Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 
Paul was traveling to preach the good news and Thessalonica was the second city on his journey. His mission was to share that Jesus was the Messiah. He didn’t stay long, but the good news captivated the people and a healthy church sprung up out of the seed he planted. When Paul heard how faith was thriving among the Thessalonians, he was moved to write his first letter to a church. He couldn’t see into their future, but he knew they would be tempted to worry and might falter in their walk. He offers them the best advice for staying the course of faith that he can think of. He urges them to choose joy, keep praying, and give thanks whether it’s a good day or a bad day. Paul understood what fuels our faith. 
My nephew ran out of gas recently. Has that ever happened to you? He, like many of us, simply stopped noticing that little needle or that empty tank light. When he did realize it, he was fortunate to be pretty close to a gas station. A car will only go as far as fuel allows, so it did stop about 50 yards away from the source of fuel. My nephew chose to walk the distance and purchase a gas can to refill the car. I want to emphasize something important about that incident. The car stopped, but my nephew kept going. There are times in our spiritual journey when we get bogged down with doubt or worry and feel like we’re getting nowhere. What do you do when you sense that you’re “running out of faith” and you realize that your tank is emptying faster than you can refill? Paul tells us that rejoicing and praying and giving thanks are an essential part of our faith life. I don’t know about you, but I think he’s on to something. On my worst days, rejoicing in the Lord has encouraged me. When I’ve crumpled up from life’s disappointments, the unceasing prayers of my brothers and sisters have restored my hope. Days of dullness have begun to sparkle when I count my blessings with gratitude. God is an unstoppable presence at work among us and in us and through us. Our part is to accept that Jesus is the Messiah and to live in a way that celebrates that truth. Choose to rejoice, pray without ceasing and in all circumstances give thanks. Watch our unstoppable God move the needle on your tank from empty to full.

A Safe Place to Fail

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 

There are places in our lives where we know we can “fail safely.” Meaning, we are all going to make mistakes and experience failures, but as Chuck preached on Sunday, August 1, “Failures are neither final, nor fatal.” I am grateful for this reminder.   

In our scripture focus today, Paul writes to us about failures. We all fall short on a regular basis, so why is it so difficult to acknowledge our failures and seek the Lord’s guidance when we mess up? We all stand in need of God’s grace, and because of the sacrifice Christ made on our behalf, we do not have to live with feelings of disappointment and shame when we make mistakes. 

We all need safe places to fail. We need to surround ourselves with people who will hold us accountable, but also encourage us when we do not live up to our best. I pray this week we will be aware of our safe spaces and know where we can turn in times of struggle. I pray we will lean into our relationship with Christ and one another and fill our hearts with the love of Jesus. In doing so, I bet we will learn from our mistakes and offer God’s grace more freely.   

Posted by Betsy Butler
Tags: devotion

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