TGIF!! You may remember when FGIF meant you would have two days off from fighting traffic going to the office… it meant time to be spent at home…or time to go out to the movie or your favorite restaurant…to stay up late since no work tomorrow! Times have changed for most of you, but you know what?
TGIF still works! You can THANK GOD for this Friday (it is the day that He has made) as well as thanking God for all of His countless blessings in your life! Each day is a gift from your loving Lord and Savior. Thank Him and use His gift wisely.
Today I want us to look at my favorite section of God’s word. I referred to this verse eight days ago when a few of you were on my mailing list.
Philippians 4:4-8…Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I think these verses give us all that we need in our lives at this uncertain time. First it says to “rejoice”…to have JOY. The word “happy” comes from the base word “hap” which means to be lucky. When life goes our way we feel happy or lucky…when our luck changes, we feel unhappy! But his verse says to have JOY. JOY is a fruit of the spirit. Our JOY is found in our relationship with the Lord. We can have JOY on good days and corona filled days. We can have LOVE< JOY< PEACE…and much more from God.
Did you notice that this verse says to have that JOY “always”? There is no asterisk* It does not say rejoice sometimes! When 9/11 first happened, Royal Redeemer got a message out to our church members and community to gather at church that evening. As you can imagine, it was a packed house. Pastor Martin, Pastor Luecke, and I wondered “now what”? So the 3 of us decided to take turns reading scripture and taking prayer requests. You can imagine the looks I got when I read… Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! I’m sure that those gathered wondered how could the pastor tell us to rejoice in the midst of what seemed like the end of the world as we knew it? And yet in faith…God’s Word is always true. I paused and said “we have the JOY of the Lord (His presence in our lives) even on 9-11. We have the JOY of knowing that God loves us…has a plan for us…forgives us…has an eternal home for us!!! We had God’s JOY on 9/11 and I might remind you we have that same JOY today!
Our verse goes on to say… Let your gentleness be evident to all. I know there are some news stories of people scamming or hoarding…but I have seen so many people stepping up to care for their neighbors in the midst of this pandemic. People calling to check up on others, donating food and cash to churches and food banks, people getting takeout to support local businesses. I was walking yesterday in our development and was blessed by someone who wrote loving messages in chalk on the walkway. The list goes on! What acts of kindness and gentleness can you do today?
Our verse then says… Do not be anxious about anything. Really? You may ask…. “Does God know I lost my job, cancelled vacation, feel trapped in my home, miss my church family, the stock market is a roller coaster, I am afraid I will get the virus? I have a lot to be anxious about!”
Well, we all have a lot to be concerned about…but anxiety over things that are out of our control accomplishes nothing. And don’t forget…God say to cast those anxieties on Him because He cares for you! He can handle them. Sound too good to be true? Wonder how to handle the anxieties and worries. Well the verse tells us how… in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
As always…the answer to all our issues is found in our relationship with the Lord. Go to Him in Prayer…with a thankful heart. Let Him know what you are feeling and thinking. Be honest with Him. He then promises that you will have PEACE. Not the kind of peace we get when we accomplish earthly things…but a PEACE that can only be found in the arms of a Loving God!
So…how do you guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Verse 8 tell us… Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I know that the news can be terrifying and at times very political and scary…very much the opposite of what this verse calls us to fill our minds with. Stay in touch with the latest governmental plans for you…but walk away from it as well…be sure to have your “God time”. So where do we find the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy? I would suggest that you start in GOD’S WORD. Read it often…find some online devotionals…listen to some Christian music…go to royred.org and connect with us…. meditate.
Now that you have read this breakdown on Philippians 4:8…go back and read the verse 3 more times slowly!
Like last week, I will not be sending a new message out over the weekend. My desire is that you go to royred.org and worship with us. I suggest that go back and watch the online worship a few times. Participate in the prayers and join in from home singing praises along with us through the music. If you are able, continue to support the finances of your church.
Look for a new devotional out on Monday, if you need me call me at 440-237-7958 ext. 118, or think about passing these thoughts on to whoever can use them.
Lord…Bless us, draw us close to you, protect us all from this virus. Unify your people, your church, this nation. Be with those whose jobs make them vulnerable to the virus. Be with those feeling lonely, fearful, depressed. Give wisdom to the leaders. Use these times to draw us ever closer to you. Amen.