Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spontaneous Joy

Anyone who has been in church for very long knows what it's like to have an altar call or blessing service.  People are broken and hurting and they turn their hearts to God.  As they pour out their emotions, there is often crying and weeping as feelings overwhelm them.  We had one of those services today and as usual there was a lot of people crying.

But then one person started laughing.  It was as spontaneous and heartfelt as any of the weeping.  Then she asked in amazement "Why are we all crying?"  You know, she has a point.

The word "joy" appears in the NIV Bible 242 times.

When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes.
1 Samuel 18:6

Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
Nehemiah 8:12

The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
Psalm 19:8

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:11

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 13:52

Everything about God should fill us with happiness.  When we were lost, He found us.  When we are hurting, He heals us.  When we deserved Hell, He saved us.  When Jesus died, He gave us His greatest gift.  Christianity should be about laughter and joy, not weeping and sadness.  We should feel elated, not burdened.  Our hearts should burst with glad feelings, not sad ones.

So I sincerely hope that at some point in your day and your week, you can erupt with spontaneous laughter.  And when you're praying in church next time, surprise people with giggles and glee.  Then remind them of Nehemiah 8:10....Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Angels Among Us

The Bible is full of stories of angels acting as messengers of God as well as helping people here on Earth.  The idea of guardian angels is popular throughout modern culture, and many people believe in them.  There is indeed Biblical basis for this belief (see a brief discussion of Matthew 18:10 here).  And we're seeing personal proof of this in our own church.

My church is in a small city in northwestern Georgia.  Last Fall we built a new building and ever since then we have felt that we are in a spiritual battle. Things have not gone smoothly and people within our congregation have come under one challenge after another.  We haven't grown as quickly as we had expected and hoped, despite filling a niche not really seen in our community.  It has really seemed like Satan has been having an active hand against us, trying to prevent us from reaching more people.

But in the last few weeks we have been getting encouragement and truly believe that God is letting us see into the spiritual world a bit.  There have been some strange occurences in our church....stereos will come on and off.  People will see things out of the corner of their eyes.  And more than one person has heard the sounds of wings flapping even when they are alone in the building.  These things have been noticed by children and adults, and only recently have people been sharing stories with each other.  At first it was rather spooky, but the more that happens the more we are really convinced that angels are around us and God is protecting us for something great.

If you're discouraged or feel like everything's going against you, stop for a minute. Look and listen for subtle signs.  God loves us all so much that he has angels out there to fight the battles we aren't even aware of.  One is out there to protect you.  Pray, and your sight may be opened.