Image of the Invisible God

Who is Jesus? Colossians 1:15-20 reveals the grand mystery. Jesus is Supreme in all things. He is the Son of God, a relationship that bears mystery – yes. He is the image of the invisible God. By faith we come to understand Jesus as God incarnate. There is fullness – the expression of God in all fullness. While there is mystery, there is also revelation.

Lots of “alls” can be found in the book of Colossians. Jesus is Supreme over all things – Creation, heaven, earth, visible, invisible, thrones, dominions, rulers, authorities, the Church. As we dig into the mystery, the apostle Paul helps us to clarity various relationships – Jesus to His Father, Jesus to the Church, Jesus to eternal life, Jesus to redemption.

Colossians 1:21-23 (ESV) says, “And you who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

These verses highlight the great pivot point of the Gospel. This pivot is where we recognize the depth of our alienation and hostility to God, and then respond in faith to our Savior. As a former math teacher, I love the world of opposites, negatives, positives, what’s in a set and what’s not, what’s above and what’s below a graphed function – these are the 180-degree turns that the Gospel reminds me of visually. For believers, there is the constant reminder in scripture of the “before and after” and the “once you were…” And then comes the great pivot in the Gospel – “But…”

But now… But God raised Him from the dead (Acts 2:24)…But God demonstrates His own love (Romans 5:8)…But God has put the body together (I Cor. 12:24)…But God in His grace gave it to Abraham through the promise (Galatians 2:27)…But God had mercy on him (Philippians 2:27)… All these represent a 180-degree, complete turnaround from being alienated, hostile, and evil to being holy, blameless, and above reproach in Jesus Christ. A total status change. A “180.”

The hinge, of course, is faith. Stable, steadfast, firm, not shifting – Faith. Faith in Him Who is Supreme in all things.

As you contemplate the “180,” this might be your prayer (taken from Valley of Vision, “The Spirit of Jesus”):

Because of Who Jesus is, “…May His comforts cheer me in my sorrows, His strength sustain me in my trials, His blessings revive me in my weariness, His presence render me a fruitful tree of holiness, His might establish me in peace and joy, His incitements make me ceaseless in prayer, His animation kindle in me undying devotion.”

By faith, I can understand the mystery of who Jesus is and can trust that His Supremacy covers all the “alls” in my life. After all, He is the image of the invisible God.

Tower of Strength

Proverbs 18:10 (ESV) says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Psalms 61:3 says, “For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.” The photo shows the top of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla, NC. To me it is a symbol of security and protection. A symbol that reminds me of my need in troubled waters for genuine defense and guidance…

I compare running away from God’s Truth to opposing the true Tower of Strength, the True Lighthouse. Like many, I default to the “quick fixes” to meet the challenges of life, yet as I’m running away from Jesus the True Tower, I’m really portraying a compulsion to delusion. I spend way too much head space and time relying upon things that cannot possibly promise refuge, safety, defense, or guidance.

One of my favorite reliances is upon my car – a symbol of freedom and mobility… Well, until the car doesn’t work or I am injured and can’t even get in or out of the car. Almost the worst thing is not being able to move or go anywhere (so I think). Although the gift of mobility should never be taken for granted, it is not the worst thing. The very worst thing of all is turning away from Jesus Christ’s Lordship over my life when He is the only Provider of true freedom that can be found anywhere; He is the only Tower of Strength.

Another thought from my box of “tower-of-weakness ideas.” I’d like to think that Vitamin D will protect me from viruses like Covid. The vitamin certainly bolsters the immune system, but it is definitely not the critical Tower of Strength I need for the ultimate defense of my life, both physical and eternal. “Silver bullets” that are able to eradicate what is fallen in Creation simply don’t exist… So, why do I try to think so?

My personal “go-to’s” among my “tower-of-weakness ideas” are my own abilities to get work done and achieve a comfortable life, using my own intellect to keep my environment ordered, or using an array of “mother’s-little-helpers” to cope with the stresses of life. I can be pretty sure that I am fully deluded when I rely upon these so-called resources. Having lost complete sight of the True Tower Jesus Christ, I must learn to recognize the competition for my heart and mind that is really going on. The next coffee fix, the next new fad vitamin, the next sugar fix, the next relationship, the next exercise regimen, the next purchase… These are not saviors.

