Weekly Devotion: April 5, 2020

Weekly Devotion: April 5, 2020
Dear Family and Friends of Open Door Worship Center,
I am once again offering these words of encouragement. You are loved and missed!
Prayer and the Present Situation (Conclusion)
“No one will take your joy from you.” John 16:22
John 16:16-24
In this passage, the Lord Jesus makes a promise to those who ask the Father for joy: “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” These words were spoken in the context of his leaving the earth, with a solemn promise to return. He told his friends that upon his departure, they would be saddened while the world would rejoice – but only for a period of time. He encouraged them by telling them, “You may have sorry right now, but I will see you again, and then you will have joy that no one will take from you.”
I like the romantic ballads written in the 1930s and 40s. They were graceful, optimistic (even in the midst of a world war), and respectful. They had class. One of my favorite melodies was written by the musically genius brothers, George and Ira Gershwin. (George was the composer of “Rhapsody in Blue,” which eventually became the theme song for United Airlines.) In 1937, the Gershwin brothers wrote a song entitled, “They Can’t Take that Away from Me.” The song was sung by the immortal dancing couple, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It’s about a person who notices the cute little mannerisms of the other person that will never be forgotten. As they dance across the floor, Fred sings to Ginger, “The way you wear your hat, the way you sip your tea, they can’t take that away from me.”
We all have memories that no one can take from us. And today, many of us are remembering how just a few weeks ago, we could jump in the car or on a plane and meet up with friends and family without giving it a second thought.
Not now.
Friends have also shared how they miss their usual modes of relaxation – their “therapy” – from life’s daily stresses or just the daily grind. Up until just a couple weeks ago, some found their leisure in taking strolls through the mall, spending money as if there were no tomorrow, or just simply enjoying the time to window shop. Some found relief from stress and anxiety by working out at the gym or engaging in other group physical activities, such as dance or martial arts. Some found an escape by going to the theater, museum, or concert with a friend. Some found a simple trip to the grocery store to be all that was needed for a pleasant getaway. And, alas, some resorted to modes of escape that were not healthy for their bodies, minds, or spirits. These, too, have been “taken away.”
So, people all over the world are deprived of many of their usual rituals for rest and relaxation that just a short time ago, they took for granted (but which could not be taken for granted by people in less fortunate parts of the world!)
More critically, many people feel that their modes of finding peace and serenity have also been taken away.
If not now, those who have put their trust in the things of this world for lasting comfort, peace, or serenity, will eventually discover that these means are like blades of grass that wither and blow away with the wind. As seekers, people go from one to the other. But this need not be the case for Believers! When my faith in God and God’s Word is my mode of peace and serenity, try hard as “they” may, nothing – not one thing – can take that away from me! For those who have invested their time and energy into building a solid faith that stands firmly upon the Word of God – and only the Word of God – not one aspect of their mode for finding peace and serenity has been taken away, or ever could be! It’s a solid foundation. Everything else is sinking sand.
The Gershwin’s song was fantastic. But an even better song to know by heart is one that my dear friend of more than 40 years, Darrel, who is now a pastor in Detroit, taught me. (We have sung this song many times at our church.) The song is entitled, “This Joy That I Have.” The lyrics say, “This joy that I have…the world can’t give it, and the world can’t take it away.”
What did our Lord Jesus promise? “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.” (John 14:27, NASB)
The Apostle John told us that “the world” in which Jesus lived was so troubled by his radical message of unconditional love, forgiveness, and freedom for outcasts that they would rejoice when they thought they were rid of Him. Even today, many foolishly think that the world would be a better place without God, God’s Word, and the Church, even with all of its shortcomings. But the world’s glee would only last for a season. The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:22 that the whole creation groans for the coming of the Lord.
But listen to the beautiful words of encouragement that he gives to us just before this: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). That is Good News!
Jesus said, “You may have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” And how is this immutable joy found? It must certainly be found in prayer, for Jesus says, “Ask the Father in My name and He will give it to you.” How can we ask the Father, except by continuing in prayer? The saints of generations past loved to say, “Prayer changes things.” It changes things because it changes us as we allow ourselves to be engulfed by the Holy Spirit’s transforming presence. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… (Romans 12:2).
So we say once again, let us be found spending more time in humble prayer, casting all our cares upon God, because God does indeed care for you. Let no one take that fact away from you!
As always, please let us remember to protect ourselves; to be patient with social distancing in order to flatten the curve; and to do our best to get plenty of rest.
Thank you again for your continued prayers and support of our church family and our worship center. And we encourage you to allow us the privilege of lifting up your requests for prayer.
Love in Christ Jesus,
Pastor Mark

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