December 19,2023

Good afternoon Church family, 

It was again such a joy to meet with my Church family yesterday. I’m always reminded of how meeting together as God’s people on Sunday’s is a little preview of heaven. When else do all of God’s saints come together all at once to encourage one-another and worship the Lord in song and sermon? 

As such, we should feel very excited and anticipate Sunday’s together. I certainly do. And the kids made yesterday especially awesome. Is it possible that God was smiling just for that reason? Kids are great gifts from God and we are blessed as a WOL Chapel family to have a good portion of them and gifted adults to help organize them (because we all know, that’s not easy!). 

On another note, I want to encourage you all to stay focused on the Good News of Jesus this season (& always). As I said yesterday, this requires mental discipline to focus on, read up on, meditate on and think upon the full ramifications of the Good News every day lest it become old news to you or no news to you. Then you’ll lose the great joy of it. Therefore, we must fight to keep the Good News fresh in our hearts (Phil. 4:8). 

I hope that you have heard my attempted balance of Christ centered sadness and Christ centered joy that God’s Word endorses just the same. The expressions of our faith is a conundrum. On one end, we should be happier than anybody because of the Good News of Jesus and sweet relief that we’ve passed the test of judgement day by the life of Christ lived in our place. So we’re headed to heaven! On the other hand, we should be the most sad people in world because of the grim reality that awaits those who reject the Good News and become recipients of the bad news: separation from God forever (in mild terms!). 

Lamentations is the book of sorrow: just listen to the name! But Philippians has been penned a book of joy. 

In Romans 9, Paul is mourning and wishing himself to be cursed/cut off from God for the sake of his unsaved relatives. But in 1 Peter 1:8, Peter speaks of inexpressible joy filled with glory. Perhaps “the Good News of great joy” (Luke 2:10) is inexpressible because, in part, it intermingles with the great sadness that we feel for the brokenness that is all around us and even still in us.

I really hope you understand this paradox. We should be melancholy & chipper people. God has wired our personalities differently so that we probably lean towards one of the other. Nevertheless, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, you should be both and feel both gladder than glad and sadder than sad! 

As Paul says in Romans 12:15, “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” May we hit both of these standards well. For those of you who are sad today, I want to be sad with you. For those of you who are rejoicing today, I want to be happy with you. You see that rejoicing can be others focused and sadness does not need to be inner focused. We should be sad for others sake, most of all, the lost. 

This season, may we have tears of sorrow for the lost and tears of joy for those who are saved! (Luke 10:20!). May your sadness be used to share Good News with people who desperately need it and may your joy be used just the same. 

I was serious the other day when I said that the “great joy” of the Gospel (Luke 2:10) is meant to act like a medication sent from our Great Physician Himself and an endorphin to help cheer us up in the midst of depression or depressing situations. However, it doesn’t negate the sadness, nor is our sadness or depression meant to be eradicated. How could it be in a broken world? Sadness is the reaction to this world in which we live, but joy is the result of the world to come to which we wait! 

So may the Good News be better than the bad news in your life today. May the ‘great joy’ that comes with the Gospel be greater than the ‘terrible pain’ that comes with the bad news in your life. May the Good News be practical and used to spike your emotions in another direction this season. God knows it’s much needed. 

With love, I am praying for you all in this way! 

In Christ, 

Aaron

From Pastor Aaron

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