Wednesday, November 17, 2021

           Researchers suggest that the world has a population of about 7.9 billion people.  Projections say that the world’s population will likely reach ten billion by 2057.  Today’s median age on planet earth is about 31 years old.  You will likely see people each day as you go about your life and business.  Someone suggested that there are about 3,237 different people named in the Bible.  In Philippians, Paul made a comment about the people of Philippi.  He wrote, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3).  And we can take the apostle at his word.  He frequently mentioned people by name who had worked with him, blessed him, supported him or worshipped with him. 
            The New York Times suggests that the average American knows about 600 people.  Funders and Founders suggests that the average person will interact with about 80,000 different people over the course of a lifetime.  Clearly, other people play a role in our lives.  One way we acknowledge the role that people play is by being grateful for them and expressing that gratitude to them.  Paul thanked God every time he remembered the people of Philippi.  They blessed him.  How exactly they blessed him we do not precisely know.  But something about these people lingered in his mind and life.  They had impacted him and left an impression upon him.  If you began to name the people who have impacted your life and faith, whose names would you see on your list?  How long would the list be?  Would there be some surprises?
            We likely have many people for whom we can be grateful and thankful.  We can call to mind people who are alive today and even those who have passed on and gone to be with the Lord.  You might recall teachers, coaches, family members, friends who feel like family, doctors, professionals, counselors, etc.  Your list may be rather long and much longer than you might have expected.  A short while ago, we spent time on Sunday mornings looking at and working through the names of Romans 16.  Paul gave a lengthy roll call of people who meant much to him personally or the work of the gospel or both.  The apostle seemed to be intentional and determined in remembering those who made a difference in his life.  In 2 Timothy 4:11, he wrote, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” Paul reached out to acknowledge that he needed Mark’s help.  Why?  We do not specifically or fully know.  But Paul did.
            A big part of any Thanksgiving is remembering the people who have blessed you.  There could be some people whom you do not see every day or even all that often.  But they are there for you.  And if needed, these people would be by your side in a flash.  Give thanks for the people God has directed into your life—those who pray for you, encourage you, laugh with you and make you think.  Follow up with a call or a hug.  Create space in your life to be thankful for the people who have helped you to become who you are or maybe even saved you from what you could have become.  Be thankful for those times when someone gave you some simple advice or an encouraging word that may all the difference in the times you were facing.  If you are harboring some hard feelings toward someone, let those feelings go.  Get up and move on and don’t allow the enemy to paralyze you or stagnate your faith.  Life is too short and your walk with Christ is too precious to let petty differences get in the way or stay in the way of your relationships with others.  
            Paul began Philippians with a thankful remembrance of the people who had blessed him.  He ended the same way in chapter four by acknowledging saints, brothers and those in Caesar’s household.  Apparently, Paul had some friends in high places!  Whether in high places or ordinary places, be conscious of those who have blessed your life.  Remember them.  Be thankful for them.  Lift a prayer on their behalf.  And let them know of your gratitude for them.  Relationships are a huge part of life and one of God’s most personal blessings to us.  Count the people who are special to you and be thankful for them.
            We hope to see you this evening for Wednesday night activities.  Remember that your shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child are due by Sunday, November 28.  Angels are on the tree and awaiting adoption just outside our offices.  Stay faithful with your tithes, offerings and giving.  And share our worship at Have a great Wednesday!  

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