We want to invite Graduate students and young adults to a fall book study of J. Gresham Machen’s classic, “Christianity and Liberalism”. The group plans to begin on October 8. For more information or to sign up email Jacob Hawkins at [email protected] or Casey Palanca at [email protected]
This Sunday (September 20) we are collecting snacks to make care packages for quarantined students. The packages will include a letter communicating that we are praying for them and where they can find information about our church.
- cookies (store bought or in plastic bags)
- fruit (that has a long shelf life and doesn’t get beat up)
- the URC Kitchen Sunday morning (9/20)
If you would like to help with delivering, email Kevin McAlvey at [email protected]. Let’s pray that this will be a step towards more MSU students hearing the gospel.
All women are invited to gather for a picnic fellowship at Granger Meadows Park on Monday, September 21 from 11am-1pm. Bring your own lunch and meet at the pavilion by the playground. (East entrance off of Wood St., then first right into the parking lot.). Contact Karen Zeilstra with questions.
by Allan Knapp
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5
These verses in Hebrews are in the midst of a famous set of commands: “Let brotherly love continue,” “Show hospitality to strangers,” “Remember those who are in prison,” “Let marriage be held in honor.” And then, “Keep your life free from love of money” and “be content with what you have.”
Wow. How can we possibly do all those things? We can’t. By ourselves we can’t summon contentment or fulfill any of these healthy ordinances. But the verse offers hope because it tells WHY we can be content even as we fail in all the other areas.
Note first that money is not the problem. As 1 Timothy 6:10 famously says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” Love of money is likely a bad thing. Love of money is not THE root of ALL evils, just a root of all kinds of evils. Rich and poor people can both have an unhealthy love of money. Rich and poor people can be generous and God-honoring with all their possessions. As Pastor Jason said in a sermon recently, “It’s about the heart, Christian.” So be free from the love of money, AND be content with what you have.
But wait, we know that envy and jealousy are not good things, but what about goals and aspirations, and striving for improvement? Surely this verse is not telling us to be couch potatoes? Certainly not. Ambition and a good work ethic are positive things, and it is good to have a plan and set goals. However, the key thing to remember as you work toward your goals is what you have right now. This simple phrase and trustworthy promise allows you to be content: God has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
If you have God, you have everything. No matter what life throws at you, no matter how your goals and aspirations and striving turn out, no matter how much success (or how much of a failure) you have… you can be content because God is with you.
Consider these verses:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18
I am sure that neither death nor life, nor rulers nor angels, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
It is worth repeating: If you have God, you have everything. Be content with what you have.
Email pastor Kevin at [email protected] if you would like to sign up for an online only Growth Group this fall. The group will begin in early October and meet three times a month for prayer and a short devotional.
Join us for the first outdoor version of the URC Men’s Breakfast on Saturday, September 26 from 8:00-9:30 am under the outdoor tent. Join your URC brothers for fellowship and a provided breakfast from Chick-Fil-A. Due to bringing in the food from outside, we are asking that you register so we have a head count. If you would like to bring a dish to pass as well that would be great! Please register here
by Tim Herwaldt
17Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.
When we read this passage from Habakkuk 3 it sounds like a great hymn expressing Habakkuk’s faith in the sure provision of the Lord. But that is not how the book named after the prophet began, and it took a while for him to get to this point. How he got to the place of expressing this confidence in the Lord is a great lesson for us, especially in light of the appearance of the world around us currently.
The book opens with Habakkuk expressing dismay at the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel. Does this sound familiar? Chapter 1 leads out with his complaint about the state of affairs and the voicing of his puzzlement about the Lord’s apparent lack of action in the face of this.
O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.
This sounds rather like, “Lord, look at the gross unfaithfulness of this nation. Don’t you care? Why don’t you do something?”
In verses 5-11 of chapter one, the Lord answers Habakkuk’s complaint, but it was not the answer that he was expecting. In essence the Lord says, “Listen closely. You won’t believe this! I’m going to send the Chaldeans to punish Israel!” Then he proceeds to describe the ruthlessness and fierceness of the people that he will use as his rod of punishment.
This prompts another complaint from Habakkuk. In verses 12-17 he cries out in disbelief. “What? You’ll use someone even more wicked than Israel as your means of punishment?” He was concerned initially, but now he is completely confused.
