This Time I’ll Get It Right

     It’s possible that we begin every new year – looking back – at the things we didn’t get right in the previous year. The new year begins with a burst of optimism and gratitude for God blessing us to see a new year. The year kicks off with a celebratory spirit! But then, we come face to face with the reality of the missteps and mistakes that we can’t seem to overcome. It’s a new year, but some of the old defeats have been brought into this new moment in time.

     Of course, some people are not troubled about the defeats of yesterday. They say, “I’m just human.” But there are others who enter the new year driven and determined to confess and address the spiritual failures that have been largely overlooked, excused, and rationalized. If we’re thinking right, and set on doing right in the new year, we will be determined to live victorious in more and more areas of our life. Think about it! Is there any reason why we should not enter the new year focused on being victorious over the habits, behavior, and bad ways of doing things that are not God’s will for our life. Perhaps most of us, if not all of us, have areas in our life that we’re not getting right. And the new year should bring us to declare, “this time I’ll get it right.” This is the attitude that lines up with God’s word: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57.      The new year is a great opportunity for us to look honestly and closely at any wrong that needs to be made right in our life. From the start of the year, we should make a bold proclamation that “this time I’ll get it right.” We are spiritually born, and Holy Spirit filled, to live victorious in Jesus Christ and His Church. Paul declared it – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. So let me make this suggestion. Write down a few things that you’re not getting right in your journey of faith. Bring this list before God in a prayer of humble contrition. Speak these words: “Lord, it’s a new year that You have brought me into, and I’m presenting some things to You that I didn’t get right last year. But this is a new year. And in Your power and good guidance, “this time I’ll get it right.” What a mighty God we serve. We can get right and stay right through Him! – Van Hardin

2024: Getting Our Praying Right to Receive What Is Needed

As God brings us into a new year, there’s so much to get right before God. Right at the top tier of our “got to get this right list” is our prayer time with God. Prayer is never – ever – wasted time. It’s an opportunity in time for us to live out the promise set forth by James: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8). Right praying is not accidental or incidental – it’s intentional. We must be intentional, from the depths of our spirit, to pray right in God’s presence. This means bringing the right mind and motives into our prayer moments with God. Right thinking produces right doing. So when we think right in prayer, we will do right in prayer. Jesus put it this way: “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6).

Let’s lean into these words. First, Jesus implies that we will be committed to a life of prayer. He says, “when you pray.” Right praying is an extension of our daily life. We come to believe that “to live is to pray.” Second, Jesus calls attention to the secret, private, isolated, shut off from others, requisite of right praying. Yes, public prayer, and group prayer, is essential praying. But we must spend time, much time, alone with the Lord our God in prayer. The word picture of shutting the door conveys the idea of shutting things out that we may be a hundred percent locked into the prayer moment. Unnecessary distractions will interfere with the spiritual focus essential to right praying. Last but not least, is the right attitude about God that is essential to getting our praying right. Jesus declares we must know for sure that God “will reward.” The Greek word for “reward” means: “to grant, to furnish, to supply, to give.” Get the idea. In prayer, and through prayer, we will receive from God exactly what is good, right, and necessary in 2024.   This year, as with every year, there’s every good reason for us to get our praying right. This is why we’re taking a close look at prayer in our Wednesday pm Bible class. The topic is: God Centered Prayer That Produce Timely Outcomes: Principles For a 2024 Prayer Life. Why not join us! It’s an opportunity, even at this early start of the new year, to get our thinking right and praying right. Remember, Jesus promised, God “will reward.” See you in class!!! – Van Hardin

A Date and Destiny Marked on The Calendar of Your Heart

In this time side of life, we always seem to have some date penciled in on our calendar. Something we’re looking forward to in the days ahead: a graduation, a date set for a career promotion, a vacation, and yes, a wedding day. Many others have dates set on the calendar that are troubling, hurtful, and sorrowful: the date when a sentence will be handed down in a court of law, a date for a diagnostic health test, or a date when a beloved family member is funeralized and laid to rest. Dates matter, rather it’s an occasion for joy or mourning.

