Category: <span>thoughts by Rick Thiessen</span>

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“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.‘”  Zechariah 8:4-5

Over the past months, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what I miss most in life during the time of the pandemic. On the positive side, my wife and I have both been home from work — me working from home as a teacher while my wife was laid off for 10 weeks. This allowed us to spend much time together as a couple which brought tremendous joy.

On the negative side, however, I’ve missed the regular company of my children and grandchildren plus the fellowship of my home church congregation. Those activities are hugely important to me, and especially important to my emotional well-being.

The prophet Zechariah speaks of a time when the people of Israel will return to Jerusalem after enduring a time of suffering and distance in exile. Once the city is full again, people will return to their normal activities which include adults socializing with friends and kids playing outside. In other words, doing the very things they had once taken for granted but now could not do.

Until things return to normal, there are things we can do. Like being grateful. Have you found yourself with a new appreciation for the simpler things in life? Have you let your family, friends, and neighbors know that you missed them?

God, may I have a renewed sense of appreciation for the little things in life. Thank you for your provision and for being there even in bad times. Amen.

By Rick Thiessen
Used by Permission

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My Search for Inner Peace – by Eva Reinhart

Alone But Not Lonely

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Thoughts by Men thoughts by Rick Thiessen

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Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”  Matthew 6:25

As we live through one of the worst times in recent memory, we may fall into the trap of presentism, otherwise known as “Yeah, but…” It sounds something like this. “Yeah, I know there was the Spanish flu in 1918 and the Great Depression of the 1930s, but COVID-19 is way worse.”

The problem with present-ism is that it minimizes events from the past as being less significant than what is happening today. What this form of arrogance leads to, in many cases, is a magnification of modern problems and an inability to accept tried and true solutions.

What that looks like in the life of a Christian is doubt in God’s Word. When Jesus spoke the words of comfort recorded in Matthew 6, he addressed a generation of Jews and others who were living through tremendous oppression under Roman occupation. We may be tempted to say that our lives today are much worse but, the reality is, it’s impossible to compare.

Our duty today is to take Jesus at his word. When he says that we are not to worry, he means it. Who are we to question God’s provision and care for us during times of tremendous hardship? Ultimately, if God cared for us so much that he provided an eternal way of salvation, how can we question his love for us on a daily basis?

Will you trust in the words of hope and comfort in the Bible today? They were not meant only to bring relief to people long ago but to be a source of inspiration even today.

Jesus, thank you so much for your care for me. Let me not worry, but rely on you to provide what I need to make it through today. Amen.

By Rick Thiessen
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A Bible Study on Waiting on God
The Power of Resurrection
The Word of God and the Power of God

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Thoughts by Men thoughts by Rick Thiessen

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You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.1 Thessalonians 1:6

As a kid, I loved to watch actors do impersonations of other performers or politicians. More recently, pop singer Ariana Grande has perfected how to sound like other female artists. Sometimes it feels as though the imitator is better than the real person because they magnify the voice, unique characteristics, or mannerisms to embellish their performance.

When I became a father, I noticed early on how much my first-born son took on many of my mannerisms and way of speaking, right down to how he walked. As he got older, I found myself encouraging him in many areas of my own interest. I figured that he would enjoy many of the same things since he was so much like me.

In the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul encourages the first century believers to imitate the Lord just as he and the other apostles do in order to experience the richness of the gospel. That is a risky suggestion.

So often I fall short of where I hope to be on my journey of faith. On the other hand, when people see me with all my faults, slowly imitating Christ more and more, they recognize that God has not finished his work in me through the Holy Spirit. Even so, I can still be an inspiration to them. God is glorified.

How about you? Do you inspire others in your walk with Jesus? Do they see your joy in the midst of difficulties? Do you try more and more to imitate Christ?

God wants to use you – will you let him?

Dear Lord, help me to become more and more like you as I listen to the Holy Spirit and study your Word. Work in me and through me, I pray so I can help others draw near to you. Amen.

By Rick Thiessen
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FURTHER READING

  1. A Study on the Heart of God by Sylvia Gunter (Alphabet)
  2. Your Father’s Heart Longs for You by Sylvia Gunter
  3. Why Know the Father’s Heart by Sylvia Gunter

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Thoughts by Men thoughts by Rick Thiessen

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“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all…”  Psalm 34:19

Gary Smalley, a Christian author, wrote in an article in 2005, “When we camp, we can usually anticipate rain, mosquitoes, running out of gas, a flat tire, losing the traveller’s checks, or forgetting the main ingredient to a meal. When families share in solving such conflicts, they can be drawn closer together.”

Last summer my wife and I experienced one of those types of trips where we had two major vehicle breakdowns, along with large repair bills. As a result, we lost our camping reservations. When we encountered new, interesting people along the way while waiting for repairs over several days, we were reminded to seek the positive aspects in these situations.

In the verse quoted, the psalmist identifies two principles that believers should strive for in their lives. One is that being a Christian doesn’t remove the potential for problems in this life. That’s a truth that some people find hard to swallow. But the second half of the verse, which speaks to deliverance, is maybe even more difficult to understand. Deliverance can imply being removed from our problems, but it can also refer to the capacity to persevere while enduring them.

One of the major challenges in the Christian life is learning to trust God in the midst of our troubles. So often the deliverance he offers is not what we want. Yet once we see a positive outcome at the other end of it, or see how we have grown through it, we can learn once again to trust our Lord, even when it’s hard.

Dear God, help me not to worry when bad things happen but to trust that you are right there beside me. Help me to see the “silver lining” in the storms of my life, and look for the positive outcomes. Amen.

By Rick Thiessen
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“For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?”  Esther 8:6

Harriet Tubman was an African-American who escaped slavery by means of the Underground Railway into Pennsylvania from the South. However, once freed, knowing that others were still enslaved muted her joy. She resolved to help others gain their freedom too, risking her life numerous times by returning to slave territory. She said, “But to this solemn resolution I came; I was free, and they should be free also; I would make a home for them in the North, and the Lord helping me, I would bring them all there.”

Tubman is an example of a strong woman who could not remain silent in the face of injustice. History tells us that she made some 13 trips and helped rescue 70 fellow slaves.

The biblical book of Esther contains the story of another courageous woman who made a difference in her world, ensuring that an entire nation would not be exterminated. In the verse quoted above, Esther explained the motivation behind her willingness to risk her life by appealing to the king for mercy so he would set her people free from wrath.

Today we also can set people free — from the bondage of sin and death — by witnessing about what Christ has done for us. But are we often too embarrassed or wonder what others will think? If we truly recognized that people who don’t know Jesus are heading for destruction, we would risk the potential shame.

Making a difference in the world often involves sacrifice. Are you willing to take that risk in the Spirit’s strength?

Dear Father God, we live in a world where injustice seems to reign. Help me to remember that you are the one who reigns. Show me how to courageously be one who acts for justice and love, knowing you will equip me and guide me. Amen.

By Rick Thiessen
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Thoughts by Men thoughts by Rick Thiessen