Two days ago, I said good-bye to Larry Patton. He has been a great friend, and one who has served by my side at First Christian Church for the past 30 years. Larry wore a smile on his face; had a song in his heart; and, he was an asset to my ministry.
As a tribute to him, I want to share the comments I made at his funeral. Here are Ten Lessons from the Life of Larry:
- Life is a song, so sing it (Psalm 100).
- Pursue Harmony (Romans 12:17-18).
- Live life in the Key of C—Be compassionate (Romans 12:10).
- Short men walk tall when they reach out to help people (Romans 12:15).
- When you show-up, show-off your faith (James 2:18).
- New commands should become old habits (John 13:34-35).
- If you’re going to be a bear, be a burden-bearer (Galatians 6:1-2).
- The best way to stay in-tune is to make the most of opportunity (Galatians 6:10).
- When you have to speak, say it with love (Ephesians 4:15).
- When life turns sour, stay sweet (Romans 8:18).
When I think of Larry, I think of Psalm 37:23: The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.
I thank God for the way you shared your wit, wisdom, and gifts for God’s glory. May your influence live long in the life of your family and in the life of FCC.
One of the more comforting and reassuring promises that God has given was the one he pledged to Moses in Exodus 33:14: My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.
When I think of God’s presence, I’m reminded of the words of two authors:
- Oswald Chambers said: “Having the reality of God’s presence is not dependent on our being in a particular circumstance or place, but is only dependent on our determination to keep the Lord before us continually. Our problems arise when we refuse to place our trust in the reality of His presence.”
- In a moment of praise to God, David said: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).”
The words of Chambers and David beg the question: If I live a joy-less life instead of a joy-filled life, is it because there’s a void in my relationship with God?
When God seems distant, and you feel down and out, it’s time to get up and invite God in. God reminds us that He dwells “… in an exalted and holy place, but also with the discouraged and humiliated, in order to cheer up the humiliated and to encourage the discouraged (Isaiah 57:15).”
I encourage you to take Psalm 105:4 to heart and “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”
The trials and heartaches of life can leave you weary of life and tearful; and, wary of people and fearful. When God seems far away, remember you’re in His hand and you can handle “all things” through His strength.
When life gets tough, these 4 truths may help:
- When you spend more time in prayer, you have less time to worry.
- When it seems like you are in over your head, remember God is in it with you.
- When life seems too hard, remember that nothing is too difficult for God.
- When you’re convinced you’re lost, you’re ready to be found.
- When you think you’re unlikeable, God thinks you are loveable.
When I was a small boy, there were times I found comfort when my parents held my hand. When my mother grew old and unsteady, there were time we walked arm in arm so she could lean on me. What my parents did for me, and what I did for Mom, God will do for all of His children: For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you. ~Isaiah 41:13
Yesterday I encouraged you to take a few moments each day to focus on the goodness of God (GoG).. As I brewed my first cup of coffee this morning, a few GoG Scriptures began to percolate through my mind. Two of these are the grounds that can make for a robust week:
- Psalm 113:3 From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!
- Psalm 119:164: Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules
Somewhere between the time you start your day and you end it, I suggest you allow for a few monumental moments to focus on these seven verses:
- Psalm 100:4-5: Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.
- Psalm 21:13: Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
- Psalm 71:22: I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel.
- Psalm 106:1: Give Thanks to the Lord, for He Is Good; Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
- Daniel 2:23: I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might
- Psalm 96:2: Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
- Psalm 106:1: Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
The Apostle Paul knew the value of focusing on God’s goodness, this is why he instructed people to speak “. . . to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:19-29).”
I encourage you to read the seven GoG Scriptures each day, and make these Psalms your song for this week.