For the baptized believer, is there a more significant date – or moment in time – when we transition from life to our promised eternal reward? It’s what we’re praying for, living for, working for, and waiting for – in God’s time. Ann Ross Cousins was a British poet, musician, and song writer. Before her death on December 6, 1906, she wrote several popular hymns that are treasured to this very day. Her best-known hymn, “The Sands of Time Are Sinking,” has captured the hearts of millions. The very first verse sets the stage for all that follows. “The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of Heaven breaks…” Great song and great hope!

Heaven! No matter what you’re going through, or dealing with in time, stay laser focused on heaven. Wake up thinking about heaven, think about heaven throughout the day, and sleep restfully thinking about it. This was Paul’s reminder: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20).

No doubt, we have some significant dates penciled in on our calendars. But child of God, make sure that as you travel through time, even in the year 2024, keep the hope of heaven stamped deeply in your heart. And yes, it’s worth living for and waiting for.   by Van H. Hardin

Turning Back the Hands of Time

Way back in 1970, Tyrone Davis sang into the airways a song that reached number one on Billboard’s R & B Chart. The best-selling hit, “Turn Back the Hands of Time,” spoke to the sentiments of the masses. Down through the ages, countless numbers of people have said it: “If I could turn back the hands of time!” Davis was singing about a broken relationship that he wanted to recover. And like Davis, so many others long for a do-over moment in life – crying out from the depths of their spirit for an opportunity to redo something that went terribly wrong in their past. But there’s hope, because the Living God is a God of a second chance in time.

God’s second chances – in time – are ultimately all about getting our life right with Him. But when we think about “Turning Back the Hands of Time,” our focus is most often on something we want to set right in the natural. But for God, another shot, a new opportunity, a second time is all about the heavenly things and eternal things that are so much more important than this present life. But are we willing to think like God?

 
 Of course, men and women need to be open and honest before God about the wasted time spent in bad thinking and bad living. Paul calls it out, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air…” Ephesians 2:2. That was back then! But now, the God of the second chance in time has set us right and made things right: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Yes, we completely blew it in the past, but our loving God “Turned Back the Hands of Time” by washing us in the blood of Jesus and took away all the sin debts from our past. Now that’s great news!!! – Van Hardin

Being Open to The Plain Bible Truth About Time

Fully and faithfully aligned to God’s Time – this is the Biblical focus of our Sunday sermons from January to March. I think the topic is worth – our time – to give our full attention to. Time is valuable, precious, and substantial in determining our eternal destiny. The thing that we must always keep in the forefront of our  minds is that we have time now, but not forever. Give some thought to this text: But concerning the times and the seasons, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). This truth is intended to grab hold of our attention. To keep our heads and hearts locked in on the end of time when the Lord Jesus Christ returns for His beloved Church. The text points out that this climactic event will be both sudden and surprising. Many will be unsaved, and unprepared, for this divine shutting down of time. 

That’s why, at this first getting started quarter of 2024, we’re preaching and teaching what God’s Word reveals to us about time – God’s time. One author writes this about time, “When a person gets into the habit of wasting time, he is sure to waste a great deal that does not belong to him.” Good observation! Let’s be clear, we cannot think right, live right, and even die right if we’re thinking wrong about time. This Sunday, our sermon is titled: Revisiting the Doctrine of God’s Time part 1. Let’s hear and receive the Word and be blessed.

– Van H. Hardin

SEEKING GOD 2022 A CHURCHWIDE SPIRITUAL REVIVAL

            In the last couple of years many unforeseen spiritual attacks may have caused some believers to lose intimacy or feel distant from God. We, the leadership of the Waterbury Church of Christ, want to encourage you to join this spiritual revival as we “Seek the presence of God.” Our objective is to grow deeper in our relationship with God and with each other, to recommit ourselves to the great commandment and the great commission, and to strengthen our faith and fellowship as a body of believers.

