Whatever good system the founding fathers of America established is hardly, if at all, recognizable today. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are no longer American values, except for a twisted version of the last one. Today is not a day of celebration. It ought to be of mourning. Christians are thankful to have true life in Christ, freedom from sin and its eternal consequences because of the Cross, and the possession of irrepressible joy in the Holy Spirit. These are the real reasons for celebration.
Using Eccl 8.15 as the surprising text on the subject, Ed M. writes today about the mysteries of life and deferred judgment.
Because of the inequities in life, men rush to conclusions that cannot be sustained. They deny divine providence. They suppose God is indifferent to moral distinctions. They decide that piety has no purpose. The presence of such perplexing phenomena is painful. No arguments can solve them. No exercise of faith can charm them away. Many desire to see and hear the deeper things of God but are denied such privileged information, Luke 10:24.
We need these reminders often, since the evil one would persuade us that God is not good.
Because of travel, I'm late in Ed M.'s devotionals. I just read his entry on Neh 8.10.
... we have good reason to be happy. For, at all times, a holy joy is a defense against evil, a strength in sorrow, a power to endure trying circumstances.
Focus question: How does sadness bring weakness?
O Soul, God's blessings in this life are good and pleasant. He gives you enjoyment in so many ways. Yes, life is hard, and suffering at times seems to overwhelm. But most of life's activities contain the potential for joy. So do not let troubles keep you from what is good. All must be done within the confines of divine permission, of course. But God made life to be pleasurable. Now, how much more pleasurable will eternal life be? Do nothing that will put your celestial inheritance at risk. Do everything to guarantee God's approval on the last day. Lock in on your goal, and enjoy the ride!
Not infrequently A.B. Simpson's denominational doctrines get in the way of appreciating his devotionals, but this one comes across well, on how to enjoy this day:
1. Be right with God, for gladness [is sown] for the upright in heart (Psalm 97:11). It is His joy that remains in us that makes our joy full.
2. Forget yourself and live for others, for It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
3. When you cannot rejoice in feelings, circumstances or conditions, rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 4:4), and count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (James 1:2).
4. Finally, obey the Lord and be faithful to your trust, and again and again His blessed Spirit will whisper to your heart, Well done, thou good and faithful servant, . . . enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matthew 25:21).
Also, check out the piece of Longfellow's poem he shares.
Feelings of sadness will surprise you on occasion. Some event may trigger them, or not — they may appear, apparently, for no reason. Physical tiredness or a period of intense serving or giving to others may cause them. Rest, physical exercise, and healthy foods may help you recover, but, above all, realize that God’s intent to bless you has not change. O Soul, your feelings are not an accurate gauge of reality. Penetrate the thick mud of melancholy to break through to the joy of the Holy Spirit. That joy holds your faith pointed along the route of the glory of God.
Many think of it in scary terms. God's children rejoice in it, says Ed M. today in his devotional.
We rejoice in the omniscience of God. We welcome Him into the sanctuary of our thoughts. He is our Friend. We are happy for Him to abide in us. We have nothing to hide. We can hide nothing, Psalms 7:9; Jeremiah 20:12; Revelation 2:23.
Focus question: What can I do to welcome God more and more into my life? How does my consciousness of God's omniscience enliven my soul and make it glad?
Today's devotional comes from the heart of one who has God's mission in the forefront. Here's a small paragraph from the powerful page:
Converts are a refreshing joy, III John 4. The unexpected should be expected in the Christian life. Sinners repent. The afflicted find peace. The cold embers of past faith are rekindled. Moments of success are times of festive celebration.
Are many full-time workers frustrated because they're not evangelizing, but instead speaking to people unmoved by the gospel?
Focus question: How can a Christian cultivate the great expectation of seeing people convert to Christ?
This piece is excerpted from a Corollaries segment, called "Daily Attitudes." Something I need to read every day.
- I rejoice in Christ.
- I thank God the Father for every good gift from his hand and for every opportunity to draw near to him.
- I live to glorify God and serve my neighbor, beginning with my spouse.
- I feel compassion toward the needy and choose to show love to all, especially to the family of faith.
- I am guided by the truth of Scripture and commit myself to follow Jesus wherever he may lead me.
- I depend upon the Holy Spirit for strength as I breathe the heavenly air of his words.
- Having Christ, I have it all; I seek to share his divine fullness with everyone around me.