Friday (3/20/2020) - Lord God, by your Word fill me with a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving
1 Chronicles 16:7–36 -On that day David gave to Asaph and his fellow Levites this song of thanksgiving to the Lord: Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord. Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him. Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given, you children of his servant Israel, you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones. He is the Lord our God. His justice is seen throughout the land. Remember his covenant forever— the commitment he made to a thousand generations. This is the covenant he made with Abraham and the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, and to the people of Israel as a never-ending covenant: “I will give you the land of Canaan as your special possession.” He said this when you were few in number, a tiny group of strangers in Canaan. They wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. Yet he did not let anyone oppress them. He warned kings on their behalf: 22“Do not touch my chosen people, and do not hurt my prophets.” Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods. The gods of other nations are mere idols, but the Lord made the heavens! Honor and majesty surround him; strength and joy fill his dwelling. O nations of the world, recognize the Lord, recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong. Give to the Lord the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his presence. Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before him. The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Cry out, “Save us, O God of our salvation! Gather and rescue us from among the nations, so we can thank your holy name and rejoice and praise you.” Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting! And all the people shouted “Amen!” and praised the Lord.
It should be pretty easy to be thankful when things are going well, isn’t it? When there is money in the bank, security in our job and toilet paper on grocery store shelves it should be so easy to sit back and to be grateful. But that also seems to be the times we forget to be thankful. Maybe it’s because we think we deserve all the good things we have in life. Or perhaps we struggle to express thanks because we have forgotten what it’s like to be uncertain of tomorrow.
Then we often go the other extreme and things aren’t going so well. We are afraid we are going to lose our job or our retirement funds. We struggle with difficult circumstances and in our fear, we never remember to be thankful. After all, what do we have to be thankful for in times like that? Maybe I am unique in this (but I don’t think I am) – I am most grateful when I am coming out of the storms of life and starting to sense some hope. Then I am quick to tell those around me thank you; I remember to express my gratitude to God.
I am pretty sure as I read passages like our text today that this kind of sporadic thankfulness is not at all what God wants from us. His preference is that we are always thankful even when our circumstances are less than desirable. David said “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His faithful love endures forever.” This is the key to thankfulness. Our willingness to give thanks should not be based on our circumstances. Our gratitude should not be only be shown when we get what we want. No matter what problems we face, we know that God is always good and that his love will never end. Are you expressing thankfulness only when you get what you want? If so, you may have the wrong motivation for thankfulness.
Today, regardless of what you hear on the news and the circumstances you face, try giving thanks to God. Be motivated by the fact that his love endures. And then start expressing gratitude to those around you. They need to hear something good just as much as you do!
March 19, 2020
Dear church family,
You can imagine that the last few days have been filled with a lot of conversations with our ministry teams about how we as a church are going to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This statement will help explain our plans but please remember that everything is so fluid right now and things are changing very quickly. As things change, we will keep you updated as best we can.
It has been a long-standing policy that when the school closes during the week, we also close our ministries on those days. For the foreseeable future we will not be hosting our Wednesday Night Family Night activities – no Simple Supper, no student ministries and no adult studies.
In an effort to follow the Federal, State and County guidelines regarding social distancing we are also going to suspend our Life Groups and our Sunday Morning services for the time being. Trust me when I say that this was a difficult decision to make, and it was covered in hours of prayer by our ministry teams.
While we may not be meeting here at the church this Sunday, we will continue to meet through our livestream on our church Facebook page. Many of you know that we have been streaming our services for a number of months now, and we are ready to make the transition to a virtual service for the time being. You can watch the service at our normal time on Sunday morning at 10:45. It will be a shorter service, realizing how difficult it might be to stay focused in an online situation while most likely in your pajamas. But we will still have all the components of our normal gathering time, and I think it will be a great encouragement to you.
Just because we are going to stop having “normal” church services does not mean that we are not still doing church! We have spent every Sunday this year looking at the importance of the church and what it really means and how important your role in the church is. We know it’s not about the building but the people. We now have an amazing opportunity to be the church in our community. We are going to be shifting much of our effort at this time to doing things online and using the technology we have available to us. We hope that very soon we will be able to host virtual Life Groups so that we can continue this valuable discipleship tool.
In an effort to be the church in our community, we are looking for ways to step up and step out during these weeks. I have already had several of our church family reach out to me and let me know that they are willing to help out in the community, running to the grocery store or pharmacy for those who cannot get out. The church is going to be hosting a blood drive in the Fellowship Hall with ConnectLife on Wednesday the 25th – this will be “by appointment only” in order to maintain the regulations on social distancing. You can find more information on our web page and on Facebook or you can call me directly.
And there are so many other ways you can be the church. We will continue to post ideas and opportunities on our church Facebook page. In a time when so many people are living in fear and frustration, we need to stand out for our confidence in Christ.
In the meantime, we still have bills to pay, missionaries and staff to support and ministries to run so let me encourage to continue to give faithfully. You can give online through our church app or our webpage at fbcmayville.com – there is a button in the top right corner that you can click that will take you to a secure giving page. If you need help getting things set up, do not hesitate to call me. You can also send your offering to the church office at 59 South Erie Street, Mayville, NY 14757.
