God’s Wonderful People

Last night after dinner, Neal explained to his cousin, Naomi, that we have never lived close to our families, and that he would’ve liked our sons to have had more opportunities to be with their grandparents and other family members.  Naomi replied, “But you’ve had your church family.”

Oh yes, we have had our church family!  Whether in AL, VA, or CO, we’ve had brothers and sisters and role models and friends.  When we were young newlyweds and then new parents, we had couples take us under their wing and act as our own parents would.  Our boys have had adopted grandparents and mentors.  What a treasured blessing!  But that’s just one aspect of the beauty of the Lord’s church.  Consider some other blessings of being in God’s Family:

  • Continual support and encouragement (Heb. 10:24,25)
  • The much sought after feeling of belonging and community (Eph. 2:19)
  • Being with people who try to treat others with love, honor, and respect (Rom. 12:10)
  • Available help in time of need (Rom. 12:13)
  • Never having to suffer alone (Rom. 12:15; 1 Cor. 12:26)
  • A feeling of usefulness and purpose (1 Cor. 12:14-25)
  • Togetherness, devotion (Acts 2:42-47)
  • Fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7)
  • Always having family (1 Tim. 5:1,2)
  • Being loved even when unlovable (John 13:34,35)
  • Being in God’s household (Eph. 2:19-22)
  • Pure and sincere love (1 Pet. 1:22)

Sometimes relationships in physical families are severed for various reasons.  Or sometimes it’s just not possible to be with our physical family as often as we’d like because they live so far away.  But God’s Family is God’s gift to us.  In God’s Family we always have loving relationships.

Sadly, some have not felt the love or sense of belonging in their church family.  If this is the case for you, there are a couple of things you can do:

  1.  Make sure you are doing your part to reach out, love, serve, and sacrifice for your brothers and sisters in Christ.  Sometimes we are quick to point out when others let us down but neglect to consider our own lack of involvement.  Maybe no one called you when you missed a service or two.  Before feeling indignant, do some soul-searching.  How many people did you call that week?  Focus on being an active, loving, giving member of your local congregation.
  2. Remember the church is worldwide.  Perhaps you worship with a small congregation and when experiencing a difficult situation you received little to no support (and maybe even received criticism or were the object of gossip).  In those cases, it helps to remember that the Lord’s family consists of more than just your local congregation.  There may be another one in the next town over.  You can find brothers and sisters (and their love and support) nearby and worldwide.  Look for strong, encouraging members and groups on Facebook.  Write letters of encouragement to stateside missionaries or those serving on foreign lands.  There are all kinds of ways to connect and serve in God’s Family.

God’s people are wonderful.  None of us are perfect, and we may even let each other down occasionally, but I’m thankful for this blessing of our dear church family.  I can’t help but think that if we each strive to be even more close and loving in the Lord’s church, those in the world around us will want to enjoy this blessing, too.

Photo credit:  Tracy Threlfall

Photo credit: Tracy Threlfall

There’s a Verse for That

I can tell it’s time for some personal spiritual growth.  I’ve found myself leaning toward comfort over outreach and control over trust.  I’ve allowed pride to reign more than once recently.  When my heart is battling the flesh (Rom. 8:5-8), I know it’s time to fill it with more of the Word.

  • “Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (Psa. 119:11).
  • Referring to the righteous…“The law of God is in his heart; his steps do not slip” (Psa. 37:31).
  • “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart” (Psa. 40:8).

I need to be able to recall the perfect Law in each moment of temptation.  In order to resist the flesh, I need to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” by arming myself with the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:10-18).  I need to memorize more of the Word.

Neal recently said, “If there’s a struggle, a difficulty, a problem, a situation that arises in life, there’s a text for that. There’s somewhere that God has dealt with that–at least in principle.”  So here are a few verses to fight specific temptations that I’m going to work to treasure in my heart.  If you find yourself struggling with some of them, too, perhaps you’d like to memorize them with me. Good news for the not-so-young–I recently learned that our brains never lose the ability to memorize new things (but I still tried to choose verses that are short and to the point)!

PRIDE

“Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
Assuredly, he will not be unpunished” (Prov. 16:5).

SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS

“But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Rom. 14:10).

SELFISHNESS

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).

ANGER

“He who is slow to anger has great understanding,
But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly” (Prov. 14:29).

COMPLAINING

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

BITTER SPEECH

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).

LAZINESS

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Col. 3:23).

JEALOUSY

“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:16).

CONTEMPT

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).

GREED

“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you'” (Heb. 13:5).

GRUDGE-BEARING

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

Obviously there are many more fleshly temptations, but I tried to choose the ones that can so quickly sneak into our hearts.  If you can think of any others (and the verses that combat them), please share them with us!

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