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Who considers the power of your anger

and your wrath according to the fear of you?

So teach us to number our days

that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:11-12

Over the past few weeks we have seen strong economies and flourishing nations seemingly fall to nothing within a matter of days. As discouraging and frightening as these present times feel, in a strange way, it’s also given us a good deal of time to reflect – to look at the things that we’ve spent so much of our personal lives invested in and to see how important these things are when all the world is fading away.

Psalm 90 is a reflection on the nature of time. More particularly, it’s a reflection on how we are to perceive the subtle day-by-day moments of our lives in light of the ever-present eternity of God.

The psalmist begins his song contemplating how even before the firm foundations of the mountains were laid, God stood. No beginning. No end. No subtle shift or shadow of change. Simply there. And it is only by his free and generous will that he chooses to give life to that which is temporary and finite. He upholds the mountains. He commands sun to shine and administrates the delicate balance of our stars and planets, all while consciously providing food and shelter to even the sparrows of the earth.

And more importantly, he is the one who will call it all to an end. In spite of all of our efforts to maintain our lives, all our struggle for significance, meaning, power, and strength, God will one day call all of us to account in judgment. All the empires of men will fall, and all the glory of youth will fade. All that will be left is who we are before God. What short cuts or compromises we’ve made for the small glories of a fading kingdom will one day be judged by our eternal God. What will we say? That we valued the present more than eternity? That we feared the condemnation of our peers more than the eternal vision of him who is above all? According to the Psalmist, if God is truly who we say he is, then surely our time and effort spent chasing after that which is not God can be truly seen for the childish immaturity it really is.

In light of the eternity of God whose Word alone is ultimately true and final, how are we to live in that which is fleeting? The psalmist answers this question clearly: we pray that the Lord will teach us to number our days. The eternity of God does not call us to squander our limited time on earth. Rather, those who serve him who reigns from eternity to eternity have all the more reason to spend our days loving the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and might.

Though the esteem of man and the allure of this life will all one day fall silent in light of eternity, God remains. His judgement of us will last forever. And lest we forget, his pleasure in even the smallest things done out of authentic love for him resounds in all the halls of eternity from end to end.

So teach us to number our days, Lord, in light of the ever present reality of you. Help us not to live our lives chasing after that which will one day fade. But as we conduct ourselves here on this earth, let us not grow weary in well doing. Satisfy our longings with a small glimpse of eternity, and remind us once again that while man’s judgments may fluctuate and fall, your declaration of our status as your children stands firm from all the ends of eternity.

~ Theo

Dear IBC Fam,

Here’s the guide for this week’s Lord’s Day at home.

The Spotify Playlist has been updated with a new set of worship music.

And the ‘Sermon of the Week’ is from H.B. Charles – “God Will Give You Strength.”

Finally, we have another prayer from The Valley of Vision entitled “True Religion.”

LORD GOD ALMIGHTY,

I ask not to be enrolled amongst the earthly
great and rich,
but to be numbered with the spiritually blessed.
Make it my present, supreme, persevering concern
to obtain those blessings which are
spiritual in their nature,
eternal in their continuance,
satisfying in their possession.
Preserve me from a false estimate of the whole
or a part of my character;
May I pay regard to
my principles as well as my conduct,
my motives as well as my actions.
Help me
never to mistake the excitement of my passions
for the renewing of the Holy Spirit,
never to judge my religion by occasional
impressions and impulses, but by my
constant and prevailing disposition.
May my heart be right with thee,
and my life as becometh the gospel.
May I maintain a supreme regard to another
and better world,
and feel and confess myself a stranger
and a pilgrim here.
Afford me all the direction, defence, support,
and consolation my journey hence requires,
and grant me a mind stayed upon thee.
Give me large abundance of the supply of
the Spirit of Jesus,
that I may be prepared for every duty,
love thee in all my mercies,
submit to thee in every trial,
trust thee when walking in darkness,
have peace in thee amidst life’s changes.
Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief
and uncertainties.

Praying that the Lord will continue to build our faith this Sunday.

THE MEMORY VERSE FOR NEXT WEEK REMAINS PSALM 1:5 – “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.”

