Drawing Near

A Pastoral Perspective on Biblical, Theological, & Cultural Issues | The Personal Website of James B. Law, Ph.D.

Monthly Archive: January 2021

Friday

22

January 2021

0

COMMENTS

Are Happiness and Joy the Same? 

Written by , Posted in Church Life, Devotional, Faith & Culture

o-HAPPINESS-IMAGES-HAPPINESS-PHOTOS-facebookA common teaching among Christians for the last 100 years has been that happiness and joy are not the same thing. On the one hand, happiness is fleeting and circumstantial, while joy has its roots in something more substantial. Happiness is a fun, bouncy feeling that comes and goes based upon one’s circumstances. However, joy is an inner quality of delight in God that springs up within the Christian regardless of the adversities or circumstances of life.

But are these distinctions true? Does scriptural evidence support such an understanding?  I have come to believe that the Bible does not support such a separation, and that it adversely affects our communication of the gospel as a message that doesn’t really meet the deepest longings of our heart.

Randy Alcorn’s book Happiness has done much to help me eliminate the competition often presented between joy and happiness.  I would recommend his book as a “must read.” I took six months in 2020 to work through the 450 pages and extensive footnotes. It was worth every effort as Alcorn made his case that joy and happiness are in fact synonyms and used together in Scripture to describe the same experience.  My purpose in this post is to share a few thoughts I hope will help recover what it means to be happy in Christ.  (more…)

Thursday

14

January 2021

0

COMMENTS

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Written by , Posted in Church Life, Devotional, Faith & Culture

The events of the past year have been a profound wake-up call for the second coming of Jesus Christ. No escapism in that claim, only blessed hope. No bizarre predictions of when Christ will return because they are always wrong. Only settled conviction that the promises of Jesus’ return fill the New Testament with the triumph of the Kingdom of God over all rivals.

The pandemic and political upheaval of 2020 is yet another reminder of the groaning of this creation, and our need for redemption found in Christ alone.  Jesus taught that there would be precursors, or birth pains, prior to his coming. He spoke of wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, and famines all serving as the labor pains of this fallen world. (Mark 13:7-18; the Apostle Paul as well, Romans 8:22)

Jesus referred to his second coming over twenty times in the gospel accounts. The New Testament writers mentioned Christ’s return in nearly every book. Jesus offered his most endearing  promises within the context of his return (John 14:1-6).

Thoughts of Christ’s return ushered me to the book of Revelation recently where I was reminded of the future gathering of God’s people called, “The marriage supper of the Lamb.”  The Apostle John describes this glorious event, “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,  “Hallelujah!  For the Lord our God  the Almighty reigns.  7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,  for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;  8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” (Revelation 19:6-8) (more…)

Thursday

7

January 2021

0

COMMENTS

Every Year the Year of the Bible-2021

Written by , Posted in Church Life, Devotional, Faith & Culture

dusty-bible-1I’m resuming a regular blog schedule this year that will hopefully be a weekly encouragement to press on to the high calling of God in your life.  At the top of that pursuit would be a life committed to a regular intake of Scripture.

For some years now, I have offered a message in which I challenge the FBCG family to consider fresh commitments to bring the word of God into their lives. I have called this message, usually preached on the last Sunday of the year, “Every Year the Year of the Bible.” I just can’t think of a greater commitment than an ongoing pursuit of knowing, savoring, applying, and obeying the message of Scripture.

I am writing as one who loves the Bible!  It has been a major part of my life since the summer of 1985 when I first began to read it.  At that time, I was a halfway through my college studies, and I can remember the burden I felt regarding my sin.  I would not have been able to articulate this burden at the time, only that I knew that my life was not right, with God or others.

On a park bench in my hometown, I began to call out to God for the first time in my twenty years of life. I began to read the Bible, which I previously viewed as a book for someone else in a past generation. However, as I began to read the Scripture and the claims of Jesus Christ, I was captivated by this book.  Slowly conviction formed, and I began to see that the Bible was not an archaic book, but a treasure given from the living God who cared about every detail of my life. I began to see that the Bible revealed God as sovereign and gracious and wise and holy.

On one particular Wednesday night that summer, I attended a Bible study and the pastor was teaching from Matthew 11:28-30 where Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

That evening my heart was “strangely warmed,” to quote John Wesley’s conversation experience, and I was born again.  The summer of 1985 was the beginning of a journey with the Bible that has continued to this day. My experience has fueled my efforts as a pastor to offer strong challenge to the FBCG family in bringing the Scriptures into our daily walk with Christ. (more…)