COVID-19 Comfort

Resources and hope for today’s shepherds

Even in the midst of a pandemic, today’s shepherds can find peace. May these resources speak deeply to your soul as you live into your calling today …

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow—
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Goodness of God

Hope for a Better World Starts with the Resurrection

by Tim Keller

The American belief has long been that each generation will have a better life—economically, technologically, socially, personally—than the previous one. But this idea of linear historical progress did not exist in most other cultures. All ancient cultures—Chinese, Babylonian, Hindu, Greek, and Roman—had different views. Some saw history as cyclical, and others saw history as a slow decline from past golden ages.

The idea that history was moving in the direction of continual progress and improvement in the human condition simply did not exist.

Then, however, came Christianity. As Robert Nisbet writes in his book History of the Idea of Progress, Christian thinkers gave “to the idea of progress a large and devoted following in the West and a sheer power that the idea could not have otherwise [in the absence of Christian beliefs] acquired.” The Greeks thought that the accumulation of human knowledge led to a mild, temporary improvement in the human condition—but only between conflagrations. But Christian philosophers “endowed the idea of progress with new attributes which were bound to give it a spiritual force unknown to their pagan predecessors.”

Christianity, then, offers unparalleled resources for cultural hope. (We are not for the moment talking about individual hope—hope for life after death. We are talking about corporate hope, social hope, hope for the future of society, of the human race—hope for a good direction to history.) Looking at the arc of history through the lens of Christ’s resurrection, we can make four broad statements about the nature of Christian hope: It is uniquely reasonable, full, realistic, and effective.

Christian hope is reasonable

First, there is formidable historical evidence that the resurrection of Christ actually happened. This makes Christian hope different from any other variety.

N. T. Wright explains that the resurrection of Christ presents evidence that demands explanation from historians and scientists. It can’t simply be dismissed. He writes, “Insofar as I understand scientific method, when something turns up that doesn’t fit the paradigm you’re working with, one option … is to change the paradigm.” We are not to exclude the evidence just because our old paradigm can’t account for it, but we are to include it within a new paradigm, “a larger whole.” A failure to provide a historically plausible alternative explanation for the eyewitness accounts and the revolutionary, overnight worldview change of thousands of Jews is not being more scientific—it is being less so.

Various kinds of Western progressivism believe history is moving toward more individual freedom or class equality or economic prosperity or technologically acquired peace and justice. But these views are not hypotheses that anyone can test. They are “hope so” hopes—beliefs that are not rooted in the empirical realm. The resurrection of Christ, however, includes powerful evidence from the empirical realm and, while still requiring faith, provides a highly reasonable, rational hope that there is a God who is going to renew the world.

Christian hope is full

Every religion has offered people a hope for a life after death. Our secular culture, in radical contrast, is the first in history to tell its members that both individuals and world history will end in ultimate oblivion. In the end, we go to nothing, both as a civilization and as persons.

Other religions are ultimately “spirit-ist” in the sense that they believe matter is unimportant and in the end all that will exist is spirit. Secularism, of course, is materialist in its belief that there is no soul or supernatural reality, that everything has a scientific, physical cause.

Christianity differs from both. It does not merely offer the prospect of a wholly spiritual future in heaven. The resurrection of Jesus, to cite the Greek New Testament, is arrabon, a down payment, and aparche, the firstfruits of a future physical resurrection in which the material world will be renewed. It will be a world where justice dwells, every tear will be wiped away, death and destruction are banished forever, and the wolf will lie down with the lamb; these are lyrical, poetic ways of saying that this world will be mended, made new, liberated from its bondage to death and decay (Rom. 8:18–23).

This is the fullest possible hope. The resurrection of Christ promises us not merely some future consolation for the life we lost but the restoration of the life we lost and infinitely more. It promises the world and life that we have always longed for but never had.

Christian hope is realistic

The philosophy of G. W. F. Hegel has long been highly influential for Western thought. Hegel taught that history was proceeding through a “dialectic” in which, in each age, conflicting forces reached a new, greater synthesis. This meant that every age was better than the one before and history was moving upward in a series of unbroken steps. That, as we have seen over the last century, is simply unrealistic. Christianity offers an infinitely greater and more wonderful destiny for human history and society, but it does so realistically.

If we look to the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus, we see a very different divine model. His life was not in any way a series of upward steps. He emptied himself of his glory and came and died, yet this descent led to an ascent to even greater heights, because now he rules not only the world in general but also a saved people. It was only through his suffering and descent that he was able to save us and ascend.