Over the next few weeks, we will challenge ourselves to spend more time in prayer and fasting. One of the best ways to experience the power and presence of God is through prayer and fasting. It is about being intentional in our daily pursuit of God to get His attention and be more intimate in our relationship with Him. We need focus less on the physical aspect of our lives and make room for the Holy Spirit to operate, and we can accomplish that through prayer and fasting.
More to come!!!


I Love You All
Donny Pierre

SEEKING GOD 2022

            My 4-year-old son, Andre, and my 13-year-old, Jamal, love to play video games together. I am so grateful to see them enjoy each other’s presence and have fun together as brothers. However, sometimes they can be so focused on their game that they fail to pay attention to anything else. My wife and I would try to call them and get their attention, but they would not respond. Sometimes, they’d even say “Yes dad, we’re coming,” but half hour later they are yet to step away from their games. They are so busy and passionate about what they are doing that they fail to pay attention to their parents. When we must wait on them to pay attention to us, we get impatient sometimes. Frankly, the more we must wait for them to leave what they are doing and come to us, the more frustrated we get.
            Beloved, sometimes I think our relationship with God is just like that. God has been trying to get our attention lately, and many of us have not been listening. First, God should not have to get our attention, we should willingly “SEEK GOD” every day of our lives (Ps 105: 3-4). However, many of us have been so preoccupied with the things of life, the worries of life, and enjoying the pleasures of life that we have not been “SEEKING GOD” as we should. We must be more intentional about SEEKING GOD every day of our lives, because when we fail to do so we become more vulnerable to the weapons of the enemy. The longer we fail to diligently seek God, the longer we fail to listen to God, the more exposed we are to the schemes of the devil.
            In the Bible, God intentionally withheld the rain or His blessings from His people because their failure to diligently SEEK HIM and pay attention to His Word (1 Kings 16 – 18). God also withheld His favor and protection over His people allowing their enemies to defeat them, because they did not SEEK HIM nor heed His warnings (Read the book of Judges). Beloved, God is trying to get our attention. He is calling for us. Are we listening? Let’s not be so preoccupied with the things of life that we fail to listen to God and heed His warnings. “God rewards those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11: 6).

After much prayer and meditation, I feel both compelled and convicted to share with you what I believe our spiritual goal should be this year: “SEEKING GOD 2022.” The elders and I want to both encourage and invite the Waterbury Church of Christ on a spiritual revival this year to grow closer to God as we grow closer to each other. Many things happened these past few years that could have alienated us from the presence of God or keep us away from our fellowship as a Church. “SEEKING GOD 2022” is about strengthening our fellowship and growing deeper in our relationship with God.

I Love You All
Donny Pierre

Why You Need Hope

   I read this article called “The remarkable power of hope” from psychology today. In the article, the writer talked about this experiment that was conducted back in the 1950’s by the late John Hopkins College professor “Curt Richter.” This experiment was conducted to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship within a certain environment. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned them back to the water. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours and did not drown. Why? It was not because they were given a rest, nor was it about the controlled environment being better than that of the rats who died. They swam for 26 hours because they suddenly had hope! The researchers found out those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them. If hope holds such amazing power for unthinking rats, how much more important I hope to human beings. We all need hope to push forward in life, especially during the difficult times.
            the sad thing is, there are many people in the world, in our community, and even among Church goers, who are living without hope in their lives. And the reason why I know this for sure, it’s because the bible says in Ephesians 2: 12, a life separated from Christ – a life without God in it – is a life without hope. And a life without hope is a life without motivation and encouragement to keep moving forward. Christian hope is not “wishful thinking.” it is the kind of hope that is not based on human knowledge nor expectations, it is the kind of hope that is deeply rooted in the word of God. Paul says in Romans 5: 5 that hope does not disappoint. when your hope is in Jesus you will never be embarrassed. Doctors can give false hope, lawyers can give false hope, government can certainly give false hope, friends and family members can give false hope, but when God makes a promise you can take it to the bank because He is good for it. Hope is the anchor of our soul (Hebrews 6: 13 – 19)

Love you all,
Donny Pierre

Lord, Save Me – I am Drowning


JESUS walking on water is one of the most popular stories in the Bible. Jesus defied the laws of gravity and not even Sir Isaac Newton could explain this awe-inspiring phenomenon. When Jesus saw His disciples’ boat taking water and being tossed around in the middle of a storm (Matt 14: 22 – 33), He decided to walk on water and meet them where they were. Jesus broke the laws of gravity to deliver His disciples from a horrible storm. As He got close to the boat, Jesus said “Don’t be afraid, I am Here.”

