From the Pastor

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

Following Jesus Together - January 6

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! For a brief gospel meditation this week, I want to share some well-written words by a former student I had the privilege of knowing and discipling in youth group. She writes,

“I refuse to put my hope in 2021.

How could I place all my hope for a better year in some far off, superficial feeling or figment of time?

What if things don’t get better?

What if the vaccine doesn’t work the way they are hoping?

What if this new president elect makes mistakes?

What if, God forbid, things get even worse?

Where would we be then if 2021 isn’t kinder?

These “what ifs” are not meant to alarm or stir up anxiety, but I mean to point you to Christ - the same One on the throne in 2020 - the only comfort, solace, hope, peace, and joy in the midst of suffering can come to us through Him alone. In Him all things hold together. So I continue to place my trust in the God who knows the beginning from the end and rescues us not because we are good, but because He is good.

So you won’t see me asking 2021 to be kinder to us. But I pray God draws you near in His peace that He is good and in control. I ask God for healing and relief from the suffering of 2020, knowing His holy and perfect will cannot bring me to despair or the end of myself like the things of this world. They say, “when you reach the end of your rope, just tie a knot and hang on.” That’s absurd. We are too weak. His strength and power alone pulls us from the depths.”

Those beautiful words apply what the prophet Habakkuk wrote in the midst of chaotic times, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) Here’s what that faith sounds like (3:17-18), again in Habakkuk’s words, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”

May the Lord be our strength in 2021 – as Habakkuk reminds us – God gives us what we need to navigate through uncertain times and places: faith.

Thompson Update
Uncertainty sums up our holidays. I am being tested again for Covid today. I thought I was improving and then got hit again yesterday with tightness in the chest – fatigue and shortness of breath. So they are making sure I didn’t have a false negative last week. I will keep you all updated.

I greatly appreciate your kind words, texts and prayers! By God’s grace everyone else in the house is healthy.

Sunday – Pastor Jim is in the pulpit Sunday continuing through Romans – “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Martin Luther, the famous Reformer, wrote long ago that when he finally understood these words, it was like the gates of heaven opened wide and he stepped into paradise. He was changed by the grace of God. May Jesus do the same for us today!

It’s communion Sunday this week. So please take time to prepare your hearts and minds to feed on Christ by faith and be strengthened by the grace of our good God!

Grace and peace,
Nate

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