Have you ever considered how we are all so very different from other, as a congregation? We have different backgrounds, are different colours, have different shapes, study different subjects or do different jobs, and have different behaviours! Or, considering this on a smaller scale, have you ever met a couple that is vastly different from one another – two people from different countries, with different cultures, having different personalities, being of different sizes, and even speaking different languages! Have you ever thought to yourself, what do commonalities, compatibilities, and culture have to do with our life, who we interact with, and how we become “friends” with others? Sometimes what we see on the surface – our initial perception of “unlikely” – may be skewed by our own bias. But if we contemplate what it would be like if we were all the same (a carbon copy of each other), we would soon realize how incredibly boring would that be! The truth is we are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and we are uniquely created so marvellously (Psalm 139:13-14). Perhaps one of our tasks in life is seeing the unique and special gifts, qualities, and characteristics in each other, and appreciating and affirming them… doing so would not only help us get along, but it might even be the remedy for a healthy relationship! Our differences do not mean things cannot work out or won’t be a good thing… for it is usually those differences that make all the difference!
After some cooler weather earlier this month, we’ve been blessed with a few warm days this past week, but this summer-like weather is almost over. We had a lot of rain this last while, and there is more we are expecting. I often think, what would the earth be like if there was only sunshine and no rain? We all wish for sunshine all the days of our lives, but sometimes the dark clouds, overcast canopies, fog-enshrouded days, and rain drenches us. Why do we need such storms and unpleasant weather in our lives? Why not keep it all sunny and bright? Well, the changing weather helps us to adjust our perspective. God allows the rain, the sun, the snow, and the droughts to teach us about ourselves, about life, and about Him. A Chinese proverb that states, “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a person perfected without trials.” Whatever we go through, are going through, and will go through, God promises that He will be with us (Matthew 28:20) and that all things “work together for our good, to those that love God…” (Romans 8:28). God has a purpose for every problem, a blessing in every burden, and an opportunity in every obstacle. We should attempt to appreciate and discover the beauty, blessing, and lesson in each weather pattern, season, or changing forecast. The good news is that God has the best forecast of our future, to give us success, to prosper us, and to do us no harm (Jeremiah 29:13). God keeps us in His care, sovereign will, and arms of safety and love. Live, learn, laugh, and love and go with God as He goes with you!
How thankful are you right now in your life? We may not be able to measure our gratitude on a scale, but thankfulness is not just a moment… it’s a way of thinking, attitude, and even lifestyle. One pastor even refers to it as, “Thanksliving!” We are reminded in God’s word: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Written over a century ago, Professor James Denney of Scotland called these three commands “the standing orders of the gospel.” They are “standing orders” because they always apply to every Christian in all situations. The Greek makes this very clear because these imperatives are all in the present tense, translating as “continually rejoice, continually pray, and continually give thanks.” A great challenge, isn’t it? After all, we would have no problem if the text said, “Rejoice sometimes” or “Pray occasionally” or “Give thanks when you feel like it.” About this text, R. Pritchard writes, “This suggests that the real impact of the gospel will be seen when we don’t feel joyful, when we don’t want to pray, and when we can’t think of a reason to be thankful.” We have come to the point where when we see things, go through challenges of life, and encounter changes of life, but our attitude and approach should move from complaining to contentment and from grumbling to gratefulness. Where are you on the gratitude scale? If you can find at least one thing to be thankful for every day, that will be one less thing to worry about, and one more reason to live life with resonance!