Although, we all know this story as “Jesus walking on water,” it’s important to remember that Peter also walked on water that day. Thinking it was a ghost, Peter said “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Without hesitation, Jesus commanded Peter to come on the water, and he did – Peter walked on water just like Jesus. Can you imagine the look on the other disciples’ faces watching Peter taking one step after another going towards Jesus on the water? Yes, eventually Peter started to sink when he shifted his attention away from Jesus to focus on the storm around him (v 30). Peter, as he was drowning, cried to the Lord for help: “Lord, save me.” Lord, I am drowning out here and I am not going to make it.

Maybe, some of us feel like we’ve been drowning lately, drowning in debts, emotional pain, physical pain, marital problems, parental challenges, etc. Some of us might even be struggling with our own faith or the lack thereof. No matter the storm, we must remember Jesus is always right there with us; however, we must not shift our focus away from Him and magnify our problems. Jesus knew Peter had enough faith to walk on water and not drown in the middle of the storm. Jesus did not calm the sea, nor did he rebuke the wind to make things easier for Peter, but He commanded him to walk on water with the wind and the waves raging around. That’s when our faith can shine the brightest, in the middle of the storm. As long as Peter had faith and kept his focus on Jesus instead of the storm, he would’ve made it without drowning. Beloved, let us hang on to our faith and continue to keep our focus on Jesus. However, when we feel like we are drowning, we do not be afraid to cry out to the Jesus: “Lord, save me – I am drowning.” Jesus will stretch out His hand and catch us.

Love you all,
Donny Pierre

Don’t Be Afraid, I am Here

In Matthew 14: 22 – 33, we read the story of Jesus’s disciples travelling on a boat by themselves while Jesus was spending time alone on a mountain praying. Eventually, they found themselves in a middle of storm being tossed around by the wind and the waves, and Jesus was not with them in the boat. What should have been smooth sailing became a nightlong battle. Certain storms in life can be very unexpected. Sometimes, we expect smooth sailing through life only to find out there is a storm brewing in the horizon – a storm that we are ill-equipped or ill-prepared to deal with (an illness, a financial struggle, a pink slip, a divorce, the death of a loved one).

The disciples have experienced storms in their lives before, and back in Matthew 8: 23 – 27 they went through a storm with Jesus on their boat. During that storm, they thought they were going to die only for Jesus to get up from his sleep to rebuke both the disciples and the storm. During the storm in Matthew 14, Jesus was not in the boat with them physically, but He was always aware of what was going on – He could see them in the storm (14:24-25). I can only imagine the kind of conversation the disciples were having during that storm. Maybe, they were thinking, “Where is Jesus when you need him. Last time, we made it through the storm because He was in the boat with us. Now, He is not – what are we going to do?” Beloved, no matter how dark it gets in life, no matter the storm we may be going through, rest assured that God knows, and He is able to act on our favor at the right time. Let us not lose faith and let us always hang on to our hope in Christ Jesus.

 When Jesus saw them in the middle of the storm, He did not guide them out of it just yet. Jesus started walking on the water and met them where they were. Jesus may not always bring us out of difficult moments and the challenges we face in life right away, but He can certainly meet us in the middle of them all. Jesus said, “I am here, do not be afraid.” I know it looks bad, and it does not seem like you are going to get through it, but “I am here, do not be afraid.” I know the odds are stocked against you and this storm been raging on for a while, but “I am here, do not be afraid.” Beloved, we need to constantly remind ourselves of the power and the presence of Christ in our lives to remain strong in the faith during the storms of life. The best ways we can be reminded of his power and presence are through the reading of scripture, prayer, and worship. Jesus is here, do not be afraid.

Grace and Peace,
Donny Pierre