Worship at 10am Sunday Morning
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Christ Pres Mid-Week Update 3/25

Brothers and Sisters,

     As our world continues to turn upside down around us, and it can seem sometimes as if we have no sure and solid ground on which we can stand, I’d like to pause for a few moments in the middle of this week and remember the solid rock of God’s Word, which stands forever and on which we can depend with all our might.  
     When it seems like what you’re supposed to do keeps changing, and it’s hard to plan for anything, let us pray the prayer of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20, including the words in verse 12: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” When the people prayed that prayer of faith and went forth trusting God in the dangerous calling He had given them, remembering to take time for worship, the Lord delivered them so mightily that they named the place He called them to, “the Valley of Blessing.”  In the same way, we don’t have to know what to do, because God already knows how everything is going to pan out.  
     And as trite as the verse can sometimes seem, it will be for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  That’s far from a throwaway phrase.  At times like these, it’s an immense comfort to know that even when we don’t know how things will work out, and it seems like whatever happens, there’s going to be a lot of bad that comes, God knows exactly what will happen, and He will use it for our ultimate good.  We can have confidence in this promise, knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword... neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (including a novel coronavirus or a global economic meltdown), will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 38)  
     Between His steadfast love and His sovereign, omnipotent might, we can be sure that He will take care of us in the best way possible, and that He already knows what that will be.  He will surely do it at just the right time.  William Cowper, the 18th century poet known for his fierce bouts of depression, puts it this way:
God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform; 
He plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines of never failing skill 
He treasures up his bright designs and works his sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread 
Are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust him for his grace; 
Behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour; 
The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan his work in vain; 
God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain.
     It’s true that there are still plenty of things to grieve as we lose social connections, jobs, account balances, our favorite foods, any toilet paper at all, and some we know may even lose their lives.  It is appropriate to grieve at a time like this.  It is understandable not to know what to do or how to make sense of it all.  After all, it’s completely unprecedented in our lifetimes.
     But it’s not unprecedented for God.  He has shepherded His people through countless plagues and trials.  We may feel like our world is turned upside down, but Jeremiah felt like creation itself was coming undone in his time.  In Jeremiah 4:23 he writes: "I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light.”  As he deliberately recalls the language of Genesis 1, it’s as if he’s saying, “my world is coming undone!”  It was also a terrible and unprecedented time for God’s people, but out of that time, God showed us more about Himself in several books of the Bible, He taught us more about what the Day of the Lord would be like, and how we could not depend on our own righteousness or that of our forefathers to save us.  We need God Himself to have mercy on us, because nothing else can save us.
     And because He loves us, He sent that salvation in the person of His Son, Jesus - the Judge of the Judgement Day, the Mighty Warrior of God who became the Suffering Servant in order to save those He loves.  Even when the night looks the darkest, as when Jesus was hanging on the cross dead, God never forgot His people.  He used the very worst to bring the very best, and He will do the same in our time.
     So when we’re struggling to make sense of everything that’s going on and struggling to keep up with the concerns we have for our loved ones, for our world, for our jobs, for our bills, for our retirement accounts, for any number of things, I pray that we will remember and take encouragement from Psalm 94:19: "When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul."  
Community Group, alternating Thursdays, 7:30pm (note the new time): Studying the letter of James and praying for one another. Meets via Zoom video conference, contact pastor Jonathan for the link. Next meeting 4/2. This is a great opportunity to practice “physical distancing” while still meeting for Scripture reading and prayer, without losing the social aspect of the church.
Fridays with the Kuciembas: have moved to alternating Thursdays at 7, also meeting via Zoom. On the weeks we don’t have community group, the Kuciembas will be leading some kind of social activity to help us to still see each other and stay sane.  This week: a game of Scattergories!  Whether you own the game or not, we can all play this one together from our respective houses or apartments.  You don’t even have to be in Grove City!  Contact pastor Jonathan for the link.
Women's Bake-Along: Women of all ages are invited to bake along with Erin and enjoy fellowship on Friday, March 27th via Zoom video-conferencing.  For details, ingredients, and a link to the conference, contact Erin Bancroft.
Prayer Requests and Physical Needs: Please remember to contact us with prayer requests and any needs you have during this time.  It takes a little extra effort since we don’t see each other as much, but we are committed to praying for one another and helping one another.  If you are having trouble finding necessities (for example, does anyone have any extra baby wipes or know where we can find them?) let us know, and we will share as everyone is able.  Prayer requests may be kept confidential or shared, as you desire.
     With love in Christ,
     Pastor Jonathan
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