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.
What crazy times we live in! I cannot help but think of one of my favorite songs, The Heart of Worship. One part of the song especially has my attention, “When the music fades and all is stripped away.” Doesn’t that sound like what’s happening? All is being stripped away from our lives. Sports? Gone. Church? Gone. Stock market stability? Gone. School? Gone. When all is stripped away we realize that it’s Jesus that really matters. I remember a saying from one of my pastors from long ago, “If God is all you have then you realize God is all you need.” Let this be the desire and song of our heart:
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus
Bro. Bill Robertson recently passed away. I surrendered to the ministry under his pastoral leadership. It’s caused me to consider all the men God’s used to influence my life and ministry. Here are a few:
- Pastors: My pastors before I became a pastor
- Professors: From the seminaries I attended
- Laymen: Deacons, SS Teachers, godly men in the churches I have served
- Friends: Those who serve God in the ministry. In addition, friends who are not in the ministry, but who also love the Lord and serve Him faithfully.
- My dad: He was not a preacher or pastor, but he showed me how to honor God in the business world, and more importantly, at home
Who has influenced you? Make a list, and thank God for it! Here’s another thought: Is your name on someone else’s list? Are you pouring your life into others? We live in a day and age when men need to step up and live for Jesus. Men, live for Jesus. Set an example for others to follow. You don’t have to be a preacher or pastor. Be a godly dad. Encourage young men in the church. Live in a way that inspires us to not settle for a life of just video games, cell phones, and YouTube. Ladies, pray for the men in your life, and encourage them to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.
I love basketball. My three favorite players are Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James. I never was a fan of Kobe, but I do appreciate his game. He’s dead now. 41 years of age, three years younger than me. It’s shocking. To make matters worse, his 13 year old daughter died, too. It hits home because I have a 13 year old daughter. How are we to respond to a death like Kobe’s?
- We can admire his gifts and legacy, but we are not to worship him. Kobe is no god, he was a basketball player. Nor was he perfect, no one is.
- Pray for his family, and pray that God uses this to draw people to Christ as they contemplate death.
- Remember that life is temporary. Death comes to all regardless of age, status, wealth, etc.
- Love your family, you never know what day will be their last.
- Never forget the most important death of all, Jesus’ death on the cross, who died so that we may have eternal life in Him.