This is not the Hegelian merger of equal and opposite forces. Jesus did not “synthesize” holiness with sin or life with death. He defeated sin and death through death. But neither are Jesus’ life and ministry the random sequence ruptures described by the postmodernists. Jesus goes through darkness to eventually bring us to greater light. History is moving toward a wonderful destiny, but not in a series of successively better and better eras, going from strength to strength. That is not how God works.

The secular idea of progress is naive and unrealistic. It is wrong to base a society on the assumption that every generation will experience more prosperity, peace, and justice than the one before. But the postmodern alternative robs us of any hope. Christianity, however, gives us a noncynical but realistic way to see history.

Christian hope is effective

Finally, Christian hope works at the life level, the practical level.

The New Testament uses the word hope in two ways. When it comes to hoping in human beings and ourselves, our hope is always relative, uncertain. If you lend to someone, you do so in the hope that person will pay you back (Luke 6:34); if we plow and thresh, we do so in the hope that there will be a harvest (1 Cor. 9:10). We choose the best methods and wisest practices to secure the outcome we want. We insist to ourselves and others that we have it sorted and under control. But we do not—we never do. This is relative, “hope so” hope.

But when the object of hope is not any human agent but God, then hope means confidence, certainty, and full assurance (Heb. 11:1). To have hope in God is not to have an uncertain, anxious wish that he will affirm your plan but to recognize that he and he alone is trustworthy, that everything else will let you down (Ps. 42:5, 11; 62:10), and that his plan is infinitely wise and good. If I believe in the resurrection of Jesus, that confirms that there is a God who is both good and powerful, who brings light out of darkness, and who is patiently working out a plan for his glory, our good, and the good of the world (Eph. 1:9–12; Rom. 8:28). Christian hope means that I stop betting my life and happiness on human agency and rest in him.

A person who gets a diagnosis of cancer will rightly put relative hope in doctors and medical treatment. But the main source of dependence must be upon God. We can have certainty that his plan and will for us is always good and perfect and that the inevitable destiny is resurrection. If a cancer patient’s main hope lies in medicine, then an unfavorable report will be devastating. But if that hope is in the Lord, it will be like a mountain that cannot be shaken or moved (Ps. 125:1). Isaiah 40:31 says that those who “hope in the Lord” are not anxiously holding on but always “renewing their strength” and even “soaring.” Hope in God leads to “running and not growing weary” and “walking and not being faint.”

Jesus has secured this for us by his death and resurrection. When this assurance abides in us, our immediate fates—how the current situation turns out—can no longer trouble us. Hope comes from looking at him.

Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. This article is adapted from HOPE IN TIMES OF FEAR, by Timothy Keller, published by Viking, an imprint of the Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Timothy Keller.

Buy from Amazon

Battle Belongs

“Selfish Praying” • Manna Quarantine Devotional #90

He Left the 99 to rescue me

We Praise You – Matt Redman

How are you doing spiritually?

How are you doing spiritually in this season? Crisis can distract us at best and totally derail us at worst. How do we continue growing in Christ and living out His mission when the world around us in in so much chaos?

Second Corinthians

What if Your Spouse is Driving You Crazy? from Valley Baptist Church on Vimeo.

What if Your Spouse is Driving You Crazy?

If you’re married, chances are you’re spending a whole lot more time with your spouse these days. This extra quality time can create friction. Today, Pastor Brian wants to talk about that. You really can get to a great place with your spouse where you’re not irritated with each other all the time. It may take more than this short devotion, but cling to God through it and we bet you’ll see your marriage change for the better! Lastly, if you feel like it’s time to talk to someone about your marriage struggles, please reach out.

Plan for Re-opening Gatherings and Starting New Churches During COVID-19

Covid-19 has released unprecedentedchallenges for the Church. As the nextseveral months unfold, we will begin to seemore clearly the changes as a result. As thecountry begins to reopen, churches need toimplement a plan that is contextualized fortheir community. There is no one size fits allapproach. This resource is designed to helpyou and your leadership team think througha contextualized plan to reopen and startnew churches during this global pandemic. This free PDF is proved by Stadia Church Planting and can be viewed here:

Jesus Understood Loneliness from Valley Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Jesus Understood Loneliness

Jesus was alone so that we would never have to be alone again. When He faced the cross and the horrific events leading up to the cross, Jesus was mostly deserted. His friends fled and the same people that chanted “Hosanna!” just a few days before were now humiliating Him as He went to the cross. He prayed in the garden alone. He faced His accusers alone. He took that horrific beating alone. He went to the cross alone. He was laid in His tomb alone.

