The United States of America and the nations of the world are in distress as “natural disasters” and political tensions plague the world. With recovery from the emotional and physical distress caused by Hurricane Harvey barely under way, the U.S. is facing another major hurricane with the strongest winds ever recorded in the Atlantic. This, coupled with the North Korean crisis, the ever-present tensions in the Middle East, along with a deeply divided nation over a wide array of internal political and domestic issues, makes it so one is hard-pressed to find a silver lining behind the clouds. Yet under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the apostle Paul writes, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful” (Colossians 3:15 Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful.
American King James Version×).
How can you and I be thankful in the face of all the issues that each one of us is facing? The items listed in the above paragraph are of a collective nature. Collectively we the people are facing all of these issues. But in addition to what we are facing in the collective sense, each one of us has our own personal and family issues to deal with. Oftentimes the trials of the here and now causes one to lose sight of the joy that is set before us.
The trials of the here and now can also cause us to focus on one’s self and become calloused and even cynical with regard to the precious promises that are ours to claim. None of us has faced what Jesus faced as He endured the cruel events of His crucifixion and death. Yet in the face of death, He kept His focus on the joy that was set before Him. At times like these, we need to heed the admonition of the apostle Paul: “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 Hebrews 12:2Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
American King James Version×).
Jesus did not just focus on the here and now. His focus was on the joy that was before Him. That is, to see each one of us as future glorious radiant spirit beings in the Kingdom of God. There is joy in heaven over the repentance of one sinner. How much greater will be the joy of God and Christ in seeing you in the Kingdom of God!
One can hardly imagine the joy that each person will experience in the Kingdom of God. Note the words of the apostle Paul: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 1 Corinthians 2:9But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.
American King James Version×, King James Version). Each one of us must cling to the precious promises, embrace them, claim them and determine that we will endure the here and now because of the joy that is set before us. With these precious promises burning brightly in our minds we should be encouraged and thankful.
At the same time we can be filled with compassion for those who have had their lives devastated by recent physical events and trials. I know that each one of us, and collectively we as a Church, are ready and willing to help them in any way that we can physically. But more importantly, we must also be willing and committed to helping them spiritually. God and Christ are counting on each one of us to remain faithful and victoriously overcome any obstacle that tends to obscure our vision of the joy and hope that is set before us. Right now, we can all pray and also give of our physical means in helping others.
If you and I remain faithful and hoe to the end of the row, we will be there to help the whole of humanity in the world beyond today. Note these inspired words of the prophet Isaiah: “But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves” (Isaiah 61:6 Isaiah 61:6But you shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: you shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall you boast yourselves.
American King James Version×, KJV).
In a very few days from now we shall all be observing the Feast of Tabernacles—a time in which we shall have the opportunity (as we have noted in Isaiah’s prophecy) to directly work with God and Christ in bringing peace and joy to a strife-stricken world. But before that we will celebrate the Feast of Trumpets, and we should look forward with great expectation and anticipation when the seventh trumpet begins to sound and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of God and Christ as confirmed by the inspired words of the apostle John: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
American King James Version×, KJV).
After this comes the Day of Atonement with Satan being cast into the bottomless pit. And then the Feast of Tabernacles—picturing that time in which we shall reign with God and Christ as kings and priests in the Kingdom of God.
So don’t let the cares of this present evil age cloud your vision. One of the best ways to encourage yourself is to count your blessings and give thanks. James, the Lord’s brother, writes, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 James 4:7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
American King James Version×). I believe a person on his knees counting his or her blessings and giving thanks will put Satan to flight.
Remember that helping others also gives us joy, so if you are attending in an area where members have been hurt by recent disasters, reach out the hand of fellowship to them, and anyone who seems alone or hurting with positive encouragement and help so the whole Church family can more fully rejoice at the Feast.
We pray you experience the most joyous festival season ever.