Pastor’s Update 4/29/2020

Greetings, Grace Family!

     This, along with Paul, is my prayer for the Grace Family:

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
from Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the width and length and depth and height–
to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge;
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:14-19)

     In the days ahead, we will need “to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.” It is what I call being “Mighty in Spirit.” We are seeing the groundwork laid for Bible prophecies to be fulfilled as was told us in the Books of Daniel and Revelation and Ezekiel. The talk is for a new world order, a global government, a cashless digital economy, and the need for a universal identity chip or tattoo to, supposedly, know the state of your health, vaccines, and your whereabouts. They claim that getting goods to people is impossible without proper identification.

     The mechanism for all this is a global crisis, which is just what we are experiencing. I wonder whether it is a pandemic or a plandemic.” In October of 2019, the Bill Gates Foundation had Event 201 which was a high-level simulated Coronavirus Pandemic. You can’t find information about this now–they removed it from the Internet.

     Why are we so surprised by all of this? Have we been sleeping or drunk, terms the New Testament writers used to describe our apathy, ignorance of God’s Word, blindness to what’s happening around us, and worship of our idols (pleasure, power, prestige, popularity, comfort, and wealth)? In Christ’s parable of the virgins awaiting the bridegroom, 5 of them had no oil in their lamps, meaning they were unprepared for his arrival. Why? Because the bridegroom always came at night.

     How are our oil reserves? Did we give up long ago on the cry of the chorus we sang in Junior Church, “Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning, burning, burning?” As fear, desperation, and panic seize at our hearts, do we begin to believe we may have spent a lifetime preparing for the wrong necessities? Did we value the oil of the Holy Spirit as too rare or needless a commodity to conserve? Instead, did we run after barrels of education, the securement of our children’s happiness, the necessity to feel empowered, the satisfaction of living life better than the Joneses” (not our dear Joneses!), the greed of consumerism? Is this why we are groping in the coming darkness–we’ve been relying on the artificial light of our desires and schedule and love for the world so we find we don’t have the oil of the Holy Spirit to light our lives from the inside out?

     Praise the Lord, we do not have to run on empty any more. When the realization of our weak spiritual condition finally takes us to our knees in repentance, that is not the end. No. There can be a resurrection! Jesus Christ longs to fill our lives with this precious oil of power, conviction, wisdom, comfort, peace, and illumination. This oil is the only fuel that will enable us to live the Christian life of power and might in our spirit man. It is the fuel that keeps us going when everyone else’s power has puttered out.

     Where does one find this oil–this fuel for life? By going back to our first Love, the Lord Jesus, and His precious, life-giving Words. This takes time alone with Him reading, praying, reflecting, and meditating on the truth of His Word and the surety of His promises. It involves the humility of self-evaluation and examination along with the surgery of the knife of God’s Word to remove the tumors of selfishness, pride, unforgiveness, immorality, and on and on. It requires confession of our sins. It requires surrender to His will and His way above our own. It removes the infatuation we have with the world and its lusts, and places our eyes on the reality of the eternal.

     Katherine Koop was a hostage in Iran in 1979 when they ousted the shah. She had a testimony of strength and endurance. She acknowledged her years of reading and memorizing Scripture were the activities that the Holy Spirit used to fill her lamp with oil, providing her the strength, resolve, and truths she needed to comfort and sustain her.

     What will it take to force us into the necessary regular discipline of building up our inner self? Sad to say, as fallen humans it seems It always takes pressure from outside or within to squeeze us toward God. The Church will experience tribulations as the return of Jesus Christ draws closer. Let’s fortify ourselves, beginning now.

     It is easy to get out of shape spiritually. You have been given a great opportunity to develop devotional disciplines and a biblical mindset while being quarantined. Yet, enter the TV and the Internet. Great temptations and testings are right in our homes. I am praying for the choices you make with your time right now. Please come out of this lock-down filled with the oil of the Spirit and not empty.

     You may desire that I would not be so doomish and gloomish in my dispatches to you. I confess I must be. Bad news must be heard first before the good news is announced. The bad news is the reality of the world system around us. We may hate and despise it, but it is the season in which God has placed us. Paul reminded the Ephesians who lived in a dark age to walk circumspectly because the days are evil. The Greek word for circumspectly is the word from which we derive our word circumference. We are to walk, not just looking straight ahead, but turning in complete circles so we will more truthfully assess the danger or goodness that lies around us. (My wife, who grew up in the city, walks very differently from people raised in the country.) Hiding our proverbial heads in the sand has never been a Biblical principle. Yet, the knowledge of our environment that we obtain from this 360-degree observation is not meant to defeat us (remember the 12 spies and the Promised Land?); rather, it provides the information and discernment we need to more carefully and judiciously walk the Christian life, aware of the Devil and his deceptive schemes. The bad news is defeated by the victory of the good news–our God is for us, who can stand against us! If the doom around me serves to prepare my heart for the great harvest coming, so be it.

“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight,

He [Jesus] went out and departed to a solitary place,

and there He prayed.”

Mark 1:35

     May this be the regular discipline and practice of our lives.

    Grace Family, remember to have your crackers and juice of choice ready as you view next Sunday morning’s message with me. I will be having communion with you during my message.

     Keep connecting with God and each other. I will connect with some who are able to view the Sunday message, and, Lord willing, we will be able to see each other in person on May 10th.

     Thank you for your continued faithful financial support. We are still able to pay the bills, praise God. Please call when you have personal needs in order for your church family to be able to help.

Pastor John


     Note from Clair about Women’s Fellowship:  We are prayerfully and tentatively shooting to resume meeting in June.

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