Elder Prayer (3/29/20)

Father, we acknowledge that we owe our every breath to You, and by Your Spirit You sustain and encourage us (Job 12:10). We’re humbled to admit that we’re helpless without Jesus who holds all things in this world together (Colossians 1:17). But that’s where we are—helpless and vulnerable—and we’re especially aware of it in these days.

Our faith is in You, who delivered us out of sin’s dark night and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son You love, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14). We have so much in common in Christ that even this COVID-19 social distancing pales in comparison with what we share with all of our brothers and sisters in the LORD (Hebrews 3:1; Galatians 4:4-7).

But we do confess that we have not been as loving toward Your people as we could be. And maybe not as attuned to the opportunities to love. Please forgive us for thinking too much about ourselves, watching too much on our screens, and missing out on the relationships that count—with others and with You, our gracious Father (Matthew 22:37-40).  

Help us, in courage and with wisdom, to extend appropriate help and encouragement to those who are physically weak, emotionally strung out, or spiritually bruised. We see and hear lots of fear around us, and if we’re being honest, within us, as well. These are trying times. 

We know that a crisis is a turning point, the fulcrum at which the trend of future events is determined, so we humbly cry out to You, our Almighty Father. We cast the weight of these days from our shoulders to Yours (1 Peter 5:6-7). Turn the hearts of people everywhere, so that the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the biggest pivot point in history, would go forth to the whole world, bearing fruit and increasing (Colossians 1:6).

We think of the nation of Israel at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:1-14), and we implore You to do a mighty work…to heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14)…and people throughout this world, to help those who have been infected to receive the help that they need, and to slow to a standstill the spread of the virus…while at the same time increasing the spread of the Gospel. 

Please help us by giving us wise thoughts inspired by Your Spirit within us, wise words that help others and heal relationships, and wise counsel that is consistent with Your word (James 1:5-8). Thank You for our pastors, staff, and leaders at Grace Point who serve with devotion to keep our eyes on You.

We pray for all missionaries serving You around the world. We ask that Your Spirit would be moving to encourage, protect, and defend Sam and Amy, as well as Abbey, who are faithfully sharing the light in Middle Eastern societies—where Your truth is often suppressed.  Please release doors for these and all of our missionaries as they must find new avenues to be Your ambassadors to people who are, like us, facing their own mortality and so are feeling unsure of the future.  

We pray Your mercy on Christians in places like North Korea who are under constant attack and many are imprisoned for nothing other than their faith in You. Help them to persevere in their devotion to You and in their trust that Your grace is sufficient for them, for Your power is made perfect in weakness (2 Chronicles 12:9). 

Spirit of God, may You miraculously and with power blow the doors open so that the ones who are positioned to step through them—those we have sent to the ends of the world, and all of us right here in this community—would be enabled and emboldened to step into the new opportunities spawned by this worldwide pandemic to share the reason for the hope within us, and always to do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Help us to turn questions about our swirling circumstances into questions that point to ultimate reality.

At a time when everything seems to be radically shifting, we want to remember together as we worship Jesus that He is always and will always be a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19), a hope that isn’t dependent on the shifting sands of material prosperity, or religiosity, or “positivity,” or social connectivity, but on the Rock of our hope in Your eternity.

Pour out Your Spirit so that—in our individual lives and as Your church—we will “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). We are confident that Jesus is with us—His Spirit is here right alongside us—and He has forever overcome the world (John 16:33).

And so, we thank You and praise You in the name of our Savior Jesus—AMEN!

(Keith Brown)

Women’s Outreach & Fellowship – February 2020

Our Women’s Outreach & Fellowship met on Wednesday, February 19. They enjoyed fellowship and lunch together while assembling Easter handouts for patients at Esperanza. They also created key chains to be used by a local ministry to share the Gospel.

The women also enjoyed signing and sending greeting cards to a few people who are recovering from illness or surgery. Their time of prayer was concentrated on Grace Point missionaries.

Women’s Outreach & Fellowship meets on the third Wednesday from September through May. If you are interested in more information about Women’s Outreach & Fellowship, Lori Wilson would be happy to hear from you! women.fellowship@gracepointpa.org

They always welcome more women to join in the meaningful fun and fellowship!

