midweek message #36
Hello and welcome to an early edition of the Midweek Message. I had thought about not doing one this week but after last week’s lengthy MM, I thought I would add this one and just get it out early.
I think we are all tired of a lot of things right now. The virus and all the life changes it is bringing about. The political arena and its mess. The economic upheaval as we “watch” the market fluctuate, unsure of what is to come. The realization that some will truly suffer this Thanksgiving and we feel like our hands are tied. To top it off I suspect many of us don’t feel like being thankful. Well…my plan for this MM and my hope is that it will give you something to hope in and be grateful for.
Over the past two weeks in my sermon, I have emphasized four reasons why we can be thankful for God’s blessings. I’d like to start out by reiterating them for you:
- God’s blessings are numerous and varied. God’s blessings are as different as you and I are. We are not cookie cutters, all alike, and all blessed the same way.
- God’s blessings are beyond what we deserve. When someone asks me how I’m doing I will often answer, “Better than I deserve.” I am continually amazed and astounded at the richness of God’s blessings on my life.
- God’s blessings are poured out on the just and the unjust. This is hard for some to understand but it is true. Don’t compare-focus on the way we have been blessed.
- God’s blessings have a purpose. No follower of Christ was ever meant to keep God’s blessings to himself. I have a saying: “Blessed to bless.”
And keep in mind that sharing your blessings doesn’t mean it has to be money. It can be a smile. A compliment. A kind word. Go old school and send a note in the mail. The important thing is that we make an effort to share our thanks with someone else by blessing them.
I recently read an article entitled Pastors, Choose Gratitude Over Grumbling. Obviously it was directed to pastors, especially those who pastor contentious churches. People choose to take sides in the way the church is “run;” the direction it is going; even in politics. He concluded his article by giving eight practical ideas to spur gratitude for the church where God has placed the pastor. I want to modify them some to make them applicable to us all. So here are seven practical ideas which you can use to be grateful for and express that thanks to God:
- Recall God’s faithfulness and power throughout OVCF’s history. I know some of you do not know our history but God has been with us since our beginning in 2004. We would not be where we are today if not for His blessings. Through floods. Through the temporary meeting place to making this building available. Through struggles and joys, He has always been there.
- Thank God for His salvation. There is no greater gift given to us than this. Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and the salvation it brings is worth our praise alone. What a huge gesture on God’s part!
- Observe how God is at work and thank Him for it. Even something like a virus can’t stop God’s work. Take stock of how this time has caused you to grow and mature.
- Take time out of your day to pause and thank God for the little things that come your way. The kind word of a friend. The hug of a child. The kiss from a spouse. Your job. It just takes recognizing the little things.
- Tell others about God’s goodness to you. Even over the past 9-10 months we still can find something to be thankful for. Share it with a friend. Make sure your family is aware of God’s faithfulness and goodness.
- Talk with others about how they are doing. Don’t isolate yourself from others. I have found that when I am “down” sharing with others or spending time with others alleviates that. I come away refreshed. There are ways to do that if not in person.
- Redirect your heart away from grumbling and complaining. The enemy (Satan) wants to use any opening to get into your head and heart. Number your blessings. Don’t allow those negative thoughts to find a home.
That’s all I have to say for this week. Short. Positive. Encouraging. So I’ll close with this: I am so grateful to be your pastor. Many of you don’t know it but this past week was the anniversary of my first official week in 2004. I have never regretted coming to the small town of Spencer. There have been highs and lows; ups and downs; people coming and people leaving. Some have visited and stayed, while others have visited and never returned. Some have gone to other churches and sadly, some have left and gone nowhere. But that is church life. In reality, that is life…period. I have learned the best thing I can do is to serve the people God has given me, to shepherd them as best I can. So this Thanksgiving, I will be sending up a huge “thank you” to God for you. Thank you for the privilege of serving you. I love you all.
One more thing: last week I mentioned about looking into a “masked” service. Response has been positive. If you are interested, please let me know.