It's a Wonderful Life is the story of George Bailey, a guy who had "big dreams and big plans to design run ways and buildings and see the world." When his dreams get derailed as he stays behind to tend to his father's Savings & Loan business, he experience frustration and comes to a point where he wishes he had never been born. It's at that point Clarence the 2nd Class Angel appears and gives him a glimpse of his wish.
Have you ever been there friend? Because your dreams have been dashed you find yourself wishing you had never been born. Is your life is filled with sorrow and regret? You're not alone.
Joseph is a man who may have felt that way. When we read his story in Matthew 1:18-25, we see a guy who had plans to marry the girl of his dreams. Only to find out she was carrying someone else's child. With a story he didn't believe to be true (v. 19), he was looking for a way to minimize the damage. He didn't wish harm or embarrassment on Mary, but he had no intention to go through with the marriage, until God showed up.
One of the lessons I would ask you to consider from the life of Joseph that we see illustrated in It's a Wonderful Life, The Lord will show up if you call out to him. You might recall George prays, "Dear Father in Heaven, I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there and you can hear me, show me the way."
The Lord answered his prayer. And the Lord answered Joseph's prayer. While this life is indeed filled with difficulties, disappointments and heartaches, the Lord will show you the way when you ask in humility.
Both George in the movie and Joseph & Mary in real life end up surrounded by people wishing them well and marveling in a miracle. Jesus has come friend. He is our source for a Wonderful Life. Not trouble free mind you, but surely as you read this one filled with hope, awe and wonder at the presence of God in your life. Immanuel, God with Us! He is With You!
See You Sunday Friend!
PS- Did you see that over $37,000 has been pledged for our Shine Your Light '23 giving campaign. We want to invite over 2000 people to join us for Christmas. We are going to make some needed improvements to the building. We want to set aside funds to do ministry in 2024. If you haven't asked the Lord how you could be a part, i invite you to do so!
This week numerous storm warnings have been posted for those traveling for Thanksgiving. It doesn't appear as if any are for the St. Louis area, but other parts of the US could see some snow and or rain. Which got me to thinking about how often warnings get ignored.
Tornado warnings come to mind. How many times do we hear of a "warning" but give no thought to taking any action unless we might see the storm heading right for our home. Sometimes we get a heads up on a "warning" regarding finances and we might move our money around in order to protect it. There are warning labels on various products that get totally ignored (tobacco products come to mind). There are warning stickers on bags, sheets on our bed, lawn mowers. I heard of a warning label on a child's stroller that said, "Warning! Remove child before folding!' Like wow!
Paul was writing to his friends and wanting to give them a "heads up", or a "warning" about what to expect in the last days. In 1 Thessalonians 4 & 5 he spoke to them about the rapture of the church and the coming destruction to those without Jesus. A Storm is coming he said. The coming Day of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:2) will be a time of intense pain and heartache. But people can be prepared.
He concludes by saying saying "Encourage one another and Build Each Other Up".
How? Here's one thing to keep in mind. Following Jesus is our guarantee of a safe passage through the storm. Verse 9 says God has not destined His people to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
On Sunday we're going to be thankful for Jesus our rescuer. As we watch the news and see the chaos, our Hope in Jesus is our security we are going to make it through the storm.
See You Sunday Friend!
PS- As you're praying about what God may have you do with our Shine Your Light campaign, know that we now have over $28,100 pledged towards our goal of $32,500. Bring your pledge cards on Sunday if you're ready!
Sunday Service - 11/19/23 - Give Thanks - Week 3: "Being Thankful for the Church" - 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12; 5:12-18
So they did a study of 39 different denominations to determine what caused some churches to grow while others were leveled off. There was 1 overwhelming factor they discovered. It had nothing to do with size? Or programs? Or Location? It was true across various belief or doctrinal systems. It wasn't the teaching or kids ministry or great music...
When the results were in, churches where the people identified they felt loved and cared for, they were shown to be growing. Yep, it matters most how we treat one another. One of the things Paul says about the Christians in Thessaloniki, in chapter 4 & verse 19-10, is that he doesn't need to say anything to them about loving each other. For they were already considered masters at it. Yep go figure (Read for yourself).
What I love about what Paul does is he commends them, and then if you read in chapter 5 verses 12-18 he gives some very specific and practical ways to put love in action. For that's what it means to love. Love is a verb, a choice that results in us DOING SOMETHING for the one or thing we say we feel partial towards.
Jesus said that our Love for God and for one another is the best thing we can do (Matt. 22:37-39), and it would be our love for one another that convinced people Jesus was who He claimed to be (John 13:35).
So what can we do to put our love in action: Here are 10 ways you could love this week,
Paul said this is what a great church looks like- one that is an example of love towards others in their community and in their spheres of influence. I want to be a part of a church like that. A church that really loves, will be a church that is really growing. Be Thankful for a Church Family that loves you!
Join me Sunday Friend!
PS- On Sunday we announced our Shine Your Light campaign, to reach 800 homes with the Christmas message and more. We have $17,500 and pledges of $25,000 towards our goal of $32,000. Join my family as we Bring the Love of Jesus to the Lives of People this Christmas.
Most might say life is difficult... and the reasons vary as to why that might be. Some things I've thought of would be:
Sunday we're going to look at some positive ways the Lord gives us to respond when life is difficult. In 1 Thessalonians 3, Paul gives practical help for dealing with hard times. Here's one way that may be of help.
As we read 1 Thessalonians 3:1-6 we see that Paul sent Timothy to check on them, to see how the church was doing as it faced persecution and threats for simply following Jesus. Timothy went to "strengthen and encourage them in their faith". We need the input of other Godly, or at the very least Good people. We often try to go it alone, or we try and dumb down the pain or hurt. We need to find others who will care for us and look to help us. Peter says of your Lord God, that we should "turn our burdens and hurts over to Him for He cares for you!" When life is Hard, look for a Helper! Read Peter's words here!
Are you facing a difficulty right now? Who can you trust to confide in and know they will pray for you? Get hold of them today!
See You Sunday Friend!
Did you know that being grateful and expressing it has not only social but also physical benefits to it? I've been reading some interesting that data done by university research teams that reveal expressing gratitude helps us in a couple of ways.
First, grateful people have more friends and find their lives are better off than those who do not express thanks. I read one study of college students who wrote down 1 thing they were thankful for each week for 10 weeks. At the end of the study surveys showed them to be happier and more socially connected than two control groups who did not express gratefulness.
Physically, they have found grateful people have a stronger immune system, less headaches and signs of depression and actually sleep better than those who do not show appreciation. One study of those who were tasked with writing down "3 good things that happened today" were significantly happier 6 months after the study was over than the control groups.
Maybe Paul knew something ahead of his time? We're going to launch into a new study "Giving Thanks" and I want us to see from his letter to the church in Thessalonians the role gratefulness plays in helping us lead a life centered on Jesus and that encourages others.
1 Thessalonians 1:2- "We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers" This is the first mention of Paul gratefulness for these people, but in 5 short chapters he specifically mentions being thankful a total of four times.
This week- Look for the good around you? Look for how God is working in your life. Each week in November tell the Lord thank you for something specific you see Him doing. Two- recognize those people around you expressing kindness or extending grace and say Thank You. Once a day for 30 days- tell someone thank you. Keep track. You will feel better physically and it will remind you of God's goodness towards you. In just 30 days you will be in a better spot spiritually, in your relationships and with your health. Will you be Thankful?
Join me Sunday Friend!
PS- We have a major announcement of some exciting news this Sunday. Super thrilled as the good things the Lord is doing behind the scenes and want to share the joy with you Sunday!