November 11, 2020

Occidental Community Church family,

ISAIAH 55:8-13 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.  9."As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  10. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  12. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  13. Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.  This will be for the Lord's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed."

Early this morning I was reading in Isaiah and came across this encouraging word.  God's people were in a seventy-year exile in Babylon.  Their temple had been destroyed and many had been killed by the Babylonian army during the siege upon Jerusalem.  Those who survived were led away as captives into a strange land for the next seventy years.  What hope was there now for the Jewish nation?  Would they ever be free again to live in their homeland and worship their God?

God comes to them in their distress and reassures them that He has not forgotten them.  Their time of exile would come to an end one day.  Their future is bright because God has a plan to restore them in a glorious way.

In one sense we are in a period of exile today.  The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to close the doors of our church in Occidental for most of 2020.  While we have been able to worship outdoors at Pleasant Hill Christian School for the past five months, the weather has now forced us to discontinue these Sunday gatherings.  But God has not forsaken us.  We have an opportunity to begin online live-streaming services beginning this Sunday, November 15.

Tomorrow evening a group of us will gather at our church to get things ready for these Sunday services.  When everything is in place I will be sending out another email later this week to let you know exactly how you can access our Sunday morning services online.  We will keep it simple.

I know that all of you are praying with me that the day will come soon when we can go back to gathering for worship in our church building in Occidental.  Until then we will get God's word out online.  Continue to pray.  Read and study the Bible daily on your own.  The same God who restored Israel in Isaiah's day will restore His church in our day.  In Him alone we put our hope and confidence!

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Rick
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