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January 8, 2018, 3:27 PM

Pastor's New Year Message

Welcome 2018!! Does it seem to you that we all blinked and 2017 became history?  President Trump has been in office a full year, Easter, Christmas and every holiday were here and gone in a flash.  It will seem like 2018 will go even faster.  Since the pace life seems like it is accelerating it is all the more important to take time to slow down and assess what is happening around us.  When life is fast and furious we crave peace and comfort, when life is depressing we yearn for encouragement, when life is exhausting we crave rest.  As we embark on a new year, it is important to ask where peace, encouragement and rest can come from? If we seek and trust Him, God is the source of these life giving things and more for us and for those around us. 

As Paul attests God is the source of grace, peace, comfort and encouragement even in the midst of the harshest trails and tribulations of life. In the beginning of his 2nd letter to the church at Corinth Paul writesGrace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.   Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.   If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.  

We do not want you , to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.   Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.   He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us..(2Co 1:2-10). The word translated as “comfort” in the NIV could also be translated as “encourage”.  God gives comfort and encouragement to us so that we are blessed and are a blessing to others. That fact is that everyone has a constant need for encouragement during the daily trials of life.  Encouragement requires understanding of truth and love together.  Encouragement fully acknowledges the truth of hardship but then adds love to inspire people to hope and action. Paul makes it clear that the God of love and truth is the perfect source of encouragement. People are so needy for encouragement we are capable of seeking it from many things. Hardships put the sources of encouragement to the test.  Death is the ultimate test.   All sources of encouragement other than God may hold for a time but ultimately collapse under the pressure that Paul calls deadly peril. Christ sought His encouragement from God even through the hardship of the cross and emerged victorious from the tomb.  Paul received the sentence of death but sought encouragement from fellowship with Christ. 

Every one of us faces tribulation in life and ultimately will face death. Every source of encouragement other than God will fail, but the encouragement and comfort that come from God will deliver us and continue to deliver us as Paul attests.       Life seems to becoming more and more fast and furious. We face a sense of futility and may even feel sentence of death threatening our comfort and encouragement.  If that is the case we may be encouraged by something other that the God, the Holy Spirit, the God of all encouragement and comfort. As the chapter of our lives is written in 2018, I seek the eternal encouragement and comfort from God that gives life to us and to others through us as we live in His encouragement.                Jon

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