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Monday, August 04, 2014

The Death & Resurrection of Joy

From a human standpoint, the world can be a very ugly place! With all that's gone wrong in God's good creation, with so much that has been turned to wicked purposes & and so many that seem to have become almost the personification of evil itself, it is tempting for the Christian to discard any sort of hope at all for this world. It seems that the best & only option is for Jesus to come back, make a way of escape for us and to destroy all that is evil, right!?

There is much in this glorious inheritance of ours that IS downright ugly, and yes, sadly, pure evil, or so it would seem, but there is much, as well, that is almost indescribably beautiful! If only we could learn to focus on what is beautiful rather than what is ugly, then we would enjoy this physical existence so much more! If only we could see the Forest for the Trees!

The way things often go in this crazy, mixed-up world, it is easy to see why even Christians tend to almost despair & pray furiously for the end of this cruel world, for an escape from the rigors of everyday life! It is, however, in these glorious rigors that we most often see the Glory of God come shining through; take such 'evils' as cancer and such. In the Christian & non-Christian realm alike; when one of our own is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness of some sort or other, it's not usually long before all kinds of support for that loved one comes pouring in, 'out of the wood-work', so to speak!

While some sort of separation usually occurs through these illnesses, even to the point of the cessation of biological existence ( death  ), and brings much pain to all involved, for those who realize the Work of God & His Salvation, it is also a Time of Joy, knowing that this one has finished his ( or her ) course, and that the Glory of God is exalted through us!

Too often; we regard the 'evil' events happening around the world with an unhealthy apprehension, observing them as anywhere from the fulfillment of biblical prophecy to signalling the end of civilization as we know it! Actually, this second scenario may not be far off, but that's a subject for another time, maybe.

Fear is the greatest Joy-killer! If you want to dampen someone's spirits, simply tell them of wars & rumors of wars, of all the 'evil' occurring over in the Middle-East right now & how it might affect us, to say little of the 'evil' transpiring within the borders of our own nation under God! We often wonder where our Joy has disappeared to, and the answer is right before our eyes, brazenly staring us in the face; it is Fear; fear that with all the goings on over there ( ME ), it's going to somehow have an adverse effect on us. The latest cause for fear is from Africa, where several doctors that had been working over there have contracted the deadly ebola virus and one has just recently been flown to this country.

We fear that we will not be able to protect those we love from these 'evils', including anywhere from an 'accidental' outbreak of the diseases that are rampant in this nation, to the insidious 'evils' that threaten our very way of life! ( then again, maybe our way of life deserves to be or needs to be threatened ) All of these concerns tend to make us focus on what's wrong rather than on what's right! In our individualistic way of thinking, we tend to look at a problem and worry about how it affects us! We not only fail to look at the bigger picture; we seem to forget, sometimes, Who is running this show!

Who IS running this Show! Many are prone to look at all that we deem wrong in this world and proclaim that Satan or the devil is running this world as 'he' sees fit, but when people do that, they often seem to overlook all that is right in this world, that the apostle Paul wrote that, 'if anyone be in Christ, that person is a new creation', and that Jesus said ( past tense ), 'Behold, I make all things new'! God's Creation has been renewed & is being renewed, in Christ alone! It is only through the continued Ministry of Christ, in and through His People, that we see & will continue to see, ALL things Renewed & Reconciled!

With the Reconciliation & Renewal of ALL things, our Joy is renewed day by day & moment by moment! Not only as physical restoration occurs through Divine Intervention, but as Reconciliation continues to occur in the Spirit through the Ministry of Reconciliation, which has been entrusted to us, the Body of Christ!

Joy comes in the Morning; the Night of Darkness & Death has passed! As we look at the evidences of A Clear and Present Danger around our Father's World, it is sometimes hard to believe this, but it is True! We have found our Joy, and now we must, in the Strength of that Joy, go forth sharing that Strength & Joy with all in our sphere of influence; though there is truly much that seems to be incurably 'evil' in our world, as much of that 'evil' only seeks a place of Rest & Repose! We are that place, in Christ, of Rest & Repose, and when we refuse them that Rest, for whatever reason, they will seek it elsewhere, even if it seems 'evil' to them!

Let us hold on to our Joy, and determine to kill, in our own lives that which threatens it! Let this be for us the Year of No Fear; the Time is Now; let us Share the Joy, Let us Love & Live in the Day, for the Night is over; we are NOW Love & Light through the Strength, both within & without, that has made His Dwelling in us!

Charles Haddon Shank

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