Elder Prayer (2/16/20)

Heavenly Father, You are a God who calls.

You called forth order out of chaos, and worlds were created and life began.

You called Abraham, to leave behind all that he knew, his comfort and safety, to go and follow You not knowing where he was going. And he obeyed.

You later called him to give up what he had hoped and waited for his entire life. And he obeyed.

You called Moses, from within the bush, to an assignment that he did not want or feel equipped to do, to a true mission impossible. And he obeyed.

You called Your prophets, to share Your truth with people who didn’t want to hear it, at the cost of their reputations, relationships and very lives. And they obeyed.

You called Jonah to share Your grace and truth with a people that he despised, and though he initially ran, he obeyed.

You called a young peasant girl named Mary out of utter obscurity to carry and care for the infant Savior of the world, and though she paid a high cost for doing so, she obeyed.

You called 12 to leave behind all they knew to follow You. It cost them their occupations. It cost them their dreams of what a new Kingdom might be. It cost them their peace and safety and eventually their lives. And they obeyed.

You called a man named Saul, to lay down his arms, and follow You and suffer for You immensely, so that the message of Your grace and truth would spread. It cost him everything.

You’ve called so many ordinary people in the past who heard, responded and obeyed, even though they very often did not see promises fulfilled in their lifetimes, but welcomed what You promised from a distance.

You are calling some of us here this morning Lord.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You to quietly and patiently trust You in the face of unsettling uncertainty, or relentless and intense pain and suffering. We’re going to need to leave behind our expectations of how we thought our lives would be, our frustrations, as well as our sense of hopelessness.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You to reconcile and restore what’s been broken and lost. We’re going to need to leave behind our sense of right and fairness, and the hurt we feel that is all too real.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You to reach out and get into the mess of the poor and hurting all around us. We’re going to need to leave behind our comfort, our time, our pride.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You to a spiritual assignment that we don’t feel ready for, to step out in faith and courage in You. We’re going to need to leave behind our sense of self-protection, maybe our hatreds, our sense of inadequacy and fear of what the future holds.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You, to lay down our arms, and follow You for the first time, knowing that we’re going to need to leave behind our doubts and self-righteousness.

Your call is not something we add to our lives. It’s never exactly what we expect it to be. It always requires that we leave something behind. Our expectations, our fears, our doubts, our comfort, our safety, our pride, our very wills. To lose what we think life is all about, in order to gain real, true life, the life we’ve really always wanted, in You.

We’re not being called to a creed, a cause, a condition, a solution, a promise, a place, a state of mind or even a victory. We’re being called to You.

You often don’t tell us what lies next Father. We only know that You are so incredibly glorious, that to run from Your call is pointless. You ask us to simply do what lies before us, to do the next thing. 

To obey is our objective, because You obeyed Jesus. To suffer, for You, is to be expected, because You suffered for us so that we would not have to eternally. Your glory is our reward.

Help each of us this morning Father to respond to Your call on our lives, no matter the difficulty, no matter what we may need to leave behind, knowing that the only real and lasting happiness we will ever experience on this earth comes through the doorway of quiet, humble submission and trustful obedience to and acceptance of Your will.

In acceptance of Your will there is Your peace.

In Your great name we pray,

(David Kneller)

Elder Prayer (Sunday 1/26/20)

Dear LORD, we thank You for being our great God, and for allowing Jesus to be our salvation—You have paid the huge debt that our sins had racked up for us by Your death on the cross. And You have made the way for us to inherit eternal life. 

Our loving Father, You allow us to grow through the questions that we ask of You, and of ourselves, and those that others ask of us. And like a sword that penetrates to the depths of our souls for healing purposes, You ask us questions in your Word [Hebrews 4:12-13].

So, we invite You through some prayerful questions to remind us of how great You are and how amazingly merciful You are to us.

You asked of Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” [Job 38:4a] and “Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like His?” [Job 40:9]”

And through the prophet Isaiah You asked: “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with Him?” [Isaiah 40:18] and “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.” [Isaiah 40:28]

Yet, despite being Almighty, You told us: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart [Jeremiah 29:13]”

Our Father, we are so prone to wander! You know every sinful thought we are harboring in our hearts, every wrong we have done, all the good we have withheld from others, and all the blame we have been shifting onto others, and so we fall on Your mercy and ask Your forgiveness. And we rest confident in the truth that You refuse to remember any of these [Hebrews 8:12; 10:17], choosing to remove them from us as far as the east is from the west [Psalm 103:12], and to hurl our sins into the depths of the sea [Micah 7:19]!

