From the Pastor

Following Jesus Together - March 31

Dear Friends, 

Easter is fast approaching! Yesterday was Holy Tuesday. Traditionally, on the Tuesday before Easter, Christians have remembered Christ’s tears for rebellious Jerusalem.  And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41) We’ve often sung this passage, in a hymn by Henry Lyte:

He wept that we might weep,
Might weep over sin and shame
He wept to show His love for us,
And bid us love the same 

May you see the depths of Christ’s desire for our peace in Him this week, even as we seek to love as we have been loved!

Maundy Thursday – 7:00pm at Redeemer Reformed Presbyterian Church in Queensbury – What is Maundy Thursday about? It comes from the Latin word for command, remembering Jesus’ commands to love one another given at the Last Supper, the night before He died.

I will be preaching as we remember the wonder, truth and beauty of Jesus’ faithful love, which moves us to then love as we’ve been loved.

NO SUNDAY SCHOOL THIS WEEK – We will be back discussing the many purposes of God’s Providence on April 11th at 9:00am.

Easter Sunday Worship – 10:00am – I am looking forward to celebrating Easter with you this year! Many thanks to our musicians! Becca Loomis and Brandon Perkins will be playing violin, and Cojo Carl will be leading the singing. We had a rehearsal last night. They are a gift to our church!  

This year, from 1 Peter 1:3-5, we will be looking at the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection, for exiles. By way of preparation I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s great new book, Hope in Times of Fear. He points out that we generally have two main questions regarding the resurrection of Jesus.

1 – First, did it really happen? Did “the same valved heart that was -pierced- died, withered, and paused” start beating again? (John Updike) Did the Holy Spirit cause the “same blood that bought us peace with God to start racing through his veins?” (Andrew Peterson)

One place that helps us grow in confidence is Paul’s famous summary of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7. #MemorizeIt! Bible scholars have concluded that this confession of faith, which Paul says he received from others, was most certainly formulated within just a few months of Jesus’ death!  

Meditate on that this Easter – the first Christians were telling their neighbors within a months of Jesus’ resurrection what happened: Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. And that there are plenty of witnesses, including more than 500 at a time!

Because this happened, Jesus’ disciples, having seen His resurrected body, reoriented and reconstructed their entire lives around this reality: Jesus walked out of the tomb alive!

As Paul said to Festus in Acts 26, about Jesus and the resurrection, “What I am saying is true and reasonable…this was not done in a corner.”

2 – What does it mean for me? This is what we are going to look at Sunday. 1 Peter 1:3-5 is a passage that applies the meaning of resurrection to us as Christians. In a life of suffering and various trials, Christians because of Jesus’ resurrection can sing, filled with joy and hope!

              I mentioned on Sunday that Psalm 34 is quoted all over 1 Peter. It’s more accurate to say Psalm 34’s content and theology are alluded to throughout this great letter. Here’s one place:

1 Peter 1:3-5 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
Psalm 34 – I will bless the Lord at all times! His praise shall continually be in my mouth!

Here’s another cool connection. Jesus’ and the writers of the Bible often use and quote the Septuagint (LXX), which is the Greek version of the Old Testament. The Septuagint gives a glimpse into what they thought the passage was teaching. It’s like a really old commentary on the Old Testament. So compare Psalm 34:3 with me.

Psalm 34:3 -I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Septuagint: I sought out the Lord, and he heard me, and he rescued me from all of my sojourning.

See it? Psalm 34 and 1 Peter are all about how God is rescuing us from our fears as those who feel like foreigners in the world (1 Peter 2:11).  They are about how to live by faith as sojourners, feeling like outsiders in the world, yet loved and honored by our good God.

It’s the resurrection of Jesus that makes us exiles. Which helps us stay afloat when we go through the storms of trouble.

May Jesus, our living hope, comfort and deliver you from all your fears and wanderings this week!

              Lord’s Supper – Come ready to have your faith nourished and strengthened by God’s grace to us in Jesus, as we eat and drink at the Lord’s table on Easter!

See you Sunday!

Grace and peace,
Nate Thompson

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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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