Sunday Review: Joy… and Snow

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Snow and church never seem to get along very well  – unless we’re talking about church in the mountains where everyone gets around on snowmobiles. In the Seattle area, it seems like everything comes screeching dramatically to a snail-like pace. The masses don’t know how to drive… people actually park their cars on the road and start walking!

Yesterday was one of those icy, snowy days. As pastors, we’re thinking things like: “should we hire someone to come plow the parking lot?” and “if it’s bad enough that the parking lot needs to be plowed, will anyone be driving in those conditions anyway?” and “should we just cancel church so people don’t have to risk their lives driving here?” and “if we cancel one or more of our services, how will we ever let people know?”

So, we eventually decided to go ahead with church as planned. No snow plow. No late start. No cancelled service. Just marching on with our regular services…

I wondered if anyone would show up. I expected a very small turnout.

By our 8:30 leadership rally point meeting, the church was buzzing with activity. We had a great group of volunteers that came early and were ready to serve.

Our total attendance for the day was about half of what it normally is, but church was excellent, fun and well-worth the effort of driving in the snow.

We even had first-time guests in both services… Wow! You know those people really wanted to come to church – they pushed through the arctic conditions and intimidation of going somewhere for the first time, refusing to accept even “legitimate” excuses for not coming to church.

After the second service, a group of guys from the church met at Meeker Middle School for a serious game of football… in the snow! It was awesome, a blast.

The message on Sunday was #3 in the Kingdom Christmas series… on joy.

Luke 2:10
…I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem

Jesus was a baby. He didn’t begin his ministry until he was 30 years of age. He didn’t go to the cross & die for our sins until he was 33 years old.

The joy was about something that could be seen down the road – it was about something that was not immediate – yet it was certain, destined, promised & was sure to happen.

The good news that brings great joy to all people – the birth of Jesus Christ – was an event, but that event would be incomplete without a process.

What did Jesus do until he began his ministry at the age of 30? The answer is found in Luke 2:52 – Jesus grew in wisdom & stature & favor with God & man.

Events are significant but they are incomplete without a process that follows…

Hebrews 12
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Verse 2 in the New King James Version –
…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 sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus wasn’t near-sighted. He was able to see the prize, reward, blessing, promise that was at a distance – which is why he was willing to endure the cross.

Why do we stop trying, bail out, drop out, quit, move on, and leave? Because we only see the immediate – we are so caught up with the discomfort of the moment that we lose sight of the goal, reward, or prize.

Jesus has 20/20 vision. We need “Jesus glasses” – the ability to see what Jesus sees.

We tend to overestimate the significance of events & underestimate the significance of process.

Events that produce the sensation of pleasure or happiness do not last –

Likewise, events that produce the sensation of pain or discomfort do not last –
Saving instead of spending
Eating healthy
Waiting for marriage
Talking through a difficult issue with someone

Events are good for making decisions but only process produces consistent growth.

Thank God for events but they are limited in what they can achieve.
Don’t attempt to build your life on events, rather, embrace the process.

Naaman threw a fit when the prophet didn’t come out and wave his hand over Naaman’s leprosy. He was looking for something spectacular and dramatic. Instead, Elisha sent a message through his servant for Naaman to go dunk himself in the Jordan river 7 times.

Naaman wanted an event but his cure was at the end of a process.

Galatians 6:9
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

A harvest of blessing is waiting for you
Joy awaits you, so…

Don’t give up
Don’t back down
Don’t quit now
Don’t lose heart
Don’t settle for something else
Don’t stop short
Don’t take the quick fix

Get your “Jesus glasses” on & see the prize, the reward, the promise, the blessing…

Psalm 30:5b
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 126
5 Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.
6 They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

Joy says, it might be tough right now, but I’m not giving up because my blessing is right around the corner.

Joy says this current pain is just a minor nuisance compared to the incredible reward that will be mine soon.

Joy says… Our marriage is difficult right now – but we will grow through this & experience the joys that come with the lifetime covenant of marriage.

Joy says… I don’t  always feel goose bumps when I read my Bible – but I am committed to the process of becoming more like Jesus, which is deeply satisfying & rewarding.

Joy says… I don’t need a quick fix, a hit, a pill, a drink, a shopping binge, a random sexual encounter, or a lotto ticket – because I’ve come to realize that these things leave me broke, hurt, lonely, hungry, addicted, strung-out, unsatisfied & always wanting more.

Joy says… I will embrace the process – the process of learning, growing, improving, changing, being transformed, of raising my kids to know Jesus, of working on my marriage even when it’s uncomfortable, of being smart with my money when everyone else is charging away, of serving my church when others are hopping from place to place, of becoming whole not just full of Christian clichés.

Psalm 34:5
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

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I am a husband, father, pastor, leader & reader. I love God, love people & love life.

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