Signs of Life
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26
In last month’s newsletter article, I talked about the hope we all have for revival – both for ourselves on a personal level and for Grace Church as a faith community. Deep in the heart of every human being is a longing to be renewed, refreshed, and revived. Life has a way of beating us down, breaking our spirits, and busting our resolve. We become dry, depleted, and sometimes even depressed. But thankfully, we are not a people without hope. There is renewal. There is revival. There is refreshing. There is resurrection!
We celebrate on Easter & every Sunday the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. When all hope was lost, when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, when Jesus was finally crucified, nailed to a cross, and eventually sealed in a stone-cold tomb – most had thought they had seen the last of Jesus. But they could not have been more wrong. The life God gives is stronger, truer, more enduring and everlasting than death itself! No grave, no corpse, no evil, no enemy can keep the life of God from shining through. Easter morning asserts this truth. Life will always prevail over death for believers in Jesus!
I believe this is true for us personally. No matter how bad things may appear or become in our lives in this broken, troubled world, God’s Spirit within us will cause us to bounce back. We may be down for a while. We may walk through some pretty dark seasons in our lives. We may have days when we wonder if we’ll make it. But no matter what, God’s power overcomes. Even when facing our final enemy, we realize that death is merely a passage way to our eternal life with God. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day through God’s Spirit living within (2Cor.4:16).
This is also true for Grace Church. Yes, we sometimes go through tough times in our life together. There are gains and losses, surplus and shortfall, good times and bad. But one thing I have learned is that through it all, God is faithful. As Robert Schuller once said, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” And long before Schuller the Lord promised: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b). And even before that, Jeremiah wrote, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
In our rapidly changing American culture, it may sometimes feel that the church is quickly becoming extinct. Perhaps you even know of churches right within our city that have closed their doors in recent years. The cultural forces working against the organized church today are formidable. Even at Grace Church, we’ve seen a decline in attendance. But – at the risk of exposing my eternal optimism – we are not without hope. We are never without hope. The tomb is empty!
Signs of life can be found all over Grace Church these days: from Spirit-filled sermons and worship services to small groups fostering a revival in prayer; from a growing women’s Bible study group to The R.O.C.K. youth group growing in unity, love, and service; from a vibrant mid-week ministry involving 30 children and youth, to a handful of seniors who gather for coffee and breakfast on a regular basis; from caring for one another in times of need to caring for our facilities and remodeling our kitchen; & so much more! The Spirit is alive & working at Grace!
So, don’t give in and don’t give up. Rather, join me in claiming the new life God has for us and for Grace Church. The life of God always prevails. The tomb is empty; the cross is bare!
Together in His Spirit,
Pastor Dave Van Netten