From the Pastor

Following Jesus Together - March 17

Dear Friends,

Easter is fast approaching! It’s a great day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus! Help requested: I’d love it if we could have some in person music for Easter Sunday. John has been faithfully leading us from Vermont (Many thanks!!). So if you are able to help us by playing an instrument in person on Easter Sunday, please let me know soon, so we can plan accordingly.!

9:00am Sunday School: We are starting a new spiritual formation topic on Sunday! “Seeing God’s Providence” 

Providence is a theological term that you won’t find in the Bible. But is a helpful word that has been used by Christians across the world and the centuries to describe how God rules the world. It describes the reality the Bible portrays for us from Genesis to Revelation. So I want to invite you to join us so we can better see God’s purposeful sovereignty in the world. As we stare at the object of our faith, I hope and pray you will find your faith increasing in surprising ways and places.  

Here’s just a few glimpses of God’s Providence at work right now: 

His thoughts of us are innumerable, more than the sand. (Psalm 139)

Our tears and sleepless nights are recorded in His book, even while surrounded by our enemies. (Psalm 56)

He’s subduing and restraining evil through the Messiah and his willing people. (Psalm 110)

He sets up kings and removes them. (Daniel 2)

It was the definite plan for God to crucify Jesus and exult Him above all people as the Messiah. (Acts 2:23-36) 

His kindness is calling you to repentance (Romans 2:4; Acts 2:37)

God’s Spirit is working in the world, right now leading people from every nations to profess faith in Jesus (John 3:8-17).

Right now, Jesus is holding all things together (Colossians 1:17).

 That’s just a glimpse of what God is up to at this very moment! Here’s a great quote from John Piper to meditate on as we get ready to love God with our minds (Luke 10:27). Take the time to read the individual phrases…it’s worth it!

 “All Scripture is…profitable” (2 Tim. 3:16). The profit lies not mainly in the validation of a theological viewpoint but in the revelation of a great God, the exaltation of His invincible grace, and the liberation of his undeserving people. God has revealed his purposeful sovereignty over good and evil in order to humble human pride, intensify human worship, shatter human hopelessness, and put ballast in the battered boat of human faith, steel in the spine of human courage, gladness in the groans of affliction, and love in the heart that sees no way forward.

What we find in the Bible is real and raw. The prizing and proclamation of God’s pervasive providence was forged in flames of hatred and love, deceit and truth, murder and mercy, carnage and kindness, cursing and blessing, mystery and revelation, and finally, crucifixion and resurrection.”

See you at 9:00am on Sunday via Zoom or in person! I attached the outline for our time on Sunday.

Worship at 10:00am – Pastor Jim is continuing in Romans 2:17-29. The bad news of the gospel is what makes the good news of grace so sweet and life transforming!

Please accept our apologies for the sound and video blips last week. It was a bumpy ride! God-willing the system will cooperate this week! And again, many thanks to our faithful AV team!

Hope Church Informational Class Part 2 at 12:00pm – We are working through the 5 questions every member of Hope Church is asked and seeing what is unique about our congregation and denomination. You are welcome to listen in via Zoom or join in person whether you are considering membership, have been a member and want a refresher or just interested! The Zoom login is the same as our Sunday Morning worship. 

Grace and peace,
Nate Thompson

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Following Jesus Together - March 9

Dear Friends,

I wanted to start his week’s gospel reminder with a long article by Pastor Tim Keller. He’s been battling his own sin as he suffers through treatment for pancreatic cancer and writes with great honesty about our shock of finding out we are mortal. Here’s a preview: “But as death, the last enemy, became real to my heart, I realized that my beliefs would have to become just as real to my heart, or I wouldn’t be able to get through the day. Theoretical ideas about God’s love and the future resurrection had to become life-gripping truths, or be discarded as useless. “

As Easter fast approaches we spend more time meditating on the unshakeable hope we have been given in Christ Jesus. This sentence in Ephesians 2:4-7 – connects our past, present and future with Jesus. It’s so good!

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

 There’s at least three reasons we have received this great gift of Jesus and His grace:

 1 – God’s character! – He is rich in mercy (Exodus 34:6-7). The implication is that God is absurdly generous. He’s overflowing with mercy. Judgment is God’s strange work. Mercy is His delight. 

2 – God’s great love for us – His love is great – because of who we were when He set His love on us. What were you like before you were saved by grace?

dead in our trespasses –we were actively doing whatever we want in God’s world without any thought of Him apart from apathy and hostility towards His will and ways. We were unlovely. And hopeless, unable to change our will and ways. 

Check out Ezekiel 37:1-14 for another portrait of grace. 

3 – What’s God’s goal and purpose in raising us from the dead? The purpose is in vs. 7. It’s astounding.

              SO THAT – in the coming ages, we might be shown the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

God’s desire is to show us the immeasurable riches of His grace. If grace is a bank account, we can never drain the account. God’s grace is immeasurable. You can’t wear Him out. 
God’s desire is to be kind towards us. Because of Jesus – God’s kindness never ends! He will never stop working good for us in Christ Jesus. 
God’s desire is to continually show us more of Himself in the coming ages.

Did you catch that? Right now we live in this present evil age, there are more ages to come. In the new heavens and new earth, life after death with Jesus – we will enjoy and know God and His grace and His kindness even more. There will be a growing enjoyment of God, His generous grace and the kindness Jesus will continue to pour out for eternity.  

C.S. Lewis tried to get kids (and us adults) to imagine this embodied resurrection and the joy that is coming in the Narnia series. In the last book, The Last Battle, All those saved by grace arrive in Aslan’s country. Here’s a couple quotes, describing Christian hope. 

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now...Come further up, come further in!”

 “Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

 We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of God’s grace and kindness now. Easter was just the beginning! God’s desire is to give us more than we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:14-21). We truly long for a better country, a heavenly one, where our King, Jesus, will be immeasurably kind. 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

For those who missed Sunday’s announcements, here’s the important updates:

1 – Thompson family is away Wednesday afternoon through Saturday afternoon. We’d appreciate prayers for rest, as we spend some time at Lake George at Silver Bay YMCA. If you have an pastoral needs/concerns, please contact elder John Van Voorhis or Pastor Jim!

 2 – Good news! We have willing members who have accepted nominations for deacon and deaconess. Nick Stokes has accepted the nomination for deacon. Sally Jenkins and Jill Galarneau have accepted their nomination for deaconess. On May 2nd, God-willing, we will have an outside congregational meeting after the service. There members will vote to approve these folks to enter into training for the roles they were nominated for. Be praying for them and let us know if you have any questions!

 Sunday School at 9:00am – It’s our last week in Esther. Those famous words, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” have much to teach us about why God has us here in Ballston Spa and Saratoga County. Come and see with us!

 Worship at 10:00am – Pastor Jim is filling the pulpit, looking at Romans 2:1-16. One of the challenges of being a Jesus follower is to do so without hypocrisy or arrogance. The bad news of the gospel means even the best of humanity need a Savior. I found this prayer by Ray Ortlund helpful to process and work out this part of Romans.

 “O God, possessing a true knowledge of your moral standards can make me feel so virtuous. I look out over the pagan masses with smug self-righteousness and tell myself, “Well, at least I know the difference between right and wrong, which is more than can be said of them!How deceitful my sin is. How empty my virtue is. O God, deliver me, that I may be more eager to bear fruit in practical godliness than to condemn others. In the holy name of Christ. Amen.”  

 Hope Church Informational Class at 12:00pm – There’s still time to join us for the first part of the Hope Church informational class! You may join in person or via Zoom. Let me know! 

Grace and peace,

Nate Thompson

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