Sincerely,

Pastor Theo

What were the disciples doing after the Ascension… before Pentecost, while they were sheltering in place in the Upper Room?

“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). Not just private/personal prayer, but praying together.

There’s a great application here for our Prayer Meetings. It would be great to see the whole church with one accord crying out to God from 10:00 to 11:00 AM on Saturdays.

Happy Thursday!

We just found out that we have another month of ‘stay-at-home’.

Just a reminder that you can listen to Nathan and Theo (and sometimes special guests!) discuss different topics on the Immanuel Pastors Podcast, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.

There are already 8 episodes:

· Why a Podcast?

· Online Church?

· What Goes on in Elders’ Meetings?

· What Is Family Worship? [and it’s not just for marrieds with kids]

· Why Read Books?

· What Has Nathan Been Reading Lately?

· What Has Theo Been Reading Lately?

· What Does Women’s Ministry Look Like at Immanuel?

Check it out! More to come…

And if you have an idea for a future topic, email the elders.

When one of you has a grievance against another,

does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?

And if the world is to be judged by you,

are you incompetent to try trivial cases?

Do you not know that we are to judge angels?

How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!

So if you have such cases,

why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?

I say this to your shame.

Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough

to settle a dispute between the brothers,

but brother goes to law against brother,

and that before unbelievers?

To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you.

Why not rather suffer wrong?

Why not rather be defrauded?

But you yourselves wrong and defraud — even your own brothers!

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?

Do not be deceived:

neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,

nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy,

nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers

will inherit the kingdom of God.

And such were some of you.

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified

in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:1-11

I had the privilege of discussing this passage with our Small Group last night. It has been, for me, on the more convicting side of the passages I’ve read in the Bible Reading Plan over the last week.

No, I am not planning to sue anybody at IBC. I’m not consulting with an unbelieving third party to arbitrate a dispute. And I am not aware of any ongoing lawsuits between members of our church (or any other church for that matter). So… why this passage?

Yes, the passage is about the particularities of Corinth, but behind Paul’s rebuke (which takes the odd form of rhetorical questions), is an ideal. Paul rebukes them for widely missing the ideal.

So what is that ideal? I submit that it is a community that knows its identity. It is a community that knows they have been washed, sanctified, and justified. It is a community that knows and acts accordingly.

I have missed this ideal. Not because of a lawsuit, swindling, reviling, or thieving. My sin (and I’m sure I am not alone in this) is creating insular community – getting just deep enough with others to still protect myself if they fail me. Lawsuits? Forget it! An inch-deep brotherhood is immune to such drastic disputes.

Do you keep others at an arm’s length to protect yourself? Why? What feelings are you afraid of? What a lousy bandage over past pain is a superficial and shallow friendship today. Are we even close enough to one another for conflict to arise? Are you running from community because it’s just too much work? Because everyone else is too different than you? What keeps you from depth of fellowship? Why not call someone today?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer… The believer feels no shame, as though he were still living too much in the flesh, when he yearns for the physical presence of other Christians. Man was created a body, the Son of God appeared on earth in a body, he was raised in the body…”

Do I long to be together again in the body on Sunday mornings? I’ve heard this could last for many more weeks. What a sadness. I long deeply to sing with you all. To see your faces. To hear the Sunday School songs through the ceiling tiles right when Nathan is making a crucial sermon point.

But I hope and pray that when we begin to gather again we are not fooled. We must maintain hope and strive for the ideal – the fact of our union with each other in Christ must work itself out prayerfully in our lives. And I pray that we are wise enough to see that, even when we gather again, there will be much work, repentance, and forgiving to do. We must pursue one another as Christ has pursued us.

~ Jeremiah

Hello IBC Family,

We are once again prepping for another Sunday quarantined away. I’m sure we are all feeling the drain of social distancing at this point. As tiring and discouraging as these days can be, it is important for us to persevere in well-doing, knowing that the Lord is still pleased by the daily faithfulness of his children (Rom. 15:5-6).

As we patiently wait upon the Lord, we still need to set aside time to remember him and his good mercies towards us.

