Jacob Waldron penned this piece called “Church Is Hard.” I’m sure there is something you can relate to.
Church is hard.
Church is hard for the person walking through the doors, afraid of judgement.
Church is hard for the pastor’s family, under the microscope of an entire body.
Church is hard for the prodigal soul returning home, broken and battered by the world.
Church is hard for the girl who looks like she has it all together, but doesn’t.
Church is hard for the couple who fought the entire way to the worship service.
Church is hard for the single mom next to couples holding hands and seemingly perfect families.
Church is hard for the widow and widower with no invitation to lunch after church.
Church is hard for the church leader with an estranged child.
Church is hard for the person singing worship songs, overwhelmed by the weight of the lyrics.
Church is hard for the man insecure in his role as a leader.
Church is hard for the wife who longs to be led by a righteous husband.
Church is hard for the nursery volunteer who desperately longs for a baby to love.
Church is hard for the single woman and single man, praying God will bring them a mate.
Church is hard for the teenage girl, wearing a scarlet letter, ashamed of her mistakes.
Church is hard for the sinners.
Church is hard for me.
It’s hard because on the outside it all looks shiny and perfect. Sunday best in behavior and dress.
Yet underneath those layers, you find a body of imperfect people, carnal souls, selfish motives.
But, here is the beauty of church—
Church isn’t a building, mentality, or expectation.
Church is a body.
Church is a group of sinners, saved by grace, living in fellowship as saints.
Church is a body of believers bound as brothers and sisters by an eternal love.
Church is a holy ground where sinners stand as equals before the Throne of Grace.
Church is a refuge for broken hearts and a training ground for mighty warriors.
Church is a lesson in faith and trust.
Church is a bearer of burdens and a giver of hope.
Church is a converging of confrontation and invitation. Where sin is confronted and hearts are invited to seek restoration.
Church is a family. A family coming together, setting aside differences, forgetting past mistakes, rejoicing in the smallest of victories.
Church, the body, and the circle of sinners-turned-saints, is where Jesus resides.
So even on the hard days at church—the days when I’m at odds with a friend; when I’ve fought with my husband because we’re late once again; when I’ve walked in, bearing burdens heavier than my heart can handle, yet masking the pain with a smile on my face; when I’ve longed for a baby to hold, or fought tears as the lyrics were sung; when I’ve walked back in, afraid and broken, after walking away; I’ll remember. He has never failed to meet me there.
I am so glad for Hanover Evangelical Friends Church! You make this a place I look forward to coming to.
Revival comes when the Spirit of God blows over a place. It is a Sovereign work of God that can’t be manipulated. But, according to Charles Finney, there are things a Christian can do to prepare when it comes.
- When the wickedness of the world grieves and humbles us enough, we will cry out to God.
- When a spirit of prayer for revival is kindled. People join together to pray earnestly.
- When the minister preaches against sin and for God’s power and holiness.
- When Christians confess their sins to God and one another.
- When Christians willingly make sacrifices, allowing God to do what He wants with them.
Pastor Dave will be preaching Saturday evening, Pastor Charles will lead a time of prayer and reflection on Sunday evening and I will be preaching on Sunday morning and Monday night. Join us at 6:30 for a “Time of Refreshing.”
I hope you will attend some or all of the Time of Refreshing (revival) March 20th– 22nd at 6:30 p.m., and also Sunday morning March 21st. Invite a friend, too!
When is revival needed? Probably the best answer is always! What are the signs it is needed?
- When there is a lack of love in a church, when jealousy, gossip, and divisions are prevalent.
- When people are content with dead formalism or are living in sin.
- When unbelieving culture is influencing the church in negative ways.
- When lost people in the surrounding culture are dying and going to hell and the church is unconcerned.
I don’t have a sense that we as a church are living in all 4 of these attitudes, but I do know that most of us could be more loving, holy, and passionate for the lost around us.
So be praying God will sovereignly use these 3 days (and after) to challenge and refresh us spiritually.
This coming Sunday looks like good weather, hopefully!
