Saturday, March 15, 2014

CELEBRATE WITH JOY

     Trinity Joy, a special wee babe, continues to delight her family and many, many others she's encountered in the few weeks since her birth. On earth and in heaven new life brings joy. Jesus spoke of angels rejoicing when anyone is born into His Father's Kingdom. (Luke 15:10) And I love Peter's description of joy beyond what we can express as believers in Christ. (1 Peter 1:8)

     Right... but how about the obvious troubles, problems, difficulties we all face during our lives? David had oodles of them. He chose to trust God rather than people to help him, and recorded his pleas and praise. Hope rises as we read not only his Psalms, but also other accounts from Genesis to Revelation of men and women who made it through tough circumstances our adversary brought against them. They could endorse the words of Nehemiah, a captive serving in exile, who declared, "the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)

     We need to know His joy is still our strength today. Recently I heard Daniel Amstutz share about a time when he did not have money to buy groceries for his family. They cooked the last food they had and his wife was feeding their toddler first when she got into one of those laughing jags you just can't stop. The Holy Spirit had reminded her of David's words in Psalm 37:25, "I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread." (NKJV)
     
     She knew, as believers in Christ, they had abundant provision. Their circumstance and the comical mixture of left-overs they had cooked up tickled her funny bone instead of crushing her. Within moments they discovered someone had left several bags of groceries, other supplies and some cash at their door! That occasion inspired the tradition of "count-it-all-joy" parties in the Amstutz home.

     James advised us to, "count it all joy when you fall into various trials." (James 1:2 NKJV) and Daniel's family has chosen to do so over the years. What's happening in your life? Is it time for a celebration?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

THE DIRECT ROUTE

     To drive along the twists and valleys of a country road is as good as a holiday when you have time to enjoy the outing. When you're on a mission? ... not so much. A straight line trumps meandering if you have to get somewhere.

     We've had heaps of snow this winter. I'm not about to shovel an S-curved path to the barn. By the end of February it's not perfectly straight, but close, and I heft as little of the white stuff as possible.

     In the spiritual journey an individual may choose to wander and investigate many roads. Life, however, does have a way of presenting constraints. The urgency can be a person's desperate desire to have questions settled. Troubles for which human abilities offer no solutions also draw us to the throughways.

     The Lord Jesus didn't mess around with philosophies. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6 NKJV)  Proverbs 8:17 states, "those that seek me early shall find me." (KJV) A circuitous route is not necessary.

     From the get-go we can choose to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead. (Romans 10:9) Then, in Christ, we share all that He won in His victory over the adversary.

     To our natural minds, the process seems backwards. Man wants the evidence first. Then he will believe what is proven. Father God's way is that we believe first, then confirmation comes to our senses. Once we open our hearts and minds to His amazing love, He will give the assurance that we've found the truth that satisfies. (John 14:21) This may be the perfect time to take the direct route.