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Look What God Has Done in 2017

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There is Great Wisdom in Reflection!

Psalm 77 ESV
To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph. 1 I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. 2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. 3 When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah 4 You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. 5 I consider the days of old, the years long ago. 6 I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search: 7 “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? 8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah 10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. 12 I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. 13 Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? 14 You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. 15 You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah 16 When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled. 17 The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side. 18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook. 19 Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. 20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Each year since Angie and I came to ABC, we have taken the time, at the end of the year to reflect on what God has accomplished in our midst. My pastor used to say that it is a healthy practice to look back and see, access and remember because it is all too easy simply to press on, always moving forward. And if we are not careful, without reflection on the past, we set ourselves up for failure in the future.
The other benefit of reflecting and remembering is it can lift us out of the mire of self-pity and show us that God has travelled with us every step of the way! Even when you do not see His hand moving clearly in front of you, you can always look back and see how His hand clearly moved for you!
So, when you are looking for comfort and hope, search your memory for the things God has done in your life.
And while it is true that things are going very well in our church, it is also true that it hasn’t always been this way and in the future may not be this way. But the circumstances we find ourselves in do not dictate the faithfulness of our God. God is faithful to His people. God is faithful to ABC!
As I was thinking about this morning’s sermon/reflection, I came across a Psalm that I found to be quite interesting. The Psalm is found in chapter 77
As you will see in this Psalm, the writer, Asaph, was struggling with God not answering his prayer. And I’m not sure what you think, but it can be very discouraging when you pray and pray and it seems like your prayers go no higher than the ceiling! Have you been there? Me too! And the writer of this Psalm, Asaph, is feeling the same way!

ASAPH—convener, or collector. (1.) A Levite; one of the leaders of David’s choir (1 Chr. 6:39). Psalms 50 and 73–83 inclusive are attributed to him. He is mentioned along with David as skilled in music, and a “seer” (2 Chr. 29:30). The “sons of Asaph,” mentioned in 1 Chr. 25:1, 2 Chr. 20:14, and Ezra 2:41, were his descendants, or more probably a class of poets or singers who recognized him as their master.

Now I want to break this Psalm up into two sections and point a few things out to you...
Outline of Psalm 77
The Problem (Vs. 1-9)
Psalm 77:1–3 ESV
I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah
Psalm 77:1–9 ESV
1 I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. 2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. 3 When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah 4 You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. 5 I consider the days of old, the years long ago. 6 I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search: 7 “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? 8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
2. Vs. 4-9
Psalm 77:4–9 ESV
You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I consider the days of old, the years long ago. I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search: “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
The problem for Asaph life is really hard right now and he is discouraged! His soul refuses to be comforted! He is so troubled he can’t even talk! He is wrestling and struggling. He then asks himself a question about God. “Will it always be this way with the Lord? Will my times be difficult and challenging from here on out? Is the God of all compassion suddenly out of compassion?”
And, of course, the answer to this question is a resounding NO! Our God’s mercies and compassions are new EVERY MORNING! And so Asaph had to REMIND HIMSELF about the faithfulness of God. This is his way out from despair and discouragement!
2. The Solution Vs. 10-20
Psalm 77:10–15 ESV
Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
Psalm 77:10–20 ESV
10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. 12 I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. 13 Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? 14 You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. 15 You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah 16 When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled. 17 The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side. 18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook. 19 Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. 20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
4. Vs. 16-18
Psalm 77:16–18 ESV
When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook.
psalm 77
5. Vs. 19-20
Psalm 77:19–20 ESV
Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Asaph’s solution is to look back and remember what God has done! He looked back quite a ways to God’s “wonders of old”. He meditated on God’s mighty deeds. To meditate means one ruminates! We think and chew on an idea. It is not a cursory, quick thought, it is something you sit in for a while!
He remembers the character of God, that He is holy! That He revealed Himself to all people and that He purposed to rescue His people from slavery. Literally! They were enslaved by the Egyptians. And “with his arm He redeemed His people.” He rescued them from Egypt and sent them through the Red Sea. And it was there that He destroyed their enemies! (Sounds like the Gospel to me).
Asaph was not seeing God move and so he moved his mind to remember and indisputable time when God did move and He moved decisively!
The Point of ? When you do not see God moving, look a little closer! Remember what He has done throughout your life and throughout history!
