Hello WestHill Church family,
This is the first of several blogs that will be posted weekly by each of us pastors to keep you updated and or share God’s word. This first one is long so grab a snack and drink.
Well, here we are. We’ve missed our first Sunday together and anticipate several more to come. Few would have guessed that this is what would happen 3 months ago. But, here we are, a church group of Christ followers sitting in our homes while we ride this out, together.
As Christians, we have the Lord to lean on during the trials that may come to us over these next several weeks. At one time or another, while this continues, you may struggle. What that means is that you are human. One of our hopes is to stay connected to encourage each other while we wait to come together again. This is one great thing about our church,
we have Jesus and each other.
Imagine those who don’t know or have Christ. Picture a great majority of people in the world in a real panic and they only have themselves to get through this. As a Christian, if you are struggling, you know things they don’t know. You have a savior they don’t have. Look for opportunities to share Christ. Let’s lift one another up and look for ways to connect with the people around us who need Jesus in their life too.
Stay connected with each other as well.
I was reading in Matthew, chapter 9 today. This chapter tells us that Jesus had gotten into a boat and crossed over to his hometown. When he arrived, some men brought to him a paralytic man lying on a stretcher. Jesus healed the man. For this healing, he was accused of blaspheming by the Scribes.
Later, Jesus met Matthew. He told Matthew to get up and follow him. Matthew got up and followed Jesus, no questions asked. Later again, Jesus was seen eating with tax collectors and sinners. This was another opportunity for the Pharisees to bring accusation and malice on Christ. Jesus would respond to them, “For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Those sinners were just like me, just like us.
Jesus would heal a woman who had suffered bleeding for 12 years. This woman believed in Jesus so much, that she thought, “If I could just touch the hem of his robe.” That she would be healed. She touched his robe. She was healed. Not because the robe had healing power. She was healed because of her faith in Christ.
He raised a woman from the dead, at the request of the woman’s father, and was mocked over the idea of it before he did it. He met two blind men who believed in everything Jesus proclaimed about himself, Jesus healed them. Right after this, he drove out a demon from a possessed man who could not speak. The man spoke.
All these things took place and that was just chapter nine!
Right now you believe all of these things about Jesus. However, You watch or listen to the news. You hear about the virus updates, restrictions, speculation, blaming and conspiracy theories. You hear about a worldwide panic going on and now it is alarming to you. You know and have seen for yourself that some of our basic needs are disappearing off the store shelves and hear the same is happening across the entire nation. Things are starting to make you nervous, scared and fearful. You see things that you’ve only seen on TV that historically only happens in other countries. Down deep you want to say to yourself, “It’s going to be okay and it is well with my soul.” But you are scared. Christ said it best, “Fear not.”
I can share passage after passage to encourage you. I will, just ask me to. There is great comfort in the word of God. Look in the bible daily for it. Let me offer you this if you are becoming fearful. Be strong and courageous. Continue to abide with Christ. Keep him at the front of your thoughts and prayers.
Here is something else to consider that may happen. What if God doesn’t make things better? What if things get worse? What if God hears your prayers but does not answer them the way you want Him to? You may not like this but, “No” is an answer too. A “No” does not change who God is. Because the will of God has to continue to be more important than what we want or need. This trial may take you right up to the edge. Even if he does not change things the way you need him to, He is still God. Hang on to that. It may not be easy, but persevere to the edge if that is what he wants.
Don’t let what you see supersede what you know and believe. Don’t let this reduced fellowship reduce your relationship with each other and Christ. Look for God more each day. He is still in control. Pray more alone and then together as a family more often. Pray for others, for peace, for submission, for praises and your needs and for God’s will in your life. Difficulties will come. They will come to some more than others. Now is our chance to lift one another up, to encourage, help and pray for one another. Pray for the unsaved. If ever there was a time for the unsaved to have hearts ready to be open to the authority of God and to the gift of salvation, that time is now. Many unsaved people are terrified, right now. Jesus referred to the unsaved in this passage as the harvest. The harvest is ready for the picking.
Matthew chapter nine ends this way.
Jesus continued going around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”
One of the things that helps encourage the discouraged Christian, is to find or meet someone who is worse off than you are. Help them. Right now someone near you may be living way beyond fear. It shouldn’t be hard to find someone who needs Christ more than you, minister to them.
Will you continue to persevere with us as a church? Continue to reach out to one another. Reach out to the lonely, the elderly, disabled friends or friends who don’t have transportation. Do you have skills and resources you can share? Share them. There is a reason God has blessed you the way He has. In your generosity, you will experience a great joy that comes from Christ as we serve one another.
While we are separated from physical fellowship, find new ways to fellowship and care for one another. Phone a friend. Let us come closer together while we are apart. The people are the church, not the building. We are a church of believers in our Savior, Jesus. Let’s go through this trial together and come out on the other side together, stronger and whole. I don’t know about you, I’m excited to see God’s hand in this, in our church. This will end. Everything is going to be okay.
Your servant and friend, Michael
You thought I was finished, not yet. One last thought.
I wanted to share a song you can find on YouTube. It was performed by the group, Mercy Me. What follows is the story behind the song and a link to the song. I’ve enjoyed this song for a while and I think that it has a message that fits. If you know it or if you don’t, I hope it will encourage you.
From Bart Millard:
We’ve had bad days. I’ve had awful days with my child having a chronic illness and there are times where I feel like I just can’t do this anymore. I want to be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and say “I know that God will deliver me but if he doesn’t I’m still not going to bow. I will still worship Him and He’s still worthy to be praised.” I want to be that guy.
Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego Story (Daniel 3.13‐18 NLT) Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied,
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
That’s what this song “Even If” talks about. I know what God is capable of but even if He doesn’t come through, He is still my hope because of what He’s already done, not what the circumstances are doing to me. My circumstances are not going to change what Christ has done for me. If nothing else, He’s the only thing that has prepared me for the circumstance.
“Even If” is a reminder to people in difficult situations that don’t seem to go away. God was worthy long before any of those circumstances even showed up. This song is a declaration to God that even if He went silent and never said another word, He’s still worthy to be praised and that He’s our greatest hope in the midst of the trial.”
– Bart Millard (MercyMe)