Jesus our Lord, while on earth You asked questions like: ”Who do you say that I am? [Matthew 16:15]” and “Why are you so afraid? [Matthew 8:26]” and “Are you also going to leave? [John 6:67]” and three times You asked Peter, “Do you love me? [John 21:15-17]”

Help us in this day and the days to come to answer these questions and to choose well—to trust You and to love you [Joshua 24:14-15]. May we follow You and not the world [Luke 16:13]—those things that would entice us away from our first love [Revelation 2:4]. Embolden us to help others to know the truth, believe the truth, grow in the truth and share the truth about You, Lord Jesus.

Why would frail and fallible people like Tim and Jacki Faulkner in Italy, or Abbie in the middle east, or Val and Cassie in east Asia, give of themselves by going to the ends of the world to tell about Jesus our Lord to people whose hearts are often hardened fields?

The answer is “because they are following You”—in Your love for this world, You generously gave Your Son so that whoever takes the one step of faith to believe in this truth will take a giant leap into Your eternal kingdom [John 3:16]. We pray for these missionaries that they would trust You and ask insightful questions as they share the Gospel. 

Please guide us, Spirit of God, in this worship service, to know more of You as we praise Your name together, as we bring our offerings, as we hear Your Word proclaimed, and as we go into Your world this week.

Whose very presence in a life gives freedom and release from anxiety and burdens of sin? [Psalm 55:22; Matthew 11:29-30; I Peter 5:6-7]] It’s Your Spirit within us! We ask You for the healing of hurts and diseases, of losses too deep for words, and of relationships broken or locked in bondage—please transform and deliver us. Your mercies are new every morning[Lamentations 3:22-23]—please bring us grace and peace [Philippians 1:2]!

Who is it that has purchased for us an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for each of us who have been born again through faith? [I Peter 1:4] He is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  To You be all of the praise, honor and glory! [I Peter 1:7] 

We ask that these questions would stay with us, goad us into action, and bring us back for more of You.

And we pray all in Jesus’ matchless name—AMEN!

(Keith Brown)

Women’s Outreach & Fellowship Update

Our Women’s Outreach & Fellowship meets monthly on the third Wednesday from September to June from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in Room 403 – The Clubhouse. (We do not meet in December.)  

This month, the group completed 275 key chains, 48 winter favors and 42 hand-written notes. All of these items are being given to local ministries to use in outreaches.

We would love to have you join us! We have women of all ages and all skill levels of crafting. There are a variety of projects we work on together each month. 

If you enjoy keeping your hands busy while sharing in sweet fellowship, then this group is for you. We share the Gospel by supporting missionaries and local ministries. We create, collect, and donate tangible items to assist them in reaching others for Christ. Bring lunch for yourself. Dessert and beverages will be served. Childcare is provided until 11:45 am.

If you would like to connect with Lori Wilson, our Women’s Outreach & Fellowship coordinator, you can reach her at women.fellowship@gracepointpa.org. You may also call the church office at 215.968.2354, and we will connect Lori with  you.

If you are unable to join us but would like to participate, here is a list of items we currently need for donations.

CURRENT LIST OF DONATION REQUESTS:

  • Complimentary/travel-sized soaps, shampoos, etc. 
  • Gently used costume jewelry
  • Small gifts for women
  • Gently used toys, books, puzzles (for all ages of children)
  • Men’s NEW white tube socks
  • Remnants of NEW cotton fabric and flannel
  • Leftover NEW Christmas wrapping paper
  • Leftover NEW Christmas curling ribbon
  • Medium sizes of shaving cream, deodorants, lotion, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Knitted or crocheted baby blankets, shoulder wraps, slipper socks, preemie hats and booties

To read more about all that is happening in our Women’s Ministry, click HERE.

Thanks for stopping by the Grace Point blog!

