Romans 15:4-7  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 

If there is something that we really need today as God’s redeemed people it is ‘endurance-and-encouragement’!  As the ongoing, inexorable pandemic causes such damage to our well-being, our social interaction, and our economy, we can all do with a generous dose of ‘endurance-and-encouragement’.

Praise God, he tells us through his inspired Apostle Paul, just where we can get it and what its curing effect is.  It is freely available from God himself, and his supply chain is the Scriptures.  Its product in us consists of HOPE, a SPIRIT OF UNITY among ourselves as we follow Christ Jesus, an acceptance of one another that truly reflects how God has accepted us, and a harmonious expression of PRAISE and GLORY to ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’.  Just think for a moment what a profound impact such a ‘product’ can have on those around us – our family, our Church family, our fellow workers, our local community, our colleagues, the children and young people entrusted to our care, our society  … yes, and our whole world!

All this being so, how important it is that we keep God’s supply chain open by keeping the Scriptures before us, making and taking time to ‘MEDITATE and DELIGHT IN the law of the LORD day and night’, and actively avoiding wherever possible ‘walking in the counsel of the wicked, or standing in the way of sinners, or sitting in the seat of mockers’ (Psalm 1:1-2)!  It proves to be especially important, during these difficult and stressful days, that we positively resist Satan’s effort to drive wedges between us when we don’t see things eye to eye, or to insist that we know what is best when the way forward is so uncertain and fluid.  Above all, let us remember Paul’s words: ”Let your gentleness/reasonableness/moderation/magnanimity be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5).