Happy Labor Day! I find it odd that most of us don’t work on Labor Day. Why not call it Non-Labor Day? The holiday actually began as a way to recognize the American labor movement and celebrate laborers. The greatest labor day of all happened 2,000 years ago. Jesus labored on the cross and declared “It is finished.” He labored for us, dying for our sins, so we don’t have to work to earn salvation. We could never work hard enough to earn it anyway. So, just as you are enjoying this Labor Day, resting from your work, each day in Jesus we can rest in His work.
I want to be woke. This is not a statement on social justice or politics. I am talking about spiritual wokeness. Apart from Christ we are not just sick in our sins, we are dead. Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” Those without Jesus are dead, not woke. When we follow Jesus, we are fully alive, yet we don’t always live as we need to. We need to wake up. Romans 13:11, “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Do you know Jesus? If so, are you awake from your slumber? If you are truly woke, you will view all of life, whether social justice, politics, or COVID-19, in a way that God sees it. You will know that Jesus is the answer. Get woke!
Have you even driven in the fog? I did this morning on the way to church. The distance is fuzzy, but you can see just enough to proceed with caution. Sure enough, in time, you are at your desired location. Following God is sometimes foggy. You cannot see way down the road. You are not sure what God wants from you next week or next year. But, He gives you just enough to proceed with caution. The path becomes clear as you trust Him. Are you in the fog with God? Unsure about a decision? Trust God and obey Him today. As you do this each day, God will make your path straight, Proverbs 3:5-6.
I hit the reset button every Sunday morning. When I pray and review my sermon notes, I think about the previous week. I think about all the good things, and I am thankful. I also think about the times I sinned, and I am grieved. So, right before I preach, I give it all over to God, asking Him to renew and restore me. That’s one reason I love gathering with God’s people. It’s a way to keep me humble and accountable. The good news is that we don’t have to wait till a Sunday for a reset. We get one every day. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” You can have a fresh start each and every day with God. It’s not an excuse to sin, but rather a motivation to run to God after you sin, asking Him to clean and renew you, recommitting your life to follow Him.
Thank You. Two very short, yet powerful words. It only takes a second to utter, yet it can drastically change someone’s day. How do you feel when someone says, “Thank you?” You feel noticed, loved, and appreciated. How do you feel when someone, especially those you often help, never tell you “Thank You?” You feel neglected and taken advantage of. You cannot make others say “Thank You,” but you can make it a practice of your life. Say “Thank You,” for instance, when:
- Your food is handed to you at the drive thru
- Your waitress brings you a refill
- Your spouse washes the dishes, even though she does it every day
- Your husband mows the yard, even though he might enjoy it
- Your mom cooks you a meal
- Your child does his chores
- Someone from church calls to check on you
- God blesses you with another day to live
When you are thankful, not only does it encourage the other person, it encourages you. Having this attitude of gratitude helps you focus on others, not yourself. Who do you need tell “Thank You?”
Has someone ever hurt you? Not physically, but rather emotionally and mentally? Maybe they say something that hurts you, or they spread gossip about you. Perhaps they send you a message that leads to personal grief and pain. Maybe they pretend you just don’t exist, refuse to forgive you, or accuse you of something you never did. What should you do when someone hurts you? I always recall a saying I read years ago, “Hurt people hurt people.” Perhaps the person harming you is hurt themselves, and they don’t know how to deal with it, so they lash out at you. Another thing to remember is not take it personally. This is difficult, but usually they don’t have a problem with you. They have their own personal problem, or they are upset at someone else, and you become collateral damage. Feel the pain, but don’t dwell on it. Take it to God in prayer. He can carry that burden. Pray for the person. Be kind to them, and let love cover a multitude of sins. Remember, people let us down. No one is perfect, besides all of us are a little rattled right now with the Corona crazies! No matter what someone does, you are deeply loved and accepted by God through Jesus Christ.
Happy Thanksgiving! Don’t worry, it’s not November already. It’s only May. Yet, we are told to give thanks 24/7, even when times are tough. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It’s hard to be find reasons to give thanks right now, but we are blessed so much, even when the world seems to be falling apart. For me, I am blessed to have a job, security, etc. Yet, some strange things have happened to me during the Corona quarantine:
- A tree fell and hit my storage building, damaging it and part of my back fence
- My bike was stolen out of my carport
- I was having car trouble the other day, thinking it was a brake issues, turns out it was a bad wheel bearing
Yet, in all of these situations, I have reasons to be thankful:
- I am thankful my family was safe and away from the tree when it fell
- I am thankful I was able to repair the building and fence
- I am thankful the police actually recovered my bike. It was a bit roughed up, but I can restore it
- I am thankful the wheel on my car didn’t fall off while I was driving, it could have
- I am thankful a new wheel bearing is coming in today, and I can hopefully repair it and be back on the road
I am sure you have your own Corona crazies! You can find a reason to give thanks. You may have to look hard, but it’s there. God is good even when things seem bad.
Have you heard the birds? The birds are enjoying life, singing and celebrating. At church yesterday I left my office door open, allowing me to get some fresh, outdoor air. All I could hear was the song of a bird. This morning, while at my desk at home, I heard another bird. I opened the door and saw it perched on top of my basketball goal, singing with great gusto. The birds don’t seem too worried about the Corona virus, or anything for that matter. It reminds of me of Matthew 6:26 when Jesus told us to, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” If the birds can sing with joy, we can too. Don’t worry. God’s watching over you. You are worth far more than our feathered friends!
“I love waiting rooms,” said no one. Waiting stinks. You go to the doctor and wait. You are stuck in traffic and wait. You order pizza and have to wait. In light of the Corona Virus, the entire world is waiting, a waiting room full of 7 billion people. We are waiting for life to get back to normal. We are waiting to see our families. We are waiting to get back in church. We are waiting to get back to work. It reminds me of a verse in Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” If you are tired of waiting, like I am, wait upon the Lord. Seek His face. Ask Him for patience. Admit to Him you are anxious and weary. He will respond and fill you with peace and joy.
Are you tired of social distancing? Social distancing is not a new thing. In the Old Testament, God required social distancing, if you will. The people were not allowed to approach His presence. When God spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai, the people were warned not to get too close or they would die. The Holy of Holies, in both the tabernacle and temple, was a special place of God’s presence. No one was allowed in, except one priest on one special day of the year, the Day of Atonement. A heavy curtain barricaded the most holy place, and to enter unauthorized would mean death. When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain was literally torn in two, meaning that now the Holy of Holies is accessible to all. In Jesus, we can boldly enter God’s presence wherever we are and whoever we are. Social distance from others right now, but don’t be socially distanced from God. You can be in His presence at any time.