Children of Light

This Advent, I’m using my Monday devotional emails to encourage us all to pray God’s Word back to Him. Below is a passage of Scripture and a prayer I’ve written from that text. I invite you to read the Scripture, pray the prayer, and then say your own prayer from the passage. Also, I’d love to pray your prayer, too. Send me your personal prayer at andy@lakevc.org, and we can pray through Scripture together!

In Christ,
Pastor Andy


“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1–6, NIV)

Lord, I am waiting for Your return with anticipation. I don’t know when it will be, but unknown is not the same as unexpected. I pray for those who do not know You as their Lord and Savior because the Day of the Lord will not be a good day for them. Those who do not expect You to come again will be caught unawares, and it will be too late at that point for them to put their trust in You for salvation. Holy Spirit, I specifically name ******, ******, and ****** (names removed for confidentiality) and pray for their salvation. Speak to them today and draw them to Christ so that He can bring them out of darkness into His marvelous light!

Thank You, God, for saving me. Grant to me the power of Your Holy Spirit to live as a child of the light, awake to the spiritual realities of our world. Help me to not be distracted this Christmas season by parties, presents, visits, vacations, food, or fun. Rather, let me live in light of Your return, fully expecting You to come again at any moment, and shining Your light in the dark places of this world.

Amen.

Give Thanks

“[I]n everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NASB).

This Thursday is Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays!  We have so much to be thankful for, and thankfulness is one of the most prominent themes that runs through the entire Bible.  However, I think gratitude is a lost art in our culture today.  Between the juggernauts of entitlement and earning, thankfulness gets squeezed out.

The thread that ties these two opposite ends of the spectrum together is the idea that we deserve good things.  Entitlement says, “I deserve this because of who I am, or because of my circumstances.”  And earning says, “I deserve this because I worked hard to get it.”  Both perspectives are opponents of thankfulness.  I know many people (believers and non-believers alike) who think there is no need to say thank you for something that is rightfully yours.  You don’t thank your boss when you get paid because you worked to earn that pay.  You don’t thank your wife (or husband) for being faithful to your marriage because that’s what he/she is supposed to do.  You don’t thank your kids for their obedience because they owe you that obedience.  When we think we deserve something, we tend to forget about being thankful.  And when we don’t get what we think we deserve, we tend to be angry with God.

But the reality is we are entitled to nothing; neither did we earn anything.  God doesn’t owe me (or you, see Romans 11:35).  Literally, every good thing in my life is a gift from God (see James 1:17).  Since I don’t deserve anything, I should give thanks in everything.  And Paul says it very strongly in 1 Thessalonians: being thankful is God’s will for us!  Of all people in this world, Christians should be the most gracious, the most grateful, and the most willing to give thanks in all things.

Praying you will have a great Thanksgiving this week!

In Christ,
Pastor Andy

Really Living

“For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 3:8 NIV).

In this passage of his first letter to the Thessalonians, written from Athens (see Acts 17), Paul has been explaining how he had missed the Thessalonian Christians and had been concerned for them.  After waiting as long as he could stand, he sent one of his most trusted friends, Timothy, to check in on them.  When Timothy arrived back in Athens, he found that Paul had moved on to Corinth and he went there to give his report.  When Paul heard about the Thessalonians’ standing firm in their faith, his heart was greatly encouraged.  The church was thriving!  Paul was so filled with joy that he told them it felt like now he was really living.  It’s almost as if he wrote, “I’ve been worried to death about you, but now that I hear you are well, I feel alive again!”

From the perspective of a pastor, I can relate to Paul’s joy.  Few things bring us greater joy than seeing the people in our congregations, whom we love and care for deeply, growing in their faith and being transformed by the Holy Spirit.  We know that we can do little to make this happen (see Mark 4:26-29), but when you grow we want to say with Paul, “Now we really live!”  Success for a pastor is not measured in dollars, building campaigns, or memorized mission statements.  It’s when a church member makes a sacrificial gift for the first time or when someone discovers and pursues their calling with ardor.  It’s when a congregant makes a difficult decision out of obedience to God’s Word.  It’s when someone visits a hospital to pray for a sick friend or when a congregation goes above and beyond in its generosity toward missions.  It could even be something as simple as singing with heartfelt expression in worship (I love when the church sings so loud they drown out the band).

My prayer for you this week is that you, like the Thessalonians, would stand firm in your faith no matter what challenges the week presents, and in so doing, would fill my heart with joy so that I (or whoever your pastor is) can say with Paul, “Now I am really living!”