Looking Back on Resurrection Sunday Blessings!
God is at work at Emmanuel—and it’s all HIM and HIS PEOPLE! He still moves, He still uses single-hearted church families, and the gospel still changes lives. Here are the blessings that I cherish from this past week of ministry…
1. The Blessings of Souls Saved—yesterday, dozens of New Englanders of every life-stage came to Jesus Christ in first-time faith. Family members, co-workers, relatives, friends—I met many of them in the lobby after service. “Pastor, this is my aunt, she trusted Christ today!” “Pastor, this is my friend from work, he trusted Christ today!” “Pastor, I’ve been thinking about it for several weeks—but today I finally prayed that prayer and trusted Jesus!” “Pastor, we had 6 children respond to the gospel in children’s church!” WOW, WOW, WOW!!! Thank you, Lord! GREAT JOB EBC family!
2. The Blessings of a United, Faith-filled Church Family—what happens when a small band of people commit themselves to faith, to labor, to loving one another, and to the lost? What happens when a discouraged church gets their eyes back on Jesus and His mission? What happens when they pray, they love, they speak up, they take risk, and they bind together with one spirit “striving together for the faith of the gospel?” Amazing things happen! A church comes back to life. A region is quickly impacted by the love of Jesus Christ. A true reviving and renewing work of God unfolds.
3. The Blessings of Realized Vision—In many ways I watched God open the eyes of our church family yesterday. It was FUN! For seven months I’ve been describing vision to our church, and watching them try to “envision” what I’m describing. But the mental image is limited. And I know they think I’m a little nuts. But it’s a good thing, they are a little nuts too! Just nuts enough to have the courage to follow by faith. And God does the rest! His plan, His power, His presence… He still works!
4. The Blessings of God-Given Progress—Seven months ago, I wanted to hang posters, remodel the back wall, get a projector, frame in a screen, and create a platform for lifting up Christ and teaching/preaching His Word effectively. God said, “Wait…” So I waited. But a few weeks ago, God said, “Now it’s time” and in ways I had no power over, He took over. He touched the heart of a man—sort of like Bezaleel in the Old Testament. That man assembled a team, purchased materials, and labored night and day for three straight days to create a beautiful frame for our new screen and to hang the projector. Along with that we created purpose and process posters and hung them to the left and right of the screen. The end result was a remodeled backdrop for the Word of God. I marvel at how God touched hearts and made this happen.
The man who did the work sent me this text late Saturday night: “Pastor, I have to believe, there was a time when—maybe you were getting cancer treatment, or laying in bed staring at the ceiling, that God gave you a vision–and for you to see that vision come to life has to be an answer to prayer and a lot of sleepless nights and many tears. When I was working on the front and the screen, to think that God would allow me to play a small part in that vision is very overwhelming and an honor. The screen and posters are not eternal, but the lives touched are. So the hours of missed sleep, the cuts and slivers we got are well worth it. I went to the back of the room today once we were done and said, ‘OK, God, that’s the picture you gave me for the front, but you also gave me a picture of the pews filled with people. So we built it and now on Sunday we lift your name on high, and you tell us that if we do, you will draw all men unto you. Ok, God, you brought a pastor and the people are ready, so please move! Please give us the Emmanuel you have promised and we have prayed for for many years.”
That text message blessed my heart beyond words! (Especially that it came from a man who has been through unimaginable sorrow in the past three weeks.) God is good to accomplish His work in His ways—and to use people who are willing to offer Him what they have.
5. The Blessing of the POWERFUL WORD of GOD—It’s pretty simple really. Take heart-felt worship, add a mediocre communicator, add the powerful, clear gospel—the WORD of GOD—and love people into a room long enough to hear it… and Jesus changes hearts. It works everywhere and all the time. It’s timeless. It’s beyond context. It’s beyond relevance. It’s eternal. And as long as we keep with His plan, He will do His work.
To all who have prayed for our transition here at Emmanuel—THANK YOU and please continue! The spiritual battle is REALLY INTENSE. To all who served and participated in Easter at Emmanuel—THANK YOU and please continue sharing in the faith and vision of “book of Acts” New Testament Christianity in it’s most basic, biblical, mature, deep, and radical form!
Let’s give God the glory! Let’s re-load the gospel! Let’s LOVE the lost! And let’s press on in HIS GRACE!
To God be the glory for His marvelous work!