Opportunity For Joy

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

James 1:2 (NLT)
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

This verse in the beginning of James’ Epistle has always been one of my favorites. It seldom brings to mind two Christian brothers from my past. The first, whose name, ironically, is also Mark, whenever something bad would happen in your life would laugh and say, “Count it all joy, bro!” The other was my first District Superintendent, Paul Martin. Paul would walk into the district offices and ask, “Are you happy?,” to which he would always get varied responses depending on how things were going. He would then respond, “It doesn’t matter! Do you have joy?” Paul had a very good handle on what James is saying here. The Biblical concept of joy is very different from the concept our world understands. We often mistake joy and happiness, and the Bible sees them very differently. One commentator had this to say, “Happiness is a subjective state, whereas James is instructing us to make a more objective judgment when he says consider it an opportunity for great joy. “Happiness” might encourage readers to expect a carefree life or a constantly cheerful mood. Neither of these is what James has in mind. He acknowledges the presence of extremely unhappy experiences in his readers’ lives. At the same time, and with no perception of any contradiction, James counsels these readers to rejoice during those very experiences of hardship (Stulac, IVPNT: James, 35). The point is this, happiness is dependent upon circumstances which change like the wind, but joy is dependent only upon the Lord, who does not change…ever! So my friend Paul was quite correct, it doesn’t matter if you’re happy, but do you have joy?

In Christ.
Pastor Mark

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A Mother’s Journey

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord

 Proverbs 31:28-29 (NLT)

28 Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:

29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”

 

The young mother set her foot on the path of life. “Is this the long way?” she asked. And the guide said: “Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning.” But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years.

So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed them in the clear streams. And the sun shone on them, and the young mother cried, “Nothing will ever be lovelier than this.” Then the night came, and the storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, “Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come.” And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary. But at all times she said to the children, “A little patience and we are there.” So the children climbed, and when they reached the top, they said, “Mother, we would not have done it without you.” And the mother, when she lay down at night looked up at the stars and said, “This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage. Today, I have given them strength.” And with the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth, clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said: “Look up. Lift your eyes to the light.” And the children looked and saw above the clouds an everlasting glory, and it guided them beyond the darkness. And that night the mother said, “This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God.” And the days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years, and the mother grew old and she was little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And when the way was rough, they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And the mother said: “I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them.” And the children said, “You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates.” And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: “We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence.” Your mother is always with you. She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she’s the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks she’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not well. Your mother lives inside your laughter. And she’s crystallized in every tear drop. She’s the place you came from, your first home; and she’s the map you follow with every step you take. She’s your first love and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can separate you… Not time, not space…not even death!

Happy Mother’s Day!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark