Relationships are vital parts of all our lives. More than we realized we need each other to be a part of our lives. It has been revealed during this time of social distancing just how much we rely on others to fulfill certain parts of our daily lives.
I miss my church… for me this is not part of my life but the church is my life. Its my calling as well as my job. Many have jobs in manufacturing, some in energy, and others in trades, but mine is in people. For the past 15 years I have been able to stand in front of a congregation of people, people that I have prayed for, people I have seen make it through struggles, people who have been ready to walk away and now have a renewed and greater faith…and we have seen sinners come to know Christ as their personal Savior... these very people are the ones who have prayed for me and my family on a daily basis. You see, over the years we have become part of each others life. We have been on each others mind. During this time of ‘shutdown’ we have wondered how those families are doing, maybe wondering how much their children have grown. I miss seeing the younger ones go by and hung Goo’s neck… I miss seeing teachers come in on Sunday morning ready and eager to open God’s Word… I miss standing in front of the choir and hearing them sing… I miss standing behind the pulpit and giving the people what the message God has given me… I miss standing at the door with Bro. Bradley and shaking hands while making small conversation… I miss hearing the funny stories that have happened in you life the past week. The simple little things - important things taking place in people lives we are missing out on. But I was encouraged this morning while reading.
In 1 Thessalonians chapter 1 Paul introduces himself in verse 1. Now Paul could've taken many verses to explain his life and circumstances yet 1 verse is all… then Paul quickly begins to get to the point of his letter - them.
Notice Paul in verse 2 tells us that he is giving thanks for them always and he also states he is in continual prayer (making mention of you in our prayers) for them. Paul lived being in and around the church but there were times he wasn't afforded the opportunity to be with the people face to face. Since Paul wasn't afforded the opportunity to be in their presence he did the only thing he knew to do - he prayed for them. You see, if you neglect a relationship it will grow weary and soon it will be a thing of the past but Paul loved these people too much just to forget them… he loved them and desired to be with them so he took time to think about them and pray for them.
Notice the scripture says that Paul was giving thanks for them… he was appreciative of those people. He knew how valuable they were to the ministry and to himself. The word ‘always’ simple means - forever or at all times. We know that the church at Thessalonica wasn't perfect and they had their faults but Paul doesn’t focus on the negative but is thankful for the investment they have made in his life.
Then in verse 3 Paul states that he ‘remembering without ceasing’ - this has the idea of no intermission. During a football game there is a break or halftime. A time when the action stops and the participants are allowed rest. But here Paul tells us there isn't a waking moment he isn't thinking of all they have accomplished for the Lord. We may never have the audience of others but one thing I know… there is a God in Heaven who has ask Tabernacle Baptist Church to undertake a monumental task of building a church and you, individually have by faith obeyed our Lord.
I thank God for each of you and your public exercise of faith. When others have questioned you… when some have scoffed at you… you have continued in you labor for the Lord.
Yes… I miss seeing you and I miss worshipping with you… we are not afforded that opportunity yet but I do pray for you and your family each day.
When we pray for each other we are nourishing our relationships… we are taking time to think about each others lives, cares, burdens, trials, hardships, struggles… we are taking time to enter into a battle with the power of prayer. When you take this time to pray for others you are investing into their life and the returns of that investment can not be tarnished… those returns are of eternal value.
Just my thoughts…
I'm beginning to hear more and more people saying I'm ready to get back to normal. We have been forced to change our daily lives because of an unforeseen event. This has been a trying time for all. A time that has caused many to question who they can trust. We hear a story from one outlet and it is a gleam outlook with no short end in sight. On the other hand, we get word from another outlet and we are told we have breached the pinnacle and we are on the downhill side of this. Truth is, I don't know who to trust.
So what are we to do… yes, we must be vigilant and wise in our decisions but ultimately this should be a time when we have turned to our Lord for comfort and assurance. We have allowed the current news cycle to dictate our feeling and forecast.
Paul writes in Philippians chapter 4:
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content.
We know Paul has experienced some very trying times in his life. He has spent many of his day locked up in a cell or dungeon. It would have been easy to become angry and bitter… yet Paul took the opportunity to learn about God’s grace and mercy. ]
Notice Paul writes ‘for I have learned’… learning is not simply knowledge imprinted to a person… learning comes at a cost. As it was in school learning came at the price of studying. Study was never fun for me but it was necessary in order to learn. Then there was the learning I received at the hands of experience. Times I stepped out in areas of the unknown and learned the, good or bad, by trails and errors.
