Rejoicing in All Seasons
by Debbie Holloway, crosswalk.com
“The hope of the righteous brings joy” (Proverbs 10:28).
I’m currently in the process of moving – but only a few miles away. During the intense first weekend of driving back and forth constantly from the old house to the new apartment, I was always amused when I passed by one curious little house. We began moving in on Valentine’s Day weekend, and this little brick house by the roadside was decked in red and white lights and glowing hearts dotting their lawn. During the daylight it was easy to miss the house, but come nightfall it stood out like a beacon of Valentine’s Day glory.
A few days after Valentine’s Day passed, however, the hue emanating from the house transformed from red to chipper Irish green as the occupants geared up for St. Patrick’s day – complete with shamrocks instead of hearts. My initial reaction to this was something like, Wow. These folks really love their holidays.
As I would drive past the house over the following days and weeks, it got me thinking something else, though. Very few of us embrace change so exuberantly as these (I imagine) quaint little homeowners. Very few of us throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the season of right now. It’s tempting for many of us to leave the Christmas lights up past New Years, simply because it’s hard to let go of the nostalgia of that warm, fuzzy time. Many of us are picky about what we celebrate. Not these folks, though! They seem delighted just to be able to revel in the fact that we have holidays.
That’s an attitude I could probably learn from. I think of Jesus turning water to wine, of all the celebrations, holidays and jubilees that God instituted for the Jews, and I think – God loves an excuse to have joy and celebration! If I can smile, rejoice, and bring attention to a thing of beauty and excitement, I think I should. Just like the people who use every holiday as an excuse to dress up their little house and share a little light with the neighbors.
Is This the Right Decision?
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV)
Have you ever had that deep-down knowing of what to do in a situation but ignored it? I understand.
I was home alone one day when a large box was delivered to my doorstep.
The delivery man graciously brought it inside. But I figured it might be a bit much for me to ask him to take it past the foyer, up the stairs, down the hall, and into the den.
So there it sat, this mysterious, heavy box.
Deep inside, I knew this was nothing but some product someone in my family had ordered.
But I didn’t listen to that awareness. I ignored it and listened to my fears instead. You know you’ve watched one too many mystery TV shows when your first thought about a mysterious box sitting in your foyer is that a person with scary intentions could fit inside.
So I kicked the side of the box to see if there was any kind of reflex action from a living thing inside of it. There wasn’t, of course. But then I decided just to be sure, I would stand around the corner from the box to see if I could step out of its line of sight and possibly hear something: a cough, a sneeze, anything.
I could leave no room for doubts, no room at all for any possible bad outcome from this box — a box that I eventually opened with a knife. Just in case. Only to discover a dorm-room refrigerator that someone had ordered.
I wasted half my day worrying about a box that contained a dorm fridge.
But we do this sometimes. We have a decision to make and we have that deep-down knowing. We know what to do. We know what the answer is. But we don’t go with that knowing. We over-process the what-ifs and the maybes until we find ourselves standing around a corner listening to see if a cardboard box containing a refrigerator might sneeze.
Now, there are certainly some decisions that need to be processed. But then there are other decisions we just simply need to say yes or no to and move on.
Find that courageous yes. Fight for that confident no. Know it. State it. Own it.
Sometimes it just comes down to that deep whisper within that says, “Uh-huh, yes.” Or a simple, “No, not that.”
God has woven into us the ability to discern what is best as we closely follow Him. Philippians 1:9-10 says, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (NIV).
Discerning what is best is something we’re capable of doing as we layer knowledge and depth of insight into our lives. Read those verses again and see that gaining knowledge and depth of insight will allow us to develop a trustworthy discernment.
Knowledge is wisdom that comes from acquiring truth.
Insight is wisdom that comes from living out the truth we acquire.
Discernment is wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit’s reminders of that knowledge and insight.
I know a young mom who has really been struggling with the decision of whether to let her 2-year-old go to preschool a couple of half-days each week. As I listened to her, I felt compelled to ask her three questions:
1. Have you been reading and praying through God’s Word?
2. Have you been applying God’s Word to your mothering?
3. Have you sought godly counsel and insights from wise people who know specifics about your situation?
The answer to all three of those simple questions was yes, so I reminded her that she was assigned by God to be this child’s mother. If she had done these three things, then she had the ability to discern what was best.
It’s not about trusting ourselves. Rather, it’s about trusting the Holy Spirit to do what Jesus promised us in John 14:26: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (NIV).
When we’ve done what we need to do to acquire the knowledge and insight of truth, then the discernment of that truth is there. We must learn to trust and use that discernment because the more we do this, the more wisdom we acquire to make God-honoring decisions.
The Bible teaches that death is only the beginning for believers. God has prepared an eternal home for us, and the condition for entry is clear: Believe that Jesus died for your sins, and receive His forgiveness. Some people consider this narrow-minded and unfair. But God set up that condition for a reason.
Way back in the garden of Eden, the Lord established a rule to protect His creation: Do not disobey Me. Sin was such a serious matter in His eyes that He determined it deserved the death penalty. Yet ever since Adam and Eve’s transgression, we’ve been bound to slip up because we’re flawed human beings. And God knew that. So, to save us from the consequence of sin, He sent His Son to die in our place. Jesus fulfilled the law while taking our punishment. And three days later He rose again.
God promised in His Word that those who receive Jesus as Savior share in His resurrection. When a believer dies, the heavenly gates open, and he or she has the same triumph over death that Jesus did. In other words, when we leave this world, we do not simply disappear. We continue to worship the Lord in heaven.
“Because they are lazy, therefore they cry out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’” – Exodus 5:8 NASB
When Moses asked to let the Israelites go, Pharaoh evaluated this request in light of his own experience and worldview. To him, Moses’ explanation seemed absurd. He could not conceive that the God of the Hebrews could be real and make this request. The only possible explanation was that the Israelites simply did not want to work.
Pharaoh had his own agenda. He was counting on the Israelites to provide the labor for his designs. Moses’ request conflicted with his agenda. And he didn’t believe the explanation.
Many people react in similar ways to God’s Word. The Bible reminds us that the things of the Spirit are folly in the natural. People can’t “understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV).
As you ponder the way some people respond to the Gospel, remember that this is a spiritual issue, discerned in the Spirit in ways people in the natural may never understand. They are likely to project onto us their own expectations and worldview. Or they may judge us or question our motives.
Remember these facts as you interact with people in the world. Remember how foolish and unrealistic your beliefs and actions might seem.
Ask God to give you discernment about your life and testimony. Pray for His anointing. Seek to apply His principles. Pray for those you know who need the Lord. Pray that He might open their eyes that they might see.