Rest and Focus

Dear Friends,                                                                                                             March 29, 2020
Good morning, this third Sunday of the temporary new normal.

Perhaps God is trying to get our attention by saying to the world, SLOW DOWN, REST, Listen to Me, Look at Me! Turn your eyes to Jesus.

God created us for work and rest. He placed Adam and Eve as overseers of the animals and the land in the Garden of Eden and He commanded them to rest every 7th day, just as He rested the 7th day after creating the previous six. God was, and continues to be serious about our need to rest every seven days! Over and over throughout His Word people are admonished and commanded to rest.

God is so serious about our setting the 7th day aside that it’s the 4th Commandment:

Ex 20:8 – 10 “Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. 9 You have six days to labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Shabbat for Adonai your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work — not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. Complete Jewish Study Bible

The commandment to observe the Sabbath rest has 2 purposes:
1) Remember the Creator
2) Set the day aside to rest in Him

We’re not very good at resting, are we? The world is full of demands and distractions. We people are full of selfish desires as well as obligations that seem to take priority over our relationship with our Creator.

Be calm.
This is a time to cherish
Lean into the enforced stay at home regulations|
To fix your eyes on Jesus.

John 8:1 – 11 tells the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.
Jesus had entered the temple early that morning where the people crowded around Him. He was teaching the crowds when suddenly the religious leaders pushed their way through the crowd, dragging a woman. In the middles of all the people they demanded that Jesus answer what the lawful course of action should be. Of course they knew but they wanted to trap Him so they could have grounds of accusing and condemning Jesus.
Instead of directly answering the question, Jesus calmly wrote on the ground.

When they kept questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “The one of you who is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he bent down and wrote in the dust again. On hearing this, they began to leave, one by one, the older ones first, until he was left alone, with the woman still there. 10 Standing up, Yeshua said to her, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 She said, “No one, sir.” Yeshua said, “Neither do I condemn you. Now go, and don’t sin any more.”

The thing is – the two of them were still standing in the middle of the crowd of people vs 10. He was left alone, and the woman, where she had been, in the midst.
For the two of them it’s as though no one else is there. The woman who’d been cowering in fear of her life has no eyes for anyone but Jesus. Their focus is so intent on each other, everything else becomes peripheral.

This week focus on Jesus, the judge and savior of our souls, so intently that all fear and anxiety melts away. Have eyes only for Him.

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

John 17:33 These things I have spoken unto you that in Me you might have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

Scotts Mills Friends YouTube website

Bible Project “What is the Sabbath?”

 

Still worshiping!

Dear Friends, 
Do you wonder if God is saying to the world, “Be still and know that I am God; exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.”?  Psalm 46:10

Worship services have been cancelled due to taking our responsibility of limiting the possibility of infection, no fear!
Of all people, Christians should have no fear of death, the step into reality of true life with God!
2 Corinthians 5:1 – 2, 8 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

While as believers in Jesus Christ we are not afraid of death it is our responsibility to choose life. It is not our right to put others at harm, even unintentionally. That is the problem with the coronavirus – people may not know they are infected, meanwhile they’re shedding the virus, unwittingly causing it to spread.

The US is in the stage when extreme measures are being taken to keep this virus from spreading as much as possible. The restrictions may seem insane and over the top fear-mongering. But would you rather take precautions for the sake of others or unknowingly cause someone’s illness and even perhaps death – someone who may not know the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ who paid the price for our sins?

We cancelled services not from fear for ourselves but from the desire to keep our loved ones and friends healthy.

God wants us to live in ways that take into account the community’s health. There are many references in the Old Testament for cleanliness and minimizing exposure to communicable diseases. God knows how rampantly infections and disease will spread through a community of people who don’t take precaution. He set up firm guidelines to keep people from contaminating each other. Yes, we’re in a completely different era far removed from wandering the desert without benefit of medical knowledge and intervention but infections are spread in the same way as they were then.

God doesn’t need us to be in a church building to worship Him. Some people’s best worship experiences come from being alone with God: Listening to Him, reading His Word – the Textbook for living an abundant life in Jesus.

I’m looking forward to when meetings will be resumed: To the joy of being together, worshiping and learning in the presence of each other. I believe that God can use this time to give His people a renewed zeal for Him, a fresh vision, an eagerness to see where His will leads us!

This is just a season, one in which I believe God wants us to grow in new ways:

More compassionate
More reflective
More aware of Him, of others
More in tuned with Him

Less need to be on the go, to be doing busyness of life, needing entertainment to amuse us.

Let’s use this time well to dig deep into the fullness of God, to restore rest and health and wellbeing.
Thankful for His abundant goodness, joy and everlasting love!

Rejoice in the day and may the peace of God fill you! I encourage you all to read the Gospel of John.
If that seems too overwhelming, read chapters 6 – 8.

Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Wanda Jenkins, Pastor