This morning, we come together to honor and to celebrate the time that we shared with Dave and Andrea. They’ve been an incredible blessing and a part of our church family for many years now; nearly 20 years if we recall correctly! As they move on to be a closer part of their family’s life in Florida, they will certainly be missed here. Services just aren’t going to be the same without the sound of Dave declaring, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” and other shouts of praise throughout the services or Andrea’s beautiful singing voice and creative talents.
As we come together to bless their journey ahead, I felt that the Lord has some advice not only for their new adventure, but also for us all as we travel along life’s journey.
1. See Jesus in Troubles
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
Dave Barrett reminded us about Lazarus and how Jesus rejoiced that Lazarus passed away. He didn’t rejoice that Lazarus had suffered an illness and died nor that his friends all grieved; in fact, Jesus cried as well at this loss. Jesus rejoiced, however, because through this difficult circumstance, God’s glory was about to be revealed as the words of Jesus rang true that this situation did not end in death.
Even though Lazarus became sick and died, that wasn’t the end. How many times do we give up and consider tough times our end? The only way that this would ring true if we were to truly give up. However, the righteous fall or get knocked down and get right back up!
We get back up because we know the promises of our great God and that every circumstance hasn’t reached its end until our great God is glorified through them and His word stands proven and true in our circumstances! This is faith, being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see, according to our God! True faith is admitting that we do not know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds our tomorrow!
When the going gets tough, the tough turn to Jesus. They trust that these problems are just an opportunity to encounter Jesus in a new way and prove Him to be true once again. They trust that their current circumstances are temporary and will somehow ultimately be used for good and for their own strengthening. It’s simply an opportunity for new experiences and encounters with Christ.
After all, we can’t truly know Jesus as our deliverer unless we’re bound. We can’t truly know Jesus as our restorer unless the enemy has stolen from us. We can’t truly know Jesus as our healer unless we’re sick or diseased. We can’t truly know Jesus as our provider unless we have lack and need. We can’t truly know the peace of God unless the storms of chaos rage in our lives. We’re not truly and completely trusting in Jesus unless we’re given no earthly and logical reasons to do so.
When things get difficult and frustrating, where else should we turn but to the Lord? It is in these times that we get to see Jesus in a way that we never would have otherwise. The next tip in life’s journey is to:
2. See Jesus in the Routine
It is so easy for us in the midst of our mundane lives to miss seeing Jesus through it all. Not only in life’s challenges, but in our ordinary routines as well, it is easy for us to miss seeing the power of God and hear the voice of the Spirit speaking through it all. If we would just take a moment in the midst of our hectic schedules to take a look around us, we would see the handiwork and fingerprints of a great and powerful God. Seeing Him through the world around us makes everything else seem so insignificant in comparison to His great glory and splendor!
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
The Creator’s invisible qualities all clearly seen by the creation around us, if only we take the time to perceive them. This perspective change is able to transform our mindsets in amazing ways. All of the sudden, we begin to be in awe and inspired by everything around us. We begin to be thankful for even the smallest of blessings as we realize just how intentional and powerful they are as they are given to us by the God of all the universe.
The old saying rings true that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. However, God’s desire for us is not that we take anything for granted, but that we live grateful and mindful of every blessing.
…make the most of every opportunity.
We woke up this morning, that’s a miracle in itself how we can go from unconscious to conscious daily. We woke up with food in the kitchen, water running in our bathroom, and a roof over our head. Already, we are more richly blessed than billions of others without those things around the world! In all these things, we can see the rich blessing of Jesus toward us.
The sun that gives us warmth, yet does not burn us up. The ocean that stays within its boundaries and doesn’t swallow the earth whole. The sparrow nesting nearby that doesn’t store up its food in barns yet never goes hungry. The dandelions adding a splash of color to that ever-growing lawn. The stars that remind us of the vastness of this universe and of our great God. The piles of never-ending laundry that remind us how well we are clothed. The sink that always has dirty dishes in it that remind us how well fed we are. The four seasons that remind us that there is also a time and season for everything in our lives. The list goes on and on and on.
Take time to see Jesus in the routine. The next tip for life’s journey is to:
3. Pack Wisdom & Understanding
One of the best ways to ensure that we don’t make for ourselves a bumpier road ahead than what needs to be is to plan out our journey using wisdom and understanding.
21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side
and will keep your foot from being snared.
In this world that has an unceasing appetite for knowledge that puffs themselves up, I praise God for His word. His word reveals that all knowledge comes from Him, but that the real value and treasure is not knowledge, but wisdom and understanding. After all, what good is knowledge that cannot be applied in the most efficient way possible? What good is knowledge if we don’t understand and grasp what it is that we know? What good is rattling off quotes from a book without ever experiencing those words?
Yes, life’s journey will have bumps in the road. However, with wisdom and understanding, we can avoid digging our own potholes and getting ourselves far off track from where we should be. Wisdom and understanding keep us on the Lord’s path for our lives and ensure a smoother ride on life’s journey. The next tip for life’s journey is to:
4. Enjoy Life
So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.
Too often, the Christian’s life is marked by duty and obedience, but void of joy. Rather, a life of duty and obedience to the Lord ensures that our lives be filled to overflowing with a joy that cannot be stolen. Isn’t this exactly what the word of God teaches; that obedience should result in the enjoyment of life?
33 Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.
1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.
Enjoy the life that God has given you! Work hard, play hard, and laugh hard. Don’t take life so seriously that it lacks the joy that it was intended to be filled with. The last tip for life’s journey is to:
5. Remember Where You Came From
God’s concerns for the Israelites were not for when their journey became difficult, but for when their journey was going well. His concern was not that the current generation would forget His mighty deeds, but that the next generation who did not experience them firsthand would not remember Him. Though our life journey is always forward-motioned, it is important to take time to remember where we came from.