Pastor’s Update 4/21/2020

Good Lunch-Time, Grace Family!
     In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus and His disciples are crossing over the Sea of Galilee–the sea where they all grew up and where they’d crossed many times.
     As in all of life, a storm suddenly and unexpectedly whips up, evoking the alarmed reactions of fear, anger, anxiety, and panic; reactions which invariably exaggerate the actual problems. The disciples cry out, “We’re going to die!” They even questioned the Lord by asking, “Don’t You care?” Did Christ defend Himself? No. Instead, He responds by asking them, “Where is your faith?”
     Our Lord told us that in this world we would have tribulations; yet, He promised us peace, rest, and joy-filled living in the midst of tribulations. He even added the future hope of deliverance from all the tribulations of this world one day. We are to be a “Fear Not People” who pray rather than panic, and are not filled with fear. We trust and obey.
     Before the disciples crossed the sea, Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, told the crowd gathered with them to prepare for life and to be wise, not focusing on circumstances or on what you have or don’t have. Today many are fearful about money, jobs, or will they have enough toilet paper. Jesus told us to look at the birds. They have no possessions, no permanent housing, vacation home, or retirement funds. Yet, their Heavenly Father takes care of them. He admonished us to look at the flowers. They don’t have closets full of clothes, as we do (and still, nothing to wear), yet their garments are more beautiful than all the glory of Solomon. [I hope you have stopped to smell the flowers this Spring:  the lilacs which could rival any perfume, the irises which remind my wife of grape Kool-Aid when sniffed, and the delicate beauty of tulips and daffodils, honeysuckle, and the like. Thank you, Lord, for such beauty!]  Lesson to be learned:  God knows we have need of these things.
     Matthew 6:31-34 exhorts us not to worry. How? By trying NOT to worry? No. We are to do something in the place of worry:
“But seek first the kingdom of God
and His righteousness,
and all these things shall
be added unto you.”
     Are you weary today and heavy-laden? Then accept our Lord’s invitation in Matthew 11:25-30 to come to Him, walk with Him, and learn from Him. Instead of straining and struggling through life, we can have Jesus carry our burdens. The farmer never teams two strong oxen under the same yoke; instead, he joins a strong one with a weaker one so that the stronger ox will compensate for the weak one.
     Does each passing day lately bring the overwhelming feeling that you are carrying the weight of the world up Mount Everest by yourself, knowing you will never make it to the summit? I invite you, too, to come to Jesus, cast your cares upon Him, follow and learn from Him by seeking Him.
     If you say, you don’t know the way, He is the Way. If you say you’re not sure what the truth is, He is the Truth. If you are restless about your life, He is the Life.
     You will only find the peace, rest, and satisfaction you are seeking in Him. Not in His removing all your pain, answering all your questions, and revealing the future to you; but, in trusting HIM. As the old song says, “If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out, bring your burdens to the Lord and leave them there.”
     This wonderful invitation to rest in the Lord means two things:  first, our Savior will take upon Himself the heaviness of our burdens, while, second, we must take upon ourselves His burden, the joyful submission to the purposes for which we were created. Rest means neither inactivity nor doing our own activities. It is joyful submission to the direction and plans God has for us.
     It is my hope that by next week we will know when the restrictions on gathering for our church body will be lifted. Even then we will be prepared to continue our limitations in social contact with one another.
     Our hope is firmly in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ because we know the promises of Romans 8:28 and 2 Corinthians 1:7. We are not shocked at any earthly events that take place for the prince of this dark world is a schemer and destroyer. But we do seek first the Kingdom of God, of which we are citizens, and pray for His Kingdom to come. We choose not to focus on what is seen, but on what is NOT seen.
     Continue to check in on each other. Share your needs and prayer requests. Life has changed in America as well as the world and it is frightening. When your courage weakens and the battle seems to be overtaking you, don’t isolate yourself–call a friend and cry. This is a time when it is so easy to feel overwhelmed. Cathy had such a call just this morning from a dear friend. We’re not there to preach at you or scold your lack of faith. We wear the same flesh and know the same weaknesses of that flesh. That is our time to let you release your emotions, give you a “over-the-phone” hug, and infuse you with courage to rise once more. Remember your care leaders, elders, and myself are ready to listen to your concerns, talk things over with you, and pray with you. Pick up the phone and call us. As the writer of the Hebrews reminds us, we will need each other more as the days increase in evil.

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