Saturday, 9 May 2009

Joy In The Lord

Orange Standard Article 3 ~ April 2009

“The Lord is my strength who makes my feet nimble as a hind’s and sets me to range
the heights” Habakkuk 3:19

Religion has always suffered from wrong impressions of its true value and usefulness. The most common of these is that it is dreary, dull, and negative m its attitudes to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” Robert Louis Stevenson was surprised, when persuaded to go to a church service, he said:
“I have been to Church and am not depressed”.

Many see religion as a rope, a halter, an impediment and impoverishment of life. They feel sorry for those who ‘’get religion’. But still among them are those, who for their own reasons, allow religion a place in their lives, however fleeting, for they prefer a church wedding; to have their children “christened”; and, the church to be there in their suffering and bereavement.

They manage, in their everyday lives, though, to separate these from what is really essential and purposeful in their lives. But those who are connected and conscientious Christians find in their faith the means to an entirely satisfying, happy and contented, life. They contend that everyone who has had a real Christian experience, a meeting of heart and mind with Christ, will not find life dull, on the contrary they will find, discontentmentand joylessness, a contradiction of the Christian faith a travesty of the truth.

One writer explained:
“When you watch religion at work you find a morality, when you converse with it in thoughtful mood you find a philosophy; but when you touch the heart of religion you find a song.”

The Bible provides an illustration with its psalms and spiritual songs, Christianity has its teaching and preaching to explain itself, and its singing’s, The songs have often been the most effective “Gospel Messengers” in encouraging people to believe what they say and to trust Him of whom they say so much, informatively and memorably.

It has been claimed that the great times of the church were its “singing days” with those who wrote or used songs in their revivalist campaigns, the Wesleys, Moodys, and Booths and the evangelists whose meetings were enhanced by their singers and the singings of the congregations.

Habakkuk, the Old Testament prophet, said what Christians would echo and apply:
“I will be joyful to God because the Lord is my saviour. The Lord gives me strength. He makes me as surefooted as a deer and keeps me safe in the mountains”. (GNB)

Habakkuk was the one prophet-philosopher, a thinker and writer, who described the murmurings and questionings of his own soul. He told of the effects of his knowledge and experiences and communions with God and what the Spirit said to him, in the quiet, for his own sake and for those for whom he felt responsible.

Habakkuk had been pessimistic about life and the society in which he lived and then a religious experience had changed his whole outlook on life to give him hope for the future. He described that life changing experience in the language of his people:
“God has made my feet like the feet of the deer”.

Isiaah described the experience of those whose trust is in God in the often quoted:
“They that wait upon the lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint” (40: 31)

Jesus is the obvious example of that with His inexhaustible vitality; ability to deal with any emergency; undeterred and undefeated in every circumstance. He faced life and its problems clear in mind and buoyant in spirit.

He taught His disciples to treat life that way, and they lived as someone described it:
“ringing, winging and soaring lives.” It was to be said of them by their teaching, preaching,
and living they “turned the world upside down”, To be in fellowship with God is to have that most desirable likeness of spirit and the conviction that where there is faith and hope everything is possible. It was a good wise man who said: “When you think failure you are out of the reach of success”.

God can give us that which is most precious in life. Faith. Hope. Love.

The Christian has the best of things. His hope in God; his love for God and his faith in God. It was Paul who claimed:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

Rev. Canon Dr. S.E. Long

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