Devotional from Pastor Mark Stannard
Dear church family, and any others reading this.
In his message Sunday, Pastor Bill talked about Fear. This is certainly a time to, as he said “counter Covid 19 with Joshua 1:9.” “… Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Wonderful words and an amazing promise. We could add to that from Psalm 73:26 for the moments when our own strength seems to disappear and our hearts begin to fail, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.“ He’s got us covered. Always. And he will never fail us or leave us. in fact, in times like these, he seems closest, just as a good father pulls his child closer when in dangerous or scary circumstances. After all, it is not Our strength he wants us to rely on. It is His, and it is always available, no exceptions.
In keeping with the pastor’s and elders’ desires to “encourage one another” and “build up one another,” we will be posting a short daily message - scriptures or words of encouragement - that we hope will build you up and point you to Him. And speaking of “hope,” that is the word I have received to pass on to you today. If we have not been given fear, what is it that we do have? First Peter tells us we have a “Living Hope”. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1Peter 1:3)
Actually, read the whole first chapter of 1 Peter if you want to be filled with hope. Do your own Bible search and write down the Scriptures you find on hope. How about Isaiah 40:31? Most of us know this one well. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” I’ll tell you this, you won’t get very far before you start feeling this living hope filling you up.
This morning I woke up and did my “usual thing”, telling God “I’ll be right there, right after I catch up on the latest developments about the coronavirus.” OK, no great sin. But not the best start to my day either. Instead of being “filled with hope, “I felt once again uncertain and tempted to worry. Now, is it wrong to be informed? Of course not. But, no surprise here; when I put my phone down and started reading the Word and then thanking and praising God, something immediately changed inside me. My whole inner atmosphere changed, setting a very different tone for the day. I know, I know. I’m an elder! And I’ve known the Lord many years! But even we shepherds sometimes need reminding of the things we know.
My prayer is that we would all become and remain a praying community, even if within the confines of our own homes for a season. Our hope is real. Our hope is forever. Our hope is for right now. And our hope is a Person.
I will end with this: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Blessings to all of you,