From the Pastor

Following Jesus Together - February 10

Dear Friends,

Caring for one another. That’s part of the reason to belong to a local church family!  Here’s the kind of care commanded in the New Testament: We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the powerless (Romans 15:1) We fulfill the law of the Messiah, Jesus, by bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). We might as well add 1 Thessalonians 5:14 to the mix, “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” 

Pause there.

Daniel has a ministering angel sent to comfort and strengthen and encourage him. For three weeks Daniel’s mental and emotional health was a wreck. He was mourning for weeks. Had no strength. And God sent him a literal angel in response to his prayers! Two comforts and a challenge for you to meditate on in light of these passages:

Comfort #1  God sees our misery. The visions in Daniel 10 are amazing. But behind Daniel seeing the future, is God first seeing Daniel’s weakness! Don’t miss that comfort! Psalm 56:8 describes God’s attention to our misery this way, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” Every tear, every tossing, every misery is recorded in God’s book! This long COVID winter for the Christian does not go unnoticed!

Comfort #2 – God sends us a comforter. Seeing weakness doesn’t naturally move us towards the weak. It’s inconvenient. It requires patience. (See the parable of the Good Samaritan) – Daniel was sent a supernatural comforter, a literal angel, to strengthen and encourage him. 

We’d all love an angel, to comfort and strengthen us. Wouldn’t you? Look again at the portrait of God’s comforters in the first paragraph. Who’s the comforters? It’s the ordinary Christian, armed with the comfort we have received from Jesus, filled with the Spirit of Jesus.  Even more, we are Christ’s body. You are sent to help the weak, encourage the fainthearted (those who are discouraged) and be patient with them all. 

If Jesus is better than the angels (Hebrews 1), and we have Christ in us, then we are part of God’s plan to see the misery and weakness of others and offer comfort.

Caring for One Another Challenge - Who can you care for this week? This is the beautiful ordinary life of the church, aware of one another’s weaknesses. Obligated to move towards one another as we are able. Out of love in Christ. 

Announcements/Prayer

1 - Ballston Area Clergy Association Fund (BACA) – If you have a desire to help meet the needs of the poor in the Ballston Spa School district, we can use your help processing applications during the months of March and April! Please contact myself or the office ( ) if you’d like more information. We do ask for prayers for wisdom as we seek to show the mercy and generosity of Jesus to our neighbors.

2 – Remember to keep Juli Bickley and the Young Lives work in your prayers – Young Lives is a ministry designed to support teen moms in the Capital District. They offer relational, financial and spiritual aid and offer all kinds of discipleship opportunities to introduce Jesus to these young women and their families. On Saturday February 20th, Juli and a team of volunteers are using Hope Church to put on a couples seminar.

3 – As was mentioned at our Zoom budget meeting, the Session is putting together a financial committee to look into the options in utilizing our space, now that Spa Christian has closed. More details will be forthcoming. But if you have suggestions or ideas for how to use the space, please contact elder John Van Voorhis ( ).

4 – Personally, I’d appreciate prayer, as I’m still fighting weakness, fatigue and occasional shortness of breath. It’s not COVID. So I am working with the doctors to figure out what is happening. I’ll keep you posted.

Sunday School @ 9:00am – The Gospel According to Esther: The Hiddenness of God
Esther is the only book where God’s name isn’t mentioned. This is intentional, teaching us that “God is omnipotently present even where God is most conspicuously absent.” What does it mean to trust a God who hides himself? Bring your questions and see you on Zoom and in the social distanced - sanctuary.

Worship – Daniel 10 – Don’t be Afraid of the Future - 

              Daniel 10-12 are all one long vision of this reality – “The world goes not well, but God’s kingdom comes.” Join us Sunday as we look at how greatly loved Daniel was and how we receive better in Jesus!

Grace and peace,
Nate

Posted by Nate Thompson with

Following Jesus Together - February 2

Dear Friends,

As we prepare for communion this week and process Daniel’s confession of sin, I wanted to look at Psalm 51, one of the most famous confessions in the Bible.

Quick recap is David, the man after God’s own heart, God’s King, has  sinned…big time! There’s a series of shady and shameful events . First, rather than being with his men on the battlefield, David is at home. He’s resting when he should be working. Second, David repeats the sin of the Garden of Eden:

He sees that Bathsheba is good/beautiful in his eyes…so he took another man’s wife….(Compare 2 Samuel 11:1-4 with Genesis 3:6). Bathsheba is the forbidden fruit, going against God’s wisdom and will.

Bathsheba conceives and gets pregnant. Rather than confess his sin, David continues to hide in shame. He has Uriah sent to the front lines to be killed. Murder. In one fell swoop, David broke all 10 commandments, causing misery and pain, guilt and shame. It’s not until God calls David out of hiding through Nathan the prophet, that David confesses. Don’t miss the grace of God behind calling his people to repentance. It’s in the context of pursuing us!

What place does David meditate on, after he sins? Where does he get the language of Psalm 51 from? Look at it:

 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

You know the feeling. When you think or say, “What’s wrong with me?!” after sinning or while hiding. David’s description of what’s wrong with us:

              Iniquity – the idea that my nature is twisted – we, by nature, are self-deceived, so we don’t see God and the world accurately. Enslaved to our desires.

              Transgression – willful rebellion – “God I wanted to do that” – I’m responsible for my decisions

              Sin – to miss the mark – the failure to live a life of love and trust that God requires – we do things for our glory (like David), rather than God’s glory.

Where do you turn when you see your failure? Like David, we own it, and trust God’s own confession to be a God who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin. All due to God’s desire to be gracious to us.

If you’ve been with us in Brandon Perkin’s Sunday School class, you should hear echoes of Exodus 34:6-7! (Check out his class here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqG06oNkY69j5MD4_p0qyuKV4QBVQkY8B)

Exodus 34:6-7

Psalm 51:1-4

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquityand transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

 

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.”

 

David remembered the day when Moses pled for forgiveness for God’s guilty people, so he pled for forgiveness for his own guilt and shame. We look to Jesus, the Friend of Sinners, the Crucified One…and that’s where we go with our confession. To the God of mercy, who sent His Son, to multiply His mercies for us, which are new every morning. 

Communion is when we remember and have God seal the forgiveness of Jesus to our hearts. We are treated better than we deserve! And then we leave, having the joy of our salvation restored, we go, willing to teach other transgressors God’s ways! (Psalm 51:12-13). Grace is never just for me. It overflows for others through us!

Sunday School – Join us as we begin the book of Esther!

Worship –& Communion -  We are going to look at the confusing parts of Daniel 9:20-27 – the 70 weeks to come after exile in Babylon is ended. Whatever that means, we know that the 70 weeks took place to put an end to sin and usher in everlasting righteousness – the kingdom of God. This is about the need for perseverance for God’s people, as they look forward to sin being ended by God’s anointed one, the Messiah. This too is about Jesus!

See you Sunday,

Grace and peace,
Nate Thompson

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