In the collection of prayers from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, in the chapter on “Reliance,” there’s a quote I love that goes like this, “but teach me that I cannot satisfy thy law, that this effort [my fill-in-the-blank: to fulfill my image of good wife, good mother, good daughter, good friend] is a resting in my righteousness, that only Christ’s righteousness, ready made, already finished, is fit for that purpose…”

I must begin again and ask what I am trusting? Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” The competition is always present. Yet the truth is also near, that Jesus Christ is the sufficient Tower of Strength. That He is my best thought, never an afterthought. God’s plan to make us fruitful, mature us, and transforms us happens daily in the context of relationship with Him rather than any of the extraneous things we try to rely upon. Our ever deepening relationship with Jesus Christ and increasing knowing of Him as our true Tower – these form the basis of real defense, guidance, safety, security, and freedom. Backburner faith that makes self-reliance a mixture of occasional reliance on Him for forgiveness and intermittent prayers for sick and hurting friends and family, is simply ineffectual faith.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient…” In the constant tug of war in life, the battle for lordship continues on. Whenever I look to the next thing to fulfill some need, I must learn to stop and realize that Jesus is the supreme and sufficient One, and then turn my attention, my devotion, my invitation to Him – my Strong Tower, my defense, my safety, my guide, my security, my protection. The true Savior.

Afraid Yet Filled With Joy

There is a strange juxtaposition whereby, at the same time, while fear and doubt are trying to capture my heart, the Holy Spirit is pulsing reminders of joy. Joy in my identity as a secure child of God. Joy over my filling with the Hope found in Jesus. Joy in the understanding of God’s great love. And joy in the permanence of God’s Kingdom and Christ’s righteousness in my life.

I love this quote by Elisabeth Elliot: “Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to do the thing we fear. Go straight into the furnace or the lion’s den. Were those men out of touch with their feelings or with reality? No! Nor was the psalmist who said, ‘When I am afraid, I will trust.’ There’s a big difference between feeling and willing.”

Matthew 28:8 says, “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples.” Just as the women at Jesus’s tomb were focused on their devoted love of Christ and their intent on bringing burial spices for His body, an amazing intervention by an angel caused them a mixture of fear and joy in an instant. The angel revealed the very thing they had hoped for – Jesus was not there, He had risen from the dead! They saw proof of His resurrection. But, in that same moment, the emotions of surprise, trepidation, and fright flooded in.

In all the moments of life, I am relieved that I can experience both fear and joy at the same time. Much like the example of childbirth, there is the mishmash of simultaneous thoughts – “I can’t possibly do this thing,” …”give me drugs,”… “I really really can’t wait to meet this little one,”… “one more push,”… “there will be joy in the morning, right?”

That similar mixture of fear and joy is the juxtaposition in the mind and heart of every believer. We see the proliferation of evil and brokenness and many fearful things in our world. All very unsettling and disturbing. We are certainly not out of touch with our feelings or reality. Yet, we know God’s promises in His Word that these things must occur and even greatly increase. These things signal the nearness of Jesus’s 2nd coming, a cause for great joy! So, I pray that God will help us all to manage our “fear and joy” moments so that we will continue to do just what the angel commanded the women at the tomb to “…go quickly and tell His disciples; ‘He has risen’…” (Matt. 28:7).

Matthew 28:9-10 says, “Suddenly [on their way] Jesus met them [the women who had been at the tomb]. ‘Greetings,’ He said. They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshipped Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see Me.’ ” These women were not out of touch with their feelings or reality. These women had stepped out in courage and were willing to obey both the angel at the tomb and Jesus on the way.

In the face of fear, another favorite verse I like is 2 Chronicles 20:12b: “…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” God is always faithful to deliver what is needed when we are both afraid and filled with joy. Take courage in these frequent moments.

Easter Anew

I have been familiar with the Easter story all of my life it seems. Yet, only recently I have realized the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ taking place during the actual time of the Passover (Matthew 26-27). An important detail to be sure. One I never pondered.

Matthew 26:2-5 says, “ ‘As you know, the Passover is two days away – and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.’ Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill Him. ‘But not during the festival,’ they said, ‘or there may be a riot among the people.’ ”

In the Matthew passage, I see that the religious leaders had decided to avoid condemning and killing Jesus during the actual Passover. An important detail. They were afraid that riots would occur. They wanted to keep the matter “hush hush.” Meanwhile, I wonder if they were also trying to suppress their lingering doubts concerning the Truth of the Son of God? Did their consciences bother them? Did they want to keep everything quiet in case they were found to be wrong in condemning to death an innocent man?

