For the last several Sunday evenings we have been studying the model prayer. As we studies the phrase “Give us this day our daily bread”, we referenced Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 where the Bible encourages us to enjoy what God has provided. Many Christians would look and feel ten years younger is they just started enjoying life. Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, we are encouraged to enjoy life. “I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor--it is the gift of God. I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-14, NKJV).
This wise man suggests that we are fulfilled in our lives when we work hard, do good, and enjoy the blessings of God. Working hard without doing good is ungodly. Working hard without enjoying life is tragic. There are workaholics who live to work instead of working to live. They are often too busy to do good and enjoy life. The wise man calls this vanity or meaningless (Ecclesiastes 2:17-23). Doing good without enjoyment is legalistic drudgery. Enjoying life without making a contribution to the world is wasteful and selfish.
Many people who work hard or party hard reach a point in life where they realize that there must be more to life than what they are doing. Even some Christians are searching for purpose and meaning in their lives. They are trying to find their way, often without really knowing where they are trying to go. We need to be reminded that reverence for God and service to Him are the main things in life. We find fulfilment in living for something greater than ourselves. When we work hard, do good, and serve God, we can enjoy what God has provided.
I would like to thank all of you who extended invitations to those in your circle of influence to attend our Family and Friends Day. It was a great day of connecting with loved ones. This year’s sermon focused on the connected family as one that is available to God, stands for God and has the favor of God. One of the key points was the role of gatekeepers in the tabernacle and how those duties apply to the family. Gatekeepers keep out what doesn’t belong and welcomes in what does belong. They stand ready to protect that which belongs to God. I was greatly encouraged when one of our guests came to me after the sermon and said, “I accept the challenge to be a gatekeeper!” Will you join us in accepting the challenge to be gatekeeper in your family, in the church and your community?
Go to any gym or hotel fitness center and you are guaranteed to see a treadmill. In some gyms, there are rows and rows of treadmills. They are a popular choice for those looking for a cardio workout. I have tried several times getting on treadmills to exercise and have come to the conclusion that I do not like treadmills. In thinking about why I’m not a big fan of treadmills, I realized that a lot of people’s lives are on treadmills.
Treadmills provide motion without progress. No matter how many miles the counter on the treadmill says that you have run, the truth is you are only moved 2-3 feet. All of that effort just too continually remain in the same place where you start. Our lives are full of motion. We go here, there and everywhere. We run children from this practice to that event. We are tired when we get home and tired when we wake up. If asked the question, “Is your life busy?” most people will quickly say “YES!” But if you were asked, “What progress have you made this year?” then many of us would have to stutter and stammer in search of an answer. We must not mistake activity for advancement.
People on treadmills often occupy their time by listening to music or watching television as they are exercising. This helps to pass the time, so that thirty minutes of running doesn’t seem like such a chore. In life, people often distract themselves so that they don’t have to deal with the reality that they are going nowhere. Whether your distraction is television, social media, or more destructive things like drugs or illicit relationships, the distractions help you avoid your reality. If you want progress, get off of the treadmill of busyness and pursue the path of purpose. When you are walking in your purpose, you realize that the distractions are a deterrent to fulfilling your purpose. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV).
September has been designated as Family Month at Marsalis Avenue. When you hear the word family, what image first comes to mind? For many people, it is the image of the traditional nuclear family: a mother, and father and children. However, as we seek to minister to our congregation and our community, we must understand that this definition of family is too narrow. It fails to capture the reality of many people today. Singles, single parents, married couples without children, widows and widowers, and divorcees are all part of a family. Unfortunately, many people who do not “fit the mold” of the traditional family don’t feel at home in the family of God, the church. As we enter into family month, we are reminded that it is not our status that makes us family, it is our standing in Christ.
We are the family of God. We are family because of what God has done through Christ. God is our Father and Jesus is our brother. In God’s family, every member of the family is invited to the table of worship, fellowship and ministry. We are not defined by our status. As God’s family, we should be the best family anyone has ever known because we have the best Father and brother anyone has
ever known. The nature of our Father should shape who we are. We should be unconditional in our love, generous in our forgiveness, humble in our attitude, and peaceful in our interactions. As we enter into family month, pray that God will open your heart to someone who needs a real family. The church is a family of real people serving the real God.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.