Connections Director (Manayunk)
Paul is originally from Foxborough, MA and graduated from Nyack College with a bachelors in Youth Ministry. He married his wife, Shanell, in 2005 and they moved to Philadelphia in 2013 so Paul could pursue his Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary. Paul and Shanell together lead the Mt. Airy citygroup. He’s an avid Boston sports fan, enjoys playing music, hiking and biking. Paul serves Citylight as a pastoral resident with a focus on associate pastoral ministry.
This week, Pastor Paul uses the Parable of the Prodigal Son to reveal how God’s family has a gracious Father by beckoning both older and younger sons to “come home.”
The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller
ESV Study Bible
The Capital of the World by Ernest Hemingway (1936)
How do we continue to hope in the midst of uncertainty? This is a lesson the Lord has continued to teach me the past several years as my wife and I have pursued adoption. Perhaps most poignantly, it was a little over a year ago that we found ourselves once again asking, “Will it ever happen?,” as we walked out of the hospital with an empty car seat. The baby we thought we’d be adopting wasn’t coming home with us. From the moment we heard this little girl was born, and the 33 hours that passed until we walked out of the hospital empty-handed, I couldn’t tell you how many times the tide shifted from things looking good, to things looking not good. Uncertainty plagued us, and the outcome we’d feared had come to pass. This, after years of uncertainty in our desire to become parents. Will it ever happen?
What uncertainties are you facing right now? How do you remain hopeful? By God’s grace, as we faced the heartbreak of our failed adoption last year, we were able to cling to what is certain. We did not grieve as those who had no hope, but instead we were able to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, knowing that in Jesus we have peace with God and that God is so much bigger than any circumstance we find ourselves in. We knew that this hope would not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. In the midst of heartbreak, this hope was a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls as we grieved. In the midst of all of this, we had hope because we knew that God is still good and God is still God (1 Thess. 4:13; Rom. 5:1-5; Heb. 6:19-20).
Amid all the uncertainties of this life, the promises of God find their “yes” and “amen” in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20). Even if what you fear comes to pass, in Jesus there is certainty, and in that certainty you can find hope. Cling to what you know to be true in Christ as you wade the waters of uncertainty in this life, “for this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). Whatever happens in this brief life, eternity with Jesus awaits you, and that hope will not disappoint. Friend, entrust yourself and your future to the Lord because he is God and he is good, no matter what.
PS: By God’s grace, our adoption story has a happy ending. Five months after the failed adoption mentioned above, the Lord saw fit to bless us with beautiful twin girls whom we have welcomed into our home as our daughters. Yet even this comes with new uncertainties – desires for our daughters that may or may not come to pass – and we know that whatever happens in this life, Jesus is sufficient for us and hope in him does not disappoint. I pray you find that same hope in Jesus!
As we near the end of 2020, we are all in desperate need for rest. It’s only in Jesus, our gentle and lowly Savior, that we’ll find the rest we’re longing for.
Big Idea: Courageously Follow God’s Lead
How do we do that?
1. Rely on Godly Wisdom
2. Trust in God’s Providence
- Term from Derek Kidner, referenced by Kathleen Nielson in podcast without source
- ESV Study Bible
- Tony Merida, Exalting Jesus in Acts
- Darrell Bock, Acts
Jesus is the one you need because Jesus heals and Jesus blesses.
- ESV Study Bible
- Bruce, The Book of Acts
- Merida, Exalting Jesus in Acts
- Fernando, Acts
- Mohler, Acts 1-12 For You
- Keener, Acts
Seek wisdom in adversity, trust God more than wisdom, and look to the Righteous One
Preaching Christ from Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs
In Hebrews 12:1-2, we are exhorted to run with endurance after Jesus, laying aside anything that would hold us back, knowing that Jesus has not only run the race before us, but finished it on our behalf.
Hebrews, William Lane
The Epistle to the Hebrews, Paul Ellingworth
The Epistle to the Hebrews, FF Bruce
“Running With the Witnesses,” John Piper
Continuing in the life of Abraham, we will see in Genesis 16 why we can trust in the God who sees us.
God Empowers The Discouraged Builder