Encouragement for Thursday

Many times I have heard people use the expression “The good die young.” It is often used to try to soften the effect of someone young passing away, but it is hogwash. Someone good might indeed die young. Our savior Jesus experienced His earthly death at a young age. No other human has ever been as good as He was. Noah died at the age of 950. It would be a stretch to call that young in any possible way. Yet Noah belonged to God and dedicated his life to serving Him and showing His glory. I believe Noah would be considered good. The choices we make in life can certainly affect how long we live, but the length of our earthly life doesn’t depend on our being “good” or “bad.”

I considered these thoughts because of a recent news item. Lucile Randon, known as Sister Andre, died on January 17, 2023 at the age of 118. She was recognized as the oldest living person on Earth. In 3 more weeks she would have reached 119. Sometimes at my current age I feel old and I am roughly half that age.

It is somewhat staggering to read of the things that she related as influences in her life. She spoke of learning a new word, “electricity,” when electric lights came to her school in the early 1900’s. She said that the day she felt happiest was Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War I, and she was able to be reunited with her soldier brother. She lived through the worldwide Spanish flu epidemic in 1918 as a teenager. She was baptized at age 26, and dedicated herself to service as a nun in the Catholic Church with the Daughters of Charity 15 years later. She was assigned to work at a hospital in Vichy (occupied) France during World War II and worked there 31 years. She spent much of her life serving orphans and the elderly. She kept working in active service to others to the age of 108. She lived at a nursing home in Toulon, France, and became the oldest person to recover from COVID in 2021. Until her death she was recognized for trying to positively influence her neighbors.

When asked about the reason for her longevity she replied “Only the good Lord knows.” She believed that continuing to work helped keep her going. She also ate chocolate and drank a glass of wine daily. I think there is some benefit from blending enjoyment in life with fulfilling work. She echoed Paul’s belief that she would be better off in Heaven (“I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Philippians 1:23-24)). As she aged she lost her eyesight, and had trouble hearing. Her body became weaker, but her mind and spirit kept her trying to benefit those around her. In one of her last interviews she said “People should help each other and love each other instead of hating. If we all shared that, things would be a lot better.”

I don’t know if I will die this year or if I will live to be 100. To borrow Sister Andre’s line, “Only the good Lord knows.” It is a bit overwhelming to think about living to 100. In any case her life serves as both an example and a challenge. I can only hope to be as faithful and as useful to God and His service when I am at an advanced age. Our society seems to make us feel that we become less valuable as we get older. Is it possible that in God’s sight we become even more valuable?

Take heart and be encouraged!

January 22, 2023 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, January 22, 2023, at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

DownloadWorship Guide for January 22, 2023

Online giving is available here

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CALL TO WORSHIP — Psalm 27:1, 4
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.

Immortal Invisible

How Great Is Our God

GRACE & ASSURANCE  — Micah 7:18-19
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
    because he delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us;
he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.

His Mercy Is More

The Risen Christ

SERMON

“The Surpassing Worth of Knowing Christ Jesus” – Phil. 3:4-11

Knowing You

BENEDICTION

Encouragement for Thursday

I can sense a question coming: “Joel, why do we see a picture of the left rear fin of a 1957 Buick Special? It isn’t particularly encouraging.” It is a reminder of a memorable time for many (although before my memory). Our country and economy were generally strong. Family and church life maintained primary importance with many people. Many even loved the bold, flashy styling of cars like this Buick.

This picture wasn’t included for any of these reasons. If you look closely in the chrome on the fin, bumper, and trim, you can see reflections of me (or at least parts of me). “Oh yeah Joel, now that you mention it, I CAN see you. At least your distorted head and some of your body and arms. Well, it doesn’t look totally like you, but I see at least a partial resemblance.”

“Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-12, CSB)

I believe I am generally a patient person. But there are times I find myself thinking, “Why can’t I pray more effectively?” “Why can’t I explain things better?” “Why don’t I listen as well as I should?” “Why am I not a more consistent example of Christ?” I believe Paul considered some of the same lines of thought for the benefit of all believers. In the passage above Paul mentions abilities and qualities that help us to mature. The intended meaning of the word “perfect” there is not “flawless” as we tend to understand it as modern Americans. The idea of the word (telos) in Greek is “completion,” “finish,” “end,” or “goal.” The lifetime sanctification we experience as believers leads us from being children in faith to mature adults, ready to meet Christ when He returns.

Our ultimate goal is reaching the point when the most obvious, shining characteristic we show is God’s love. It takes time—a lifetime, in fact. Our dedication to faith and hope in Christ will help us reach the finality of our development in God’s love. It may not be at the pace that we would like, but it will be at the pace God knows we need. Don’t forget the Spirit’s help. One day we won’t be an imperfect reflection, but a clear image of His love and nature!

Take heart and be encouraged!

January 15, 2023 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, January 15, 2023, at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

DownloadWorship Guide for January 15, 2023

Online giving is available here

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CALL TO WORSHIP — Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

The Solid Rock

In Christ Alone

GRACE & ASSURANCE  — James 1:2-4
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect,
that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Christ is Mine Forevermore

COMMUNION

SERMON

“Rejoice in the Lord (But Know What It Means)” – Phil. 3:1-3

Just As I Am

BENEDICTION

Encouragement for Thursday

Recently I read an article discussing our fascination with New Year’s day. It contained a quote I don’t remember reading before:

“I wish for those I love this New Year an opportunity to earn sufficient, to have that which they need for their own and to give that which they desire to others, to bring in to the lives of those about them some measure of joy, to know the satisfaction of work well done, of recreation earned and therefore savored, to end the year a little wiser, a little kinder and therefore a little happier.” (Eleanor Roosevelt, in a column from “My Day” on January 1, 1937)

I wonder how acquainted she was with The Scripture because her thoughts parallel Biblical teachings. Ecclesiastes came to my mind immediately:

“This is what I observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20)

Intertwined in her words is the message of Jesus in Matthew 7:9-12:

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

I think sometimes I miss the gifts of God in my present because I am either dwelling in my past or yearning for my future. I am reminded of a quote by Allen Saunders (often incorrectly attributed to John Lennon, who later used it in a song): “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” Sometimes our past offers motivation—we either want to repeat something that worked well for us, or change something that didn’t. Our future, especially as believers, means an eternal future in God’s presence. It is hard to not look forward to that. Our present is our life. Every day we live for God’s glory, learning and maturing a little bit each day along the way. That development shows that we belong to Christ, and that the Spirit lives in us. The development and display of who we belong to serves to reach others for Christ whether we realize it or not. Every day matters. When Christ returns, all of our days will help prepare us to meet Him as mature servants.

Lord, help us to receive comfort and strength from remembering our past. Help us to receive comfort and strength from looking to our future, knowing that our eternity lies with You. Let that comfort and strength serve us each day in our present, so that we can be your agents here on Earth, letting the world see You. Amen!

Take heart and be encouraged!

January 8, 2023 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, January 8, 2023, at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

DownloadWorship Guide for January 8, 2023

Online giving is available here

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CALL TO WORSHIP —  Psalm 16:8-9, 11
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Be Thou My Vision

Here I Am To Worship

GRACE & ASSURANCE  — Psalm 39:4-7
“O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you.

Ancient of Days

There Is A Fountain

COMMUNION

SERMON

“Humility Means Risking Your Life For Others” – Phi. 2:25-30

Doxology

BENEDICTION