Our prayer is that we will be able to meet together again on Easter Sunday – what a great symbol of the resurrection that would be! Our leadership team will continue to talk, and we will make that decision as we get into the opening days of April. Stay tuned to our church Facebook page, web page, church app and email/phone tree as we will be using those tools to communicate with you.
As weird as this may sound, I am genuinely excited for our church right now. I have been praying that God would give us this community and that we would be able to make a major difference in the life of Mayville and our surrounding area. I am convinced that God will use this time of fear and uncertainty and bring some beautiful things out of it. And I am even more confident that this church needs to be ready to step up and to step out and do whatever we can to shine the Light of Christ.
Pastor Dan Prewitt
Thursday (3/19/2020) - Lord God, by your Word fill me with a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving
Colossians 3:1–17 -Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
There are just some things that should characterize a Christian. Paul gives us a long list of things that we shouldn’t be involved with but then he gives us a list of things that should describe every believer. Mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, forgiveness, love and peace should all be seen in the life of the Christian. And then at the very end of his list he sees to tack on this idea that we should always be thankful. But it is clear from the rest of the text that the idea of thankfulness was just thrown on the end. I think it is much more of a “saving the best for last”.
Everything we do and say should be done with an attitude of thanksgiving. As we show mercy, kindness and humility, as we forgive and love, as we live lives of peace, our thankfulness should be an overarching characteristic that sets us apart from everyone else. In these difficult days we will have many opportunities to live out these character traits and especially gratefulness. While many people around us will be reacting out of fear and frustration and scrambling to take care of themselves first, we can act out of an attitude of gratefulness knowing that we represent Jesus Christ.
Imagine what a difference your thankfulness can make on other people. Take time to say thank you to the workers at the grocery store, the doctors and nurses you see, the person who delivers your mail, those who are stressed and overwhelmed. You might startle them but you also might just be a little bit of Jesus in their world. And who doesn’t need more Jesus right now?
Wednesday (3/18/2020) - Lord God, by your Word fill me with a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving
Philippians 4:1–9 - Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work. Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life. Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord.” That may be one of the most difficult to follow commands in all of Scripture! There are just so many things in life that can steal our joy if we let them, especially over the last few weeks. Paul makes it clear that joy is an expectation for every believer and he gives a list of things we can do to help keep our joy even in difficult situations. Paul tells us to remember that the Lord is coming soon. If we keep an eternal perspective, these temporary circumstances aren’t nearly as powerful against us. Next, Paul encourages us to not worry but instead pray. Prayer is one of the ways we maintain a strong relationship with God. It helps to align us with his will and keeps our hearts and mind focused on him.
And then Paul mentions thankfulness. This is a truth that I have found in my own life – thankfulness drives joy. If I can keep myself focused on having a thankful heart, it is much easier be joyful. The difficulty is keeping my mind focused. I am certain this is why Paul gives us “one final thing” in verse 8. Instead of focusing on all the negative things going on around us and in us, we should focus our thoughts on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise.
I refer to that verse as a filter for my mind. When I have a thought come into my mind I run it through the filter of Philippians 4:8 – if that thought doesn’t match up to each of those characteristics Paul mentions in this verse than that is not a thought I want in my life because it will ultimately steal my joy and hurt my relationship with God.
Do yourself a favor today. Start using this filter for the mind and intentionally gauge your thought life. I think you will be surprised first of all by the number of thoughts that fail this test. But you might also be surprised by how much joy you can find when you focus your mind on Christ. This will take time to incorporate into your life as a discipline – Paul said to had to practice these things. But it can be done and it will be a change that will bring great joy and thankfulness into your life.
Monday (3/16/2020) - Lord God, by your Word fill me with a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving
2 Corinthians 9:1–15 - I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem. For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving. But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you. We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them! So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly. Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
Take some time today to express your thankfulness - to God and to others!
Sunday (3/15/2020) - Lord God, by your Word fill me with a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving
Luke 17:11–19 - As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”
We are one week closer to Holy Week and one week closer to Easter. Our focus in our reading this week is on showing gratitude and thanksgiving, both of which really should be part of our DNA as Christians. Even in our worst of situations, we have so much to be grateful for that we should constantly be giving thanks.
In our text today we read about 10 men who were lepers. This medical condition impacted every aspect of their life – not only were the suffering physically because of this disease, they were suffering mentally and emotionally as well. They were outcasts, no longer welcome in their homes or community. But then Christ showed up. They recognized him immediately and called out for mercy and healing. Christ told them to go to the priests to be checked over – this would require some faith because when they left Jesus, they were still lepers. But on their way to the Priest they were healed. Nine of them continued on to the Priest to be cleared and to go back to their families and old life. But one turned around and returned to Jesus to express his gratitude.
One out of ten…only 10% showed gratitude. I am certain the other nine were very thankful but only one was willing to take the time to actually go back to the one who had healed him to say thank you. As you go through this week’s readings, start looking for ways that you can tangibly express your gratitude to God and to others. We have been incredibly blessed and we need to show it in everything we do.