May 21, 2020
"Come near to God and he will come near to you.'"
- James 4:8
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
"Wash your hands, you sinners!" - believe it or not, that is an actual quote from James 4! It is amazing how relevant scripture can be, and how we can read the same passage dozens of times but in a new situation, it takes on a completely new meaning.
As we have seen in the first three chapters of James, the author wants us to live with integrity, making sure we live out our faith by our actions. He uses some of the strongest words yet in chapter 4, and many of these words are particularly appropriate for where we are in May 2020. He opens the chapter with, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" (James 4:1). What desires are battling within us and our country right now to make everything a fight?
James wants his readers to know very clearly, "Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God" (James 4:4). The world wants us divided, angry, jealous, fearful, distrustful, and selfish. The Lord wants us to have clean hands and a pure heart, living humbly and in submission to the Lord. It reminds me of Paul's words in Philippians: "In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" (Phil 2:3-4).
Are we going to lean into the Lord or are we going to bend with the cultural winds swirling around us? I think much of this comes down to trust. Are we going to trust the Lord and his provision and plans for us, or are we going to trust whatever part of the world we can control ourselves? James ends the chapter by challenging, "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow!" (James 4:13-14).
Never in our lives did we dream it would be so hard to know what would happen tomorrow. Think about all the plans you made in January for 2020 and how different they are now. We have lived for years with the illusion that we could control our situations and trust our plans. Instead of trusting in ourselves or in things we think we can control, James reminds us to put our trust in the Lord. He tells us to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that" (James 4:15).
Several times over the past two months, I have reminded you of the quote from Corrie Ten Boom, "Do not be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God." The most solid thing we can possibly do is to press on to know the Lord (Hosea 6:3). Whatever tomorrow or next week or next month holds, we do know who holds the future, and He holds each one of you in the palm of His hand.
Are you plugged into a small group? We have groups meeting almost every day of the week, and we have groups for Tweeners, Middle School and High School, Young Adults, just women, just men, and coed groups. We would love to get you connected! And the Lamplighters Sunday School class just started meeting again as well. If you are interested in becoming part of one of these groups, please contact us at 412-531-3387 or
Hour of Prayer (formerly known as Sundays at Seven):
A group of us are gathering on Zoom every Sunday at 7pm to pray together, and we would love to have you join us! Here is the Zoom link for a computer, tablet, or mobile phone:
. You can also call in from a regular phone - dial 1-646-558-8656 and enter the Meeting ID - 925 6196 4416. For more info, contact Pat Gaudio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week we have the privilege of commissioning Marcia Pratt as a new Stephen Minister. Stephen Ministers are caring lay people who can provide emotional and spiritual support for those who are experiencing significant challenges in their lives like loneliness, separation, divorce, illness, or loss.
If you are interested in hearing more about this ministry, either as one interested in training to become a Stephen Minister as someone who might need some extra care, please contact the church.
Again, please let us know if there is any way we can support you or connect with you during this season. We need to be here for each other now more than ever. The email,
, has been set up so you can send us any needs, prayer requests, or just updates on how you are doing. And you are always welcome to
call us at 412-531-3387.