From the Pastor

Following Jesus Together - March 23

Dear Friends,

As Easter fast approaches we get to intentionally meditate on reality and hope of Jesus’ resurrection! One of the oldest places we find this hope is in the book of Job. Job is a famous story wrestling with God’s goodness and human suffering. Job loses everything (kids, great wealth) except for a nagging wife and unhelpful friends. In chapter 14, Job is lamenting that our days are too short and too full of trouble. Like a flower we wither and fade. Listen in as he wrestles with God and his personal story of suffering.

“For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant. But a man dies and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he? As waters fail from a lake and a river wastes away and dries up, so a man lies down and rises not again; till the heavens are no more he will not awake or be roused out of his sleep. Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! (Job 14:7-13)

First, did you catch Job’s longing? Job wants to be set free from God’s wrath. And he wants to be remembered after God’s righteous judgment has passed over. This is in the context of seeing trees having a better hope than humans. For if they are cut down, at least the trees bud and ‘rise again’ after death. Keep reading in Job 14:

If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come. You would call, and I would answer you; you would long for the work of your hands. For then you would number my steps; you would not keep watch over my sin; my transgression would be sealed up in a bag, and you would cover over my iniquity.” (Job 14:7-17)

Second, Job is longing for eternal life and resurrection! If resurrection were something God would do, here’s what it would be like: God would long for the work of His hands. Resurrection will happen because it is God’s longing for us, His creation, His loved ones.

The word Job uses to describe God’s longing is intense. It’s the maddening longing for water when you are thirsty in the desert (Psalm 84:3). It’s the longing a young, starving lion has for fresh meat (Psalm 17:12). This is an intense, unshakeable desire! God, may you long for me, the work of Your hands! 

If you longed for me like that, you would cover my sin, forgive and raise me after death!

Jesus’ resurrection changes the if in Job’s longing to our sure and certain hope of resurrection from the dead! Ephesians 2:4-10 describes it well:

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. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 

With great love, God loved us , His workmanship (a.k.a. the work of His hands), created in Christ Jesus!

May you live and work in light of God’s good news this week! Perhaps even give an answer for the hope you have in Jesus to someone you know who is dealing with their own fear of death!

9:00am – Our Spiritual Formation class is describing the doctrine of providence. This week we are going to nail down some definitions. Consider Jesus words in Matthew 10:29-30. If these words are true, how does our Heavenly Father rule over every detail of our lives?

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

One quick technical note for those who tune into Sunday School via Zoom. If you do not want your full name broadcast on YouTube, we suggest using your first name only. This only matters for Sunday school as we have more of a discussion. It is one of the quirks of doing online church during COVID. 

10:00am – Worship – We are starting a new sermon series this week! 1 Peter: Radiant Faith in the Furnace 

Always exciting! Peter takes the theology of exile we learned in Daniel and applies it to Jesus followers who have found themselves scattered throughout the world, surrounded by different faiths. It feels like suffering, but it’s part of God’s plan to make you radiant through fiery trails! That happens as we look to Jesus in the midst of our trouble. That’s the promise of Psalm 34 – “Those who look to Him are radiant. They shall never be put to shame.”

May God make your faith in Jesus radiant, perplexing and even attractive to those who are wondering about the hope you have within you (1 Peter 3:15)!

See you Sunday,
Nate Thompson

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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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