“GOD WILL UPHOLD THEE”
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed;
for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;
yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Isaiah 41:10 should be an inspiration to all of us. Amid so much that could cause people to be apprehensive, we are exhorted to live without fear (“fear thou not”) because God is with believers. We are also exhorted to “be not dismayed” (meaning be calm instead of distressed) because the Lord is God. In other words, because the Lord is God, we do not need to be dismayed about anything that is happening in this world or that is happening in our lives. In spite of whatever we are going through, God promises us, as believers, that He will uphold us (“I will uphold thee”) which assures us that God will enable us to bear and survive whatever we are going through. God further promises to uphold us with His right hand of righteousness (“with the right hand of my righteousness”) which denotes God’s faithfulness. We can rely on God’s right hand of righteousness, and we are secure because of God’s right hand of righteousness. My beloved, as we journey through this day, allow God to order our steps embracing Isaiah 41:10 and praising God who promises to uphold us.
By the grace of God, our church facilities have been successfully reopened for three months without anyone becoming ill or infected by the Coronavirus. I must commend everyone, especially the Ushers Ministry and Hospitality Ministry, for their particular efforts to ensure that we are safe and comfortable whenever we assemble to worship. I definitely must commend our Music Ministry, A/V Ministry, and other ministries who serve and assist to make our Worship Celebrations so dynamic and Spirit-filled.
We currently have two Worship Celebrations (each is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes) every Sunday: 9 a.m. at the North Campus and 11 a.m. at the South Campus. We encourage everyone to arrive at least 10 minutes beforehand to be seated safely and comfortably. Temperatures are checked, hand sanitizing is urged, social distancing is applied regarding where people shall sit and walk, wearing masks are now mandatory (Contra Costa County requires people to wear masks for indoor gatherings), utilization of restrooms is restricted to 2-4 people at a time (depending on the size of the restroom), and congregating before and after Services is prohibited.
In these perilous and unprecedented times, many changes and adjustments must be made. Because many of you are unable or uncomfortable regarding in-person worship (which I understand), our church has invested thousands of dollars in equipment in order for you to view our Worship Celebrations via live streaming (YouTube and Facebook) or hear our Worship Celebrations via podcast.
To those of you who benefit from our live streaming or podcast, gratify God by supporting your church financially. Some might feel that they are not obligated to support St. John if they are not present physically, but this is not true. As you enjoy the privileges of St. John, you should still fulfill your responsibility as a member of St. John. Moreover, gratify God by sharing with others our Worship Celebrations via live streaming or podcast. Our virtual audience is growing weekly which implies that more people are hearing about our Worship Celebrations and enjoying them. If you inspire others to join us via live streaming or podcast, you are contributing to the growth of St. John. For more information, you may visit our website (sjmbc.org).
Although we are approaching Labor Day weekend, Sunday is still the Lord’s Day, and it is the 1st Sunday of September—Communion Sunday. We are scheduled to partake in The Lord’s Supper online this Sunday (September 5th) at 7 p.m., and we plan to begin with a special prayer. To participate, each believer will need some bread or a cracker, and each believer will need some grape juice (or something similar). For more information, you may visit our website (sjmbc.org).
We encourage everyone to participate in our Church School which convenes online Sundays at 2:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. For more information, you may visit our website (sjmbc.org).
I sincerely thank God for each of you who blessed me with your love offerings, gifts, and kind expressions. I must admit that being the pastor of our congregation for 27 years is now more challenging and difficult in many ways than it was in the past. However, “I feel like going on” as a result of so many of you demonstrating your love for me in August which was Pastor Edification Month, and I pray that God will bestow upon you a greater blessing than what you lovingly and generously shared with me.
Praise God for each of us who have been supporting St. John financially. We currently give in person during Sunday Morning Worship Celebrations, by mailing or dropping off our Tithes and Offerings at our Administration Building or South Campus, or by giving online through our website (sjmbc.org). If you are financially able but not supporting St. John financially, allow God to bless you with more by giving today your Tithes and Offerings.
May God bless and sustain each of us.
Your Servant In Christ,
Dr. Kevin B. Hall, Pastor