There was nothing about Jesus that was going to remain a secret. Evil human planning and plotting at this Passover time in history was going to be exposed by eyewitnesses and Gospel writers. The story of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead would be a resounding story heard around the world for generation after generation. God’s timing would prevail. The story of the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior, the Redeemer. An unstoppable Truth. A continuing decision demander. An ultimate confrontation for every human being on earth.

Knowing that God overruled especially the timing of the religious leaders and that His plan would prevail despite any human manipulations is quite encouraging and comforting. That Jesus would be arrested at the very time that God foreordained, exactly during the Passover commemoration in Jerusalem, and that His sacrifice would fulfill everything that the Passover symbolized – these things have God’s amazing imprint on them. Timing belongs to God alone.

It’s true. God’s Word is new and fresh to me every time I read it, and especially with a story with which I am familiar. The prevalence of God’s sovereign plans and purposes supersedes all human opposition and attempts to determine all outcomes. It is all really up to Him and, as every detail of prophecy is fulfilled, it is difficult to comprehend how anyone cannot believe in Jesus Christ, the true Son of God. But, it also tells me that God’s purposes cannot be thwarted by anything that happens here on earth. We are responsible to hear and take in the Truth and make a decision about it.

This Easter I am pondering God’s sovereignty over timing. He foreordained, before the foundation of the earth, that there would be a Redemption Plan that would be so perfectly fulfilled during an actual Passover observance over 2,000 years ago. I don’t want to miss one important detail in scripture anymore. The Passover symbolism is not lost on me. The Precious Lamb who takes away the sin of the world — Jesus. God’s timing for Him and for us was perfect.

Our Best Thought

One day goes by. The next one comes. Thousands of decisions, small and large, get made. Some have minuscule consequences, others significant. Decisions branch out across the day without so much as a look in the rearview mirror. Not even wide awake, we have first thoughts. Questions really. What day is it? What is on the calendar? What do I need to do first? What is the right thing to do now? Is that coffee I smell?

Better first thoughts. Psalm 11:7 says, “For the Lord is righteous, He loves justice; the upright will see His face.” Jeremiah 23:5 says, ” ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.’ ” Out of the darkness and stillness of a night’s sleep (hopefully), we can emerge into the light of day and start it with an acknowledgement of our Lord and Savior, the Righteous Branch, with His purposes and character soaked in each decision, small and large.

Better first thoughts. By God’s Spirit, one restful sleep state can bleed into another restful awake state. We can assume the restful position of being an “instrument in the hands of the Redeemer” by God’s grace. We can be an overflow of the filling of the fruits of the Spirit raised to materialization. We can be a smaller branch connected to the Righteous Branch. We can find rest that comes from “blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.”

A former colleague of mine once pointed out that Jesus is our best thought. Whenever I heard him offer this perspective to the faculty of a local Christian school, I was reminded of two traditional hymns from my childhood in church – “Jesus, The Very Thought of Thee” and “Be Thou My Vision.” Undoubtedly, Jesus is my best thought, not just a better thought and not a passing thought. The best questions I need to repeat are: This minute whom will I serve? This day how will I reflect my Creator to the world? This week how will I pour out the love and compassion of Christ?

Best first thought. Colossians 1:15-18, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.” I do well to hold on tightly to my “best thought” as the gifts of days unfold.

Best of all. John 1:1-5, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He (Jesus) was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The Story of Kairos Eight25

Kairos Eight25 is a Christian support ministry for women who are experiencing or have experienced infertility, miscarriage, or infant loss. The ministry began as the result of intentional prayer among several women at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church/Williamsburg, VA in the summer of 2019. Prayers continued monthly via Zoom during the Covid-19 pandemic and God then provided much needed scaffolding to prepare us for our “soft opening” on October 20, 2021.

One provision was a name that would communicate the heart of the ministry. Kairos Eight25 was selected. Kairos, a Greek word meaning “the most opportune time,” speaks of God’s timing and Romans 8:25 (NKJV) promises “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”

Next came the need for leadership. God led Gwen Martin (me) and Ali Williamson to serve as co-chairs of the Kairos Eight25 Team and ministry.

