Week 50

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalms 133:1)

Our nation is called the “United States of America,” and we are not. 

This past week my Sunday school class did a progressive dinner, a Christmas party! If you have not participated in a progressive dinner, this is where you travel from house to house, a different course served at each house. 

After discussion we decided to be a little less progressive. (That’s a good thing; right? 😉) Rather that visiting four or five homes, the meal was split between two homes. The party moved from one home – appetizers and salad – to mine. I prepared the main course, followed by a devotion and a game. The final course was coffee and dessert and of course, visiting!

Before the evening, we were friends, but by the end of the evening I sensed a closeness that was new. We knew each other better. This pleased me very much. Food and fellowship offer opportunities to draw closer than a weekly Bible Study might. We were made for each other.

The disunity in America is very easy to understand. When Americans no longer have communion with God, it will be impossible to have good relationships with others. God intended unity and friendships to be blessings to our lives, to be shared with each other and with Him. By the grace of God, unity with other believers can give our lives a sense of purpose and understanding when the world seems to be spinning apart. 

I’ve noticed that international trials of the past two years have drawn the church closer. From communicating with others, this phenomenon is not unique to my home church; others have communicated the same; I have seen it abroad.

While attending an outdoor nativity program at a church last week, the welcome and spirit was such that I could have moved right in with them. These were people that, like me, are well aware of the troubles of the world today, yet are able to come apart to celebrate the incarnation of God with joy. We know that Jesus was not “born” on the 25th of December, but we know He came to live with us as a baby grown into manhood. It is right to remember this miracle always, but also right to have a time set aside for special rejoicing.

God holds unity of his children to be important and I can imagine this. I remember my mother said – and frequently – that she could bear almost anything, but that she could not bear her children fighting, not getting along with each other. I can only imagine how disunity hurts God. 

If you have been in church regularly, then you have heard it said that love is not a noun, but a verb. I think it is both. Love, the noun, activates love – the verb. 

I do not know if we will ever sense that our states are united again, but I know within our churches and communities this is possible. If each of us will reach out to one or two extra people this  Christmas, and then perhaps each month another person, we would feel less alone. 

I like what Corrie ten Boom had to say about unity, in regards to other Christians: Be united with other Christians. A wall with loose bricks is not good. The bricks must be cemented together.  It is so easy, comfortable to slip into church to our regular area we sit and to slip out afterwards. That is like a loose brick. Each week, purpose to greet at least one person in a meaningful way. Greet a visitor; ask them questions about what brought them your way. Adding cement!

Sit down beside someone for a couple of minutes, letting them know you are rejoicing with them or perhaps sharing their sorrow. Not much needs to be said. It is an encouragement knowing you are cared for. This is when hearts are knit. This is adding cement to the bricks. Jesus spoke of building the church, that in doing so, the gates of hell would not prevail against it.   (Mark 16:18)

A church does not “just happen.” Unity is sweetest and strongest when we have been part of the construction.

I began by mentioning the United States and our lack of unity. When we were more united, we were – in truth – a nation that accepted God as foundational to our lives. Unless we experience a revival toward God, we will not again be the United States of America.

Take heart! We can enjoy rich unity among other children of God, for we are siblings; the Bible says “one blood.” The only way to experience this is loving the brethren. When we do this, the world will know we are children of God. That will be our testimony. 

Ending with a final quote to ponder; love the picture these words paint: 

The act of faith, which separates us from all men, unites us for the first time in real brotherhood; and they who, one by one, come to Jesus and meet Him alone, next find that they are come to the city of God “and to an innumerable company.  Alexander MacLaren (a pastor, writer and leader in the Union Baptist Church over 100 years ago.) 

CRUMPETS:  

Today I want to address a new brand of wooden swearing. I was schooled about wooden swearing as a young person. This included not using the word “darn” because it was a euphemism for another well known word. I was not to use the word “baloney.” For much the same reason. I could use it in reference to a sandwich, but not in anger.

I am appalled and disappointed by a popular phrase today, used even by a great many people that claim the name of Christ. “Lets go Brandon” is a euphemism for a great vulgarity and it is not funny at all. It is entirely inappropriate, but is showing up in shocking ways, among Christmas decor, for example. Why would anyone wear this phrase on a shirt, or display it on their vehicle? Lack of concern for decency has weakened our country. 

If America is to have any hope of recovery, it will be by the hand of God. We pray for good things for this country and for leaders, for our families and for our future. Participating in the use of this phrase surely renders our prayers weakened. 

The name of the high and lifted-up God is being invoked carelessly. Recently our pastor talked about 2 faiths and I thought of this. Many people believe in God the Father and they pray for blessings, but there is a faith that speaks of relationship. Being in relationship with God would stifle many careless things that are being said. My spirit is grieved every time I hear this phrase, or when I hear someone tout another’s efforts that he is doing God’s work, in reference to politics. That is foolish, nay; that is disgraceful and we must be careful. 

Know of a truth: I am reminding myself as well as others to be circumspect, for I make mistakes regularly. The Spirit is faithful to remind us of these things, but it is vital to act upon what we hear and know to be true.

As you know, “Crumpets” is where I share something that can go with the tea of the day. Sharing this “crumpet” has been on my mind for quite awhile. Next week we will go with something a little more palatable!