Sunday, May 24, 2020

Sunday Praise and Worship Message - All That Matters Most

During this pandemic, we have been given the opportunity to spend some time in reflection and thought. With the death toll and the number of people infected continuing to climb daily, we all have a chance to think about our lives and what are the most important things to us. Some have focused on their families while others are focusing on the end of civilization as we know it. It seems that what we see as important runs across a spectrum from giving and sharing with others to selfishness with varying shades of both in the middle. We all have something that seems to preoccupy our thoughts while we shelter in place and hope and pray that this nightmare will end.

I, like some, have spent my time thinking about my own life and how it is being affected by the pandemic. As I thought about the situation, I realized a couple of things. The first is that there are a lot of things outside of my control. As a person who likes being in control of his world, I often find it frustrating to stand idly by as I watch things happen to me. Because of decisions by other people, I am stuck in my home and have to work from it. Although I don’t miss the rush hour traffic, I do, however, miss that separation of home and work. I get up in the morning and get ready to work. Instead of driving, I walk about twenty feet and sit down at a desk in my home to start work. All of my interactions with my colleagues are through chat applications and phone calls.

The second thing I realized is that there are others who are far worse off than me. It doesn’t take a genius or a rocket scientist to figure out that there are others who are suffering more. Each evening I watch the news and hear the stories of families facing eviction or not being able to feed themselves. I see hundreds of people standing in line waiting to receive food from food banks. For some, it is the very first time that they have had to do that.

The third and probably the most important thing is that each of us must remain grounded in our faith. It is so easy to allow this situation to get the better of us. Each day is a struggle just to keep from thinking about the worst. The stock markets are bouncing up and down. Financial analysts predict that a depression is inevitable. With millions of Americans out of work, many are just barely scraping by to feed their families. Each day is another day of just surviving and making it through the day. As things continue to change, we feel completely and utterly powerless and we don’t know what to do or where to turn. 

But, that is where our faith comes in. We cannot see or even pretend to know what the future has to offer or what we can do to make it from one minute to the next. A cardiologist told me a long time ago that the average human heart has about one billion beats in it. Some last longer while some give out earlier due to disease or injury. But, on average, that muscle in your chest that pumps blood throughout your body every moment of every day has one billion beats in it. We don’t know when the beat we now feel will be the last or beginning of the next. We have no assurances or guarantees of the next beat or breath. 

Man is the only species that has an understanding of his mortality. We know that one day we will stop breathing, turn cold and die. It is just something that happens. Like the things that we make, we, too, have expiration dates. For the most part, we don’t concentrate on that moment. However, when we face something like a natural disaster or a pandemic that threatens to end life for most around the world, that’s when we realize that we don’t have a lot of control and that our lives are as fleeting as the morning fog. 
When we start to lose control over our lives and are subject to the situation, we begin to turn to other things. Some use drugs or alcohol to numb their minds to the reality that they face. Others use food to medicate their feelings. Each person turns to something that provides a little peace and eases their minds.

But, those things are only a temporary solution. Drugs, alcohol or whatever we use to numb our feelings only provides a short-lived escape. As their effects wear off, we are once again faced with the stark reality of our problems. 

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul, in chapter three when talking to them about living a new life, writes, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

The things that Paul talks about are the things that should matter the most for each of us. We are God’s children and chosen by Him to be His holy people that He loves. As His children, we know that God watches over us and guides our every step. We have nothing to fear or dread. 

As we do His work, we are to do it in the spirit of love and to always be thankful. By living a life that is filled with joy, mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, our lives are full and we lack nothing.

Each morning as I wake up, I thank God for the gift of life and for the day ahead. When I close my eyes in sleep, I thank Him for the blessings of that day and ask Him to watch over and protect my family as we slumber. In each prayer, I pray that His will be done in my life and that I follow wherever He leads me.

In 1872, Annie Hawks and Robert Lowry wrote a beautiful hymn that should always be in our hearts. That hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour”, has been on my heart during the last week. There is a particular part of the first verse that gives me comfort. The words, “no tender voice like thine can peace afford”, are very simple, but carry a deep meaning.

It is only His voice that brings me peace and unimaginable joy. He calms me when I am afraid and lends me His strength when mine is failing. In all times, good or bad, our Heavenly Father is there. It is our faith that binds ourselves to Him and keeps us from concentrating on the things of lesser importance.

As you go through this week, concentrate on the most important thing in your life, that faith that binds you closely to the Father. Don’t let the things of his world pull you away from Him. Let the words of that wonderful hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour”, be your guide to peace, joy, love, service and humility. When you forget about the things of the world and focus on the most important things like your faith, you can definitely stand firm in His grace. 
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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