Next came the words to communicate our VISION:

Inspired by God’s love and strength, Kairos Eight25 aims to alleviate the aloneness, burden, and grief of women who walk through the valley of infertility and miscarriage. Based upon Romans 8:25, support is offered to refresh women spiritually and emotionally, to preserve expectancy, and to encourage persistence in the hope of the Gospel.

Next came the words to communicate our MISSION:

Kairos Eight25 offers a monthly support group to provide Christ-centered hope to women who are experiencing the loss and loneliness of infertility and miscarriage. Women will walk alongside each other on this journey to provide confidential listening, regular prayer, hopeful messages, and a library of life-breathing resources.

Next came the design for the Kairos Eight25 logo. Amazingly enough, a professional graphic designer in our church offered his services pro bono as a gift of love! He worked closely with the Kairos Eight25 Team to achieve a beautiful result.

Next came the designing of the Kairos Eight25 website (now live! kairos825.com). Our own Co-Chair Ali Williamson created this beautiful website. We look forward to making the Kairos Eight25 ministry easily accessible as an online presence in our community! We also have an Instagram account, @kairos825_williamsburg.

By God’s grace, Kairos Eight25, as a ministry of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, is slated to launch regular monthly meetings starting MONDAY MARCH 14, 7:00-8:30 p.m. We have recently visited many local churches to deliver brochures and get the word out.

Kairos Eight25 is intended to provide loving support and encouragement to women who are grieving losses associated with potential or actual motherhood while making the Gospel clear in their suffering. The ministry will intentionally not provide any direction or opinion regarding personal choices concerning fertility treatments, interventions, physicians, clinics, etc. However, the team has chosen to provide an approved list of Christian resources (books, podcasts, websites, articles, etc.) that speak words of the Lord’s grace and kindness into the specific grief that women experience in infertility, miscarriage, or infant loss.

We pray that you will connect us to women who might need this support ministry by inviting them to a future meeting or sharing information that might be helpful to them. We already have a list of women who have experienced these struggles and have offered to be contacted for one-on-one support meetings/conversations outside of the regular meetings at the church.

If you have suggestions or questions, please feel free to contact members of the Kairos Eight25 Team:

Co-Chair, Gwen Martin, womenmin@gracecovpca.org         

Co-Chair, Ali Williamson, kairos825@gracecovpca.org

Our Preserver

One of the attributes of God is Preserver. He is our Preserver. He lovingly secures our salvation for eternity and maintains His gracious hold on our lives as we love and serve Him and others. Believers are firmly placed in His grip through faith. God safeguards His Word in our lives and He perpetuates our progressive sanctification through His Holy Spirit. We are preserved! We’re in His clutches, defended, conserved, kept, and in a sense frozen solid.

A January snowstorm can bring to mind the good, bad, and ugly of ice and snow. On the one hand, the beauty of new fallen snow in the sunlight is breathtaking. On the other hand, the treachery involved in traveling in the storm or being caught in icy conditions is often underestimated. Finally, there’s the dependence we have on keeping food stored longterm through the means of freezing. Freezing is a means of preserving. Meat is frozen, vegetables are frozen, medications are kept on ice, and the list goes on. And we are acquainted with the panic that happens when thawing happens unannounced by a power outage. We grow very concerned when preservation becomes compromised.

Scripture promises us that God’s preservation of us is without compromise. No power outages threaten us. There is no fear of melting away, no fear of slippage, no fear of being lost. He is our ultimate Preserver. In Him, we can have complete confidence.

God has put important things in place to preserve His children. Deuteronomy 6:24 (NKJV) says, “And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day.” God preserves us through our obedience. Nehemiah 9:6 says, “You alone are the Lord; You have made the heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.” God preserves us through His Creation, the air we breath, the water we drink, the food we eat, the shelters that cover us. Psalm 16:1 says, “Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.” God preserves us through our ever-deepening trust in Him, enabled by His Holy Spirit. These truths are encouraging to me at the start of a new year – 2022…

Also, God preserves us through His protection. Psalm 32:7 says, “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 121:7,8 says, “The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.” Psalm 140:4 says, “Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have purposed to make my steps stumble.” 2 Timothy 4:18 says, “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”

As God’s imagebearers, and as we mature in our faith, we begin to reflect God’s preserving characteristics in our own lives – His righteousness, His truthfulness, His fairness, His sincerity. Psalm 25:21 says, “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You.” He involves us in His plans to reconcile and restore. Isaiah 49:8a says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you; I will preserve you and give you as a covenant to the people, to restore the earth…’ ”

Most importantly, God gave us His Son to preserve us eternally. In Jesus Christ, we experience the gift of salvation and understand that by losing our lives in submission to Him, that our lives become preserved forever. We are secured. We are protected. We are delivered from slavery to sin. We are reflectors of His grace because we have first experienced it in Him. We are sealed. We are forever part of His Kingdom.

