“Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be overwhelmed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 - EHV
When we think about the new year, I think many of us would want our future to look like a straight railroad track on the open prairie. No surprises. Clear as far as we would care to look. But in reality the future is more like a road going around a corner in the fog. We don’t know what’s around the bend. It is all kind of foggy. It is that uncertainty about the future that can make us hesitant to enter a new year.
But you know where we can learn some valuable lessons – from our children. For the most part children aren’t too worried about what is going to happen next year. They aren’t worried about the economy or their retirement funds or savings account. They aren’t worried about many of the things that we as adults worry about. I know what you are all thinking. They aren’t worried because they don’t understand all these things. While there is some truth to the fact that they don’t understand all the things in life, I think it would be safe to say that they get the big picture. They just want to feel safe and secure.
While this might sound very idealistic or just downright unrealistic, we as children of God also need to realize that life is good. When Jesus is in our hearts and God’s blessings of grace and mercy abound in our hearts and lives, what is there to worry about? This may not seem like a deep and philosophical way of looking at things, but it is the answer that we as God’s children can rely on as we look back at one year drawing to a close and wait with eager expectation for another year of God’s grace as we begin another year. We can trust that God is with us.
There are two “nots” we will have to guard against if we want a year of unbroken peace. "Do not be afraid . . . do not be overwhelmed." Fear and being overwhelmed! These are the enemies lurking within the shadows to rob us of trust and confidence in our God. They blind us of God’s power and might.
The root of many of our fears and the reason that we many times become overwhelmed is because we look too often inside of ourselves for the answers to problems. To look inside ourselves for the answers is harmful to our faith. When we look inside, we are forgetting the one thing that is needful. We are forgetting to look to our all-powerful Savior.
God reminds us where to look this coming year. “I am with you. . . I am your God.” “I will strengthen you and help you.” “I am the one holding on to your right hand.” Did you notice how many phrases began with the pronoun “I”? The “I” in these verses is referring to our God. As we hear these words, what a comfort to us as we think about the coming year. Our friends and wealth could leave us at any time, but our God will always be with us. He will never let go of our hand but will lead us by our right hand.
With our hand on the latch of the door to open up into the new year, we can enter it with boldness, knowing that God’s never-ending resources of hope, peace and forgiveness will be there with us. These words are packed with words that will make for a blessed New Year. God’s blessings to everyone as we say thanks to our God for guiding us through the past year and as we look forward to his guidance into the coming year.
Pastor Mark Gartner
New Year's Eve Service
December 31st at 6:30 pm, we will have our New Year's Eve Worship Service with Lord's Supper to thank the Lord for his many blessings in 2020 and to ask for his continued blessings in 2021. Please sign up for this service if you plan on attending.
The furnace for the sanctuary and backroom has been fixed. We are able to hold services in the sanctuary once again and will be doing so for New Year’s Eve, God willing. We thank all those who help set up the basement, and take everything down so that we could worship down there last weekend.
New Bible Classes:
Pastor Gartner started a new Bible Study on Sunday November 29 at 9:15 am entitled: “Catholicism Today — A Study of What the Catholic Church Teaches and How It Measures Up to God’s Word.” Join us as we look at some of the key teachings of the Catholic Church in light of God’s Word, and we will also look at ways on how we can share the truths of God’s Word with those in the Catholic Church who may struggling in their faith.
Pastor Frey is leading a Bible Study on Mondays and Tuesdays called, "Counterfeit Christianity." The devil is called the Father of Lies (John 8:44); he uses his web of lies to lead Christians away from God Word and thus away from the one true faith. This study, based on the book, Broken: 7 “Christian” Rules that Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible by Jonathan Fisk, will examine these lies of the devil and their antidotes from Holy Scripture.
If you would like to receive a recording of these Bible Classes, please contact one of the Pastors and we will send you the link for these recordings.
If you are not comfortable sending your child to in person Sunday School, we have weekly recorded videos of each weeks Bible Lesson and the Lesson sheets that we can send to you so that your child can still learn the valuable truths of God's Word. Please contact us if you would be interested in these materials.
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to 75 people. We are offering 8:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. We are also asking everyone to sign up each week for whatever Worship Service you plan on attending. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. When you sign-up you’ll have an opportunity to mark whether or not you are willing to help out—it only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
You can find the link to sign-up on the front page of our website at: www.stjohn-appleton.org.
We rejoice that we have been able to return to the Lord’s house to worship together, but at the same time we want to do so in a safe manner. The 8:00 am service is the most attended service, which perhaps will make some of you feel uncomfortable. First off, if you feel uncomfortable in this more attended service. we encourage you to attend either the 10:30 am or the Monday evening service which offer plenty of room in order for you to socially distance. In addition, our Council has decided to remove the ropes for the first few pews of the lectern side of the sanctuary. People deciding to sit in these “unrestricted” pews should use their own good judgment on social distancing. We hope that, with enough worshipers sitting in this section, it will leave enough space in the rest of the sanctuary for everyone else to socially distance. If you have any questions, please speak to one of the Pastors or a Council members.
As we go forward, we will continue to live-stream our services and posting our worship folders online. We will be recording our Sunday 8:00 am service which means you can watch anytime after 8:00 am on Sunday morning. If you need any help accessing these resources, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can find our worship services at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCsQs-LDzlHE1NTjOaVaQ2A.
You can find a bulletin for each Worship Service so you can follow along here: https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EqetvOMWflhLsfsLRcDkxSgBL2cnYkpiuk8Klh7d-r_XQg?e=07dSma.