But, we all know that wasn’t the end of the story. Jesus bore all of that suffering and loneliness so that we would never have to be lonely again. Jesus wanted to have a relationship with you so badly that He welcomed all of those lonely and hurtful moments so that He could.

Take Heart

Matthew West

Good Shepherd

From Wuhan to Bethlehem

by Dan Wolgemuth

6900 miles. That’s how far it is from Wuhan, China to Denver. 6900 miles from the genesis of a global disease. A genesis that will be the topic of discussion and speculation and accusation and fury for years to come. The stuff of theories and books and movies.

A virus. Small. Contagious. And swift.

6900 miles. That’s how far it is from Bethlehem, Israel to Denver. 6900 miles from the genesis of a global movement. A genesis that has been the topic of discussion and speculation and accusation and fury… and transformation and redemption for millennium.

A birth. Small. Isolated.

COVID-19. A mark on a generation. Unforgettable for a season. But finite. Discrete. Eventually, contained. The waves of impact washing over global economics and international politics. For a season. For now.

Bethlehem. Jesus. The living, loving, spotless son of God. A mark on human existence. Infinite. Eternal. Uncontainable and unconstrainable. The waves of impact washing through every nuance of life. No exemption to His love. No exception. God, loving the world in Jesus. Through Jesus. For now. For yesterday. For eternity.

A virus controlled with distance. A virus defined by masks. A virus that isolates.

A Savior defined by proximity. A Savior who comes near. A Savior who unites.

6900 miles. A submicroscopic infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism. A parasite. A killer. Indiscriminate. Contagious.

6900 miles. An infant. Tiny and fragile against the backdrop of history. A Nazarene. A Jew. Working class. Life giver. Abundance bringer. Transformer. Contagious.

A virus that marks a generation. A King who marks the cosmos.

One confined to mortality. The other empowered by eternity.

One confronts medicine and economics. The other assaults the gates of hell.

6900 miles. From Wuhan to Bethlehem. From death to life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10, ESV)

COVID-19. To steal and kill and destroy.

Jesus. Life giver. Abundance producer.

6900 miles. From death. To life.

A curve flattened for all eternity. Only. Always. Jesus.

"Money • Contentment" • Manna Quarantine Devotional #53

Over 30 additional videos of Brad Hannink’s Quarantine Devotionals can be found on the official Manna website here.

See Me Through

Hey it’s Jordan Riley. I hope this email finds you and your family doing well and healthy during this Pandemic. I wanted to share with you a video that my two sons (ages 12 and 15) did to help bring encouragement and hope to people during this time. It’s a music video of a song I wrote and I hope you will take the time to Watch it and Share it.

Be Still... from Valley Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Be Still…

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” That’s harder than it sounds in times like these. Today, Pastor Brian gives us some strong insight into being still and trusting God.

Trusting in God.. even when it's hard.. from Valley Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Trusting in God.. even when it’s hard.

Trusting in God when life is good is easy, but our faith is tested in hard times. How can we learn to trust God in uncertain times? Watch today’s devotion from Pastor Andrew on how to begin trusting God – even when life is uncertain.

"Sovereign Ruler of the Skies" — Today’s Hymn Reflection from Alistair Begg

Alistair Begg loves hymns, and during these days of uncertainty and anxiety, he turns to his favorite lyrics for encouragement and hope. This one, from John Ryland, helps us affirm our conviction that God is the creator and sustainer of the universe and that we can rest peacefully in His sovereignty.

God will never let go.. from Valley Baptist Church on Vimeo.

God will never let go…

Pastor Roger tells a story about a boy that was attacked by an alligator swimming South Florida. While a neighbor saw and called for help, the boy’s mom wasted no time and jumped in to save her son. After an intense fight with that alligator, mom saved her boy. She wouldn’t let go of her son. In a similar way, when we struggle, God will never let go of us.


by Dan Wolgemuth, Youth For Christ

Re… cession. We’re all hearing it. Perhaps the worst in my lifetime, and likely yours. Global economic loss. Unemployment soaring. Uncertainty with tsunami force.

Governments pressing into when to re… start economic activity.

