Being a Christian does not mean we are immune to difficulties, hardships, or afflictions…that’s because we live in a broken world. And Job realized this…that troubles would come into his life. But Job also saw that he could never take God’s blessings for granted. So today, let’s all take a moment to count our blessings both great and small. If all your family and friends are healthy and safe…thank Him. If you have enough food to eat, a roof over your head, and clothing to wear…thank Him. Jesus did not promise that our life here on earth would be void of suffering, quite the opposite. For He tells us in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” That’s because He’s the God of all comfort Who comforts us in the midst of all our troubles. (II Corinthians 1:4) So today let’s thank Him for the many blessings we’ve received.
Right now in these uncertain and troubling times, we are all looking for comfort. Looking for encouragement, hope, and reassurance to displace the fear and apprehension we’re feeling and witnessing around us. Chapter 40 of Isaiah starts out with this verse, telling us that God is there to give us strength and hope…that His word stands forever (verse 8) and ends with these powerful words, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” (verses 29-30) Our comfort will be found in God and God alone…for in Him we will find hope and strength for another day.
In God, we have a good, good Father. A heavenly Father that wants only the very best for His children. So as Followers of Christ, we too should affirm the good in others. For if we have willingly and freely accepted the Lord’s invitation of salvation into our lives…we need to live out to the best of our ability His example. For there’s enough negativity already in the world today…but Believers can change that by simply seeing and affirming the good in others.
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.
In other words…if you have the love of Christ within you, demonstrate it! Paul calls us here to be like-minded…the Greek word for this meaning the activity represented involving the will, the affections, and the conscience. This unity involves coming together as a whole in decision-making, with morally right passions, and motives. For being like-minded is thinking the same thing for the good of all, not just a few. Yes, being like-minded takes work on the part of everyone. It calls us to be peacemakers, bridge-builders, and servants to all – for His sake and for His glory.
I’ve heard them called shoulder taps, or God moments. It’s when the Holy Spirit impresses on your spirit to speak or do something for someone…sometimes a complete stranger. It’s when that still small voice tells you to perform a kind act, or speak words of encouragement into a person’s life. It may not be profound…it may only take a minute of your time…but know that this interaction is divinely arranged…and requires your obedience without hesitation. These shoulder taps are a way that God manifests His love to a lonely and lost world…and what He asks of us is to just hear and obey. So, step out in faith when the Holy Spirit urges you…for you never know the impact you may have on someone’s life.
God’s people need to be in circles…not rows. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t obtain a tremendous amount of spiritual knowledge and wisdom from the Church Service you attend every Sunday. But there’s something very special about small groups that meet in homes. In Acts 2:42, these small groups of Believers met for the purpose of teaching God’s Word, breaking bread, and prayer…and the modern-day small group hasn’t changed that much. But unless you’ve been part of a small group, you don’t realize all the benefits there are. When you’re part of a small group, you make connections, and fellowship with like-minded people who become close friends. In small group, there’s the chance for openness and transparency to share each others burdens, while at the same time there’s accountability and follow-up. If you aren’t already part of a small Bible group, I strongly encourage you to take the step to join one. For we all need to encourage and be encouraged by each other as we grow in our faith.
The Lord would like you to know that you are loved. You are valued and precious in His sight. Regardless of where you come from…how notorious your background may be, or how far you’ve walked away from Him…Jesus loves you. You may say to yourself, “No one can love me…I’m too bad of a person.” But you don’t know the Lord, and if you would just take a peek into His Word, you’d see that all of Scripture is a love letter to you. It’s written just for you, to encourage and exhort…to strengthen and establish and allow you to become the very best person you can be. By His wonderful grace – God’s loving kindness towards you – there is the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation back to your Heavenly Father. There’s no need to walk out this life alone with feelings of isolation and loneliness…Jesus loves you, just as you are, right where you are today.
You can’t have faith without hope…and hope without faith…they go hand and hand together. When shattered human emotions come to the point of hopelessness, there’s nothing left but disillusionment and a broken spirit. But if we have faith, we are lifted up and supported…encouraged and assured that God is there. Isaiah 46:4 says, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He Who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” The Lord is always there to comfort the brokenhearted and grief-stricken. For faith will give way to hope…and hope will usher in faith.