2 Things today..
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”
– Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)
How are you? Can you believe the times that we are in? I know that it can be so confusing – I understand that completely. My heart is grieved over world events and even more so – events that are happening weekly in the United States of America. As pastor, my deep burden and daily prayer, is for continued unity, covering, healing and strength to endure these difficult and hard days. I have been asked about the church’s response to the latest news coming out of the State Capitol, the CDC, and Washington DC concerning COVID-19, Shelter in Place orders, Governor’s briefings, loving our neighbors, prophecy, end times, Revelation, opening up, closing down, online, in-house gatherings, flattening the curve, new cases, and even scary Schwab tests; not to mention – vaccines or no vaccines, masks or no masks in service! The question being asked over and over is, “Pastor, what are we supposed to do?”
Can I just say – when I was preparing for ministry at Lee University – they didn’t offer classes on pandemics, civil unrest, social distancing or Sunday masked meetings! This is all brand new and history books are only now being written on how to pastor through such harsh and divisive times in the world and yes, even in the church. I am so thankful for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as HE works in and through us all for building up the Kingdom of God in the midst of it all! He has proven to be FAITHFUL!
These are the last days indeed! To this end, there is no question! For everything that is going on, so much division, and so many pointing fingers at one another… conspiracy theories, YouTube videos, and opinions that differ to the extreme… what does all of this mean and where is it really coming from? It all certainly begs the question, “Who is that masked man…. Anyway?”
So, what is really going on? Whose behind it all? The government? The election? QANON? The devil? China? Or more obviously… is it all the end time prophecies foretold in the Word of God that will usher in the Lord Jesus Christ’s appearance in the skies to gather HIS church to HIMSELF? What does the church say and how should we as Christians be reacting to the daily unleashing of news, rules, protocols, and mandates? Well, I do believe there are answers! When in doubt or in need of anything in this life – the old song says it best; “I run to the ROCK of my SALVATION!” The relationship we have in JESUS CHRIST offers answers, peace, joy in trials, and overcoming power. Circumstances still bring with them many questions and while I won’t try to answer them all in this one small communication to you today… I will tell you that your pastors are working on it.
I have been speaking to our pastors and other leading ministers about what they see in the spiritual sense concerning the days that we are in. As a result, we will be embarking on a series of meetings & forums here at Stratford Heights that will help unravel the Scriptural admonition for this hour! Questions and answers, Bible studies, and commentary that will bring a sense of clarity and understanding to world events in light of the Word of God. I’m excited to share more details with you in the coming days!
That’s the FIRST THING, and so you ask, what is the SECOND THING? I’m glad you asked:
“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.20 Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble”.
– Romans 14:17-20
Paul in his writing to the Roman church was obviously talking to a divided people…they were Jews and Gentiles worshipping together in the newly formed Christian church. Paul was looking at their differences in opinion and tradition and wanted to remind them that the end goal for us all is building the kingdom of God! He says in verse 19, “So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.” Saints, we are to work together in unity, love and respect for one another.” There are some who agree and others who disagree with one or more of these agencies who throw information at us daily. It can be daunting, argumentative and even hurtful at times, but at the end of the day, we know what to do.
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
– Romans 12:18
It must be in our heart to honor, respect and love one another. Let’s remember this as we start each brand- new day! Every day, no matter what is going on in the world around us, is the day that the Lord has made, and we will REJOICE in it!
This week, Butler County, where our church building is located, was declared an Ohio COVID-19 RISK LEVEL 3 with guidelines for the Public. To better understand those guidelines, please click the link provided below for important information about how to comply with all health orders.
FYI: Those guidelines do include a mandate from Governor Dewine that MASKS be worn in public in Butler County. This information is given to you so that you can make the best and most up to date decisions for yourself and your family. We are asking that you wear masks into the church until you are seated. If you do not have one, we will have them available for you upon request. It is our heart to provide you with the best and most current information for your prayerful direction. We will continue to provide a safe, clean, and socially distant worship experience that honors GOD and our church family.
As your Pastor and friend: I am praying for you. I do greatly miss those who have not yet been back to services and hope that we will soon be worshipping together again. Sunday is going to be GREAT! So, whether you are with us IN-HOUSE or with us ONLINE…. Let’s WORSHIP GOD TOGETHER! Again, I am praying for you…. Please pray for your pastors and church family.
Much love – Pastor Ray
“to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some”
– 1 Corinthians 9:22 (NKJV)