TAKE HEART

Ryan Stoops   -  

It’s Thursday morning and I write to you with eyes blurred from tears and yet a heart filled with eternal hope. In the last week alone, we’ve watched and read news reports about the fall of Afghanistan, the massive 7.2 earthquake in Haiti, the speedy rise of a new Delta Variant and our teachers and students going back to school with enormous uncertainty. I’m sure that you understand and appreciate my heavy heart, but you ask, “how can you have hope?” Where is the hope for all the hurt and destruction that is going on in our world? My only response, our hope is in Jesus Christ alone. In His very own words, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

I believe this is another “but” moment in history. Immediately following these words of Christ, he turns his attention to God the Father and talks directly to Him, we call this prayer. In Jesus’s prayer, He prays for God’s glory to be made known and for all God’s children and future children to be preserved and kept set apart for God alone. In other words, Jesus wants God to help keep these disciples on course and faithful through the coming storms that they will face. Friends, we are in the middle of the storm and Jesus’s prayer is still being heard and answered even today. Let us continue to join Jesus in His prayer that God would be glorified right now so that all the world may know that He is our eternal King, and He is our ultimate hope for eternal salvation. Let us join Jesus in praying that He would keep us from evil and despite the storms, He would sustain us by the truth of His Word.

Even in this storm, I have much hope!!! I have personally observed and experienced our God answer BIG prayers over this summer. I prayed and watched as God used one of our beautiful sisters in the church to keep evil at bay by helping a young lady in choosing to keep her baby. I joined the chorus of saints in praying for a brother with cancer to find out that God in His sovereignty chose to heal him. I celebrated with our children and youth ministries while they took record numbers of students away to camp this summer and God graciously poured out His glory revealing Himself to dozens of young people who chose to make commitments to follow Jesus. I saw God provide housing and employment for several of our own. I witnessed God do great and mighty deeds and this continues to give me hope. Take heart church, our King has overcome the world!! He’s still in the business of doing miracles, He’s still hard at work seeking and saving the lost, and He’s still our great hope.

And because our hope is not lost, let us continue to pray. I trust that you have been praying but here are just a few prayer points that we can be praying about:

Afghanistan: Pray for protection and strength over all the lives that are being threatened by evil, especially our Christian brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for their faith. Pray for our enemies, even Islamic extremists like the Taliban. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:43). Pray for their conversion, and that evil would be restrained and for divine justice to be dealt.

Haiti: Pray for a powerful witness of Christian compassion during this crisis. Pray for a political breakthrough and Godly generosity to be used for God’s glory and not abused. Pray for further protection from the potential of future weather and natural disasters. Pray for the people of Haiti that they might be saved.

Back to School: Pray for our students, parents, teachers, and administrations. Pray for wisdom as they make decisions within the home and within our educational institutions. Pray for more Godly leaders and that God would give us a greater influence. Pray for protection over these young moldable minds and to help us to guard their hearts. Pray for sickness and evil to be pushed back so that the light of Jesus will shine victoriously.

I bet you can think of at least a dozen more things that are worthy of our prayers, and I encourage you to pray for those too! Here’s the point, because our hope is not lost, we keep praying. This is what I love about you, my church, you are prayer warriors! You are bold, audacious, Kingdom minded prayer warriors. I personally count on your prayers, and I feel the power of them. Right now, the world is counting on those prayers too, so keep it up and thank you for never ceasing. Take heart; Jesus has overcome the world!

To God be the glory forever and ever, amen!

Pastor Ryan