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Daily Encouragement - November 20

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

— I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

— Phillipians 4:4-9

Prepositions matter in writing. Did you notice Paul’s advice to the Thessalonians is to “give thanks IN all circumstances,” not for all circumstances. Paul’s word to us is not that God’s will is for the circumstance of our lives, but rather that God’s will is for us to look around carefully, regardless of circumstance, and find those parts of life worthy of thanksgiving. If you ask me, and at some level that is what these daily encouragements are all about — asking “me” — that is a very good word for this moment of time.

My family had hoped to travel this weekend to Northern Virginia to see my mother and to bring the cutest little 2 month old to meet her great grandmother. We were planning carefully for a time with family, a time of joy, a time of love. But, discretion being the better part of valor, we decided to wait. Thousands of families are facing the same circumstances of delaying gathering, moving to virtual gathering, or worst of all not able to gather. How can there be thanksgiving when there is so much pain, so much missing? How do we give thanks during a Pandemic? How can we rejoice?

Philippians 4 is one of my very favorite passages of scripture. Paul takes his spiritual insight to amazing heights as he urges us to face the day knowing that even in this, God is working and God is good — all the time. Paul invites us to see beyond the challenges and to look for the good, because there is always beauty and grace that surrounds us. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things . . . and the God of peace will be with you.” And may it be so.

Count Your Blessings

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,

when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Count your blessings; name them one by one.

Count your blessings; see what God hath done.

Count your blessings; name them one by one.

Count your many blessings; see what God hath done.

Thank you, Creator of the universe, for the people we hold dear. Thank you for things of earth that give us the means of life: the plants, animals, and birds that we use as food and medicine. Thank you for the intelligence of life that you have given that we might understand the gifts that surround us. Help us to see our place among the gifts of life and to be strengthened by all we receive from your hand. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pastor Tom Greener

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