Rambling Thoughts of a Grateful Pastor

Happy New Year Church!  I have been wrestling about what to write for the last article of the year. Should I review the past year? Look towards the new year? Summarize the Sermon on the Mount? Introduce the next series of sermons? As I am writing this I still can’t decide. Here then is the fruit of the random thoughts that come to mind as I think about 2019.
I am thankful for God’s faithfulness in 2019. Like Samuel, we can raise our Ebenezer and say, “up to 2020 the Lord has helped us” (1 Sam. 7:12). Year after year I have experienced and can testify that God remains faithful even when we are not (2 Tim. 2:13) and for this I am forever grateful. I am thankful for all of you. You encourage me, you teach me, you shape me, you challenge me, you humble me, you bring me joy, you serve alongside me. Thank you CSBC for your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now.
I am encouraged to see many of you hungering and thirsting for God’s Word. Like the apostle John I can say that “I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). I am encouraged to see so many of you show up for Sunday school, for Bible Study and prayer meeting, and for our bible study trainings on Sundays. I am encouraged to see how God has answered our prayers and sent more workers to the field. I am encouraged that God has added so many godly saints to our number. I am encouraged that so many of you found strength and boldness to pray and invite friends, colleagues and unsaved family members to Christmas dinner and service.
I am challenged by the cost of following Jesus. If the series on the Sermon on the Mount has taught me one thing it would be that it is not an easy road. Christ demands nothing short of perfection. His followers are called to seek first his kingdom and its righteousness (Matt. 5:3-9, 6:33); judge themselves before judging others (7:1-6); build treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-24); fast, pray and give inconspicuously because God does not like a show-off (Matt. 6:1-18); we are called to love our enemies, avoid retaliation, keep our promises, be faithful, and deal with sins from the heart (Matt. 5:17-43). On top of it all, we are to be salt and light in the world even if the outcome is persecution (Matt. 5:11-16). The gate is narrow, the road is narrow (Matt. 7:13) and the cost is high (Matt. 8:18-22, 10:36-38, 14: 25-27, 16:24-26 – read those).
But I am overwhelmed with joy unspeakable and glorious (1 Pet. 1:8) because,
My righteousness is Jesus’ life,
My debt was paid by Jesus’ death,
My weary load was borne by Him
And He alone can give me rest.
God makes great demands on us, but he also provides the way and the means to meet them. I am overwhelmed by his patience, his forgiveness, his provision and his strength in my weaknesses. I am overwhelmed by the fact that the high cost of following Jesus is nothing compared with what he has in store for us (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
And finally, I am hopeful that in 2020 God will continue the good work that he has begun among us. I am confident that if we continue to follow Christ, devote ourselves to the Word, pray, and rely on the help of the Holy Spirit, God will accomplish his purposes through us.
I have quoted this before, but it never gets old: in 2020,
Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God
– William Carey
Pastor Jerome