Romans 15:4 ESV
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
And, my friends, it is so easy to get to the end of a year and say good riddance, to be without hope. After all between mass shootings, sexual scandals (from politicians to Hollywood producers and actors and everywhere in between), Global unrest, Hurricanes and tornados, and a great political and racial divide in our country, this has been a hard year. And if all you listen to are the major media outlets, one could quickly come to the conclusion that armageddon is just around the corner! And in these turbulent times it’s easy to miss God’s glorious hand moving among us! Maybe even in your own life it has been an exceptionally hard year for you? You may have gotten divorced, lost your job, had a health problem, experienced the loss of a loved one or had another setback. Whatever the case, perhaps it has been hard seeing God’s loving hand. Just like Asaph, perhaps you feel like the Heavens are closed off to you and God isn’t there for you. But we must learn from Asaph as well. He didn’t stay there in his thinking. Instead, he began to recount all that God had done not simply in his life but in the life and history of His people. And you know what? We can do the very same thing today!
Maybe 2017 was a tough year for you personally. You may have gotten divorced, lost your job, had a health problem, experienced the loss of a loved one or had another setback. Whatever the case, you can turn your setback into a comeback.
God loves Allendale Baptist Church because the church, His church is not a building. No! His church are people. You are His church and Christ loves His church so much that He gave His life for her! For you! And He delights in delighting His people!
has been hard seeing God’s loving hand. Well, we cannot look at everyone’s individual lives, but we can and will take a snapshot of what God has tangibly done in our midst here at Allendale Baptist Church. God has done amazing things...
Psalm 149:4 ESV
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
Jeremiah 31:3 ESV
3 the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Zephaniah 3:17 NIV
17 The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Psalm 37:23 ESV
23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way;
1 Peter 5:7 NIV
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Ephesians 2:4 ESV
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
Hebrews 13:5 ESV
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Jeremiah 31:3 ESV
3 the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Jer
This morning I will catalog the tangible ways in which we have seen God demonstrate His love for us over the past year!
First and foremost His has continued to keep His promises in His word. And I believe He has blessed because of our desire to hold His truth!
He has grown us in PRAYER - Our theme for this year “Moving Forward on Our Knees - Being a church of Prayer”
Our Sunday morning Prayer gathering has grown in number and in substance!
Our Connection Group Ministry covered a book on how to pray and has increased in prayer as well.
Amy Vissers led a women’s group through Paul Miller’s book on prayer.
Prayer emails to the church to “stop and pray”
The overall temperature in our church is one of going to the Lord early and often!
Anonymous - “I prayed that the fruits of the spirit would finally be evident in my life after years of believing but not really bearing any fruit. God is definitely answering! I’ve been learning a lot about how to control myself in certain areas and have been finding the strength to actually do that.”
Anonymous - A loved one has finally sought help for a long-standing stronghold of sin. (Bob approved my sharing this.)
--A loved one has finally sought help for a long-standing stronghold of sin. (Bob approved my sharing this.)
Anonymous - A young lady I am mentoring has chosen to go "all-in" for God and is following through with removing harmful relationships from her life.Conni -
Conni -
--A young lady I am mentoring has chosen to go "all-in" for God and is following through with removing harmful relationships from her life.Conni -
Bob - Pastor Mark just wanted to let you know in response to the the email that you had just sent, this past year has been a real encouragement to me because we have moved forward on our knees in prayer. This has been an important part in what we have seen happen at ABC. He has empowered us! He has removed fear! He has given hope. So I am personally thankful for being involved in a church that prays!
Jim and Heather Gerakinis - Prayer for Jim's father who underwent chemo for lymphoma. Praise that Cancer is in remission- continuing to pray for strength to get back to normal strength.
Praise that Cancer is in remission- continuing to pray for strength 
Conni Christy -
As my mothers health declined I prayed for help. God provided family members to take over the things I had been doing which freed me up to be able to handle the challenges that were to come. 
Our family faced some major trials due to mental health issues. God has provided: 
the right providers- we currently have some wonderful people on our treatment team.
God provided wisdom and accuracy in diagnosis God provided in both of those areas and we are seeing benefits from the accuracy in correct treatments.
Strength, endurance and understanding as we faced challenges we have never faced before-
God provided rest when we needed it most, meals when we were exhausted, prayer support constantly and encouragement from the church.  for wisdom in how to handle the diagnosis and God lead us to a group of wonderful people dealing with similar issues. 
Our home flooded Memorial weekend and we prayed for wisdom and knowledge in how to proceed-God answered by providing all the right contractors to do the job well and they worked around the many therapy and counseling appointments we have. He also provided a way for us to finish the basement AND get paid for doing it!
