March 7, 2021
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or s h a d ow d u e t o change.” ( James 1:17 ESV)
Things have changed but what is normal? The reason I’m asking this question is because over the last year I cannot count the number of times I have heard people say, “I can’t wait until we can get back to normal.” Wanting to know more about this word “normal,” I looked it up on Dictionary.com and found an incredible list of definitions. In a dictionary, when there are several definitions, the first one listed is called the radical. In other words, it is the most common and should be used unless it does not fit the situation. Dictionary.com has this definition as the radical - “conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.”
Can we really get back to normal? The world around us is constantly changing. Many of the changes we encounter in our lives have minimal effect while others like births, deaths, or illnesses change our life forever. Using the radical definition, the word “normal” could easily be used to mean that social distancing and wearing masks are normal practices in today’s world. Yet, I don’t think that is what most people think about when they say, “get back to normal.” When I say it, I’m thinking about getting back to a time that I liked better.
As I think over this past year, I notice that “normal” for me has changed and that “normal” is about to change again. Last March 15, was the first time I delivered my sermon on Live Stream. At the time, I did not like sitting at my desk speaking into a camera, but it lasted until May 10 when we went back to having in-person services at the building. Live Streaming has continued every week except for a few times that we had technical difficulties. But now that March 2021 is here, the vaccine is more available and the numbers of infections are dropping like a rock, we made the decision to return to a full schedule. Is that normal? Yes, it is but, our “normal” will also include Live Streaming our Sunday morning services and Wednesday evenings’ prayer meeting.
Normal has different meanings for each of us. For some it is turning back the clock to a simpler time, for others it is just maintaining our current status for whatever that status is at the moment. Is God satisfied with either of those positions? As we read the Bible, we see that God keeps people safe as they turn to Him for guidance when their “normal” changes. He is God and is powerful enough to not only keep us safe, He also helps us grow to become more like Him in every way. God wants us to have a new normal, one that is more pleasing to Him.
“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord." (Zephaniah 3:9 ESV)
Thanks for listening and keep on shining.
Influence is the force by which we have an effect upon the life of another person. We each have influence. The power of your influence is staggering. You want to be a good influence for Christ!
Attempts are made to minimize the power of individual influence. We hear statements like, “I don’t have any influence” or “My influence doesn’t go very far.”
Your life affects the lives of your mate, children, parents, brothers, sisters, etc. Your influence affects your associates at work and play, in the neighborhood and community. Your life even affects those who observe you from afar. We cannot know how many lives we touch. We can know that we touch many lives!
The Master used three metaphors to describe the influence of His disciples. He said, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). He said, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven” (Matthew 13:33). In addition, the apostle Paul said, “Clearly you are an epistle of Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:3). Salt! Light! Leaven! Epistle!
How is our influence like salt? Salt preserves, purifies, and gives flavor. Its presence makes a difference. How are our lives like light? Light illuminates, guides, and warns of danger. It is conspicuous. How are our lives like leaven? Leaven is a silent, slow working force. It changes from within the substance with which it comes in contact. How are our lives like epistles? As a letter conveys the expression of its author, we are to present the true expression of Christ to the world.
In the community, on the job, in our recreation, at school, at home, and in the local church, let us dedicate our lives to being a positive influence for Jesus Christ! Let us use our influence to win souls to Christ, to build up those who belong to Christ, and to glorify God!
You are salt – what are men tasting? You are light – what are men seeing? You are leaven – how are you moving others? You are an epistle – what are men reading?
Findlay church of Christ