Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
How are you doing at changing your focus? (Note: This update is a bit of review and expansion of content from last Sunday’s sermon (9/4/2022). You can find that service here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8C6LhxHmTs) if you weren’t there or haven’t seen it yet.) We have so many things that call for our attention and for our focus. The busy-ness of life, with schedule changes, job transitions, family needs, medical emergencies all call for our attention and divert our focus from our Lord God. We can even get so wrapped up in service to the Lord that we cease to depend on the Lord.
Our passage last week, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 included a call to adjust our focus. Without adjusting our focus, there is no way that we can rejoice always. Do you feel like rejoicing? Rejoicing can’t be founded only on our feelings or born out of our circumstances. Those things are transient and unreliable. But we are called to rejoice always. Always includes all circumstances and doesn’t depend on how we feel. Rejoicing, then, is a decision we make to celebrate who God is and what God has done, is doing, and will do. We can rejoice always as we center our rejoicing in Him. When was the last time that you made time to rejoice in the Lord?
Without adjusting our focus, we also cannot pray continually. Often, I have approached prayer through an attitude of “Do I really want to pray?” But once again, our desires, like our feelings and our circumstances, are shifting sand. Prayer, in and of itself, is useless. For example, pray to your home or the rocks on the side of the road, and you’ll get no response. Prayer only works as it relies on our God who is at work, who listens, who responds, who cares, who pours out grace and mercy to help us in our time of need. Moreover, we pray continually because the question isn’t “Do I really want to pray?”. Instead, the question is “Does God want me to pray?” And the resounding answer is “Yes! Pray continually.” God wants us to pray because prayer requires us to reorient our focus to Him and rely on Him. But we can pray, knowing that God is faithful. He will hear and act.
Rejoicing and prayer require us to focus our attention to our Lord God. And so does the command to give thanks in all circumstances. Paul and his companions, in verse 18, make explicit the idea that when we give thanks, we do so no matter what our circumstances may be. We always have reasons for giving thanks. We give thanks because everything that we have, we have as a gift. All the good that we have, including life itself, is received from the hand of our providential God. All the good that comes out of the evil, difficulty, and disappointments of life is received from the hand of our God who works all things out for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. We need to focus on the Lord in order to give thanks in all circumstances.
Of these three commands, which do you find hardest to implement? What can you do to grow in your practice of rejoicing always, praying continually, and/or giving thanks in all circumstances? What will you do? Why not share what you plan to do with your pastor? I’d love to hear how you are working to live in obedience to God’s word.
Please continue to pray for the nation of Ukraine. Here is a suggested list of prayers if you are at a loss for words in how to pray: https://send.org/story/hh_pray_for_ukraine. Thank you for kneeling on behalf of the people of Ukraine and Russia, and taking a stand (or a knee in prayer) against the forces of darkness in this present age.
This Week (Sept. 9 – Sept. 15, 2022):
1. Tonight, Sept. 9, 2022, Friday Night Bible Study is meeting from 7:30-9:30 to sing, share, and continue the study in the book of 1 Peter. You can read 1 Peter (Particularly 1 Peter 5:1-14) in preparation. Join in person in Room A-216 or online.
Meeting ID: 685 376 249
Join by phone: +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
2. CrossPoint Community Sunday School and GAs Sunday School is on Sept. 11.
a. The Grace Ambassadors (Young Adults) will be meeting at 9:45 am (in-person in Room A-202)! We will be studying John 18:1-18. More Info is found on the YAs Messenger Chat. For further info, contact Liu Jiang.
b. “Life is a Journey” Sunday School is this Sunday at 9:45 in-person (Room A-216) and online via the following link:
Meeting ID: 491 248 585
Join by phone: +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
3. This Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at 11:25 am, Pastor Nathan Willems will be preaching. Pray for him! Join us for worship at CBCGL! You can also watch the live stream if you wish.
a. Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28
b. Title: The Source of and Supply for Sanctification
c. Live stream via Youtube: https://www.cbcgl.org/live-stream/
4. Each Wednesday, for example, this coming Sept. 14, 2022, at 7:45 pm, you are invited, encouraged, and requested to join our weekly prayer meeting. We’ll spend time praying for Taiwan and Ukraine as well as praying for CrossPoint Community. The link is found below in the section on prayer.
Administration / Events
1. CBCGL’s COVID-19 guidance has been updated. We still are following CDC guidance for travel and participation in activities following travel or exposure to a positive case. We are no longer requiring new guests to complete the waiver form.
a. Also, the taskforce has notified all ministries that we will no longer be taking temperatures but are once again recommending face masks. Please note, you are once again recommended to wear facemasks to church.
2. Sunday Lunch Service is back at CBCGL with $5 lunchboxes! To place an order, please use the following link: https://forms.gle/SJBrwGF4nb5w564DA Orders need to be placed by Friday at 11 pm so that the kitchen can prepare the correct amount of food. Note: The selection which states “Number of Meals” refers to the cooked food/lunch box/Chinese food option.
3. We have a missions update! This week, we have an update from Rob and Lisa MacEwan, who serve in the Netherlands. They have a couple of praises, and continue to ask for your prayers in their work of theological education and discipleship. Please check the missions tab in our bulletin to read through these reports and learn how you can support our missionaries.
4. All other announcements can be found here (in our CrossPoint Community bulletin).
1. Our time in prayer shows what we think about God! Do you see your need of Him? Or are you trying to live this life without / apart from Him? Please join our Wednesday night prayer meeting (7:45 – 9:15 pm) even if you can’t participate the whole time.
Meeting ID: 758 587 937
Join by phone: +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
2. Here is our list of prayer and service requests. The service request tab is for brothers and sisters to ask for assistance or announce any give-away items. It is an attempt from CPC to reach out and take care of those in need among us. You may also enter yours via the provided link:
You can also do so via the following link: https://www.cbcgl.org/pray/
In Christ, your servant, SDG,
Rev. Dr. Nathan Willems
Associate Pastor of CrossPoint Community – A Ministry of CBCGL