From the very start of this pandemic, I was encouraging friends across the country who were stuck at home to start a “Quarantine Ministry” using their gifts, talents, and passions. I’ve heard so many incredible stories of how the Lord has used them, despite being stuck at home, I thought I’d share a few stories. A Elementary School Teacher used her skills to help Moms at home come up with creative ways to help their kids learn. A friend who’s a very talented seamstress learned of a need for masks and has sewn over 200. But the miraculous part of this story is that the supplies she started out with have never run out! Another friend started a daily video online of encouraging Scriptures to comfort and inspire those she couldn’t be with physically. God uses us to console the downcast…and in return, we ourselves are refreshed, renewed, restored, and revitalized. (Proverbs 11:25)
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.
When you’re going through the crushing weight of physical, mental, or spiritual distress, you’ll receive two kinds of compassion and consolation from people. You’ll hear sympathetic, sensitive words from friends who really do care, but have never gone through what you’re experiencing. But then there are the empathetic words of those who have lived through what you are currently enduring. These wise words ring true with encouragement and reassurance that… Yes, God is still there and with His love and compassion you’ll make it through.
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.
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.
Even though Paul was addressing this letter to the Church in Thessalonica…he probably could be speaking directly to any modern-day Church you know. Certain members of the Thessalonian Church, in anticipation of Christ’s return, had become careless and neglectful of their responsibility to work and support themselves. In other words…they were sitting around, waiting for the Rapture! Now, we may not see that degree of slothfulness in Church today…but what you can see is the attitude that “It’s me and Thee, God, and I’m not worrying about anybody else.” Paul warned that laziness and apathy would contribute to the downfall of any Church. Secondly, as the Church Body, we are to be Spiritual Cheerleaders for the fainthearted…the worry-warts…and those who can only see the cup half empty. We are to be encouragers of each other. Finally, as the Church, we are all to be ready with a helping hand for those who are weak spiritually, for when they grow, the Church grows.
The next House Rule deals with listening and then obeying. The Scripture comes from Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with Me.” If you examine the famous painting depicting this verse, you’ll see that there’s no doorknob on the outside. Jesus stands knocking, but can’t open the door Himself…we have to. All throughout our Spiritual journey with the Lord, He’ll knock at certain doors…doors of opportunity…doors of ministry…doors that are so foreign, scary, and frankly, so far-fetched, that we can’t put our heads around what He’s calling us to do. It’s at that point that we must make the decision to obey…to open that door and allow Him and His plan for us to come in.