Our ‘Sermon of the Week’ is entitled, “Worry and Anxiety.” It comes from a British preacher that God used mightily in the 20th Century – Dr. David Martin Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones preached at Westminster Chapel even during WWII when many people had evacuated London. On one Sunday a bomb fell only a few yards from the building while Lloyd-Jones was praying. Plaster fell from the roof on the heads of the congregation. He paused for a moment… and then continued to pray and went on to preach the sermon. We need to hear from experienced voices like this.

The Spotify Playlist has been updated with familiar songs for us to listen to this week.

Finally, here is a prayer from Calvin’s Catechism, which he used to pray over the day.

Prayer Before the Day

My God—my Father and Preserver—who of your goodness has watched over me during the past night, and brought me to this day, grant also that I may spend it wholly in the worship and service of your most holy deity.

Let me not think, or say, or do a single thing which tends not to your service and submission to your will, that thus all my actions may aim at your glory and the salvation of my brethren, while they are taught by my example to serve you.

And as you are giving light to this world for the purposes of external life by the rays of the sun, so enlighten my mind by the effulgence of your Spirit, that he may guide me in the way of your righteousness.

To whatever purpose I apply my mind, may the end which I ever propose to myself be your honor and service.

May I expect all happiness from your grace and goodness only.

Let me not attempt anything whatever that is not pleasing to you.

Grant also, that while I labor for the maintenance of this life, and care for the things which pertain to food and raiment, I may raise my mind above them to the blessed and heavenly life which you have promised to your children.

Be pleased also, in manifesting yourself to me as the protector of my soul as well as my body, to strengthen and fortify me against all the assaults of the devil, and deliver me from all the dangers which continually beset us in this life.

But seeing it is a small thing to have begun, unless I also persevere, I therefore entreat of you, O Lord, not only to be my guide and director for this day, but to keep me under your protection to the very end of life, that thus my whole course may be performed under your superintendence.

As I ought to make progress, do you add daily more and more to the gifts of your grace until I wholly adhere to your Son Jesus Christ, whom we justly regard as the true Sun, shining constantly in our minds.

In order to my obtaining of you these great and manifold blessings, forget, and out of your infinite mercy, forgive my offenses, as you have promised that you will do to those who call upon you in sincerity.

Grant that I may hear your voice in the morning since I have hoped in you.

Show me the way in which I should walk, since I have lifted up my soul unto you.

Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord, I have fled unto you.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.

Let your good Spirit conduct me to the land of uprightness.

Sincerely,

Theodore Siu

Blessed is the man

who remains steadfast under trial,

for when he has stood the test

he will receive the crown of life,

which God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

This is a test.

One of God’s purposes in bringing disruptive circumstances into our lives is to test us – to help us see what’s really in us.

If Christ is in us by his Holy Spirit (see 2Cor. 13:5), that means that whatever else is shown to also be there, we need not be afraid to admit it. We are God’s child. And he wants to help us work through the indwelling sin that still remains. Tests are good because they help us see what those things are.

So life was chugging along somewhat predictably for most of us… and then this COVID crisis hit, upending our routines, halting our plans, and restricting our freedoms. Now we’re all sheltering in place – some with nobody to talk to, some with too many people up in our space; some with nothing to do, some with no work-life boundaries. There have been blessings along the way, but I think we’d all say that it has been hard. Times of testing almost always are.

It’s been almost a month now, so there is a large enough sample size to evaluate. What results of this test are we seeing?

· Has this revealed a love for the Bible in you? Are you genuinely going to God’s Word for sustenance and comfort? Or has Bible reading been spotty, perfunctory? To be frank, there are so many other things you would rather do.

· Have you seized this as an opportunity to be emboldened to do evangelism to a dying world headed to eternal quarantine in hell? Or has that been far from your mind? What does that mean?

· What has this shown regarding the state of your prayer life? Have you instinctively turned to the Lord for your needs and the needs of others? Or found yourself with supposedly more free time, but still not praying that much?

· What has this crisis showed you about your heart for the poor? Have you thought about those less fortunate and sought to help somehow?

· How self-disciplined are you, really? Has the removal of many externally imposed structures and schedules made your days mush? Could you fast from media? Have you set and achieved any goals? Read any good books? Or been wasting time on ephemera?

