Wednesday, 12/15/21 – Pressing on… Sorrow and Joy

Sorrow and Joy

I’m just wondering… Were you puzzled about my statement at the end of Monday’s post this week? After stating that abiding joy is found only in loving obedience in Christ and that this joy is among the “gifts” of His Spirit living in and through us, I said “It [Joy] is found in only in Christ, and remains — even in times of sorrow.”

Sorrow, yet Joy? How is that possible? And what does that look like? Are you crying… laughing? Aren’t these things opposites by definition?

So far this week our Advent themes have pondered Hope, Peace, and now Joy. Paul referenced all three of these in his letter to the believers in Rome. He wrote, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Rom. 15:13).

In another letter he reminded the sorrowful Thessalonians, that as believers they “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” (1 Thess 4:13). Why? Because they had hope. In their flesh they may have felt grief, but grief, like happiness, is also temporary. “Weeping may tarry for the night,” wrote the psalmist, “but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps. 30:5).

I know, I know… many sadnesses last much longer than an overnight. But as I sometimes say to believing chronic pain sufferers like myself, “It can only last a lifetime!” And it’s true. Jesus promised us abiding joy, but He also promised us what we should expect of this life… during our sojourn time on this earth. He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Or as some translations have it, “Be of good cheer!”

The joy Jesus gives “no man can take away.” This joy is your possession forever in Christ. Though you may feel sorrow, you have joy! What you feel is fleeting, but what you have is eternal. Think on this truth when life is hard; “…the joy of the Lord is your strength,” said Nehemiah (Neh. 4:8). Let it bring strength to you!

“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:22).

Press on…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Wednesday, 4/29/20 – Pressing on…

What has you?

20200428_124018This past month mankind found its wisdom insufficient to prevent — at current count — the deaths of some 211,766 persons. Each of these people found their own personal physical strength insufficient to combat the invading virus. And every one of us has felt the economic impact of a world brought to a standstill. (The Dow Jones for example plummeted from above 29,000 to below 19,000 points!)

grayscale photography of man in short standiung

Suddenly it doesn’t matter so much what you have…

Do you have Wisdom – it fails.
Do you have Strength – it fails.
Do you have Riches – it fails.

20200428_120636.jpgIn my office I have a beautiful hand crafted cane – a gift from our previous pastor while on a missionary trip. But I cannot use it! I had begun to, but somewhere deep below its beauty and shellac the wood must have had a rotten patch. When I reached for it at last it was in two pieces! I’ve glued together now and it remains a beautiful souvenir, but I don’t dare trust it to support me.

20200428_120654.jpgMoses used a cane, and God told him to cast it down. When he did the staff became a snake… a serpent, possibly representative of what lay beneath all the man-made props we may lean upon. “We know,” writes John, “…that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19).

Of Moses the Lord said, “He is faithful in all my house” (Num. 12:7 / Heb. 3:5). All Moses had when he met the Lord at the bush was his staff, and God told him to throw it down. A wise Wycliffe missionary once said to us, “Whatever you are leaning on, throw it down. When you pick it up again, go with the power of God in your hand.” – Marshall Holdstock, Wycliffe missionary. (Wycliffe ‘Quest,’ Trinity Western University, Langley BC, May 30/92.)

bullion gold gold bars golden

This is exactly what God asks of us in this hour. We will take nothing with us into eternity, nothing but what our souls have become. The things we have amassed, the things we say we have: wisdom, strength, riches… things of world, flesh, devil… will all stay behind. He wants us to throw these things down NOW. Though they look shiny and polished, there is rot within them… splinters to harm us, and a very great fall indeed await.

These things are here to be used… used for God, not instead of Him. Paul writes,

“…the time is short. From now on… those who buy something [should live] as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” (1 Cor. 7:29-31).

In the end, it matters not what you have, or what you think you have, rather what matters is Who (or what) has you.

Press on…

To view Elder Don Longworth’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the page from the church website.