They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. — Acts 2:42
Sadly, summer often rushes by in a blur. Family vacations (which are usually not as relaxing as we hope), summer camps, and swimming pools fill the days. There is a mad dash to get all the items on the to-do list done. Children try to fit all the fun they can into ten short weeks. Before we know it, September has burst on the scene like an unexpected visitor, and we are wondering where June, July, and August went. We engage in a lot of activities, but we’re also a little exhausted by it all.
Thankfully, something wonderful accompanies the arrival of fall. There is this natural tendency to take the time to pause and truly enjoy the people around us. There are hayrides, bonfires, and chili cook-offs. We sit down to carve pumpkins and watch football. We enjoy soups, s’mores, and candy corn.
Fall brings with it a desire to spend time with family and friends enjoying food and fellowship.
We plan our season less around events and more around people because — let’s face it — fall activities are better with friends.
The early church in the book of Acts is described as spending time with one another in fellowship. They were not scurrying here and there, trying to attend every event and take every photo. They passed the hours together studying Scripture, breaking bread, and praying. This continual coming together of the early church made them stronger. They could share struggles while they shared a meal, and they could be refreshed as their bodies were being refueled.
Fall offers many opportunities to come together and fellowship with friends and family. There is something about breaking bread that bonds people. Unrushed time together works wonders on relationships. A lot can happen between the cheese ball and the pumpkin pie. Let’s not miss a single chance to gather with our people this season. And let’s take our cue from the early church. May we continue spending time together in worship, fellowship, and prayer.
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. — Joel 2:25
It’s always exciting when the leaves begin falling from the trees and blowing in the crisp breezes of fall. We ooh and aah over the myriad of colors. There comes a point, however, when all the leaves have finished their falling, and the trees stand bare. How do you feel when you see the fall trees with- out their leaves? At first glance, perhaps, they seem empty, as if everything has been stripped away. They are left standing stark on a gray landscape, and, well, they often seem a little sad and alone. They appear barren.
In time, however, those very same trees will begin to show signs of new growth. Buds will hint at the beauty of things to come. In due time, fresh flowers and leaves will appear, and the trees that appeared dead will spring to life again. So it’s important to remember in the cold days of fall that bare is not the same thing as barren.
Life is full of seasons.
There are times when we feel things being stripped away from us and we are left standing bare before the world. Others looking at us may see no signs of life and believe us to be barren. But our God is a God of restoration, and no loss goes unnoticed by Him. Many times, what looks like barrenness to the world is only a season of bareness. Our fruitful days are coming, and God is about to do a work in our lives that only He can do.
Through the prophet Joel, God promised restoration to His people. He promised to restore the years the locusts had eaten. These were locusts that God Himself had sent to swarm among them. The Lord knows when things need to fall away from our lives, and we can trust Him also to bring us again to a season of growth and new life. Just remember that whatever the season you’re currently in, bare is not the same as barren and that anything stripped away is leaving room for God to do something new.
Excerpted with permission from Devotions for the Fall by Stacy Edwards, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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Praying together has been a tradition since the beginning! Even though that looks a little bit different right now, we can still gather and enjoy the season, albeit in different ways. It’s a different season. It will change!