· Do you care about others? Sure, we’re all staying home to save lives, but c’mon. Are you thinking about more than just yourself? Are you calling people, checking in, doing your best to maintain community?

· Before this happened you may have thought that the love of money was not really an issue for you. But how do you honestly feel about the economy/your investments tanking? Are you still giving away the same percentage of your income as before, or even being more generous? Or are you giving in to an impulse to hoard?

· Have you found yourself able to work through anxieties with the Lord and find peace in the storm instead of panic? Or has this shown that your calm and repose is more dependent on easy circumstances than you’d like to admit?

· Is your lifestyle healthy? Have you been eating well, sleeping regularly, exercising, Sabbathing?

· What has living in close quarters with roommates or family shown you about your sanctification levels in patience, communication, thoughtfulness, gentleness…?

· Has this made you miss civic life or are you secretly happy to be insulated in your own, controlled, safe, little, wired world?

· Do you love your church, participate as much as possible in its life during this odd time, and long to be together again? Or has this surfaced in you an independence, individualism, resistance to authority? Maybe you haven’t actually been that deeply committed to the body and this is just making it clear?

· Have you detected any idols of the heart like productivity and control that make it hard for you to just rest and trust?

This is a test. What is it showing you? What are some areas of spiritual unhealth that perhaps you were previously unaware of that these last few weeks have made painfully obvious to you?

Remember the gospel. Don’t let your convicting answers to the above questions drive you away from God in guilt and shame. Thank him for the x-ray and run to him in repentance and faith that Jesus’ blood and righteousness covers all that! This is how you will remain steadfast under trial and stand this test without giving up. Trusting in Christ is the only way to receive the crown that is coming. This test won’t last forever.

And doesn’t remembering his promises of grace in the face of your failures make you love him?

Count it all joy, my brothers,

when you meet trials of various kinds,

for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

And let steadfastness have its full effect,

that you may be perfect and complete,

lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4

~ Nathan

Tomorrow is Easter! A reminder that our Lord is indeed Risen!

There’s a parade at 8:45 AM tomorrow for those who can make it.

We’re also continuing with our Sunday home worship guides. To celebrate the greatest moment of our faith, we have a list of Easter-themed resources for you to take advantage of with your household.*

Here is a Scripture Reading about the very first Resurrection Sunday:

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.

And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain,

one at the head and one at the feet.

They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord,

and I do not know where they have laid him.”

Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing,

but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him,

“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him,

and I will take him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father;

but go to my brothers and say to them,

‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples,

“I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

John 20:11-18

The Spotify Playlist is updated with songs to commemorate the Resurrection of our Lord Christ Jesus.

We have a ‘Sermon of the Week’ by Tim Keller entitled, “Encountering the Risen King.

Finally, another prayer from the Valley of Vision for us to meditate upon and pray through together:

Resurrection

O GOD OF MY EXODUS,

Great was the joy of Israel’s sons,
when Egypt died upon the shore,
Far greater the joy
when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed
in the dust.
Jesus strides forth as the victor,
conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing
might;
He bursts the bands of death,
tramples the powers of darkness down,
and lives for ever.
He, my gracious surety,
apprehended for payment of my debt,
comes forth from the prison house of the grave
free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.
Show me herein the proof that his vicarious offering
is accepted,
that the claims of justice are satisfied,
that the devil’s sceptre is shivered,
that his wrongful throne is levelled.
Give me the assurance that in Christ I died,
in him I rose,
in his life I live, in his victory I triumph,
in his ascension I shall be glorified.
Adorable Redeemer,
thou who wast lifted up upon a cross
art ascended to highest heaven.
Thou, who as Man of sorrows
wast crowned with thorns,
art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.
Once, no shame more deep than thine,
no agony more bitter,
no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high,
no life more glorious,
no advocate more effective.
Thou art in the triumph car leading captive
thine enemies behind thee.
What more could be done than thou hast done!
Thy death is my life,
thy resurrection my peace,
thy ascension my hope,
thy prayers my comfort.

Happy Easter! Praying that Christ will reign supreme in our hearts and minds this day.