Pastoral Prayer (Sunday 1/19/20)

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:1-3)

God of the universe, You know us personally and care about what is on our hearts. Thank You for being completely trustworthy. Give us Your vision. Call us to bigger things beyond ourselves.

“For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

Father, every soul is valuable to You; we are made in Your image. Give us Your heart of love for every people and every nation. Equip us to proclaim Your Gospel locally and throughout the world.

“How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with You.” (Psalm 139:17-18)

God, You care perfectly about every detail of our lives. Please comfort those who are experiencing grief or suffering. Thank You for those who are in a season of experiencing joy. Keep them close to You. Bless our junior high teens and leaders at retreat this weekend. Grow them in their walks with You. Guide the leaders of our country in Your ways. Give us all hearts to honor You in private and in public.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Lord, as we continue in worship today, draw our hearts to You through Your Holy Spirit and Your Word. Reveal to us any sin interrupting our personal connection to You. Bring it to light and give us humility to repent and be led by You into repentance, holiness and obedience.

Faithfully lead us in the way everlasting.

We ask all of this in the name of Jesus our Lord.

(Dave Wolf, Lead Pastor)

Elder Prayer (Sunday 1/12/20)

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 14:14-16)

Heavenly Father, our Lord and God, we come to You this morning to seek Your presence in our midst. To honor You and glorify You. Asking forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. Help us to know and live within Your will, supplying the strength we need to accomplish that.

We ask that You would be with Your church here at Grace Point. With Pastor Dave as he brings Your message this morning and with the entire pastoral staff, as well as all the staff who keep us going on a weekly basis.

We lift up to You the FOCUS Team as they determine the next steps of our outreach to Lebanon. And we lift up Denise Nichols as she leads this phase of the decision.

Console Tony Martin and his daughters in Sweden as they grieve the loss of Gwen. Guide and strengthen them as they continue their work for You. Be with all of Your faithful workers on the mission field throughout the world. Guide us on our mission field as we exit the doors of this building today.

Guide the Student Ministry Search Team as they look for a new Student Ministry Pastor/Director. Be with Tony Batres and his staff of volunteers as they keep the ministry moving forward.

Father, I ask that You would comfort and strengthen those dealing with difficult circumstances: illness, surgery, recovery, marital, financial, loss of work or depression. Whatever the need, Heavenly Father, I ask that You would supply the answer and each would feel Your presence in a special way.

Guide our nation. Be with our leaders, whether elected or appointed, on all levels of government: local, state and national. Assist them to be diligent and successful in representing and governing us.

Thank You, Father, for all the many blessings you have bestowed on us. We ask all of this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

(Jack Edmond)

Elder Prayer (Sunday 12/8/19)

Heavenly Father,

At this time of the year when we remember the first coming of Jesus into the world, we lift up our hearts and voices in praise to You, for sending Your Son to us to be our Savior– so that through Him we can be brought back into right relationship with You and receive Your gift of an eternity with You – by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

Heavenly Father, we rejoice when we call to mind the glorious truth that the eternal Light of the world came to earth to become our Redeemer – to give His life for a lost world and to pour peace and hope into the hearts of a people who were estranged from their God. We stand in awe when we recall that He set aside His glory and majesty and closeness with You to take on the form of a man and be born into this world as a tiny, helpless baby, in such humble circumstances. He humbled Himself in obedience to You, and suffered and died a death He did not deserve, so that we can be saved.

Father, may our lives reflect Jesus’ obedience and love as we look back to the first Advent – but help us not forget that there is a future Advent – a second coming when the earth will be filled with Your glory. Lord Jesus, You are returning not as a tiny baby lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes, but as a conquering King, with power and great glory, to fulfill all promises, to judge with justice, to rule in righteousness.

Lord, I pray that You will find us, Your Church, ready and working, prepared for Your return. And, as much as we pine for the sentimentality of this season, help us to remain mindful that we have a job to do. Purify our hearts and sanctify our lives so that we may serve You in newness of life not only in this special season but every day of our lives.

We come to You this morning with many needs Father. And You already know each and every one. In fact, You have allowed each one into our lives to help us mature and become more like Jesus, and to drive us to dependence on You.

We lift up to You the hurting this season. The grieved, the discouraged, the depressed, the suicidal. Help them know that You not only came near through Jesus so many years ago, but You are near, with them, now. Help this to comfort them.

