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Our Response – Hope and Love – 03/14/20

Call to Worship:

Psalm 146:1-6 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing
praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no
salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he
whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and
all that is in them, who keeps faith forever;

Songs:

Holy, Holy, Holy (PDF)
We Are Not Overcome (PDF)
Jesus Savior, Pilot Me (PDF)

Catechism:

Heidelberg Catechism
Q. 1 What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus
Christ; who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of
the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head;
yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, wherefore by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of
eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.

Scripture Readings:

Psalm 46
I Peter 3:8-17
Isaiah 8:11-20
Hebrews 2:14-17

Prayer:

Our God and Father, we confess to you our weakness, our anxiety and our pride. Through this time of unrest
and uncertainty, help us to see the reality of the brevity of life and that we live each day by your mercy, your
will and your grace. Let us number our days in order to gain hearts of wisdom. Teach us to not boast in
tomorrow, but to boast only in Christ. Guard our hearts from anxiety and fear and help us to put our trust and
hope in you. Guard us from disunity and division. Protect us from the temptations to be careless in our
interactions, unsympathetic, or to allow bitterness to grow in our hearts. We pray for those who are suffering
from the effects of this virus around the world. We ask for healing and for spiritual awakening on their behalf.
We pray for those who are working in the medical field to understand this virus and provide the best care they
can to those who are affected. Help us to be prudent in the use of medical resources and preventative
measures without placing our hope in them. We do want to love one another and our neighbors in this time,
so we ask that you would help us to do so. And may we give faithful testimony to the name of Christ in all that
we say and do during this time. However long this takes, however terrible or not-so-terrible the final outcome
of it all will be, we know that Christ is King, you are making his enemies his footstool, and one day He will
return to defeat Satan and death. That is the day we long for. Help us to live today in light of that day when
every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Christ is Savior and Christ is Lord to the glory of God
the Father. Amen.

I pray that this letter finds each of you well in this time of unrest and uncertainty. Knowing that each of us is interpreting and responding to the situation in our country differently, I wanted to share a few thoughts that I pray God will use to encourage and edify you.

First, God’s people are not to be ruled by fear, but filled with hope in God. Psalm 46:1-3 says,

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

The whole of this Psalm is wonderfully appropriate for us during this time, so I would encourage you to look up and read the rest on your own. The truth is that situations like this reveal to us our tendency to put our hope in things other than the Lord. Ultimately, He is the one who is in control. No molecule or microbe exists or functions outside of his sovereignty. Therefore, God’s people are called to put their hope in Him.

The passage I was studying this week in preparation for next week is I Peter 2:13-17. In that passage Peter speaks of not fearing man or what man can do, but instead regarding Christ the Lord as holy. Here he uses the language of Isaiah 8 (Isaiah 8:11-20) where the prophet tells God’s people not to fear what those around them fear, but instead to fear the Lord of Hosts and regard him as holy. Friends, this is so applicable to us in this moment. As God’s people we ought not be ruled by fear as those around us are, but instead to we are to live in a right reverence of the Lord: trusting in His might and power to save. Isaiah 8:20 says that those who look to mediums for help instead of the Lord show that they have no dawn. But we have a dawn, we have a Savior who has defeated Satan and death (and the fear of death) on our behalf. He is our refuge and our strength.

Second, I want to address the matter of loving one another. Let me remind you of a passage we just went through a few Sundays ago.

I Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

I realize that some of you may feel like all the response of the media, government and our society has been way out of proportion to the risk of this virus. I’m not going to try and persuade you otherwise, but I do want to encourage you to show sympathy and brotherly love to those around you. Peter says that we are to honor everyone and love the brotherhood. In this situation that means being considerate in how you talk about the situation and in how you interact with people who are much more concerned about it than you are. During this time, it is both wise and considerate to follow guidelines that you have no doubt heard from other sources, like washing your hands, keeping a healthy distance from people, avoiding physical contact, etc. Also, if you have symptoms of a cold or flu, it is best for you to stay home and limit your interaction with others. This should all be done out of love for one another and love for our neighbors.

In closing, I have prepared a liturgy to be used for worship tomorrow in our homes. I have attached that on this email along with the songs that I have suggested for you to sing. If you are elderly or have a weak immune system, I would encourage you to stay home and worship the Lord with those in your household. Fathers and husbands of families who are staying home, I strongly urge you to lead your families in worship. You will find plenty of help in the liturgy that I have provided. Even if you decide not to sing the songs, read the Scriptures, catechism, and pray together (I even provided a prayer for you).

While there is more on my mind and heart that I want to share with you, I will end it here for now. Perhaps next week there will be more.

So now for the blessing…

May Lord bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.