“…give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
HAPPY "Phew" Year
Let’s not be in a rush to say goodbye to 2020. Instead, let’s end this year with hearts that are tuned to His grace and mercy. There is so much to be grateful for, even on the hardest days. Will we see it, or will we shove the year out the door and refuse to lift praise to the One who is giving us the very breath in our lungs each moment? This year will be analyzed again and again, by psychology experts, historians, critics of all kinds. Surely God’s own children can take a close look at it, too, realizing anew just how worthy He is of all our worship and praise. 2020 may not be our favorite year to look back on, but never let it be said that it was a year in which we didn’t receive the goodness, mercy, and kindness of the Lord. He has been so good. Can you see it?
Don’t Be in a Rush to Bid This Year Goodbye (yourmomhasablog.com)
Long before I read these words, this message was on my mind. I was telling Cindy the other day that I wanted to write about the blessings that have come to us in a year filled with difficult experiences. As God’s people, we should constantly be reminding one another that though we live IN this world, we don’t live FOR this world. If that is true, then we must look beyond the temporary hardships and trials as we ask the questions like these: “In these days, what does God want us to learn?” and “How is He using these experiences to cause us to grow?”
When I think about the COVID-19 outbreak, I can see how God’s people have grown during this time. We have learned to adapt our ministry to changing times, and we have seen how God has provided resources so that we could quickly respond to the ever-changing ministry challenges. Have we always responded well in the last several months? No. But I know one thing that I have learned in all of this is that I need more of God’s grace and mercy (and less of Kevin’s complaining). During this past year, we have learned to use technology in a new way (forcing your “dinosaur” pastor to become more proficient in the use of technology and social media – albeit with much kicking and screaming through the process). I have reconnected with dear friends and prayer partners who live clear across the country.
The difficult days of summer were filled with riots and destruction in our cities, rising racial tensions and a heated political season. How could we experience anything good out of that? From what I’ve seen, it has caused God’s Church to go to prayer, to repent of our sins of commission and omission, to examine our thoughts and actions, asking the Lord to change in us what is not reflecting the glory of Christ. Personally, I have had to learn to tone down my emotionally reactive comments and become a better listener. God is changing us in these days and with His grace, we will become better witnesses for the Lord.
We have also seen how our gracious and generous God provides for us. Many financial needs have been presented to us, and every need has been met. There have been times when we were worried that our benevolent funds might not be enough; and yet, the Lord has shown us that we can trust Him and His word – He has and He always will meet our needs. We have seen how God has supplied even in ways we would not have ever expected (almost out of the blue, the gifts of God appear!). If we were never tested in the way we have been the last few months, we might not have witnessed the power of God to provide for us.
I could go on. For many of you, you have not been in the church for quite some time. The fact that the church building has been somewhat empty has meant that some improvements could get done with little or no disruption. Our cleaning staff have been able to do special projects that have improved our facility. When we return to our gatherings in the fellowship hall, we will have something that many of you have been requesting for years (hint – to make it happen, we had to bring in “water” and convert a “closet”).
So, let’s not quickly forget 2020 without taking time to give thanks to God for everything that we have learned and the many ways we have been blessed through what has been very trying times. God is gracious, and He is at work in us – no matter the circumstances we encounter. Praise God for 2020, and let us enter in this new year with anticipation for what He will do in 2021.
In His Grace,