Luke 17:33 says, “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” A great promise for 2022!

Everywhere Incognito

I love this quote by C.S. Lewis: “We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.”

God is everywhere. This is one of His attributes. He is omnipresent. Although you can’t find the word “omnipresent” in the Bible, you can find how God’s Word conveys His “everywhereness.”

Jeremiah 23:23-24 (ESV) says, “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.” Psalm 139:8 says, “If I ascend to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there!”

What does this mean to me? Especially as a God-worshipper? With God’s power being everywhere at one time, I realize that the power of God’s supreme enemy surely cannot be everywhere at one time. I take comfort in the limitations God has placed on the power and the presence of Satan. In James 4:7 we are told, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” My resistance ensures that God’s enemy will be away from me. Not present with me. Not capable of “everywhereness.” Out of sight. Out of mind. Out of my presence.

But, not God. When Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven after His resurrection, He promised to send the Holy Spirit to believers. Believers were sealed in this promise and this reality. There is nowhere we can be without His presence. Admittedly, we may ignore His presence or suppress His presence, but He is nevertheless near us because of His “everywhereness.” It is a promise and a seal.

The experience of God’s enduring presence extends to the eternal soul that lives on following bodily death. We may wonder about the mystery of this, but God’s Word gives us pointers. In Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, he indicates that our souls will not sleep even after death (sleep) of the body. We will celebrate the continuing condition of being “with” Him. Luke 23:43 says “today you will be [with] Me in paradise;” 2 Corinthians 5:8 says “away from the body… at home [with] the Lord;” and Philippians 1:21-23 says “to live is Christ, to die is gain… and be [with] Christ.”

By faith, we know that God is everywhere as His Word surely indicates. And, there are great comforts found in God’s “everywhereness.” Here are a few that I’ll end with. Proverbs 15:3 says, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him…” Revelation 21:3 says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.’ “

“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God.” He keeps watch. He goes with us. He does not leave us. He gives strong support. He dwells with us. He is everywhere. He is the God Who is at hand. Omnipresent.

Many Are The Wonders

When I look out of my front window of 35 years, at my favorite time of the year (around Thanksgiving), when color is still on the trees, I think of Psalm 40:5 – “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders You have done, the things You planned for us. None can compare with You; were I to speak and tell of Your deeds, they would be too many to declare.”

All in God’s plan. This piece of property, hidden in the depths of a wooded community. The manner in which this location for our family was revealed to my husband many years ago. The way our family became completed in this spot. The refuge it has been while keeping us near to work and school and church commitments.

Many are the wonders! Quirky flamingo ornamentations. Prolific wildlife of the good, bad, and ugly variations. Plenty of shade and privacy. Even a creek view in the winter. And yes, technically it is a swamp somehow survived by past generations I guess without bug repellent, chain saws, and severe allergies (but how? is the question). Still, it is our peaceful place, swamp or not. Home.

Nothing can compare to God’s grace in this homeplace. There are too many stories to tell which would declare God’s mercy here. Three children and six grandchildren later, we marvel at our heritage of faith and unconcealed love for God, but acknowledge that His work is never finished, even after 35 years.

As older means wiser, we more often count our blessings, knowing it started with a Savior born in a stable and a Lord Who would wrestle us all down and teach us humility, a thing He had planned for us in this wonderful place. Many, Lord my God, are the wonder You have done…

Later in Psalm 40, verse 10 says, “I do not hide Your righteousness in my heart; I speak of Your faithfulness and Your saving help. I do not conceal Your love and Your faithfulness from the great assembly.” Not unexpectedly, our faith has been challenged, tested and measured in 35 years. We are a household of admitted control freaks, authority haters, easily given to stress and perfectionism, short on patience, and big on independence. But God has been faithful to take His gracious sandpaper and file us down. Of course, there are scars… His work continues…

Still, when I look out of my front window of 35 years, the sunrise of God’s love and faithfulness, new every morning, is blinding and pure. And, of course the beauty of this place is a physical wonder because the chief landscaper is meticulous (and it is not me). However, the spiritual wonder is like the Christmas tree lights! They sparkle, they cast away the darkness, and they whisper miracles. Many are the wonders!

