Dear Church Family,
I know that for every single one of us, the last month has been filled with difficulty. God has allowed trials to come in to our lives – trials that we didn’t see coming. Often times when difficulty comes, it seems easy to throw our hands in the air in despair. But as you know, our God is good, faithful, and sovereign. He will never leave us or forsake us, and we are right in His hands. And one of God’s greatest gifts to us (not only at this time but at all times) is His
Word. The promises of God’s Word are certainly the very opposite of despair, because His Word is sure, steadfast, unchanging, and true. As Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever.”
With that in mind, let us now lean on the Scriptures. As a word of encouragement to you, I have listed some Scriptures that speak to our current situation and remind us of the faithfulness of our God. Some of these Scriptures I have used in my latest sermons (Looking Back), and others I plan to use in the future (Looking Forward):
Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
Often times in life, we think we know what is going to happen. We plan our way, we chart our course, and we try to predict the future. Yet even though we planned our way, the Lord has established our steps in a different direction. And this is OK, because we know that God is working all things out for our good. We are reminded of this in Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (emphasis added).
In Matthew 16:8 Jesus says, “I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (emphasis added). This is a bold reminder that the church does not belong to me, our session, or even our church members – it belongs to the Lord Jesus. Jesus is the King and Head of the Church.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul says, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” This is where it gets personal. Because we belong to Jesus, God calls each of us to “conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).
Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” What is holding you back from fixing your eyes on Jesus? What weights are you carrying? What sin is clinging to you? Let me encourage you, cast these things aside, and run the race of the Christian life without being burdened; but most importantly, look to Jesus.
James 1:3-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Starting this Sunday, I will begin preaching a series on the book of James. James is one of the most practical books in all of the Bible. In it, James lists many different examples and illus- trations on how to live the Christian life. As we look at this opening passage, James encourages us to take on trials with joy in our hearts. Why? Because God is using the trials to grow us in our faith. God is constantly working on us to conform us to the image of His Son.
Please join us this Sunday as we start the book of James and continue to lean on the truths of God’s Word.