Daily lives, now re… coiling.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us… (Ephesians 2:4)

God. In an act of transcendent love, took us, while we were lifeless; breathless; hopeless; lost; bankrupt; destitute; alienated; worthless…

And He re… deemed us. This perfect God. Holy. Righteous. Pure, sent His precious son to buy us back. He declared victory over re… gret.

Re… deemed.

So that we could be re… newed. That we might be re… lieved of the judgment of sin.

Re… minded of the liberty we experience in Jesus.

Unleashed in re… vival.

Re… storing the joy of His salvation.

Re… placing our identity in the righteousness of Christ.

There is a Re… Deemer. Jesus. God’s only son.

He collects the ashes of our dreams, and aspirations, and plans, and He re… invests them in a treasure that will not rot or rust or decay or re… cede.


There is no white flag of re… treat in our King.

He Reigns. Make no mistake. We have a Redeemer. He has purchased us with His own blood. He will not fail us. He will not abandon us. He will not flee. He is not far away…

When the world talks recession. Christ followers talk redemption. Renewal. Restoration. And yes, Revival.

What a Savior. No scheme of man. No power of hell. Rescued. Redeemed. That we may remain with Him forever.

All the days of  my life

The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. — Psalm 23:1

When Isaiah the prophet lamented that “All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own” (Isa. 53:6), it was not a compliment to be compared to sheep. Sheep have an infuriating tendency to wander and, not infrequently, to end up in deep trouble. Men have the same tendency. But not all sheep wander. Some seem to find an antidote to their restlessness—they settle down with a watchful shepherd. That is precisely what men need as well.

David, as we know, was no stranger to sheep. He spent many long and lonely hours shepherding on the hills surrounding Bethlehem, guarding against lions and bears and leading his charges to water and pasture. The simple words of David’s most famous psalm capture the beauty of a sheep’s life under the gracious care of a shepherd—or more accurately, the splendor of a man’s life lived under the shepherding of the Lord.

The ability to say “I have everything I need” (23:1) is a rarity in today’s consumer-oriented society. We are bombarded by skillfully-directed advertising that plays on our innermost fears and longings and blurs the distinction between needs and wants, necessities and luxuries. It is becoming harder to find “rest in green meadows” and peace “beside peaceful streams“ (23:2). Men are fighting the rush of modern life in the concrete jungle.

The man who can testify truthfully “The Lord is my shepherd” (23:1) can also speak of how this fundamental truth has made an impact on his life. And not just occasionally, but “all the days of [his] life” (23:6). To know the place where “strength” can be renewed and guidance along “right paths” (23:3) can be found is to be assured and encouraged in the midst of modern uncertainty. A man can have this confidence even when called upon by life’s vicissitudes to “walk through the dark valley” (23:4) and to live “in the presence of [one’s] enemies” (23:5). When the Lord is our shepherd, he gives the grace “not [to] be afraid” and to testify, “My cup overflows with blessings” (23:4-5). To experience this is to live at a level not known by many a man.

Should it be objected that all this sounds too good to be true, the response must be—it is! That is, unless the Lord is shepherding. Then his “goodness and unfailing love” (23:6) will pursue even the potentially wayward sheep, like divinely directed sheepdogs.

And that is not the end of it. When “all the days of [his] life” are over, the well-shepherded man will “live in the house of the Lord forever” (23:6). What a way to go!

For further study: Psalm 23

Confronting Fear

By Stuart Briscoe

Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated as President of the United States of America in the depths of the Great Depression. In his inauguration speech he said, “First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

In his commendable desire to raise the spirits of the demoralized people, it could be said that his rhetoric strayed from reality. Among the millions of people clustered round their radios, hanging on his words, were many who had lost their jobs, their savings, and, in some situations, even their homes. They had no shortage either of fears or reasons for fears that were neither “nameless nor unreasoning nor unjustified.”

Their world was, and our world is, full of fearsome objects, real and imaginary, seen and unseen. But they have names—mostly borrowed from the Greeks. Phobia comes from “phobos” which in turn becomes aquaphobia—the fear of water, acrophobia—the fear of heights, agoraphobia—the fear of crowds (in the marketplace), arachnophobia—the fear of spiders, and so on, ad infinitum. (And we’re still in the list starting with “A”!) Fears abound, and we have to learn how to cope. But that is easier said than done as many of us can attest. So here are a few things I’ve discovered about fear as I’ve confronted it.