I am grateful that Christmas becomes the pathway to Easter in my heart, now and forever. It starts with a Savior born in a stable and ends with the Lord Himself Who gave us the gift of faith and life, and even specifically placed us in this certain location, in this certain home, with these certain family members, for such a time as this. Many are the wonders!

Prayer At Church This Morning

GCPC Congregational Prayer – Nov. 28, 2021

Almighty God, You are the Holy and Compassionate God Who gives us eternal hope in Christ. This morning we lift Your Name high as we meditate upon Your abounding Goodness, Your Truth, and Your faithfulness to all generations. With humility we approach Your Throne of Grace with freedom and confidence, understanding that You see us and hear our prayers.

Holy Spirit, we ask that Your providential purposes in our nation, state, and local governmental agencies be fulfilled and that believers who serve in government, military, or in first-responder capacities will look to You for wisdom and courage to lead as You direct. Give us pure motives as we live in obedience to Your Word and live in accordance with governing authorities.

Gracious Father, we are thankful for all those who worship You. Thank You for Your transformative work to change our lives so that we might reflect the love of Jesus and the power of the Gospel. We ask that You would bring great encouragement to our church staff with our determined and continual prayer support. Give us all the desire to serve in the church, thereby lightening the burdens of responsibility necessary to complete the gospel work in our community and the world, to which God has called each of us.

With Thanksgiving, we raise our hearts and voices, remembering that this season is one that leads us to the celebration of our Savior’s birth and reminds us of our enduring spiritual treasures found in Him alone. We pray that in every Christmas-related outreach to our community and world during this season that You will bring the Gospel to the forefront, moving hearts to embrace the great gift of Your Son Jesus.

Father, we ask for Your protection and provision for our missionaries, military personnel and others who risk their lives to serve You in hostile places. We ask You to strengthen the hope and perseverance of the persecuted church around the world. We pray that, by Your Grace, the spread of the gospel would be unhindered in all areas where it has been previously prevented.

We praise You for the gift of new life. We pray that you will continually protect and provide health to our expectant mothers and their unborn children. We praise You for recent births in our church family, and especially your healing work in reversing the effects of perilous birth complications among these. As well, we ask for Your tender care of our women who face great losses in unfulfilled motherhood. We pray for effective outreach to provide care to women facing those hard seasons.

Great Physician, we pray for an end to the pandemic and its suffering. We pray for those most vulnerable to the virus or those who are already infected —, the elderly, the weak, those with chronic conditions, the poor, the hungry and the isolated. Let us meanwhile continue in our loving commitment to protect our family members, neighbors, and friends from its harm. For the sick, the lonely, the grieving, and the disconnected in our church, we ask for Your intervention, both spiritually and physically. For those suffering with recurring health challenges, we ask that You provide them with the gifts of perseverance and steadfast hope, even when circumstances do not lessen or become removed. We also ask that You carry those who have recently lost loved ones through the valley of grief with a great sense of Your presence, mercy, and comfort.

We pray for the next generation – our college students and our young people. We ask that they come to fully trust in You, Lord, and become like trees planted by streams of water, whose leaves are always green and who yield fruit even when the heat of drought comes. May they not conform to the pattern of this world, but instead develop a keen ability to test and approve Your perfect and pleasing will. Give them great discernment and great dependence upon Your Holy Spirit for strength and endurance.

Rock of Ages, grant us all, adults and children, fresh confidence that “there is no future where You are not present, no sorrow where You are not near, no tears not kept in Your bottle, and no locust-eaten years You will not restore (quote from a prayer by Walter Henegar, Senior Pastor of Atlanta Westside Presbyterian Church).”

Today move us to reflect Your generosity with our tithes and offerings. Open our hearts to the message of Your Word preached here today.  Create in us a receptive spirit and an open heart, and a new energy to be obedient and fruitful in Your Kingdom.

In the Name Above All Names, Jesus Christ Our Lord, we offer these prayers. Amen.