By Tom Gardner, Jr.
Talk about being grateful! Thanks to Pastor Jason for giving me the opportunity to give you today’s devotional. So I’m going to make the most of a chance to put forward to you, my brothers and sisters, something that has been heavy on my mind these last couple of months. My dad used to tell me that I always had to learn things the hard way. In this case, I have. I hope this speaks to you as well.
Father God, who loves and cares for us with a compassion that knows no end, bless each one of us. We look to you now more than ever, Lord. We ask for your guidance, wisdom and protection. Open our hearts and minds to your word, for there lies the answers we seek. We know, Lord, that you alone can free us from the earthly chains that bind us and are worthy to bask in your love and light. Amen.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you are called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing songs, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
“My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less (The Solid Rock)” by Edward Mote and William B. Bradbury (YouTube video with lyrics for in-home worship: https://youtu.be/Ty8tw7ydxB4)
My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness I dare not trust the sweetest frame But wholly lean on Jesus name On Christ the solid rock I stand All other ground is sinking sand All other ground is sinking sand When darkness veils his lovely face I rest on His unchanging grace In every high and stormy gale My anchor holds within the veil His oath, his covenant, his blood Supports me in the ‘whelming flood When all around my soul gives way He then is all my hope and stay When he shall come with trumpet sound Oh may I then in him be found Dressed in his righteousness alone Faultless to stand before the throne
Last week, at a weekly update to all Library staff, we were asked a question: “What piece of advice did you give yourself that has helped you through these past few months?” My reply was that I learn to remind myself daily to never again take what previously seemed ordinary for granted. I think about this (and all of you) everyday. I miss going to my Library to work everyday. I miss my coworkers. I miss church on Sunday in that beautiful old sanctuary.
It’s so easy to take for granted that the shelves in the grocery stores will always be fully stocked, that the water will continue to flow into our homes, that electricity will always be available, that there will be fuel for vehicles, and that there will be services available in case of emergency. Our jobs will always exist. That the people we know and love will always be there to come back to. The list is endless, but the point is, we all take things for granted.
I’ve met people over the years that I’ve said must get out of bed every morning, look up to the sky, and thank God for the fact they woke up. They’ve told me they begin each day by thanking God for being alive. I can’t think of a better praise for our Lord. Just to wake up and thank the Almighty that we’re still here. During the last several months, I’ve made a point to do that.
I have to bring up a favorite Max Lucado story. He tells about a wounded soldier he encountered at a dinner. “Thankful individuals concentrate significantly less on what they lack and a lot more on the privileges they have. I attended a banquet lately in which a wounded soldier was presented with the present of a totally free residence. He practically fell over with gratitude. He bounded onto the stage with his single great leg and threw his arms around the presenter. ‘Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!’ He hugged the guitar player in the band and the massive lady on the front row. He thanked the waiter, the other soldiers, and then the presenter once more. Just before the evening was finished, he thanked me! And I hadn’t done anything.”
Not taking things for granted, being grateful for what you have no matter how ordinary or mundane it may seem, means you have a mindful awareness of what God has bestowed upon you. Even the roof over our head takes on an added significance. We believe it’s just always been there so it always will. Many times these things only become important when they are lost.
Remember that God’s Word will never leave you. It’s withstood countless questions and trials and has stood strong. James wrote in Chapter 1:17 that “Every good and perfect gift is from above above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” What James is saying is that all good things of this earth flow from God. All his blessings are something to be admired and appreciated. May we never again take these things for granted.
Prayers for Our World
Let us pray, as we did last week, for our neighbors, our church, and our world:
- For those among us and around our world who continue to live in fear and hopelessness, not only because of this virus but because of other illnesses or poverty or loneliness or injustice or depression or stress, we pray that the Holy Spirit would prove to be their true advocate and bring them hope, healing, and peace.
- For all those who have gone back to work or will be soon, we pray for their safety and continued health.
- For our national and local governments, we pray for wisdom as they weigh the costs of reopening and continue to make decisions on how that should happen.
- For the church here and around the world, we pray that we would be witnesses, like Jesus says, to the life-giving power of his death and resurrection. May we be beacons of hope, justice, mercy, and salvation to each and every person we meet.
- For all those who have died this week because of COVID-19, we pray that God would receive them into his open arms of love.
Eternal God, open our minds and hearts to the blessings you’ve bestowed upon us. Remove the veil and things of this world until all we see is you. And how much happier life would be if all we do is keep our eyes upon you. Help us to not take what many call the little things in life for granted, but help us to see them with open eyes every day. Amen.