First, we need face up to and rightly view the fear-inducing object.

Rightly viewing the fear requires that we accurately name the fear. The disciples of Jesus were terrified when they were caught in the middle of a storm in the middle of the night in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. These hardy, experienced fishermen were familiar with the dangers inherent in fishing on Galilee and no doubt were reasonably competent in riding out the storms. But they were totally unfamiliar with what they saw in the gloom coming in their direction. A ghost! They cried out in terror only to discover that this was no fear-inducing ghost or angel of death coming for them. It was Jesus walking on the water, and He said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Rightly viewing what they were actually facing made all the difference—the difference between facing a fear-inducing specter and a gracious, miracle-working Lord.

Mark Twain with typical understated humor once said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, most of which never happened.” The majority of his problems, which no doubt bred anxieties and fears, had been based on objects, issues, or happenings that either did not exist or they did not warrant an apprehensive response.

Some of my friends admit ruefully that they have a tendency to assume the worst-case scenario will be the most likely outcome of any specific situation. On that assumption they set about dreading it. Others subscribe to Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong and at the worst possible moment.” They are already anticipating it before anything has happened at all. This is not rightly viewing the fear-inducing object.

But how do we do it? It might be a good idea to make a journal entry of the fears that we have experienced, and then, after the situation is resolved, describe the outcome in a parallel journal entry. Then in a quiet moment return to both journal entries and point out to yourself the disparity between what you feared and what actually happened. Do that often enough and you should begin to view events from a different perspective—leading to relief and release.

While it is possible, like Mr. Twain, to overestimate the impact of life situations, it is equally possible to underestimate the severity of life’s situations. The former creates crises that do not exist, the latter discounts dangers that do exist—big time! Like the lady who, while walking in the woods with her young son, met a bear. She immediately told the boy, “Now, we both know that the bear cannot hurt us. I know that and you know that, so don’t be afraid.” The boy, viewing the bear at close quarters replied, “Mother, I know the bear can’t hurt us, and you know the bear can’t hurt us, but does the bear know?” I think the kid was respectfully and obliquely pointing out to his mother that her thinking was off base somewhere. Perhaps he suspected that she might not be viewing the bear rightly!

Second, we need to recognize that fear has its uses.

President Roosevelt no doubt had seen enough of the effects of the Depression to recognize how the accumulation of tragic circumstances had gradually worn down the resistance and energy of the people, leaving them in a state of hopelessness and terror. For too long they had subsisted on a diet of despair and despondency, hopelessness and fear, that had drained them of resistance and resolve and left them in a state of paralysis. But rightly understood fear is supposed to galvanize not paralyze. Let me illustrate.

One day, as I was bird-watching along the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, I came across a number of kingfishers hovering, diving, and fishing in the clear blue water. At the same time, a flock of birds that I could not identify were feeding on the shoreline, and I walked carefully on slippery rocks toward them. Something attracted my attention, so I turned, and to my horror I saw a 20-foot-long crocodile a few yards from me. I have been in relative close quarters with many of the African wild animals but not crocodiles. I’m terrified of the beasts! Fright took over. I broke out in a cold sweat. Some would call it “acute stress response,” others more colloquially “flight or fight.” Sensors flashed a message to the brain—danger! Glands and heart and muscles and countless other body parts did their work, and with my heart rate pounding, my cheeks flushed, my mind clear, and my muscles strengthened with escalated blood supply, I turned to run as I’d never run before.

As I’m writing this to you, it is obvious I survived the ordeal. Not because I was supercharged with adrenalin and had broken speed records on the slippery rocks. In fact, I slipped and fell and knew all was lost. But nothing happened. I scrambled to my feet looked round and saw the crocodile had not moved. It showed no interest in me—it was a sculpture! Relief flooded my soul, but my body took a long time to return to normal, as the effects of the acute stress response wound down. Fear had done its valuable galvanizing work—equipping for flight or fight. Thank God for fear’s built-in response mechanism—all part of our intricate creation.

Third, we need to know what Scripture says about fear and how we should respond.

Proverbs 9:10 is one of the best-known passages of Scripture dealing with fear.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Wisdom can be described as “the practical knowledge necessary to live rightly before God.” The starting point for this lifestyle is “the fear of God” or “knowledge of the Holy One.” If we read the parallelism of Hebrew poetry carefully, that means basically gaining a recognition of who God is and responding appropriately. Scripture tells us that He is Holy, Righteous, Just, and Loving, Compassionate, and Merciful; that He cannot and will not tolerate sin but longs in love to forgive us and draw us back to Himself in order to live rightly before Him.

