From the Pastor

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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Following Jesus Together - March 4

Dear Friends,
First up, an announcement. I’d like to invite any who are interested to join me for a Hope Church informational class, beginning on March 14th at Noon after the worship service. We spend some time looking at what makes Hope Church unique as a Presbyterian Church and encourage you to consider membership. Bring your questions! You can participate in person or online. So please RSVP and let me know if you are interested!

This week brings us to two different looks at how God is Sovereign over Evil. That the worst of the worst is chained to God’s purposes to do good to those who love Jesus. (Romans 8:28-39) 

Sunday School – We’ve got two more weeks in Esther. This week we are going to look at how the feasts in Esther, help us see God sovereign over evil, working for our good, leading to our joy. The worst horror story has hope, according to the gospel. Come and see!

Worship at 10:00am – Daniel 11:36-12:13 - I want to teach you a word we are going to use on Sunday to better understand Daniel 11-12.

Hiareth – (Hee-ryth) – Google it for pronunciation! It’s a welsh word for homesickness. It’s a homesickness for a home you’ve never been to…a deep feeling of incompleteness – how we feel when home isn’t how it ought to be.

Historical context helps. The Welsh in the 1300s were conquered by the English, by the Anglo-Saxons – and the name Wales (country of the other people) was given to the country. This was their home! Because of foreign occupation, suffering, evil and death, this word has the idea of protest mixed in with homesickness.

My home and life is not how it ought to be! There’s an ache. A groan for change…

Daniel 11 & 12 puts our hiareth, our homesickness and protests, in the true story of the Bible. Resurrection is coming. Evil ends. What places are you suffering hiareth, homesickness? What evils are you protesting?

One commentator does a parody of T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”             

              This is the way the antichrist ends

              Not with a bang, but with a whimper

So come and join us as we meditate on the good news of the resurrection, our hope for the end of the world!

Grace and peace,
Nate Thompson

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