through our steady trust in God there will be opportunities to share the Gospel.
Grace and Peace,
Here’s our current schedule of cancellations…
Sunday 3-22-19 (Not Meeting)
Wed. 3-25-10 (Not Meeting)
Sunday 3-29-19 (Not Meeting)
Wed. 4-1-19 (Not Meeting)
The Christian Counter Culture (Part 4)
Chasing Hard After Righteousness
Truth Taught- To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to taste of it in justification and then possess a persistent longing for more
Today, Lord willing, we will complete the first half of the Beatitudes. So far we’ve seen a spiritual progression where each character trait is built upon the one before. We saw that Christians must be poor in spirit, being spiritually bankrupt before God with no claim to righteousness or His love. When we are poor in spirit we are exactly where God wants us to be to begin with. Then when we understand our spiritual poverty in our self we will mourn over our sin and corruption. Jesus tells us happy are those who mourn over their sin because God will comfort us. Coming before God spiritually poor and mourning over our sin will truly promote biblical meekness. We are not like the wicked who strive after riches but are those who would rather wait for God and those who trust Him. So, spiritual poverty leads to spiritual mourning which leads to true meekness and then today, we’ll see that all these lead us to a deep hunger and thirst for righteousness.