Today I found myself wondering if some of us have a predisposition to think negatively, pessimistically or whatever the word may be that I am searching for. I am thinking for example of years ago when the church where I was pastor required £90,000 of restoration work. (Actually in the course of time the final bill rose to over £400,000!) At the meeting of the elders where we began to face up to the scale of the necessary work, one man spoke out a strongly negative word: “Oh we are never going to manage to raise that amount of money.” I suggested we pray and ask God for His enabling us to raise the money and also asked for an early sign that He was with us in the task. The very next Sunday, someone who had not been at the meeting came into the vestry to speak with me before the morning service. He just wanted me to know that he was intending to give us £50,000 and was sorry that was all he could give at that present moment. Being a typical Scot, before I had finished my lunch back home after the service I was convinced I had misheard and he maybe said he was going to give us £50. But no, it was indeed £50,000 that was bing offered. I decided to tell the elders the good news, that God had answered our prayers: that He had shown He was with us in the task, just as we had asked. When I told them about the generous offer, the same man who had spoken so negatively, still spoke negatively! He said, “We had better keep this quiet because if people hear that we have got so much money they are never going to give!” He somehow could not allow himself to rejoice and be happy. He is in glory now and will have learned the truth of what C.S.Lewis said: “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
P.G. Wodehouse said that a Scotsman and a sunbeam would not be easily confused! Our natural tone seems to be a bit towards “lament” rather than rejoicing. However I am not so much talking about a national characteristic, but asking about personal characteristics. ARE YOU ALLOWING YOURSELF TO BE HAPPY? ARE YOU ALLOWING YOURSELF TO REJOICE? Do you tend to dwell on what is wrong about your situation, your circumstances, people? Does everything look like a potential problem? Did God bless you today and do something good for you, but all you saw was what has not yet come right for you?
Someone asked me after reading a past blog if I believe that there are apostles today. Well, I certainly believe every one of us is Apostolic in this sense: according to the letter to the Ephesians believers in the church today are built upon the historic foundation of the first Apostles such as Paul. I will leave you guessing whether I believe there is such a ministry as “An Apostle” in the church of today!! Wherever we stand on that issue, perhaps some of us reading this blog, or perhaps a great many of us, need to be true to the foundation of the Church and hear a very basic, twice repeated Apostolic command given by Paul; “Rejoice in the Lord always!” We can take things too seriously in a not good way. Even our devotional life can become a bit staid and lifeless. I remember when someone who was a great influence on my life, the Pentecostal pastor Hugh Black, gave a rare insight into his own devotional practices at a time when I was hungrily seeking a life of a fuller experience of the Holy Spirit than I was living. He simply shared in one meeting that when he woke up each morning he spent the first ten minutes “being happy in God.” I think God was reminding me of that today because although not a negative person I can let the negative side of circumstances run a-mock in my thinking sometimes. I am simply passing on what I was reminded of as something that may be of benefit to you as well.
Being happy in God sounds like good bread to start the day with. I saw the results of that in Hugh Black’s life and ministry and fruitfulness. It is good to learn from God’s people when they share the secrets of the Kingdom victory hat they have discovered. Why not give it a go? Take 10 minutes tomorrow morning just to be happy in God. I am going to try and remember to do that myself.
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