Finding Peace with People–Part 3

Reminder and Correction!  You are invited to celebrate “Back to School and Homecoming Sunday” with us on Sunday, August 23 (not the 26th as I said last week).  Former members, relatives, and others in the community are invited to celebrate with us as we rekindle friendships and look to the future.  We will recognize members of our educational community in our worship service at 11 a.m., and immediately following the service we will gather on the grounds and in the fellowship hall for a picnic.  There will be games and prizes for the children, too. 

For those who remember Reverend Bill Luce, Ebenezer’s former pastor, come to church this Sunday, August 16, to see him again as he fills in for Pastor Glunt, who will be on vacation.

When my children were learning to bowl, they always asked for bumpers guards, so their often misdirected bowling balls wouldn’t drop into the gutters.  Verse 12 describes three “bumpers” that will help us stay in the lane as we move toward our goal of heaven.  “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

For the last two weeks I’ve been talking about Finding Peace with People, taken from the 12th chapter of the book of Romans.  In verse 12 Paul instructed the believers to serve God, and this week he gives us a few guidelines to help us do that very thing.

We don’t normally see people smiling and celebrating during the hardest times of their lives.  And yet, Paul tells us to be joyful in hope. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary describes joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”  What makes you joyful or happy?  Is it your possessions, your friends, your success?  When we base our happiness or joy on our physical existence, we become desperate and despondent. Paul’s instruction is to be joyful in hope.

In the midst of loss, anxiety, ill health, financial pressures—or anything that takes away our “feelings” of happiness—we are able to find joy in the knowledge that our lives are much more than this physical realm. Unlike the world, our hope comes not from what we have or achieve, but rather from what we have been promised by God. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39).

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

We will be tested in life and have times of trial and suffering. To stay “in the lane,” on our walk of faith, we are to be patient in affliction.  Paul was persecuted, stoned, and beaten, and yet he proclaims, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (8:18).  Knowing just what that glory is can help us find the strength to be patient, whatever comes our way.

Someone once said, “Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience.” We can only keep going if we know where we are going.  This physical condition is not the entirety of life.  There is so much more than what we can see and touch and feel. The way to be patient in affliction is to know that you are not alone, that God will be with you whatever comes your way.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

This third exhortation is the key to the first two. Too often we forget to pray when things are going well.  Yes, we give thanks for our blessings and pray for even more, but an unnamed writer once said, “Prayer may begin by asking God for what we want. It ends more interested in what God wants.” Faithful prayer is part of a relationship, seeking not only to receive from God, but also to know God and to know God’s will.  When you spend time in prayer, when you know God on an intimate basis, you will find the strength to be patient and hopeful, to find joy even in the darkest moments. 

Because of the rampant individualism of our society, people often live out of touch with others and especially with God.  Their feelings and frustrations become their guiding force, leading them into deeper and deeper detachment and pain.  Because of that separation, they have no peace, with God or with others. This is not God’s will for any of us.. 

God sent His only Son so that through Jesus’ sacrifice we could be forgiven and become God’s adopted children, heirs of the promise of eternal life. Through that forgiveness and restoration we are able to find peace.  Let God carry you by being faithful in prayer.  When you do, you will be able to find joy and patience, no matter what comes your way.

Blessings,

Pastor Mary Kay Glunt

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