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You can be full of joy even during economic trouble

 January 2009 

These past few months will probably go down in history as months of economic turmoil around the world and we in New Zealand have also been badly affected. Despite the gloomy news coming out of America and the rest of the world, as Christians we can still be full of joy. We can be full of joy because it is Jesus who is our idol and not economic prosperity or materialism.

Some church historians claim that it was the joy that the early Christians had that first got Christianity off the ground and that it is joy that will keep Christianity going.

The Early Christians were severely persecuted, but the persecution seemed to only cause Christianity to spread. Tertullian (living around 180AD) said this: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." History tells us that it was the joy and courage of those early Christians in the face of death which caused many Roman soldiers to turn to the Lord.

For our family, it is a constant struggle for us to make Jesus our deepest joy. Work, material possessions, computers, pleasure etc often assume far too high a place in our lives. Then our QT/sharing times can be like an add on. We are aware that other families doing the family QT's also have this same struggle.

As a family, we have been going through some of the minor prophets in our QTs. What has become clear to us is that the people in the Old Testament times struggled greatly with idolatry - putting idols in the place of God. And what has become equally clear to us is that God often allows trouble in our lives so that we don't put our trust in idols (possessions etc) but in Jesus.

When we were going through Hosea, I believe the Lord spoke to me strongly in Chapter 2 v 15 where God said He would make the Valley or Achor a door of hope. The name "Achor" means trouble. When the Israelites entered the promised land, they had the great victory at Jericho, but when they attacked Ai, they were defeated. In Joshua 7, there is the story of Achan having hidden some of the forbidden booty from Jericho under his tent which caused the Israelites defeat. They named the place "The Valley of Achor." In Hosea 2:15, God said He would make the Valley of Achor (Trouble) a door of hope. Again in Isaiah 65:10, it says this: "Sharon will become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for my people who seek me."

When I look back over my life, I can clearly see that it has been in times of trouble that I have sought the Lord. And it has been those times of trouble that have ultimately brought great joy into my life as Jesus has become more real to me.

I have a cousin, named Bruce. He and his wife owned a lovely freehold property in Whangarei. A couple of years ago, they were tricked into purchasing an expensive apartment in Auckland as an investment. It was impossible for the rent from the apartment to cover all the costs such as interest on the loan, rates etc. It initially looked like they were going to lose their house and everything. This great trouble caused Bruce to find Jesus in a new way. He told us recently that he had been 40 years in the wilderness as he had been in a false cult for 30 years and during the next 10 years, he still didn't know Jesus in a personal way, but all that has changed. The Valley of Achor (Trouble) has become a door of hope for him.

I forgot to mention in the December newsletter that I turned 60 in December. In some ways this has been a shock to me as I realize that I am getting old. For the remainder of my life, my ambition is to know Jesus in an even more intimate way and for our whole family to grow in Jesus. My other passion is to help Christian families everywhere to pray and share together on a daily basis.

In January, we received some copies of the Quiet Time diaries that we got printed in the Philippines. We were delighted with them and two families in New Zealand are now using them. Those families are pleased that they now don't have to download the QT sheets off the internet. If any of the readers of this letter would like some diaries, they are free apart from postage. Please email me by clicking here http://walkingwithgod.com/contactus.php

In January, Nana was admitted into hospital with a high fever. She was badly dehydrated. It turned out that she had urinary septicaemia. Her doctor (not a Christian) is surprised that she recovered and that she still wants to live. She is now back home with us and we continue to get great joy out of caring for her.

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