We lift up to You those with physical ailments of many kinds. Some are irritating, some are life threatening, all are not what we planned for. Help them know that You are able to heal, but that even if You don’t, You are Sovereign and worthy of our praise, and even in sickness, we can be witnesses of Your love, mercy and grace.

We lift up to You financial difficulties of all kinds. Help us not be fearful of or mastered by money, but to place our treasure in Heaven, remembering that You will provide all that we really need when we need it, and if we don’t have it, then it’s a safe bet we probably don’t need it. Our church has a significant budget shortfall Father, move on hearts and provide what we need to do the ministry You have called us to do.

We lift up to You the many events this season. We are thankful for a wonderful turnout and time together for the Women’s Christmas Tea this past week. We humbly lay before You our desire to serve this community this coming Friday night through One Winter Night. So many hours of preparation, so many hands sacrificing time and energy. Use it all Lord, including the parades, to help those who need You to feel Your love, to draw our community to You, and for You to be glorified. Regardless of the weather, regardless of the numbers, regardless of the last-minute glitches, take this our humble offering, be in it, and make much through it.

We are hopeful this season Father. Hopeful that wrongs will be righted, hopeful that hurts will be healed, hopeful that relationships will be restored, hopeful that lives will be changed. You are the God of hope. You have planted hope deep within our souls. By the power of Your Spirit, help us abound in hope. We watch, we wait. Knowing that You are Faithful to complete all that You have purposed. Just as You were Faithful to send Jesus to us that first Christmas, even though the world waited so long. Remind us this season that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by letting us have our own way and getting all that we want, but by allowing us to wait, bearing in love and patience, carrying many unanswered questions, so that we can come to the place where we truly can pray, ‘Thy will be done’.

Thank You, Father, for the Living Hope that we have through the resurrection from the dead of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. It’s in His name we pray all this, Amen.

(David Kneller)

“When I Don’t Desire God” by John Piper

Sometimes we may feel far from God, and life feels heavy. Sometimes we get lazy or too busy, and we neglect to read the Bible for a time.

In his book When I Don’t Desire God, John Piper contends that the only way to know real joy as a Christian is to pursue the Word of God. Not just pursue it, but to actually fight daily for this joy. It is a battle for our time and our minds.

Before reading this book, I never thought of pursuing God’s Word in the morning as a daily battle. Now I realize how precious this time is and how easily we can let daily life distract us from this joy.

I recommend John Piper’s book, and it can be found in the Grace Point Library! Visit us soon ~ we are open any time the church is open!

~ Barb Lewis

GP Library – Book Reviews

Book review by Sue Gibson ~

Recently I read a wonderful book I discovered in the GP Library, Counted With the Stars, by Connilyn Cossette. This biblical fiction novel is the first in the amazing Out of Egypt trilogy, which is offered in our library. The story traces the journey of Kiya, a young Egyptian slave woman, during the time when the terrifying plagues strike Egypt. She chooses to flee with the Hebrews when Moses leads them out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. Hope in and redemption through the Lord is highlighted in Counted With the Stars as Kiya surrenders her life and future to Yahweh.

The second book, Shadow of the Storm, continues during the first year’s journey following the cloud as God leads the Hebrews through the wilderness. This book follows the life of Shira, a young Hebrew woman who serves as a mid-wife and who worships Yahweh, but is not sure of His purpose for her life. This is complicated further after a tragic delivery. But God’s faithfulness can be traced through the pages of Shadow of the Storm.

The final book, Wings of the Wind , pursues the adventures of Alanah, a youthful Canaanite woman who is captured in battle by a Hebrew warrior. God’s sovereignty places her in a strategic location during the battle of Jericho. Alanah’s family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, and she disguises herself, sneaks onto the battlefield and determines to avenge her family. See how God works behind the scenes to accomplish HIS plans!

All three books in this trilogy will inspire you to read the background for these stories in your Bible. You will be kept in suspense as God brings a loving Hebrew man into each of their lives.

Our GP Library has all three of these wonderful books, and I encourage you to visit the library very soon! ~ Sue Gibson

To reach our Librarian, Barb Lewis, please email: library@gracepointpa.org.