Conni -
As my mothers health declined I prayed for help. God provided family members to take over the things I had been doing which freed me up to be able to handle the challenges that were to come.  Our family faced some major trials due to mental health issues. Our prayers were and are:  for God to guide us to the right providers- we currently have some wonderful people on our treatment team. for wisdom and accuracy in diagnosis and treatment-God provided in both of those areas and we are seeing benefits from the accuracy in correct treatments.  for strength, endurance and understanding as we faced challenges we have never faced before-God provided rest when we needed it most, meals when we were exhausted, prayer support constantly and encouragement from the church.  for wisdom in how to handle the diagnosis and God lead us to a group of wonderful people dealing with similar issues. 
to get back to normal strength.Conni -
Our home flooded Memorial weekend and we prayed    for wisdom and knowledge in how to proceed-God answered by providing all the right contractors to do the job well and they worked around the many therapy and counseling appointments we have. He also provided a way for us to finish the basement AND get paid for doing it!
We continue to pray for people to serve on the visual team-God has provided and we are able to do video as well as visual!!
We continue to pray for people to serve on the visual team-God has provided and we are able to do video as well as visual!!
I pray to be used by God to further His Kingdom and He graciously lead me to a ministry where several young girls came to know Christ as their Savior. 
I pray to be used by God to further His Kingdom and He graciously lead me to a ministry where several young girls came to know Christ as their Savior. 
I prayed for the salvation of my son and assurance of the salvation of his wife. God’s answer...They both came to saving faith, were baptized and joined the church. ❤️
I prayed for the salvation of my son and assurance of the salvation of his wife. God’s answer...They both came to saving faith, were baptized and joined the church. ❤️
McKenzie Hollingsworth - Over this year, I found myself asking God to provide in many different ways. No matter what the situation, even in the times that I was convinced that I’d asked one too many times, He proved me wrong. The Lord provided for my family and me every single time I asked Him to (and even sometimes when I didn’t ask!).
Over this year, I found myself asking God to provide in many different ways. No matter what the situation, even in the times that I was convinced that I’d asked one too many times, He proved me wrong. The Lord provided for my family and me every single time I asked Him to (and even sometimes when I didn’t ask!).Autum Schwalm - Mark, a HUGE answer to prayer for our family this year was praying to find a church that preached the Gospel. We prayed and looked for over 7 years trying many churches over that time period and feeling very hopeless and listening to Solid Bible teaching pastors online, but knowing God calls us to live in community with other believers. I can’t explain the Joy I personally have knowing I feel like we have finally found our “home church”. There were nights I thought this prayer would NEVER be answered and it was a huge eye opener to me visiting so many churches over that time period...what a terrible state our country and our own city is in as far as the church goes and the apostasy going on right in our area..I pray that we continue to be “A Church Moving Forward On Our Knees” We simply must be!
Autum Schwalm - Mark, a HUGE answer to prayer for our family this year was praying to find a church that preached the Gospel. We prayed and looked for over 7 years trying many churches over that time period and feeling very hopeless and listening to Solid Bible teaching pastors online, but knowing God calls us to live in community with other believers. I can’t explain the Joy I personally have knowing I feel like we have finally found our “home church”. There were nights I thought this prayer would NEVER be answered and it was a huge eye opener to me visiting so many churches over that time period...what a terrible state our country and our own city is in as far as the church goes and the apostasy going on right in our area..
I pray that we continue to be “A Church Moving Forward On Our Knees” We simply must be!
Autum Schwalm - Mark, a HUGE answer to prayer for our family this year was praying to find a church that preached the Gospel. We prayed and looked for over 7 years trying many churches over that time period and feeling very hopeless and listening to Solid Bible teaching pastors online, but knowing God calls us to live in community with other believers. I can’t explain the Joy I personally have knowing I feel like we have finally found our “home church”. There were nights I thought this prayer would NEVER be answered and it was a huge eye opener to me visiting so many churches over that time period...what a terrible state our country and our own city is in as far as the church goes and the apostasy going on right in our area..I pray that we continue to be “A Church Moving Forward On Our Knees” We simply must be!
I pray that we continue to be “A Church Moving Forward On Our Knees” We simply must be!
He has given us a SPIRIT OF UNITY - This was the first response of the Elders when I asked them to report on what they’ve seen God do in 2017!
A warning for us all. Unity is a delicate flower and it takes very little (careless) effort to destroy it.
Determine your way is far superior others
Be suspicious of others in the body - “Their up to something” - If you have a question, ask! Do not assume the worst about anyone!