It is quite common to hear people, today, differentiating between an Old Testament God, the Father (who is Holy, Righteous, and Just) and a New Testament God, Jesus (Loving, Compassionate, and Merciful) who is much nicer. But they should remember that it was Jesus who said, “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:5). In both Old and New Testaments, the Triune God complains, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Psalms 36:1; Romans 3:18). We are not free to read the Bible selectively or to trichotomize the Trinity!

Those who ponder the holiness, righteousness, and justice of God, and see themselves standing before Him as their Judge, guilty and without excuse, know something of the fear of the Lord. This should galvanize them into action leading to repentance and an urgent call on the Lord for forgiveness. Then they will begin to appreciate the wonder of His love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. And they will seek to live rightly before Him. This is a challenge, not to be taken lightly as the Apostle demonstrated by his instructions to the Philippians:

“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” ( Philippians 2:12-13)

Our salvation is a work, a gift of grace granted to us by the God of grace. It deals with our past—forgives it; guarantees our future—secures it; and directs our present and empowers it. Presented with this salvation we are then called to “work it out.” That means to live like saved people! Forgiven people who know what forgiveness is and practice it. It gets worked out. Directed people who have a sense of calling and purpose and pursue it. They work at it. Secure people who eschew self-confidence but are calm and confident in the Lord in crisis—and it works!

But the key to all this is the inner working of Emmanuel, God with us, or the Holy Spirit, God within us. All we can work out is dependent on what God Himself is working within us. And we are in awe of the enormity of it all. We tremble at the thought of getting in His way, of grieving His Spirit. And we fear displeasing Him, of disappointing Him, of dishonoring His name and bringing disgrace to His church, His Body. Then we yield once again to His will and rest once afresh in His enabling as He wills and acts in us to accomplish His good purpose.

There’s good fear and bad fear, paralyzing fear and galvanizing fear, instructive fear and destructive fear, and silly fear and sensible fear, and much more—I fear.

“Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then
Have nothing else to fear;
Make you His service your delight,
Your wants shall be His care.”

(Hymn: “Through All the Changing Scenes of Life”)

The tale of two naps…

by Dan Wolgemuth

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.” (Mark 4:37–38a, ESV)

A nap. Jesus, in the back of the boat. Storm raging. Disciples desperate. Uninterrupted rest.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. (Matthew 26:39–40, ESV)

A nap. The disciples. Captives to their own fatigue.

Two naps. Jesus as a participant in both stories, but a radically different posture in each.

Rest in the storm. Fierce in the battle.

Calm in the chaos. Unrelenting in the fight against evil.

Asleep in one. On His knees in the other.

A textbook. A guide. A plan… for His disciples. For us.

A storm. COVID-19. His guidance… rest well. Peace be still. Calm your soul. He’s got this. Only He has this. And because He has this storm, we find comfort.

A culture in chaos. Fear unleashed. Into this environment we bring an unrelenting message of hope, of grace, of redemption, of transformation, of generosity, of courage, of support for those on the front lines of the battle, of compassion. An amplified voice into souls once deaf to the message of Jesus. A battle that starts and ends on our knees. Crying out. Crying into.

But a battle without fear. A battle that doesn’t allow the virus to chart our future.

Rest in the storm. Fierce in the battle.

Rest because of the cross. Fierce because of an empty tomb.

Sins forgiven. A message unleashed.

Justified. Commissioned.

A tale of two naps.

Only Jesus. Always Jesus.

In Christ Along Lyrics

Happy Easter!! Celebrating with all of you the resurrection of our Good Shepherd!! (Mark 16)

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory

Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

In Christ Alone

This virtual choir a cappella performance features the voices of 48 singers from 14 countries. It was a labour of love lasting 5 months, and many dozens of work hours. We pray that you are blessed by the music and the message of this modern hymn.

The God of All Comfort

Source of Comfort

This is a strange time in our lives. People are looking for encouragement, hope and comfort. Presence Point has created a resource called COVID19 Comfort to help fill that need. It is a collection of blogs, sermons, music and verses that we hope will bring you comfort.

