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Easter Sermon

A Message From Our Pastor

April 2, 2020

Greetings my Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I hope that this letter finds you doing well and staying healthy.

I wanted to send along a note to all y’all to let you know that we are still connected as family. So, since we are all in this one together, we might as well make the most of it—for God’s glory and for our good.

Here are a few ideas that I hope will be helpful as we face the uncertainty that our future seems to hold:

While we are mostly stuck at home waiting out this pandemic, may I suggest that we use our time (that we sure have a lot more of) to work on cultivating good habits and getting rid of bad habits. We are created with 1) a spirit, 2) a soul—composed of our mind or intellect, our emotions, and our will—and 3) a body. What if we used this stay-at-home time to allow our Heavenly Father to make improvements that will please Him in all three areas of our design?

The most easily neglected but most important part of us (to God) is our spirit. When we became Christians, God, Who is Spirit, came to live inside us and it is that spirit-part of us that enables us to relate to Him in a loving, real, personal, intimate relationship. He wants our relationship with Him to grow closer and stronger every day. How is it that any of our relationships grow stronger and closer? There really is only one main way, isn’t there? It is by spending time together. To make your spirit stronger, work on your relationship with the Lord, by spending time with Him. We do that when we pray and “cast all of our care upon Him.” (I Peter 5:7) No one could argue that we are living in an unprecedented time and there is a lot of uncertainty about the future which sometimes can cause anxiety. But knowing that our Father is still in control and that He has promised (by His Presence in us) that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” if we will “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6-7) Let’s not forget that communication goes both ways: In our attitude of prayer and as we are focused on Him, we need to not just tell Him all about our concerns, but listen to Him as well.

We can also use our time to read and study His Word. In a way, Jesus embodies The Word. The Gospel of John puts it this way: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14. If you are unsure about Who this is referring to, please see John 1:1-2. It is Jesus—He is The Word.) Many of you have study Bibles, with helpful footnotes at the bottom of each page to increase understanding of the Scripture. Study Bibles are very powerful tools that God will use to teach us His Word. Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not supposing that the footnotes are inspired like we know God’s Scriptures are, but footnotes are written by scholarly men and women who have studied the Scripture and who can help get across the meaning, or background, or audience that was intended to receive the message, etc. Our Heavenly Father will open His Mouth to speak to us when we open His Word, read it, and understand it.

Reading our Bible is a good way to enhance our mental capacity as we work on the second aspect of our design—our soul. Finding other good books to read will help to keep our minds active while we are being encouraged to not leave home. Books that can give us ideas about how to break bad habits and books about how to cultivate good habits, books about interesting people who accomplished great things (and virtually all had to overcome some major obstacles to do it), books that teach a new skill, like piano, guitar, or chess. There are lots of Christian books that are available to be ordered online, or at Walmart, or free in our small Church library. These and a lot of others can help us keep our minds occupied and growing.

When it comes to our emotions, we must acknowledge that our Creator made us “in His Image.” He designed each of us to be in a relationship with Him, which must mean that a major part of our well-being will be tied up in relationships with others. We were not meant to live our lives in isolation (where we find ourselves now because of this pandemic). We are social creatures, by His design, and it is going to be important that we do our best to continue to reach out to each other while we are self-quarantined. Find new and innovative ways to stay in touch with family, friends, and Church family. Take time to think about and pray for someone that God has put in your life and on your heart, then write them a note or letter expressing your love, admiration, and appreciation and prayers that they are in your life. Facetime and other apps using your smartphone can allow you to almost “be there” in person with them.

Our will is our Decision Center. As in life, so also in true faith, it is not enough just to say we want to do something, or that we believe something, we must follow up that desire or belief with action. Suppose I felt like God was leading me to set a regular time for prayer and Bible study. If I really believed Him and that this was His Will for me, the first thing I would do is ask for His Help. He is the Almighty and is there anything that can resist His Will? So, I can know that with His Help, I can accomplish His Will for me. Receiving His Direction and then making a decision to follow with a commitment and discipline, can be His Way of helping me make tremendous, beneficial changes in my life. Starting off with small steps in the direction that He is leading is OK—at least it is heading in the right direction, isn’t it? Maybe that would be saying that I will meet with the Lord every morning at eight, or every evening at six, and, at first it might be for only five minutes for prayer and ten minutes for Bible study. This is an example that I hope everyone can relate to, and that now would be a great time to work on aligning our life with God and His Word. This would be for His Glory and for our good.

When we think about improvements of our body, and making decisions, here’s a thought: What if we set a goal for our ideal weight and committed ourselves, that with God’s Help, we would lose one pound per week until we reach our goal? Do you know how much weight you would have to lose each day (through eating less and moving more) in order to lose one pound a week? Let’s see, there are 16 ounces per pound, divide that by seven days in a week, and you get a little over two ounces (2.3 oz.) each day. That would be like not eating the equivalent weight of about two letters, that’s all! (A letter sent by first class mail can weigh up to one ounce, otherwise it would take additional postage.) Now, don’t get mad at me when I ask this next question: How much weight would I lose in one year if I lost one pound per week? I’m not suggesting that YOU need to lose that much weight. Exercise can help us to not only lose weight but is a great stress reliever as well. But can’t you see how empowering in your life it could be to decide to make even small, very subtle changes? And after you see some success, you will feel better about yourself and your accomplishments!

Another good idea: Combining getting outside and walking with prayer. This prayer-walking would not be just good exercise, it is a way of lifting your neighbors to the Lord in prayer as you walk past their house. Honor the Lord and live out “The Golden Rule” and “Be kind one to another.” (Ephesians 4:32)

Easter Sunday morning, April 12th, we hope to have a Drive-in Worship service in the parking lot of the church-house. In our car, we can only bring our family or those who live with us, and we will all have to stay inside our cars—no exceptions—and park more than six feet apart. We cannot pass anything from one car to another. We will set up a sound system for amplification and our Praise Team will lead us in worship music. After all, it is Easter! Our Governor has said that churches may have these types of services as long as we abide by these social distancing guidelines.

Beginning this Sunday, we hope to be able to have online lessons and sermons for you. You can get these on our Facebook page and YouTube channel:

God be with you and we pray that you and your family stay healthy.

“Sharing Christ in our neighborhood,”

—Brother Jim