But for Paul this was a time he was learning more than just experiences or gaining a intellectual knowledge. Paul is telling us through all his experiences he has learned to be content. We are anything but content with the current situation but if that is all we learn we have missed a great opportunity.
Note the word learned - ti increase ones knowledge, be informed, to learn by use and practice, to be in the habit of.
Here Paul states that it isn't the current situation or the social climate surrounding him that dictates his state of being. Paul writes that he has learned to live each and every day totally surrendered to his Lord. When Paul was locked up in prison he was content with Jesus. When he was being rejected and removed from towns, he was content with Jesus. No one desires to be locked away in a dungeon but when they locked Paul away he seized the opportunity to write to the churches, people, and to a couple of young preachers and my how form the small damp dark cell has Paul helped you and I on many occasions.
Paul says he has learned to be content. The word content has the meaning of ‘sufficient for one's self, strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support, independent of external circumstances, contented with one's lot’.
Here Paul is saying what he possess on the inside is far greater and superior than a pardon form the King. You see Paul wasn't focused on situations or the current news cycle but he was totally given to serving his Lord.
May we too develop a learning that Jesus is our all and all… learn to be content not on good news but learn that Jesus living inside of you is all that’s needed to be content with any situation we will face. He is sufficient.
In a day when we are all focused on a cure for the current virus we should make sure we don't get caught up in the frenzy and forsake our daily intimate time with God. We all want a cure, we all are praying for the day of normalcy, a day when we can return to days of unhindered travel and days without thoughts of social distancing and quarantining. But in the midst of current situation I would like to offer you a word of encouragement from God’s Word.
In the book of Hebrews chapter 11 verse 6 the Bible reads:
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Faith - a word we have all read and a word we have heard all our lives yet a word we sometimes find difficult to live out in our daily lives. In the scripture we are told that without faith it is impossible to please God. Now, I'm sure each and everyone wants God to be pleased with our lives including myself but let’s study the text and see what it reveals and how it can help our lives.
The word faith means a conviction of truth. So the text reveals that we can not please God without conviction of truth, His truth. Notice the phrase ‘it is impossible’. We live in a world that tells us anything is possible if you work hard enough for it. People have forsaken much in pursuit of personal happiness and material gain yet they find themselves in a tailspin of disappoint and empty promises. Our lives have meaning and purpose and when God saved us He gave to us a meaning; to live our new life for Him and He gave us purpose; to share the good news of the Gospel to a lost world. You see the only way is through Him. The phrase ‘it is impossible’ carries the idea without strength, impotent, powerless, weakly, disabled, unable to be done…
The word please is from the root word ‘euarestos’ (yü-ä’-re-stos) and means acceptable. Think about this… you and I can have a life that is acceptable to God when we live a life of faith, conviction of truth.
If you and I are waiting for the cure or a day of normalcy in order to experience happiness you will be disappointed because there will always be another virus, another tragedy to disrupt you life but with a life of faith your focus will be on things eternal, Heaven.
Now notice the end of this verse… it says ‘and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him’.
The word ‘rewarder’ means to give, to give something to someone, of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage, to bestow a gift, to grant, give to one asking, let have, to supply, furnish, necessary things.
Here the text reveals that our God is a giver, one who bestows a gift to you. In a day where it’s all about taking here God is freely giving to you. This world will never understand the joy that settles in a persons heart when God speaks to you. When He covers in grace during the unsettling times, when He through strength gives victory in the face of defeat, and when He gives peace in the midst of a storm.
But notice to whom He gives to… ‘them that diligently seek him’. The word diligently means - to seek in order to find, to seek a thing, to seek [in order to find out] by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to enquire into, to seek after, seek for, aim at, strive after, to seek, require, demand, to crave, demand something from someone…
Here the text reveals not all will be a recipient but those who will seek, require, crave, demand His presence. This is the person whose life is absent of the carnal desires of this world… a person who will settle for nothing less than the truth of God’s Word and His touch on their lives… popularity will not do… wealth will not suffice… health will not do… noting - nothing at all will satisfy this person but an intimate relationship with their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
When you truly seek truth and desire to have His blessing and touch on your life you will find He will ‘reward’ you with exactly what you want; Him.