Lent begins Wednesday the 17th. Liturgical churches do a good job of emphasizing the Christian calendar better than Evangelical ones. I want to provide some suggestions for you to enhance your observation of Lent.
Lent focuses on repentance. We are moving toward Christ’s suffering and death and resurrection on Easter morning. We prepare our hearts & humble ourselves like He did.
Often people will fast or remove something from their daily lives those 40 days. You can certainly do that. I want to suggest adding something instead. Work on your memory verse of John 3:16. Read the 40 passages below, meditate on them, study them if you wish, and apply them as the Spirit leads.
Here are a few other suggestions on what to add. Add 5 more minutes to your prayer time. Do 2 kind deeds each week and don’t tell anyone. Email, text, call or visit a neighbor to encourage them. Spend 20 minutes helping food ministry (fold plastic bags). Use your gifts to help someone this week and advance Christ’s Kingdom.
Here are the 40 readings for Lent:
- Isaiah 40: 1-5
- Daniel 9:4-19
- Nehemiah 9:16-21
- Luke 13:1-5
- Hebrews 3:8-19
- Romans 1:18-32
- Colossians 1:15-20
- Colossians 1:21-23
- 2 Timothy 4:1-5
- Revelation 19:1-8
- James 3:1-6
- 1 Corinthians 15:50-58
- John 14:1-3
- Luke 15:1-7
- Mark 1:1-8
- Romans 5:12-17
- Galatians 5:1-5
- Psalm 90:13-17
- Psalm 121:1-8
- Isaiah 61:1-3
- Deuteronomy 28:1-14
- Jonah 2:1-9
- Habakkuk 3:1-4
- Matthew 21:1-11
- Mark 14:17-26
- Isaiah 40:28-31
- Revelation 1:5-7
- John 12:23-28
- Galatians 2:17-21
- Acts 3:17-23
- Isaiah 53:1-7
- Isaiah 53:8-12
- Psalm 22:1-8
- Matthew 27:11-26
- Matthew 27:27-31
- John 20:16-27
- Luke 23:44-49
- Luke 23:50-56
- Matthew 28:1-10
- Matthew 28:16-20
I hope you will listen to Pastor Charles’ sermon on our website. It’s on the greatest thing: love. It’s excellent!
If you are looking for a devotional for February, check out this link. It’s from a blogger/pastor I follow named John Piippo. I always benefit from his writing.
“Truth is stranger than fiction.” You can’t make this stuff up. I have an example of that.
This story comes out of Oregon. A young mom pulled up to the door of a convenient store and left the car running while she ran inside to buy a few items. She left her child in the car seat in the back seat.
A car thief saw her walk into the store and he jumped in her car and zoomed away. He didn’t get far when he noticed the child in the backseat. He drove back to the store and waited for the mom to come out. When she did, he lectured her on what a bad mother she was leaving her child unattended in a running car. He ordered her to remove the child. She did. Then he promptly drove off. So, who was more ethical?
I am sharing Sundays on spiritual gifts because of the hour we are in. We don’t want to fall short in fulfilling God’s purpose for us in our community. Listen to Paul’s heart in these 2 verses: Romans 1:11 – “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – “ and 1 Corinthians 1:7 – “Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.
Wednesday is Inauguration Day and who knows what will happen? There might be something unusual. We should be watching and praying that day for our country.
“For Richmond” has sent out a prayer guide for that day. I encourage you to use it.
Consecrate yourself. 1 Timothy 2:1-8 As we pray, let’s start off by focusing and consecrating ourselves. The word consecrate means to dedicate ourselves for God’s work. Read the call for consecration in 1 Timothy 2:1-8 and pray accordingly.
Lament. Psalm 10 A lament is a passionate expression of grief and sorrow to God. Feel free to express your pain to God and expect God to meet you in that pain. Be guided by Psalm 10 as you pray.
Confession. Isaiah 58 Listen to the prayer of confession and song of lament. Start with an examination of your own sins and shortcomings and move outward to examine the sins and shortcomings we are engaging in a community. Talk to God in your heart or through journaling as you engage Isaiah 58.
Intercession. Matthew 5:43-48 Intercession is praying on the behalf of others. Read Matthew 5:43-48 and use it as a guide in your prayers for those in your family, friends, neighbors, and enemies.
