One of the most powerful yet subtle ways that the Lord moves in our lives is through people. Today’s verse is from 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and reads: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
I do not know about you, but I find it very hard to stay sad, discouraged, upset, apathetic, hurt or any other negative feeling when I am praising the Lord. There is something about the very act of giving thanks to God, even when it seems we have very little to be thankful for, that lifts my mood, eases my burdens, and floods me with peace. It is not always easy to find things to be thankful for.
Today is November 1st, and as is my custom, I try to spend the entire month in a special spirit of thankfulness. We should be grateful all year long, but it is not uncommon throughout the world and human history for people to recognize a time of special thankfulness, usually around harvest time. In Biblical times, two of the major feasts outlined in Scripture were specifically connected with harvest and showing gratitude to the Lord for His blessings.
I am a planner. I like to have a general direction determined, an end goal in mind, and actionable steps to reach it. This is the type of person I am, and I feel overwhelmed and stressed when I cannot meet my own expectations, complete the tasks I set for myself, or reach my end goal. However, sometimes life gets in the way of our carefully laid plans. An unexpected automotive expense, a life-changing medical diagnosis, whatever it may be, Murphy’s law seems to apply especially to plans. I learned a long time ago that even though I am a planner, I need to be flexible. The tree that bends and sways in the wind of change is less likely to snap under pressure or be blown completely over — roots and all.
Relying only on God means fully, completely leaning on His strength no matter the situation, no matter the cost, no matter the end. Yes, even unto death. For this world is not our home, and there is something far greater in store. May every deed we do, every word we say — even in the midst of our greatest trials and deepest sorrows — point to the love of the Lord Jesus so that others will see His light shining through us and learn to love Him, too. Friend, that is our purpose and our privilege. To love God with all of our hearts, souls, strength and mind and, because He first loved us, show this love with all of those we meet. (Matthew 22:36-20) May we be able to sing His praises always. Glory to the Father! Glory to the Son! And to the blessed Spirit!
We all could learn from the young man on the bus. May we also never forget to treat others as we, ourselves, would like to be treated — even if we do not receive (on this earth) recognition for doing so or even if it may not be in our favor to doing so.
Every moment, every day is a precious gift of time. Let us cherish the time we have now and, no matter what difficult circumstance you may be going through, claim the peace that the Lord offers. “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
It may be that you, too, are struggling. Perhaps, like us, it seems that one bad thing seems to be followed by another and another. There are some days and some situations which leave us feeling numb… emotionally and mentally worn out. You may not feel like reading God’s Word or praying, but it is times like this when that is exactly what we should be doing.
There were a few times this past week when we had no idea if Mom would survive. You may have experienced or may be experiencing something similar. It is important to grieve, to deal with the flood of conflicting emotions, to process the current situations (as uncertain as it is) and begin to mentally prepare for the various outcomes. But never lose heart. Don’t lose hope. Even when faced with death. Death is not the end but merely the beginning of a new chapter.
Humility is looked down upon in many circles today. It is all about taking care of #1! Showing off your accomplishments by spending lavishly. Flooding your social media with perfectly posed and curated photos to give the impression your life is glamorous. Humility is a weakness at best and a crutch at worst in the eyes of many. As such, there is little respect for the virtue of humility. Yet throughout the Bible it is mentioned over and over and over again.