Sunday, November 13, 2022

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Friends and Family

In today’s message, we will be giving thanks for the third kernel of corn. It reminds us of the importance of friends and family. If there is trouble in our lives, we immediately turn to our friends and family for help, guidance, support and, most importantly, love. They are a harbor in times of the storm and strife in our lives. 

In my own personal life, I have been blessed with family and friends who gave me support when I needed it most. There were a number of times when I didn’t take care of myself and drove myself without rest or eating right. It was during those times when I nearly died from exhaustion and illness. I had literally worked myself almost to death. All along the way, I didn’t listen to them and continued to drive myself harder and harder to complete projects. The projects were completed on time, but I paid the price for that success.

When things got to the point of complete exhaustion, it was too late. I collapsed and found myself facing death due to my poor sleeping and eating. The doctors who treated me wondered the same thing, “How are you alive?”

Yes. It had gotten that bad. I nearly died from exhaustion and poor eating. I didn’t take care of myself and I drove myself harder and harder each day. I didn’t expect others to keep up my pace during projects. I would send some of the team home to get rest while I continued to push myself harder. Many began to worry about me and asked me to slow down or take time off. I refused to listen to them.

If I had listened to my friends and family, I would not have gone through hospital stays, surgeries and rounds of medication at dosages that were not advised by the makers of the drugs. I endured so much and had to turn to family and friends to get me through those tough times. The true test of friends and family members is their willingness to help.

During my last time, our neighbors came to help us get through the darker parts of my journey. They would send over meals to help and give us the best gift of all, their friendship and love. Many said that they would help, but, when it came down to it, they only spoke the words. They quickly disappeared and didn’t help when they had promised. There is a term that is used to describe them, “fair weather friends”. They are only there when things are good, but when things start going the other way, they disappear.

I do not hate them. I know that helping another person is a difficult thing. They had other things that may have been going on in their lives. I have forgiven them and try to understand things from their perspective. Lending help to another person is an emotional commitment. If you decide to commit, the experience is draining and you may find yourself emotionally exhausted each day.

But, as family and friends, God gives us comfort and then expects us to give comfort to others in their times of need. He gives both family and friends the strength to get through the hardest and darkest parts of the experience.

Paul, in chapter one of his second epistle to the Corinthians, writes, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

When we share in sufferings, we also share in the comfort given to us by the Father. Suffering is the nature of this fallen world. We all endure trials, tribulations and sometimes unimaginable tempests. We feel that our lives have been torn asunder and we have been left for dead. However, our family and friends are there to lend their hands and bind up our physical, spiritual and emotional wounds. 

Jesus, in chapter ten of the Gospel of Luke, relates to us the story of the good Samaritan, “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

After telling this story, Jesus asks, “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?

The answer is, of course, the one who showed mercy and gave help to the man who was attacked.

There are times when we feel that we have been beaten and are ready to just give up. It is during those times when family and true friends come to our rescue to lend aid and help. Neither one will ever ask for anything in return and are only interested in giving you what you need most in your life, a shoulder to lean on. 

In time, they will go through their own darkest valley and you will have an opportunity to make a difference in their lives. Just know that God has given you comfort and now it is time to give that same comfort to those in need.

By being there and helping those who need it, we are doing the things that Jesus would do. Many years ago, people wore yellow wristbands with the acronym of “WWJD”. The acronym stood for “what would Jesus do”. Although it was a great reminder of the lessons given to us by Jesus, I, however, felt that it was only a question for many with no action behind it. 

Instead of asking a question, we should act just as Jesus would. We already know what he would do. The Holy Spirit tells us what we need to do. Just listen and follow through with action. When you do that, you can most assuredly stand firm in His grace. 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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