Hello Brothers & Sisters,
This past Sunday I shared a message entitled, Beggar Spirituality. I talked about the proper way to approach a holy God with our requests. Jesus revealed that we should acknowledge our spiritual poverty if we ever hope to receive God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness (Matt 5:3). If we want to know God’s power in our weaknesses, we ought to confess that we need him to do what we can’t do on our own. In other words, once we’ve come to the end of ourselves, that is when God is able to do his greatest work in our lives (2 Cor 12:9-10). This is a foundational truth in the building of our Christian faith.
It’s in the preaching of this message that I was reminded of the paradoxical nature of God’s Kingdom and the way the Spirit works. As I pointed out in the sermon, God humbles the proud and exalts the humble. We’re told in the New Testament that God uses the weak things of this world to shame the strong. We’re told that the message of the cross is foolishness to the world, but the power of God to those who believe. Jesus said that the first shall be last and the last shall be first; that the way up, is down. So, give that some thought as you allow the Lord to speak to your heart this week.
Dear saints, there is much in this world that can easily cause us to despair. Believe me when I say, I too am concerned about the future of our country and our children/grand-children. I ask you to join me in praying for the president, our leaders (federal & local), and the upcoming elections. We are seeing an alarming level of violence and hatred that the church must oppose with the love of Jesus by using whatever avenues of influence God has given us. As the prophet Micah said, we must act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). We must be peacemakers (Matt 5:9).
Having said that, I’m reminded, and I want to remind you, that Jesus never promised us safety in this world. In fact, he told his disciples it was certain that they would at times experience great trials and tribulation, and that some would even lose their lives for the sake of the good news. But Jesus also said these words, which I pray will bring us all comfort and peace from the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).
How has Jesus overcome the world? He has done this by defeating the power of sin and death, guaranteeing that someday he will judge the world and make all things new. And so the hope of the Christian faith is that what happened to Jesus in his resurrection will happen to all of creation at some point in the future. But in the meantime, creation groans and we often struggle and toil, looking forward in great expectation to the liberation and reconciliation of all things (Rom 8:18-25). So, for the time being, let our lives testify to the hope we have in Jesus, for only Christ can heal this world.
Let’s remember these words from 1 Peter 1:8-17. Peter writes:
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
Grantham Church, I encourage us to do good—to rise above the fear-mongering, the “us vs. them” mentality, the hateful rhetoric, and the hopelessness that is characteristic of those who are lost, and let us live as people who have pledged themselves to Christ as his Kingdom. May the Spirit help us to live as people who have hope in this life and in the next, for such a time as this.
Grace & Peace,
P.S. Need proof that God is at work among us? Check out this video of Shirley Groffsinging with the choir last Saturday at Mennonite Home in Lancaster County! Shirley has miraculously recovered from an illness that almost took her life. We’re hoping that Shirley can return to Grantham real soon. Please continue to pray for a full recovery. We miss you, Shirley!
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