By Mike Riley

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul encourages us, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

In this year of our Lord, 2020 (as in all other years), we as Christians should be extremely thankful for the blessings that flow from God’s bountiful hand (Ephesians 1:3; James 1:17; cf. John 3:27). The following are some of the blessings that this writer is thankful for:

1) For the teenager who is washing the dishes and watching TV, because that means that he or she is at home and not on the streets.

2) For the taxes that I pay, because it means that I am employed.

3) For the mess to clean up after a church luncheon, because it means that I have been surrounded by Christian friends.

4) For the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means I have enough to eat.

5) For my shadow that watches me work, because it means I am out in the sunshine.

6) For a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing, because it means I have a home.

7) For all the complaining I hear about the government, because it means that we have freedom of speech.

8) For the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means I am capable of walking and that I have been blessed with transportation.

9) For my huge heating bill, because it means I am warm.

10) For the lady behind me in church that sings off key, because it means that I can hear.

11) For the pile of laundry and ironing, because it means I have clothes to wear.

12) For weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day, because it means I have been capable of working hard.

13) For the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I am alive.

14) For too much e-mail, because it means I have friends who are thinking of me.

15) And finally ….. for the God of Heaven who cares not only for me but for all mankind (Acts 17:24-28; Philippians 4:19; 2 Peter 3:9).

May the God of heaven abundantly bless each and every reader of this article and web site this year in Jesus’ name, Amen.

During a terrible storm on the ocean, a small passenger ship rolled precariously in the roaring tempest. The furniture and anything else that could move was tied down, and the passengers were confined to their bunks for their own safety. Many on board thought the vessel was doomed.

Finally, a passenger who was determined to find out if there was any hope for survival, set out to see the one who was in command. Clinging to the walls and handrails, he made his way to the wave-lashed deck, up a ladder, and into the wheelhouse. He noticed that the ship was nearing land and was between some jagged rocks. It became apparent that the captain was trying to reach the safety of a calm bay up ahead. Knowing he could not make himself heard above the roar of the wind and waves, the captain just turned wordlessly to the worried passenger and smiled. Reassured, the man returned to the others and said, “Don’t be afraid. All is well. I’ve seen the captain’s face, and he smiled!”
When we are battered by the storms of life, we may be tempted to give in to feelings of hopelessness. But if we will look to our sovereign Captain (Hebrews 2:10 KJV) and commit our way to Him (Psalm 37:5), we will find peace even in the midst of great turmoil. We can trust Him to bring us through the storm (Mark 4:36-41).
Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled;
O waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul!
And I perish! I perish, dear Master;
O hasten, and take control!
The winds and the waves shall
obey Thy will, Peace be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or demons, or men, or whatever it be,
No water can swallow the ship where lies,
The Master of ocean and earth and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace be still! Peace be still!

 By Mike Riley

A Native American and his friend were in downtown New York City, walking near Times Square. It was during the noon lunch hour and the streets were filled with people. Cars were honking their horns, taxicabs were squealing around corners, sirens were wailing, and the sounds of the city were almost deafening. Suddenly, the Native American said, "I hear a cricket." His friend said, "What? You must be crazy. You couldn't possibly hear a cricket in all this noise!" "No, I'm sure of it," the Native American said, "I heard a cricket." "That's crazy," said the friend.
The Native American listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to a big cement planter where some shrubs were growing. He looked into the bushes beneath the branches, and sure enough, there was a small cricket. His friend was utterly amazed. "That's incredible," said his friend. "You must have super-human ears!" "No," said the Native American. "My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you're listening for." "But that can't be," said the friend. "I could never hear a cricket in all this noise."

By David Sproule

Every so often it is good to be reminded of some key fundamental truths that are life-changing when you first hear them (and realize them) and ought to be life-changing every subsequent time that we hear them (and consider them).  Think for a moment:  Who did Jesus love and for whom did He give Himself?
Jesus loved and gave Himself for His own unbelieving brothers, who ridiculed Him (John 7:5; Mark 3:21).  Jesus loved and gave Himself for His neighbors, who were offended at Him (Mark 6:3).  Jesus loved and gave Himself for Herod the Great, who had tried to kill Him as an infant (Matt. 2:16).  Jesus loved and gave Himself for Herod Antipas, who killed His best friend, John the Baptist (Matt. 14:1-12), and later treated Jesus Himself with contempt (Luke 23:11).  Jesus loved and gave Himself for Herod Agrippa I, who killed one of His inner-circle friends, James (Acts 12:1-2).

 By David Sproule

Being consistent is one of the hardest things for a person to do. When a child is in school, often their behavior when the teacher is out of the room is not consistent with their behavior when the teacher is in the room. That translates to the adult life, when behavior while the boss is out of the office is not consistent with behavior while the boss is in the office. Consistency is tough!
Parents also struggle with being consistent. It is difficult, sometimes, as a parent to be consistent in how, when and why we discipline our children. Sometimes, we are not consistent in how we handle situations. Sometimes, we are not consistent from child to child in what we allow or what we do not allow. Consistency is tough!
This is also true as a Christian, as a preacher and as an elder. Our human struggles with consistency do not vanish when we are baptized or when we take a leadership role in the church. All Christians struggle from time to time with being consistent in their behavior. We do not always behave the same "outside the church building" as we do "inside the church building." We do not always handle situations, trials or mistreatments consistently. The way we deal with a matter one time may differ from how we deal with it again later.