- Pastor Steve
Prayer for 2021: Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God
Looking back on 2020
As I look back to write a year in review of 2020, it is too easy to simply see covid. However, as Christians, we should see the world around us, whether it is in times of feast or famine, with a more eternal and spiritual perspective. And doing so doesn’t discount the compassion we should have for our brothers and sisters, and for those who are lost, and who have suffered in this past year. Instead, by using the perspective that we have as children who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb, we are able to see God at work in His creation.
In this year, lives have been given to Christ, Christians have answered the call to live out love in action, worship has become more than being present, discipleship has become personal, relationships with Jesus have become more intimate, members have devoted themselves to Christ’s work through the Risen Refuge, and God has continued to draw His children to Himself in ways that force us to grow into a deeper knowledge and faith in Him.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3
We, as a church, reacted to everything that happened in 2020 by looking to God at every turn. After seeking the guidance of the Lord through prayer, we changed the format of our weekly meeting to an entirely online format. It is a wonderful gift from God that we live in a time when He grants us ways to join together in worship and prayer even when we are not physically in each other’s presence. Just as we are connected to our Creator and Savior spiritually, we are also connected one to another spiritually. In this spirit, God continued to bind us together and lift up His church when we were struggling.
We have seen, over and over, the graces of God given in extraordinary ways during 2020. He has maintained His church, and He has allowed us to see His hand at work in situations when we would have fallen and failed time and time again. James didn’t say “if you face trials.” James said, “whenever you face trials of many kinds.” We have faced trials this past year. And through these trials we have seen God at work. When our faith was tested, because we couldn’t see any way out, we called upon our Lord. We reached out to Him, when there was nothing left to hold on to, and He was our strong tower. We have persevered by clinging to the Cross of Christ. Our faith has grown as we have witnessed His righteous power and love in our lives and all around us. That same righteous power and love that Jesus showed when we was lifted up on that cross.
2020 was a year that didn’t have the festivals, the celebrations, or the festivities that we look forward to. It didn’t have the big weddings, the parties, the gatherings, or the ceremonies full of cheer. However, 2020 was a year where we can clearly see evidence of God as He carried us, in His perfect love.
Looking forward to 2021
Now, for 2021. As we have seen God’s loving power, so let us give ourselves to the work to which He has called us.
In the words of a wonderful old Hymn of the church:
God of grace and God of glory,
on thy people pour thy power;
crown the ancient church's story;
bring its bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the facing of this hour,
for the facing of this hour.
This is the time for the church to respond with wisdom and courage through the Power of the Holy Spirit for the Glory of God. This is a year for the body of Christ to take His gospel message out with love and courage. This is a season for the children of God to be eagerly and actively at work in His eternal kingdom. If the people of God will do the work of the gospel of Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit - there will be a fire in 2021.
The words of John Wesley are my prayer to God for The Risen Refuge in 2021. May God hear and answer my prayer, this His church will be lifted up, and His name be glorified.
“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth.”