Living in this present broken world is designed by God to produce longing, readiness, and hope in me.
It’s not natural for us to think about our lives in this way, but the difficulties we all face in this broken world are not in the way of God’s plan. No, they are part of it. The fallen world that is your address is not your address because he didn’t think through his redemptive plan very well. You are living where you’re living and facing what you’re facing because that’s exactly how God wanted it to be. The hardships that we all face between the “already” and the “not yet” are not a sign of the failure of God’s redeeming work, but rather a very important tool of it.
What we are all going through right here, right now is a massive, progressive process of values clarification and heart protection. God is daily employing the brokenness of this present world to clarify your values. Why do you need this? You need it because you struggle in this life to remember what is truly important, that is, what God says is important. You and I place much more importance on things than they truly possess, and when we do so, these things begin to claim our heart allegiance. So God ordains for us to experience that physical things get old and break. The people in our lives fail us. Relationships sour and become painful. Our physical bodies weaken. Flowers die and food spoils. All of this is meant to teach us that these things are beautiful and enjoyable, but they cannot give us what we all long for—life.
In this world that is groaning, God is protecting our hearts. He is protecting us from us. Our hearts can be so fickle. We can worship God one day, only to turn and give the worship of our hearts to something else the next. So, in love, God lets pieces of the creation die in our hands so that increasingly we are freed from asking earth to give us what only he can give. He works through loss to protect us from giving our allegiance to things that will never, ever deliver what our hearts seek. This is all designed to deepen our love and worship of him. It is all crafted to propel the joy that we have in him. And in so doing, he is preparing us for that moment when we will be freed from this present travail and give all of our being to the worship of him forever and ever.
Your Lord knows that even as his child your heart is still prone to wander, so in tender, patient grace he keeps you in a world that teaches you that he alone is worthy of the deepest, most worshipful allegiance of your heart.
For further study and encouragement :: 1 Peter 1:3–12
Excerpt from the March 29th entry of New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp
Christ’s sacrifice satisfied the Father’s anger so that, as his child, you will receive his discipline but need not fear his wrath.
It is the bottom line of your acceptance with God. It is the foundational reason why grace is your only hope. Jesus fully and completely satisfied the Father’s anger so that you and I will never, ever again face the penalty for our sin. You do not have to live in fear of God’s anger. On your very worst, most rebellious, and most faithless day, you can run into the holy presence of your heavenly Father and he will not turn you away. Your acceptance has not been, nor will it ever be, based on your performance. You have not been welcomed into an eternal relationship with God because you have kept the law, but because Jesus did. If you obey God for a thousand years, you will not have earned more of his acceptance than you were granted the very first moment you believed. Here’s how radical the gospel of grace really is—you do not have to be something before God because Jesus accomplished everything on your behalf.
Since you are God’s child and he loves you dearly, he disciplines you. But in the face of his loving discipline, a very important distinction needs to be made. His discipline is not punishment for your sin, because all of your punishment has been borne by your Savior, Jesus. Rather than being punitive, his fatherly discipline is transformative. It is designed to change your heart. It is one of the tools God uses to propel and ultimately to complete his agenda of grace. His discipline is not teaching you what to do to earn your place as one of his children; his careful, loving discipline actually proves that you are one of his children:
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7—11)
So God’s discipline is an instrument of his grace. It is a continuation of his work of personal heart-and-life transformation. God’s discipline is not him turning his angry back on us. It is God turning his face of grace toward us once again, and he will continue to do this until his grace has finished its work.
For further study and encouragement: Job 5:17—27
This excerpt taken from the March 20th entry in Paul David Tripp’s devotional New Morning Mercies.
During this time of ongoing concern regarding the COVID-19 virus it is important that we be proactive as the family of faith in our community and not falling prey to an overwhelming spirit of fear. We now as always can trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who has all power, all wisdom & knowledge, and is always with us. This has not caught Him by surprise.
At Eastgate, our goal will be to not overreact as a church but not to under react as well, because the concerns are a reality we face. Also, there are those within our community that face this concern with a higher risk to their health.
As you may already be aware of…the situation in the Flint, Michigan area has been rapidly evolving and the school systems across the entire state are now suspended for the next three weeks.
Since it is our desire is to work with the suggestion of our local government to help slow the spread of this virus while maintaining our religious liberty to freely & safely gather for worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, & gospel proclamation as we choose. Because of the varying nature of what is happening in our community…we are moving to adjust in a way that is beneficial to our congregation and helps to not put our fellow man at a greater health risk.
Here is our plan as a church and our encouragement to you going forward in the coming few weeks during this crisis ::
1 :: If you are sick, or have any symptoms of possible sickness please stay home. This is for your personal well-being as well as for the well-being for the health of the community.
2 :: Our Sunday Connection Groups & Wednesday evening activities (Awana, etc.) will be POSTPONED FOR THE NEXT THREE WEEKS until APRIL 5, 2020. All other ministries are contingent upon the circumstances in our surrounding communities, as they may vary.
If you would like to sign up for text for the latest updates… text LOOP to 810-202-8331 and follow the link. You can also receive email updates by sending your name and the word LOOP to firstname.lastname@example.org
3 :: The SUNDAY WORSHIP GATHERING will be ONLINE ONLY on March 15th. This will be a time of prayer and teaching from the Scriptures. In listening to the concerns expressed by the church family and for the safety of our community, the deacons and myself made this decision. We encourage you to please stay home with your families and join us on our Facebook page or through our church website. We will be reevaluating next week the Sunday schedules going forward.
4 :: As such, we will be unable to collect the offerings by passing the plates if this is your normal accustomed manner of giving. Therefore, as any church is a non-profit dependent on the contributions of its congregation, and as we still have financial obligations that we are to meet in good faith…we ask that you would use one of the following alternatives during this temporary disruption.
Mail your offering to 4226 E Atherton Rd, Burton, MI 48519 or make arrangements to donate with the church office.
Give Online through our giving portal on our website (eastgatebaptist.org) by clicking the GIVE tab in the menu and following the easy to use instructions.
Text GIVE to 810-202-8331 and follow the online giving links
Set up Eastgate Baptist with address listed above through your online banking payees
5 :: We are asking our congregation to avoid shaking hands, hugging, holy kisses, etc. Instead use a fist bump, elbow bump or a friendly wave. It is also good to be aware of covering your nose and mouth during any coughing or sneezing that may inadvertently occur by using your inner arms & not your hands.
Should you use your hands…please wash them for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
In other words, please use the best health practices and display common courtesy.
6 :: We will be giving the church a deep clean between March 15—March 22nd sanitizing all surfaces, door knobs, nursery toys, etc. Should we discover after next week’s reevaluation that we will begin assembling together once more…we will be cleaning and wiping down before and after each gathering to limit contact with germs. For those that would like to help in this work, please contact the church office.
7 :: As there is a shortage of hand sanitizer on the market…we will have homemade hand sanitizer bottles located at the entrance ways to the church facilities. This doesn’t offset the healthy need to regularly wash your hands and to avoid shaking others hands.
8 :: We will SUSPEND the usual complimentary coffee and snacks area during this time to limit the possible transmission of pathogens.
9 :: If things progressively worsen through the upcoming days and weeks, we have other steps of precaution that we will implement should they be required.
We are closely monitoring this situation through info by the state government, the CDC, and consulting with local healthcare providers about the best course of action for our congregation & community.
Please pray for wisdom for our church leaders and government leaders during this time. May we as a people of faith use wisdom, truth, love, and grace during this time as always to share the Gospel. This world needs hope and we know that hope has a name…Jesus.