Psalm 46:1

Where are the nine?

by Dan Wolgemuth,

The 17th chapter of the book of Luke records this amazing story of compassion, as Jesus not only ventures into close proximity with a collection of unclean lepers, but then He extends His miraculous healing power to them.

Ten lepers who stood at a distance… a social distance with a stamp of shame.

In that moment, Jesus healed. His words chased away the humiliation. His words bridged the gap to hope.

“Then one of them…” Just one. Words of gratitude echoing back from the halls of healing. One of them.

Then the question. The riveting and rhetorical question. The nine?

Nine with a short memory.

How could they forget? Where was the gratitude?

We’re all living through an unthinkable reality. A reality that we desperately want to get through. And so the question that keeps running through my mind is… “When we get to the other side. When COVID-19 is not the only story in the news. When the death toll numbers aren’t front and center… will we forget the lessons God taught us? Will our ears be retuned to the frequency of the culture? Will my quieter and more reflective patterns once again succumb to boarding passes and hotel stays?

Like the other nine… will I simply move on. Will I take the power of God for granted, yet again. Will Jesus look at me and say, “Where are the nine?”

So, perhaps as a hedge against indifferent ingratitude, start a list. Your Luke 17 list. Your COVID-19 list. A list of what you never want to go back to. A list of what you have savored and learned in the midst of this current reality.

Everything has changed. Everything. Let’s not forget what God is teaching us. Now.

Gratitude germinates in the fertile ground of uncertainty, and it blooms in a return trip to the feet of Jesus.

Nine with a short memory. Never forget.

Make a list to remind you, to inspire you, to escort you back to Jesus.

Pastor Efrem exhorts us to keep BEING the Church!

Have you noticed how the Church – not only Bayside, but the worldwide Body of Christ – is mobilizing like never before, taking God’s love and hope to where the people are, especially during this virus lockdown?

From The Desk of Franklin Graham

Dear Friend,

I wanted to write you with an update. The coronavirus has turned everyday life for most people upside down. America, like most of the world, is in a state of emergency. Millions are faced with unemployment or business loss, and most tragic of all, so many are facing this pandemic without the hope of Jesus Christ. People are filled with anxiety and fear.

At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we opened a 24/7 prayer line for people who want someone to pray with them. Early this week, we began airing a 60-second evangelistic message on TV across the entire United States, and we have had thousands of people call. We are humbled by this opportunity to share about His love and salvation.

If you are struggling with worry in the midst of this crisis, call us at 888-388-2683—or share this number with your loved ones, friends, or others on social media. We know that prayer does make a difference.

Chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team are in Italy, the epicenter of this crisis. As they minister to medical personnel, patients, and families, pray with us that many will find new life in Christ.

I am deeply grateful for your partnership. Your financial support and your prayers make this ministry possible.

 Give Now

See Callers Find Hope

The days may feel uncertain, but we serve a God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He alone “is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, ESV), and we are urgently sharing that truth with a hurting world.

May God ricly bless you,
Franklin Graham

The Key of Strength

from “The Bible Incorporated In Your Life, Job & Business”

When the Lord is your strength, who is there to be afraid of?

1 He is the saving strength of His anointed.
2 Seek the Lord and His strength and seek His face continually
3 and He will be your strength and power, making your way perfect.
4 The Lord is our rock, our fortress, our deliverer, our God and our strength in whom we will trust.
5 He girds us with strength,
6 and the joy of the Lord becomes our strength.
7 The Lord will give strength unto His people,
8 yes strength and power,
9 enabling them to go from strength to strength.
10 But a horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength,
11 for God doesn’t delight in the strength of a horse nor does He take pleasure in the legs of man.
12 Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might
13 and in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
14 Then you will be strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power
15 and able to do all things through Christ who strengthens you,
16 because great is He that is in you than he that is in the world.
17 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, having no confidence in the flesh.
18 For God’s grace is sufficient for you, for His strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore boast about your weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon you.
19 Be strong and very courageous, fear not, for the Lord they God is with you; He will not fail you nor forsake you.
20 If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small,
21 so don’t be weary in well doing, for in due season, you shall reap, if you faint not.
22 And besides, God gives power to the faint, and to them that have no might, He increases strength. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.
23 He will make their feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make them to walk upon high places.
24 The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.
25 Let the weak say, I am strong,
26 for whoever executes God’s word is strong.
27 Fear not, God is with you. Be not dismayed for He is your God. He will strengthen you, yes He will help you, yes He will uphold you with the right hand of His righteousness.
28 Just wait on the Lord, and be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart,
29 all you that hope in the Lord.
30 For God increases His people greatly, making them stronger than their enemies,
31 and he that has clean hands, will be stronger and stronger.
32 When you are weak in the flesh, then you are strong in the Lord,
33 and He will be your strength in the time of trouble.
34 Remember that glory and honor are in His presence; strength and gladness are in His place.35 