As chapter two begins, the prophet declares his intent to watch and see what the Lord will do. The Lord responds by giving him a vision and telling him to write it down and wait for it because it will surely come to pass. He assures Habakkuk that he knows full well how despicable the Chaldeans are and pronounces five woes against them because of their great wickedness. The final of these is a woe pronounced over those who worship a god who is not the one true God, and concludes with this admonition in verse 20: “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”
Finally, Habakkuk begins to understand. Chapter three is the prayer that he prays in which — and this is the key to his finally understanding — he reminds himself of who this God is that he serves. He remembers his might and power and his mighty acts, and as he completes this rehearsal he says in verse 16,
I hear, and my body trembles;
my lips quiver at the sound;
rottenness enters into my bones;
my legs tremble beneath me.
Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble
to come upon people who invade us.
Now he is able to voice the confidence that he expresses in the passage quoted at the top of this page. It is worthwhile paying attention to the description of the conditions that Habakkuk realizes might come to pass. The picture he paints is one where he is potentially bereft of the very necessities of life. Yet he will rejoice in the Lord!
This should be a great encouragement to us. Even when the world around us looks utterly confusing, even when it looks as though things are coming undone at the seams, our God is on the throne, he is accomplishing his good purposes, and he is for us.
On Sunday, August 16, as Pastor Jason finished up the summer series on the faith of Abraham, one of his final points was that Abraham was able to pass the test of faith because he had his priorities in good order. Abraham did not need to know the “why” behind what he was called on to do, because he knew the “who.” He was able to trust the heart behind a puzzling providence. The same is true of Habakkuk. He reminded himself of who God is and thus was able to trust him through another puzzling providence.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the same God of Habakkuk is our God, and he is trustworthy!
Women are invited to a time of fellowship under the tent at URC on Saturday, September 12 from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm. Bring your own coffee. Snacks will be provided.
“Until I went into the sanctuary of God” – Psalm 73:17a
For the first sixteen verses of the Psalm 73, David surveys the world around him and is ready to give up on God. Things aren’t working out how he would orchestrate them. The ungodly are prospering while the godly face difficulty. Following God seems to be in vain. But then David comes into God’s presence. When he does so, nothing changes, and yet everything changes. None of David’s circumstances are altered, but David’s attitude before and after could not be more different.
David’s honest example in this Psalm expresses the battle of all God’s people. Are we going to use the world around us to understand God or are we going to start with God and interpret everything else through the lens of who he is? Like looking through opposite ends of a telescope, these two approaches lead to dramatically different views of both God and the world.
Consider the Israelite spies in Numbers 13. God has brought his people to the very edge of the land he has promised to give them, and twelve men are chosen to scout it out. All twelve see the same land, the same people, and the same crops. Yet when they return they see the whole situation very differently. Ten, with the eyes of flesh, see tall walls and strong men and encourage God’s people to fear. Two, with the eyes of faith, see their God against whose promises nothing can prevail, and they implore the people to trust.
Peter faces the same challenge when invited to walk on water: Will he look at Jesus or the rolling waves (Matthew 14)? Adam and Eve have to decide between the words God has given them and the fruit which the serpent points out and looks so good (Genesis 3). All the saints of old have had to fight for faith and against unbelief: Noah, Abraham, Joshua, Ruth, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Paul, and the disciples when they saw their savior on a cross, just to name a few.
And so must you and I. When we allow God to be examined in light of the events of earth, we will always find him lacking. Our human wisdom just isn’t up to the task. However, when we begin with God — his character, his promises, and his past faithfulness —we find the world makes a lot more sense no matter what the circumstances.
So, enter into his sanctuary. Orient yourself toward his reality. Immerse yourself in his revelation through the scriptures. Seek him in prayer. In his presence there is peace that passes understanding, hope that will never disappoint, and fullness of joy. As you start a new day, a new week, a new semester, start with God and join with David in confidently declaring, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:28).
To promote equipping the saints for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:12) URC is offering its Biblical and Theological Foundations course this Fall. If you are interested in growing in your knowledge of Scripture and theology, and your ability to minister the Word to those around you, this class is for you. The class is a prerequisite for those interested in serving URC as an elder or deacon one day, but it is open to all members of the church — both men and women — with a heart to grow in leadership in the church.