November 30, 2022
Greetings and God Bless You,
We are officially post-Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas in our home. By this I mean, all the Thanksgiving food is gone, and most of the Christmas decorations are up. We enjoyed a feast, some time with family, lots of games, and watching the World Cup (I will leave our beloved Patriots aside for now…ugghhh).
Thanksgiving, is of course, a time to Be Thankful (see Colossians 3:15). And I have so much to be thankful for and yet, strangely I sometimes need to remind myself to be thankful. Why is that? One reason is that we live in a land of plenty, and our land offers plenty of messaging. Some days it seems like a tidal wave of messaging is cascading over me – Junk mail, commercials, billboards, pop-ups…and with the power of Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics, the for-profit companies are only getting better at this. This is one of the challenges for 21st-century Christians in North America. How will we live in contentment and thankfulness in a land seemingly driven by consumption and consumerism?
One way to resist the rhythms of consumption and consumerism is to fast. Fasting is a time for Christians to deny the body its wants and find peace and contentment with God and ourselves. Another Spiritual discipline we can use to resist the world around us is Simplicity. Our world produces an underlying current that drags us into thinking that more is better. Simplicity is a choice that says, less is more. And a third way to loosen the grip of discontentment and consumerism is to practice Silence by turning off the devices and enjoying the stillness. As Psalm 46 indicates, in times of turbulence, we are to Be Still and Know that He is God.
I offer these thoughts for my benefit as much as yours. God willing, I will be fasting next week, and Glorieann and I are in agreement for a more simple approach to Christmas. Now comes the really hard part for me – SILENCE.
May God bless us during the Christmas Season. And may He also SHAPE US, not according to the ways of the world, but according to HIS ways and HIS Kingdom.
Grace and Peace,
Connect Group/Reflection Questions – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
1. What are some ways we can “rejoice always”?
2. How can we live and “pray without ceasing”?
3. What circumstances do you find it easy to give thanks for? And what circumstances do you find it difficult to give thank for?
4. God’s Will is defined as rejoicing always, praying without ceasing and giving thanks in all circumstances – does this surprise us? What did we think God’s Will is about? How is the Biblical definition in 1 Thessalonians helpful or challenging to our understanding of God’s Will?