~ Pastor Theo

* Our latest Immanuel Pastors Podcast is on the topic of worshipping at home and may be an encouragement to you especially during this time of absence from corporate worship.

And he is before all things,

and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church.

He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,

that in everything he might be preeminent.

Colossians 1:17-18

On Sunday (4/12) we’re having an Easter Parade! This is an optional, extra opportunity. We realize that not everyone has a car or can make it. But for those who do and want to participate, we will be lining up in our vehicles along the west side of Laflin, just south of Roosevelt, facing south. Be there by 8:45 AM.

Nobody is to get out of their cars or share rides with people they haven’t been living with. Feel free to decorate your car if you want!

At 8:45 AM crack your window because Pastor Nathan will be yelling out the ancient Easter greeting, “He Is Risen!” You know what to say next.

Then we will slowly circle the roundabout, honking in celebration.

And here is a parade route on Google Maps that you can follow:

Be safe and follow all rules of the road! It’s not important that we all stay together. But use this time to listen to the Spotify playlist and to pray for what you see. Here’s a guided prayer tour of the UIC Area that you can use on Sunday. You can even do it in your mind’s eye from home if you can’t come!

· Turn right onto Roosevelt and as pass The Meeting Place headed east. Look at the senior citizen home (Roosevelt Place) on the SW corner of Loomis and Roosevelt and pray for all the seniors who live there and in our city who are more susceptible to COVID-19…

· Then look to the right and notice the Brooks Homes (the B in ABLA) in the background – low-income CHA housing, almost entirely African-American. 70% of those who die from COVID-19 in Chicago are Black. Pray for the poor throughout the UIC Area and our city…

· As you turn left on Racine and then right on Taylor Street, pray for the restaurants along this strip in Little Italy. Pray for the whole restaurant industry in our city and workers who are affected by this shut-down…

· As you approach Halsted, look to your left and think about UIC – the largest university in Chicagoland… largely empty right now. Pray for the research that happens here and for the gospel to advance on this campus…

· Turn right and head south on Halsted. Then turn left, headed back east, on Roosevelt. As you approach the Canal corridor, pray for the retail industry in our city, that these brick-and-mortar businesses would flourish again. And pray for those who work at grocery stores like Whole Foods and Jewel…

· Turn right and go south on Canal and notice the Pacific Garden Mission with the big cross. Pray for the homeless in our city, and those who are working with them to not grow weary in doing good…

· Get ready to turn right on 18th Street, then do a little right-left jiggety-jog at Halsted, and then keep going westward through this main strip of Pilsen. Pray for the artists, pray for the hipsters, pray for the restaurants, pray for the Mexican community, pray for the immigrants, pray for the Lozano Public Library and the civic institutions of our city…

· You’ll keep going for a while, you’ll cross Ashland and go under the CTA Pink Line. Then as you approach Harrison Park, pray for the Chicago Park District and their programs that mean so much to our city. Pray that kids would be playing on the swings again (see Zechariah 8:5)…

· Then turn right (north) on Damen and go through the long, dark underpass, knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel (whether God’s common grace to flatten the curve or Christ’s return to remake the earth). Now you’re emerging into the Illinois Medical District. Pray for all the hospitals and other medical institutions here (i.e. Cook County, the VA, Rush, UIC…). Pray for all the patients inside and the healthcare workers putting their lives at risk…

· Make a soft right on Ogden and then another right onto Harrison. Come back east across Ashland, note the Marriott and pray for the hospitality industry…

· Keep going on Harrison and pay attention to Andrew Jackson Language Academy on the left and pray for CPS and all the schools across the city to re-open soon and be places where kids are learning things like how to read, so they can read the Bible (among other things). Pray for teachers…

· Then look to the right just before you get to Racine. That gated community, that’s Westgate Terrace. Pray for the residents there… and all the people of the UIC Area… and Chicago… Illinois… the U.S…. the world… that God would be merciful, not just to stay the plague, but to bring repentance and faith, uniting more people to Christ, so that they would not experience eternal suffering, but have eternal life with our resurrected and returning Lord…

Since we can’t gather for a special Good Friday service, we’ve put together this home guide to do with your family or roommates.

 

You can find the PDF here.

From @immanuelchicago on Twitter

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