The last time our Church Body met was in March. And while we have a weekly online service…it’s just not the same. This past week our Pastor sent out 5 questions for everyone to answer, and one of them really struck home for me. The question asked in what ways had we experienced loss during the COVID 19 pandemic? The word loss got me thinking about the stages of loss – shock/disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and finally acceptance/hope. Now while I haven’t lost a friend or family member to the Corona Virus, or lost my job or business in the aftermath…I’ve watch in stunned sadness as millions of people have. So in a way, this profound loss can not help but effect me too. And when you couple this feeling of loss with a pervasive sense of uncertainty, I’m only left with dryness…a desert within my soul. But God’s remedy for this arid condition is simple…His Word. For just as Ezekiel spoke to the Valley of the dry bones and they lived…so my soul can be made alive through His Word.
Show of hands please…how many of you are over and done with COVID 19 and just want it to go back to normal? As the weeks drag on, my indifference has increased with each boring day…my lack of concern or interest in things leading only to more apathy. So when I read these Scriptures today, I said to myself, “This must be what it feels like to be ‘out of season’.” I don’t feel like sharing the Gospel Message with others, or reaching out with encouragement…but that’s not what I’m being told to do here. For my feelings have nothing to do with it, and I need to be ready, willing, and able to share the love of Jesus whether I feel like it or not. That’s what being prepared in season or out of season means. It all boils down to this…we are to fight the good fight of faith (I Timothy 6:12)… which means struggling daily with our thoughts and feelings in order to be a tool for God to use.
Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful. He was simply showing the difference between His blood family, and His spiritual family. Elsewhere in Luke we can find Him repeating this notion when He says, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:28) When we become a Christian, we are adopted into and become part of the family of God. And part of being in this family is listening to the word of God and then applying it to our own life…practicing until it becomes a habit.
Even now it’s sometimes very difficult to discern whether a Word from the Lord we hear is accurate. At face value it may sound good…especially the warm, fuzzy ones that predict peace, prosperity, and a new Cadillac in every garage. But to separate truth from falsehood we have to weigh these words in context with all prior revelations from the Lord. Is it consistent with God’s word? And when put up against the truth already received from the Lord, does it measure up to its standard? When we filter all we hear through these notions first, we’ll be less likely to accept the words of someone who’s overstepping their boundaries and taking smug and arrogant liberties with God’s word.
In this verse it tells us what the secret to having inner peace and security is. This assurance we can have can only be found within God’s Word. But it also means not just listening, but actually applying it to your life. And when we do this, there is no end to His peace for us. (Isaiah 9:7) For the Lord rewards the godly with all good things. (Psalm 103:5)
This verse speaks specifically to those within the Church-body that preach and teach the Word of God. They are to be compensated for their work. But I would like to take this idea of consideration a step farther. When was the last time you thanked that friend who spoke encouragement, hope and prayed for you during a hard time in your life? Or when was the last time you called a long-time friend who had been instrumental in your walk with God and thanked them for faithfully speaking the truth? We could all benefit from reaching out to friends today and just thanking them for sharing the Good News.
You may think you’re alone, but you’re not. You may think no one sees or even cares about you, but you’re wrong. Psalm 33:13-14 tells us, “From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth.” For no matter how you feel about God and spiritual things…He’s still watching you, for in Proverbs 15:3 it says, “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” Satan would like you to believe that you’re alone, forgotten, abandoned, and worthless. But this is a lie, for God’s eyes are on you at this very moment, offering you His hand of love and support. Today you may find yourself alone, but you don’t need to feel lonely…for God is there.
This was one of Paul’s loveliest and most personal letters directed to the leader of the Colossian Church. Here Paul was encouraging Philemon to continue sharing his faith. For when faith is shared, the Word of God is unleashed to successfully accomplish its plan and purpose in people’s lives. Never be afraid to share the reason for the hope you have. (I Peter 3:15) For you may never know the impact it may have on someone. And the wonderful benefit of sharing your faith with others is that every time you hear it yourself…your trust and confidence in God is built up a little bit more.