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Pastor's Blog
Friday, December 29 2023
Thank God I'm Forgiven! What are you thankful for this TGIF Friday? I am thankful for being forgiven, my life and choices redeemed, new life in Christ and the opportunity to step into my new nature and operate from my true identity in Christ! That's just a start on this, my 22nd birthday in Christ! TGIF!
Good Morning Redeemed, New Creations of Christ! Now some of us have lost the ability to jump, dance and shout in joy due to age, arthritis, or maybe even temporarily with sickness or grief. However, we can always choose joy and thank God for so many things. Shout for joy! Immanuel everyday! God is with us everyday and every step on the way! PTL! What is on your gratitude list? Is it growing? Mine is, it seems almost daily, as I, and we, have so much to be thankful about in the Lord! Choose joy, worship, praise and abiding in Christ's presence everyday. It's like eating Wheaties: The breakfast of champions! Maybe our picture should be on a box? After all, we ARE children of THE Champion and we will one day experience ultimate victory and many victories along the way! PTL! Rejoice!
Every year on my birthday in Christ, I evaluate the past year and pray into the future one. I have a S.W.O.T. (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) analysis I did on myself in 2016 that I am still working through. I am always amazed at the progress and, in some cases, frustrated at the failures to correct and grow. I am a work in process and progress. Hopefully, prayerfully (I'm praying that for you), you are as well. Periodically examining ourselves and seeing what is working, what needs correcting, what doors are being opened or closed and assessing next steps is biblical and a very God-led pursuit that yields good fruit and good pruning too. Our vision team will be doing one of these for our church Jan. 9th when we gather to seek God for His vision and plan for 2024 and far beyond. Please pray for us to be seeking God, receiving His vision and plans, and ready to follow His plans for us. Pray for wisdom, discernment and God's will to come alive. Thanks! What would you say are your and our church's strengths (are we operating out of them), weaknesses (are we correcting or working on them like with the Become Me in '23 Challenge and the words we are working on), opportunities (are we sowing into them and making plans) threats (are we standing firm in faith and working on being victorious over them). I'd love to hear what you are sensing! God has some great plans for you and us that are coming to life and awaiting our discovery as we follow Him step by step in faith! PTL!
Looking at our devotionals for today (below), I see God at work and reminding me that I am His and I am growing in Him but still a work in process, I have a future and a hope, and that as I am learning to live as if Christ is all that matters in this life I am seeing God grow me and bring to life His plans for me. He is growing, using me as I am and working on His future plans for me. What joy! I also see this coming to life in many of you! The fruit that is budding from the words some of you are working on this year is being noticed and God is being glorified. PTL! Keep at it! [Thank you Danny Reinsmith for taking down and putting away our Christmas decorations and installing two new toilets for our ladies room this week! His word he was working on is "useful". I'd say he has made much progress at that! Thanks for the great work and example Danny! You are a very useful and growing servant of our Lord and His church!] What word may He be leading you to work on next year as we are challenged to Become More in '24. More of Christ and less of me. More of growing into and doing our created purposes. More disciple making. More of becoming and growing into the people we were created to be and our fuller potential in Christ. More of operating out of our true identity in Christ. Man, I am so excited for what God has in store for you and us and me too! Put on that new nature more fully, secure your yoke to Christ and follow Him to His best, no matter what lies ahead. Work on doing your part in God's Good News Delivery Co. too. We all have a part from prayer warrior to pastor, from sheep to shepherd. And God is working all of that together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. That's you! That's us together! PTL! Check out the Harvest Prayer devo for today about praying! We are a praying, loving, joyful people and church and we are seeing the fruit! PTL!
I stuck an UR devo from Dec 29, 2021 in my prayer starter book. The title is, "Change the World" and has been God's inspiration for me for awhile but was made more clear that day in '21 when I was evaluating my journey and seeking God for what lies ahead. I see Him still bringing that to life in me and us as we allow Him to grow us, empower us, embolden us, send us and use us for His glory. Do you see it too? PTL! He is at work even through weak, but repentant, nobody's like us! The premise of the devo is that with Christ's help, we can change the world. Do you see how that is coming alive through St. Matts and her servants? It really is and the blossoms are budding and fruit is coming! PTL! The ending prayer of the devo is this, "Dear God, as we walk with You, help us continue to change to become more like Jesus so that with you we can change the world." AMEN! Do you see how God got my attention, informed us with His plans and is carrying that out as He continues to grow us into His dynamic movement that changes the world around us! PTL! And worship Him! Keep working at you part. And let us commit to helping each other each step of the way! God is for us! Can you see it? What joy and wonder awaits our discovery as we live and love like Jesus more and more each day!
One final note. Rosa from Victor's church who gets bread and attends sometimes prophesied this over our church...she said we should rename our church Joy Church. She said there is so much joy and love flowing through us! PTL right! People are noticing. God is living, loving and bringing joy alive through us! Rejoice and keep up the good work as we seek Him for more in '24! Shalom!
Harvest Prayer:

December 29 - Prayer: The Life-Breath of the Church

In trying to understand the place of prayer in the early Christian Church, we would do well to remember that the Church was born in the cradle of Judaism. Over the centuries the Church has developed its own forms and practices, but it did not have to invent new ones from nothing. The apostles, like their Master, were all steeped in the Jewish faith and shaped somewhat by the religious life of the temple and the synagogue. The first converts were also drawn from this milieu. So it would be safe to surmise that the earliest Christians understood and practiced prayer from a context of Jewish traditions.

