Joy cannot be pursued. It comes from within. It is a state of being. It does not depend on circumstances, but triumphs over circumstances. It produces a gentleness of spirit and a magnetic personality.
Celebrating Advent means learning how to wait. Waiting is an art which our impatient age has forgotten. We want to pluck the fruit before it has had time to ripen. Greedy eyes are soon disappointed when what they saw as luscious fruit is sour to the taste. In disappointment and disgust they throw it away. The fruit, full of promise rots on the ground. It is rejected without thanks by disappointed hands. The blessedness of waiting is lost on those who cannot wait, and the fulfillment of promise is never theirs. They want quick answers to the deepest questions of life and miss the value of those times of anxious waiting, seeking with patient uncertainties until the answers come. They lose the moment when the answers are revealed in dazzling clarity.
When we allow others' perceptions of us, or even our perceptions of their perceptions, to control how we live, we are enslaved, we become entrenched in the ways of this world and do not live as citizens of heaven, which is another kind of Kingdom altogether.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been saved from deception just by stepping aside and asking the Lord to confirm His voice. We receive a lot of thoughts in our brain—some experts claim it is upwards of fifty thousand per day. If we take the time to step back and ask the Lord if a thought, feeling or impression is His, we will receive His guidance to clarify which way we should go. If you are confused, ask God to give you His gift of discernment. We should also read the Bible, as His Word is our ultimate source of truth. (1 John 4:2-3)
We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus' miracles are not just a challenge to our minds but a promise to our hearts that the world we all want is coming.
God is good to all of us. He knows what we need better than we do. And just because he thinks it is better not to give you what you want right now doesn't mean he isn't answering you. You shall have what you ask for but not until the right time comes.
The life of the believer and that of the unbeliever show great similarity in their beginning, but when their end comes, they are as diverse as the snake and the silkworm. The snake, however many times he casts his skin, remains a snake and nothing else, but the silkworm, when it casts off its unsightly cocoon, becomes a new creature and as a dainty pretty moth flies about in the air. So the believer, casting aside this body, enters into a state of spiritual glory and flies about forever in heaven, while the sinner after death is but a sinner still.
As the sailor locates his position on the sea by “shooting” the sun, so we may get our moral bearings by looking at God. We must begin with God. We are right when and only when we stand in a right position relative to God, and we are wrong so far and so long as we stand in any other position.
For too long, many in the Church have argued that unity in the body of Christ across ethnic and class lines is a separate issue from the gospel. There has been the suggestion that we can be reconciled to God without being reconciled to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Scripture doesn’t bear that out. We only need to examine what happened when the Church was birthed to see exactly how God intends for this issue of reconciliation within the body of Christ to fall out.