When God Pours Out Blessings, Part 1
Calvary Grace Church’s First Anniversary As “Homeowners”
Think of the last time you saw God do something seemingly impossible or provide abundantly when you didn’t expect it. How did you respond to him?
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time you’ve likely seen God move in an incredible way at some point in your life. Maybe it was hearing the news that you were pregnant, after the doctors had said you might never have a child. Maybe you were in financial need and received a totally unexpected windfall at precisely the right moment. Maybe a loved one, who seemed hopelessly hardened against the Gospel, came to faith despite all your expectations.
We’ve seen that kind of astounding provision in the life of our own church, just over the last two years. It was in the spring of 2016 when the landlords of the building Calvary Grace Church was renting, St. John Lutheran Church, informed us that they would not be able to continue meeting as a church and would have to sell their building. As we contemplated the daunting possibility of finding affordable and sizeable rental space for a church of 200 people somewhere in the Calgary area, God was already doing the kind of mighty work only he can do. Even though the folks at St. John’s had belonged to a Lutheran denomination for decades, and even though they had only known our church for four short years, the Lord inclined their hearts favourably toward us as they offered our independent baptistic church the “right of first refusal” on their building. And when our congregation, after prayerfully considering the issue, decided to make them the best offer we thought we could manage, one that we nevertheless knew was well below—perhaps less than half!—market value, St. John Lutheran Church graciously accepted. Finally, when with a looming deadline to “go firm” on our offer we began a very short and seemingly unattainable fundraising campaign, in which we sought to raise in less than three months (and on top of our regular giving) what we typically raise in a whole year, we saw people of God “offering freely and joyously” (1 Chr. 29:17), enabling us to buy the building.
Today, February 17, 2018, represents the one-year anniversary of Calvary Grace Church assuming ownership of its building, bringing to a climax an incredible example of God’s provision and care for his people. Even now, as we look back on how quickly everything came together, how smoothly our talks with St. John Lutheran Church went, and how enthusiastically people gave and worked to establish a physical foothold in downtown Calgary for future generations of Gospel ministry, we can but marvel at our Lord’s mighty work in our midst.
Since we know that “all things come from” God (1 Chr. 29:14), such an anniversary is not a time for self-congratulation or boasting in human accomplishment. Instead, it’s fitting that we take some time to consider how God has provided, who and what we are in the grand scheme of God’s creation history, and what our attitude and posture should be moving forward. In short, there is no better occasion to go to God’s Word and, by it, to be directed to our knees in prayer, that we may be humbled and reminded what truly matters.
The Apostle Paul, writing about the Old Testament, tells us that “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction” (Rom. 15:4). In another letter, referring to the very same Scriptures, Paul asserted that they are “profitable for teaching…that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It’s no surprise, then, that the Bible has guidance and wisdom for a twenty-first-century Canadian church wondering how to respond to a staggering financial provision for a place of worship. After all, it’s happened before. Indeed, the event and a godly response to it are both recorded in the Bible itself: in First Chronicles 29.
God willing, over the next few days here on the church blog I’d like to unpack a series of meditations on the events of that chapter, and particularly King David’s God-inspired leadership in corporate prayer afterward. We’ll look at how God moved in the hearts of David and the covenant people of Israel to give “willingly…with a whole heart” so that God’s holy name would be established and his glory and fame proclaimed in a Temple reflective of such a task. We’ll look at how this event in the history of Old Covenant Israel relates to New Covenant Christians, even twenty-first-century Christians at a small church in downtown Calgary, Alberta. And then we’ll look at seven practical ways to pray the way David prayed. By these meditations our prayer is that we as a church might, by God’s grace, be truly thankful for God's grace to us, and be moved to fervent and persistent prayer as a whole body for God to "direct our hearts to" him in preparation for future ministry in our city, region, nation, and world.