Be of Good Cheer [1-3-21]


For the next two weeks, we're going to talk about fearlessness. Before we get into the bulk of the message…based on Isaiah 41…I want to touch on some aspects of how we can live out of Jesus' command to be of good cheer that builds fearlessness into our lives and the lives of others.


First, an encouragement from a Christmas carol. "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." Here are two key verses:

Fear not then, said the Angel Let nothing you affright This day is born a Savior Of a pure Virgin bright To free all those who trust in Him From Satan's pow'r and might Oh tidings of comfort and joy Comfort and joy Oh tidings of comfort and joy

God rest ye merry gentlemen Let nothing you dismay Remember Christ our Savior Was born on Christmas Day To save us all from Satan's pow'r When we were gone astray Oh tidings of comfort and joy Comfort and joy Oh tidings of comfort and joy


This song has been around since probably the 1500s. It was written at a time when people longed for music that was not in Latin and of a high-church nature. They wanted something singable. And "God Rest Ye" more than delivered. In fact, it was so beloved, that later, many churches included it in their hymnals.


Breaking it down, the meaning of the carol is quite simple:

  • The original English meaning of merry was mighty. That's why Robin

Hood had merry men - they were mighty. Same thing with the

phrase "Merry Old England." Strong.

  • The other key word is rest. Originally rest meant "to make"

  • So there you go. "God make you mighty, gentlemen."


We want to be strong. We want to have courage. We want to be of good cheer. Not many people want to be ruled by or overcome by their fears. Are you with me on that?


But here's what happens. We want to be mighty, but sometimes we come up short.


Here's why I think we sometimes fall short of mighty. I think some of our negative choices are driven by fear. I think some of our unhealthy interactions are driven by fear. I think some of the reactive ways we treat each other are driven by fear.


One of the things we can do to counteract our fear-nature is fix our minds on Galatians 5:22-23. One of the ways God has given us to keep fear at bay is by consciously choosing to be loving and peaceful and joyful and

patient and kind and good and faithful and gentle and self-controlled.

When you establish the habit or pattern to living out of these values, you are well on your way to understanding what it means for God to make you mighty. When you are obedient to God's Word, obedience to God's Word is your source of strength. Amen?


So, not wanting to leave you hanging, without concrete examples and ways to live out of the fruit of the Spirit, I've thought of some basic, simple things we can do to contribute in a positive way to our little corner of God's world. And I'm telling you, the more you do these kinds of things, the further away from fearfulness you will get. Living out of the fruit of the Spirit is a transformational thing.


The following are basic, simple ways we can build tidings of comfort and joy into our lives and into the lives of others.


The first one was front-and-center last month. Make sure to express appreciation to retail and customer service workers. This is especially impactful at places like the Secretary of State office.

Thank people for small tasks that were done. Even if they are tasks that

normally go unnoticed. "Thanks for refilling the soap dispenser." "Thanks for rolling up the hose." Little things like that go a long way.


When you are on the phone with someone from customer service, take the lead in being the helpful, kind, friendly one. When the call is over, thank them for being helpful. I usually say something like, "Thank you very much {and I include their name}."


For example, last month I had to call Macy's customer service. One of our orders got lost in USPS purgatory. One day it was out for delivery; the next it dropped off the radar. I'm convinced it's partying with 2020 Presidential Election ballots.


Anyway, the customer service woman, Stephanie, had such an adorable voice with an adorable accent. After she apologized, I said it really wasn't their fault, but thanked her for her help. I then told her the story of how a jigsaw puzzle we ordered last March took two months to get to our house. It roamed all over the eastern third of the United States, doing more

traveling then we could ever dream of doing in a pandemic. She genuinely

chuckled at my story. I thanked her again and we were done.


The next day, I got a customer service satisfaction survey. Of course I gave her all 10s, plus mentioned how they couldn't have asked for a better representative of their company. My only complaint was when they asked what year I was born, it was like spinning the wheel on The Price is Right to get to my birth year.


Those types of Galatians 5 acts of kindness cost you nothing but go a long way to spreading tidings of comfort and joy.


I'm generally a positive person. I love puns and humor of all kinds. Even when it's at my own expense, I love it when people laugh at me or with me.


When driving, always be alert to ways you can make someone else's driving experience safer or less frustrating. For example, if possible, when turning left, leave enough room for someone to go around you on the

right.


Then there's what I call bizarro gossip. This is something that neither Jesus nor the Bible condemns. You make a habit of bizarro gossip and you come close to putting an end to the bad kind of gossip. Give compliments behind people's backs. It's a great way to spread goodwill and positivity. Spread good news about people wherever you go. You will be a blessing. Like I say, you want to be the kind of person who people are happy to see wherever you go…not whenever you go.


Finally, access the positivity and calm that God wants for your life. When you don't sweat the small stuff, you find it easier to be a kinder, gentler person. And when you don't react in high-strung, near-hysterical ways to the big stuff, kinder and gentler are still there. Not getting irritated or overly-emotional at what life throws your way brings nothing but tidings of comfort and joy.


Before Christmas, Christian author Trillia Newbell shared a passage from Lamentations 3:22-23 and a simple observation. The passage:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The simple observation:

"This will be true for 2021, too. Grateful."

Being motivated by goodness rather than fear is always a good thing. Now,

let's move on to the Biblical truth behind our fearlessness. God make you

mighty, men and women of Covenant Church…


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