Allow your preferences to supersede the truth and authority of the Scriptures.
If we all simply remember and practice Paul’s words in his letter to the Philippians, out unity will only grow!!!
Philippians 2:1–6 ESV
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Philippians 2:2–5 ESV
2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
Philippians 1:2–5 ESV
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Philippians 2:1–8 ESV
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
He has given us more OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE
Scripture Readers
Usher Ministry
Sound Team multiplied and is building a process of reproduction
Visual Team happened - essential part of the worship team!
Sound team multiplied and is building a reproduction process
Music Team Matured in its processes and procedures
Two new leaders
More worship teams
Music Team - Matured in its processes and procedures as well as
Nursery Ministry
Multiplied the Nursery from one to two (Infant to 2 and 3 to 5)
Childcare for the Equipping Class hour!
Men’s Ministry
Women’s Ministry
visual team
Continued maturing of the children and youth ministries!
blog:
We have 6 regular authors and have had guest posts as well. We post weekly and average 130 unique views per post.
Since we started in May our blog has been read 4,800 times.
Green Acres
Bethesda Farms
VBS - First one!
college connection group
He has given us MORE CONNECTION GROUPS
More Groups
New leaders
College Connection Group
college connection group
He has grown and matured our EQUIPPING CLASS ministry
He is growing Good and Godly LEADERSHIP
Elder Team
Deacon Team
Building Team
Safety Team
Multiplied Nurseries
He has gifted us with a talented ADMINISTRATOR - Tremendous growth! First year of a full-time administrative assistant
Multiplied Nurseries
Multiplied Nurseries
Men’s Ministry
Women’s Ministry
Youth Group growth
Website:
Website:
At the beginning of the year we were getting 50 unique views on our website per month. Now we are regularly above 1,000
We have a new and redesigned website.
Much of that growth came from our blog and social media. Because of that growth, we rose in the search ranking on Google where most people find us.
At the beginning of the year we were getting 50 unique views on our website per month. Now we are regularly above 1,000. Much of that growth came from our blog and social media.
We used to be on the second page of Google when searching "churches in Allendale." Now we are on the first page and are sometimes the third result on the list.
Because of that growth, we rose in the search ranking on Google where most people find us. We used to be on the second page of Google when searching "churches in Allendale." Now we are on the first page and are sometimes the third result on the list.
Blog:
We have 6 regular authors and have had guest posts as well. We post weekly and average 130 unique views per post.
Since we started in May our blog has been read 4,800 times.
The Grow Conference:
doubled in size from last year (50 to 100 attendees)
Encouraged many people in the area of defending the Faith
He has grown ABC Spiritually, Numerically and Financially!
Growth stats in giving and attendance
Spiritually
Numerically
Attendance 1st Q: 125
Financially
4th Q: 167
4th Q: 167
That's a 33.6% increase Financially
That's a 33.6% increase 
Financially
General fund - Our annual budget is $162,000. As of 6:30pm December 30th we were at $235,000. That is an excess of $73,000 in the general fund. 45% increase!
Participation in worship music and scripture reading
Building fund
Attendance
Building fund growth
Elder Team
Deacon Team
Building Team
Building fund - In January of 2017 we had $81,000 in the building fund. As of last evening, we have $535,000!
Multiplied Nurseries
Men’s Ministry
Women’s Ministry
Youth Group growth
VBS
The Grow Conference doubled in size
Prayer email
God is giving us a vision for the future of ABC - Training Center for Church Revitalization and Planting (Our Judea)
Lamentations 3:22–24 ESV
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Thomas Chisholm wrote “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” as a testament to God’s faithfulness through his very ordinary life.  Born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky, Chisholm became a Christian when he was twenty-seven and entered the ministry when he was thirty-six, though poor health forced him to retire after just one year. During the rest of his life, Chisholm spent many years living in New Jersey and working as a life insurance agent.  Still, even with a desk job, he wrote nearly 1,200 poems throughout his life, including several published hymns.
Chisholm explained toward the end of his life, “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now.  Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”
Just think, with each new day, God gives us the chance to prove His faithfulness.  And throughout history, He’s never once been proven wrong, for His mercies are new every morning, no matter what.
http://gaither.com/news/“great-thy-faithfulness”-story-behind-hymn
***
Great Is Thy Faithfulness Thomas Chisholm – 1925
Great Is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father! There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Though changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Refrain: Great Is Thy faithfulness, Great Is Thy faithfulness, Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me!
Could I please have the Elders and Deacons join me at the front? Bob, will you Praise God for us because of His faithfulness to us?
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