Benediction Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: In might, spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and forever. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
We live in confusing, troubling times. Read these verses. Let their truth wash over your spirit.
Psa 16:1 A prayer of David. Protect me, O God, for I have taken shelter in you.
Psa 61:4 I will be a permanent guest in your home; I will find shelter in the protection of your wings. (Selah)
Psa 91:4 He will shelter you with his wings; you will find safety under his wings. His faithfulness is like a shield or a protective wall.
2Sa 22:3 My God is my rocky summit where I take shelter, my shield, the horn that saves me, my stronghold, my refuge, my savior. You save me from violence!
Pro 29:25 The fear of people becomes a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be set on high.
Psa 18:2 The Lord is my high ridge, my stronghold, my deliverer. My God is my rocky summit where I take shelter, my shield, the horn that saves me, and my refuge.
Pro 30:5 Every word of God is purified; he is like a shield for those who take refuge in him.
Psa 91:2 I say this about the Lord, my shelter and my stronghold, my God in whom I trust –
Psa 62:8 Trust in him at all times, you people! Pour out your hearts before him! God is our shelter! (Selah)
Psa 61:3 Indeed, you are my shelter, a strong tower that protects me from the enemy.
Nah 1:7 The Lord is good – indeed, he is a fortress in time of distress, and he protects those who seek refuge in him.
Psa 37:39 But the Lord delivers the godly; he protects them in times of trouble.
Part of the troubling times involves what’s happening in Virginia. Please read the paragraph and respond as you are led. This is from the Family Foundation.
Between now and Feb. 3, we are facing a crucial time for Virginian families: The Virginia Department of Education has proposed a policy that essentially mandates the promotion of gender confusion to every single K-12 public school student. There is a short window of time for parents and concerned Virginians to make their voice heard on the draft of this sweeping policy. (To review 10 ways this policy endangers parental rights and student safety and privacy, click here). Please pray that The Family Foundation’s efforts to educate Virginians on this transgender model policy motivate thousands of people to speak up boldly against it being mandated in their children’s schools. Pray that the Department of Education will be receptive to the concerns of parents and reject policy that hurts children and disrespects parents. Please pray that parents will use this opportunity to educate their children through scripture, helping them to avoid the confusion and deception of the world and instead celebrate their God-given gender and sexuality.
Intercessors for America has an excellent article on individual repentance from Gloria Robles if you are interested.
Here is our Wednesday chat.
At the beginning of a new year we often make resolutions to eliminate a bad habit or develop a new and good habit. That’s ok. Why not make it a biblical resolution? Here’s 3:
- Psalm 17:3 – “Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.” Make a resolution to watch what comes out of your mouth. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
- Daniel 1:8 – “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine…” This was not a diet but to avoid food sacrificed to idols. Consider not eating foods that give you a guilty conscience or eating because you’re bored. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in you?
- 1 Corinthians 2:2 – “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Desire nothing more than knowing Jesus better in 2021. Philippians 3:8 says, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
Also be in prayer tomorrow for the 2 Senate races in Georgia that the election would be fair and honest. Pray Wednesday as Congress votes on whether to accept the electors votes or not. Pray that truth will be told in the presidential election.
When babies are soon to be born, families and friends of the expectant mother throw a “baby shower”, they “shower” the mother with helpful gifts.
When Jesus was born He too was “showered”, showered with praise. The birth narratives are wrapped in praise. Ten different times, either people or angels offered joyful, spontaneous praise to God because of Jesus the Savior’s arrival to earth.
Nine out of the ten praise events occur in the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel. Gabriel’s announcement to Mary, John the Baptist leaping for joy in Elizabeth’s womb in the presence of pregnant Mary, Elizabeth’s response, Zechariah, John’s father’s praise. Want more? The Shepherd’s reaction to the angel’s announcement & the angel choir praising Him. Simeon in the Temple & Anna, too. We can’t forget about the Magi’s praise in Matthew.
Jesus received praise from all walks of life and people. Let’s add our praise to theirs this Christmas.