Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord. Psalm 134:1 KJV
Okay – so this will never make a million likes on YouTube, but for those involved in nursing home ministry, hearing testimonies is a blessing. The once-a-month Saturday crowd at Sunshine is a mixed group with both independent living folks as well as assisted living people joining in one meeting. These folks are some of my liveliest if they are given the chance. We sing a little more than just hymns and the residents love to lead worship, preach, raise offerings and just about anything else you would see in your local church. I hope you will be blessed by our video this week. If you enjoy listening to their testimonies, there is a second one in the works for next week, so stay tuned!
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. Psalm 23:1-2 KJV
On arriving at Life Care Center on Friday, I was elated to learn that the Covid restrictions which had kept the dining room closed to our meeting had been lifted. Though that was great news both for me and the residents, it did leave me without my standard preparation for a nursing home service. You see, over the last five weeks, I had simply played a couple of hymns and prayed with people as I was escorted from one private room to another. Now I stood in the front, with no Bible or even a short message prepared.
So, I shot up a short, but sincere prayer, “What do I do?”, then opened my guitar case, smiled and greeted our little flock. As He has done so many times before the Lord reminded me that He had sent me to the nursing home, not because of anything amazing about myself, but because of His amazing love for them. Then as the song portion of our service came to an end, I began to share a simple message from one of the only chapters of the Bible I know by heart: Psalm 23. I call this God’s 3-Peace suit.
The first peace is like the trousers of a suit, because it is the first to go one. This is the peace of the blessings of green pastures. This is the peace most of us like the best. Blue skies, sunny days and a peaceful quiet place in life. “It doesn’t get any better than this!” we exclaim. But wait there’s more! Oh yes, there is so much more to God’s peace than this place.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 KJV
This second peace of the suit is our vest and says, that we are getting ready for a serious occasion. The funny thing about the second peace is that we forget about it until we need it. It’s like going out for a walk on the first cold day of winter. One step out the door, and as the chilly wind pierces through our summer clothes, we run back inside to grab our jacket. In the darkness of the valley, God gives us His comfort, and we discover a peace far deeper than the one we had in that green pasture. In the middle of our problems, God gives us this second peace of His suit which the world can’t give us and it certainly will never be able to take away.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever! Psalm 23:6 KJV
The third peace of God’s suit is like the jacket, and God has saved His best for last. At the end of our faith journey, we come to the place that Jesus has prepared for us. This is far better than a mansion over the hilltop. It is a room in His Father’s house which is waiting for us. There we will get to experience His amazing peace and His loving presence in green pastures and at banqueting tables for all eternity! Now that is a 3-peace suit worth living for!
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation. Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7 NKJV
This Tuesday, I stopped to see my friend Don and his wife Lorna, who recently been admitted to a nursing home in our area. This facility was new to me, and I have never held any services there, so I brought along copies of our weekly newsletter. Since Lorna was sleeping, Don and I had a nice quiet visit in the hallway and after praying and leaving with him a newsletter, I said good-bye. Once I got back outside, I nodded a friendly greeting to a man whom I had seen on my way in and headed towards the car. I was already thinking of what I would do when I got home, when the Holy Spirit prompted me to turn back and talk with that man.
So, I turned and retraced my steps, and as I reached the man I asked, “Hey I am visiting a friend here and I brought him one of these newsletters. Would you like one?” He looked a little confused as to my motivations, so I assured him I wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness, and was just from a local church. Well, this man was so willing to talk, that I was amazed.
“I’m Don.” he said. “I’ve been here about a year. After I had a stroke, my wife felt she couldn’t take care of me anymore, so she brought me here and went back with her family to live in Ohio.”
Just at that point my friend, who I had come to visit, came out the door. I looked up and smiled, “Don, I want you to meet Don.” They smiled and shook hands. Then, as my new friend continued to pour out his heart, the man who I had come to visit, laid his hand on his shoulder and said, “Don’t give up. You have to just trust the Lord and He will be with you.”
I could have said those same words – but coming from another resident, they were much more powerful. Though their circumstances were a little different, they had a lot in common. When I did head home that afternoon, I was struck with two things: First, God had made an appointment for the three of us and I was so glad that I had listened and turned around. Secondly, I was so happy to have the newsletter to give him. It not only gave me an opportunity to break the ice, but it was something that he could keep with Him to remind Him that God had not forgotten him.
Sunshine Newsletter, is a free weekly publication, produced by a small but growing team of us who care about nursing home ministry. There are so many people in our society today who are abandoned, forgotten and written off, but wherever they are, God has good news of salvation for them to hear. Our little newsletter is simply one way we can reach out and become the feet of those who bring the message of hope to people in the long-term care community. If you would like to receive your free copy, (we don’t ask for donations) you can contact me at email@example.com
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. John 13:14-15 ESV
We don’t ordinarily wash feet in our society today. But in Jesus’ day, this was a common, though somewhat unimportant practice. Like taking out the trash, it was one rarely noticed (unless it was forgotten for a while!). Often, we are looking for a gigantic way or some well-advertised program to demonstrate the love of Jesus. But God is calling each of us to demonstrate the enormous love of our Savior through small and seemingly insignificant acts of service. Jesus commands us to love one another and to wash one another’s feet. As a bonus, He promises that when we do what He asks, we will experience a joy that no one can ever take away. Maybe that was the joy that He experienced which carried Him through the tears of Gethsemane and the agony of the cross. So, this morning’s question is, “Whose feet is Jesus asking me to wash today?”