“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. –Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV
When was the last time you heard the words, “gather together, draw near, or move in a little bit closer?”
Since March, those words have been replaced with “stand six feet apart, wear masks, elbow bump, cancel in-person gatherings, work from home, hold virtual meetings, close schools, board up businesses, shut down churches, quarantine hospitals and nursing homes, and don’t forget to mail in your vote.
I understand and grieve the fact that coronavirus has stolen precious souls from this life. There is no denying the severity of this crisis and the wisdom behind taking unprecedented precautions to stay well. Still, we must not forget—our lives have three facets. We are body, soul, and spirit. Suicide, alcohol, drugs, and abuse have also taken the lives of those we love during this pandemic. If we are to avoid further heartache and death, we must care for the mental and spiritual aspects of our lives as well.
How do we strike a healthy balance? What plumb-line do we follow? Scripture instructs us to respect God-given authority (Romans 13), but what should we do when governing authorities fail to align their directives with God’s Word?
In Acts 5, the Sadducees arrested the apostles for preaching Christ. When they were ordered to speak of Him no more, they stood shoulder to shoulder before the Sanhedrin and the High Priest and boldly proclaimed, “We must obey God rather than human beings!”
In Hebrews 10, God’s instructions are crystal clear. Believers are told to not give up meeting together but to assemble even more as the Day of Christ’s return approaches. God is not a God who changes his mind. His words are not up for theoretical debate or subject to political correctness. This pandemic did not take Him by surprise. In days of hardship, followers of Christ are encouraged to gather together and spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
When I was a young girl, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, our church congregation would sing “We Gather Together.” This Dutch hymn was penned in 1597 by Adrianus Valerius, while the Dutch fought for liberation from the rule of Catholic King Philip II of Spain. Under his reign, Dutch Protestants were forbidden to gather for worship. Today, the circumstances are different, but the persecution of the church for attempting to gather for worship is eerily similar.
This Thanksgiving season, let’s swing open the doors of our meeting houses, gather together, and draw near to the heart of God. Let’s boldly approach His throne of grace and ask His blessings upon our nation and people of every race and creed. Let’s thank God for His unmerited favor and pray His hand of mercy and grace will never be lifted from our nation.
May the words of this age-old hymn ring true this Thanksgiving. May they not only resonate in our hearts but throughout churches large and small across this great land. “Let Thy congregation escape tribulation, Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!”
My deep appreciation and a sad farewell to Thrive Magazine.
Today’s devotion was first published within the beautiful pages of this month’s issue of Thrive Magazine—the final issue. Thrive is a publication owned by the Courier-Tribune’s parent company Gannett Media. Gannett recently merged with another media house and the decision was made to discontinue this beautiful, full-color magazine that has graced our community and region monthly. I’ve had the God-given privilege of writing for Thrive for over seven years. My heart hurts for the loss of this wonderful resource.
I wish to express my gratitude to JD Walker, who as editor first opened the doors for me to part of the Thrive family, to Ray Criscoe, who followed her as editor, and to Jill Doss-Raines for publishing my articles for the two short months she was at the helm.
The platform Thrive gave me to hone my skills as a writer has been invaluable, but beyond my personal gain, the opportunity to serve my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to share his Word with readers has been one of the greatest joys of my life.
Lovely readers, a huge thanks to all of you for reading and speaking encouraging words to me throughout the years, helping me to know that my hours spent and words written were not penned in vain. I will hold these years and your kind words in my heart forever. It only fits that my Thrive journey ends during this Thanksgiving season. There could be no better time for me to say . . .
Thanks be to God from whom all blessings flow!
I will miss you!
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Amen. Thanks be to God from whom all blessings flow. Happy Thanksgiving!
Thank you, Melissa. Happy Thanksgiving to you.
Thank you for this beautiful post, Starr. I love the photos. As a young girl growing up on a farm in Illinois, that Thanksgiving hymn always had special meaning to me. I never knew the circumstances behind the writing. Thank you for pointing out that they are different from what we are experiencing today. We are not being persecuted by being warned against gathering together temporarily while the pandemic rages, but it is rather for one another’s protection. I’m glad that we can gather together across the miles virtually if not physically. Every blessing to you.
Hi Maggie…I’m happy the devotion blessed you. I pray you and yours stay well and have a blessed Thanksgiving. I hope to see you again in 2021.
Your words resonate with me. May God continue to bathe this world with His truth as the dark clouds gather.
Amen! We so need God’s truth to be revealed. I’m happy the devotion blessed you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.