Of course, Christianity and Judaism had distinct differences from the start, the most significant perhaps being the centrality of Jesus and His reinterpretation of the Jewish religion. Jesus participated in temple worship, but in some sense He also replaced the temple and the sacrificial system. Jesus attended and preached in synagogues throughout His Galilean ministry, but He called out a new people, which would soon include both Gentiles and Jews, to be the people of God.

In addition to Jesus’ teaching on prayer His own personal example set the tone and pattern for prayer in the early Church. As the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, we can assume that this included Jesus’ instructions on how we should pray (Mt. 28:20; Acts 2:42). We note also that the role of the Holy Spirit in every aspect of the life of the Church, including and especially its prayer life, marks a new age that has dawned with the birth of the Church (Acts 2:1ff; 13:2).

Prayer has been the life-breath of the Church from its inception. From the earliest days believers have devoted themselves to prayer, individually and corporately, just as Jesus intended. In Luke’s history of the expansion of the church as in his gospel, prayer plays a key role. In the pages of Acts we discover all types of prayers— prayers of repentance, thanksgiving, rejoicing, praise and more. We see the Church praying in times of decision making and in times of crisis. We see them fasting, laying on hands, and kneeling. On occasion God spoke to his people through visions as they prayed. Both leaders and members in the early Church were committed to prayer as an indispensable part of the Christian life. Their example has challenged believers of every generation to be a people devoted to prayer.

Lord Jesus, because Your life is prayer, mine is also! Thank You, Father, for creating Your Body for such an awesome and precious relationship. May the Church of today clearly recognize the power at her disposal and be fully devoted to continually seeking Your face!

--Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 42, The Place of Prayer in the Early Church by Steve Booth). This resource is available at Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God that the Christian life includes periods of “complete” and unbridled joy (Jn. 15:11).
  • Thank Jesus for being your joy-filled Savior (Lk.10:21).
  • Confess any sin that stands in the way of your experiencing the fullness of joy which Jesus provides.
  • Commit yourself today to rejoicing in the Lord, to being joyful in God your Savior (Hab. 3:18).
  • Ask Jesus to make his joy in you complete.
  • Thank God that his kingdom is full of “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). Commit yourself to being a joyful citizen of that kingdom in all that you do.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.
UR: Stepping Up

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16 (NIV)

Growing up, I was the youngest of four boys. Sometimes my older brothers would talk me into doing things that would get me into trouble. My parents would discipline me, but occasionally one of my brothers would step up and take the blame for my actions.

A brother taking the punishment that I deserved represents only a small fraction of the love that Jesus has for each one of us. Jesus knows us and all the mistakes we have made, yet he loves us so much that he took the pain and agony of the worst punishment — death. But unlike my brother, Jesus was not guilty of anything. He “stepped up” because of the immeasurable love he has for each one of us. Like today’s verse says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” All of this so we can spend our lives — even into eternity — worshiping God and loving God’s creation. Truly, Jesus is the perfect example of grace and forgiveness.

Heavenly Father, may our love for you always be a response to your grace-filled love and forgiveness — and may it show in our love for others. Amen.
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The Crown of Life

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. James 1:12 nlt

READ James 1:1–12

Twelve-year-old LeeAdianez Rodriguez-Espada was worried that she’d be late for a 5K run (just over 3 miles). Her anxiousness led her to take off with a group of runners fifteen minutes earlier than her start time with participants of the half-marathon (more than 13 miles)! LeeAdianez fell in pace with other runners and put one foot in front of the other. At mile four, with the finish line nowhere in sight, she realized that she was in a longer and more difficult race. Instead of dropping out, she simply kept running. The accidental half-marathoner completed her 13.1-mile race and placed 1,885th out of 2,111 finishers. Now that’s perseverance!

While undergoing persecution, many first-century believers in Jesus wanted to drop out of the race for Christ, but James encouraged them to keep running. If they patiently endured testing, God promised a double reward (James 1:4, 12). First, “perseverance [would] finish its work” so they could be “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (v. 4). Second, God would give them the “crown of life”—life in Jesus on earth and the promise of being in His presence in the life to come (v. 12).

Some days the Christian race feels like it’s not the one we signed up for—it’s something longer and more difficult than we expected. But as God provides what we need, we can persevere and keep on running.

By Marvin Williams


What difficulty are you enduring right now? What can you do to remain faithful to God as you undergo testing?

Dear God, my legs are tired, and I feel like giving up. Please strengthen me.


James encourages believers in Jesus experiencing “trials” (1:2, 12) by describing their unseen value—growth in perseverance, maturity, and wisdom (vv. 3-5). How believers respond to difficulty witnesses to their faith in Christ, who promises them a “crown of life” (v. 12).

Many believe these trials included persecution for their faith. New Testament scholar Scot McKnight argues that James’ emphasis on the dangers of wealth and the value of humility and poverty (vv. 9-11; 2:1-7) suggests that this persecution took the form of economic oppression. In James 2:6-7, the author describes the wealthy exploiting and oppressing believers.

Monica La Rose
Charles Stanley
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St. Matthew's EC Church

5th & Ridge Streets
P.O. Box 433
Emmaus, PA 18049
Telephone 610.965.5570


We are learning to live and love like Jesus. 

We are working on becoming who we were created to be and doing our custom made purposes well. 

We are part of the Evangelical Congregational Church

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