1) Psalms 27:1 2) Psalms 28:8 3) I Chronicles 16:11 4) II Samuel 22:33 5) Psalms 18:2 6) Psalms 18:32 7) Nehemiah 8:10 8) Psalms 29:11 9) Psalms 68:35 10) Psalms 84:7 11) Psalms 33:17 12) Psalms 147:10 13) Ephesians 6:10 14) II Timothy 2:1 15) Colossians 1:11 16) Philippians 4:13 17) I John 4:4 18) Philippians 3:3 19) II Corinthians 12:9 20) Deuteronomy 31:6 21) Proverbs 24:10 22) Galatians 6:9 23) Isaiah 40:29,31 24) Habakkuk 3:19 25) II Chronicles 16:9 26) Joel 3:10 27) Joel 2:11 28) Isaiah 41:10 29) Psalms 27:14 30) Psalms 31:24 31) Psalms 105:24 32) Job 17:9 33) II Corinthians 12:10 34) Psalms 37:39 35) I Chronicles 16:27

24-hour Prayer Line

The Nashville Studio Singer Community – Virtual Cell Phone Choir – “It Is Well With My Soul” arranged by: David Wise

31 of Nashville’s Studio Singers using their cell phones during Nashville’s Safer at Home order to record and lift their collective voices to share a message of hope and encouragement during these challenging days. It is well.

Real Resources for Such a Time as This

From the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: The days are unpredictable and the effects far-reaching. While it’s easy to let fear and anxiety permeate our homes and communities, peace is possible. Whether it’s a word of encouragement, Biblical guidance or tangible ways to respond to our current crisis, let the resources below fill your mind and calm your soul. Share with others to bring them hope.

Psalm 23: A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.

2 He lets me rest in green meadows, he leads me beside peaceful streams,

3 he renews my strength. He guides me along the right paths bringing honor to his name.

4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me; your rod and your staff, they protect and comfort me.

5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil; my cup overflows with blessings.

6 Surely your goodness and mercy and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Additional Psalm 23 Devotionals:

  • In the Valley of the Shadow of COVID-19
  • All the days of my life
    David, as we know, was no stranger to sheep. He spent many long and lonely hours shepherding on the hills surrounding Bethlehem, guarding against lions and bears and leading his charges to water and pasture. The simple words of David’s most famous psalm capture the beauty of a sheep’s life under the gracious care of a shepherd—or more accurately, the splendor of a man’s life lived under the shepherding of the Lord.

Luke 8:22-25: The Calming of a Storm at Sea.

The Calming of a Storm at Sea.

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples and said to them, “Let us cross to the other side of the lake.” So they set sail,

23 and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A squall blew over the lake, and they were taking in water and were in danger.

24 They came and woke him saying, “Master, master, we are perishing!” He awakened, rebuked the wind and the waves, and they subsided and there was a calm.

25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” But they were filled with awe and amazed and said to one another, “Who then is this, who commands even the winds and the sea, and they obey him?”

Living By Faith Through Tough Times: Pain, Pandemics and Faith

From Habakkuk 1

A prophet who dialogued with God

How should we pray through hard times?

It’s important to remember that as you pray to God. God listens to every word you say. He’s fully capable of answering all of our prayers. While He is God Almighty He is also our Father.

He’s the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth, but we can also talk to Him as a child talks to their dad.

Holly Culhane, Presence Point CEO and Founder

In this crazy time of the coronavirus pandemic it can be hard to find comfort. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what’s going on around us. We can take complete comfort in the Lord.

Francis Chan Give Encouragement to the Church during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Francis Chan, presently in Hong Kong, addresses his team of elders, his church in San Francisco, and the Church around the world. He reminds believers everywhere that now is not the time to lose our love, joy, or peace.

Dave Rahn, Presence Point Board of Directors

Dave Rahn is on the board of directors for Presence Point. During this unprecedented time when we could all use a little hope, he talks about Jesus asleep on a boat in a storm with the disciples. It offers us lessons for this time.

A Prayer for Our World