RECENTLY PHILIPP AND I returned from a trip to Guatemala. Many at Cornerstone supported us in prayer and through the generosity of their gifts, for which we are truly grateful. We returned with a rich storehouse of things to consider. Among them is the sure fact that being "blessed" is not related to how much money you have, whether you have the latest fashions or the most splendid things this world has to offer. Being blessed is knowing and serving Jesus Christ. The children in Guatemala exuded a contagious joy that was absolutely sincere. They did not have anything of the world's goods to hold onto, but they had something far better and greater - they had Jesus Christ.
Friends, the trip was a real wake-up call to the reality of how profoundly sad our materialistic culture is. We are constantly bombarded by the computer, television, radio and flyers with the message that we need something else. We need the best, fastest, and most beautiful of what the world has to offer. This message is very convincing, yet Christ said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Mt. 6:19-20)
In Guatemala our group witnessed people living in houses made with scrap tin that they pieced together. Even worse, families put up tarps at the local garbage dump, sleeping there waiting for people to drop off trash so they could rummage through it. The poverty was severe in places, but one thing was consistent among the Christians we met. Material goods meant little to them, but they were joyful in Christ. They could say with the Psalmist in Psalm 73:25: "Whom have I in heaven, but You? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides You."
There is much we could learn from them, but the most important thing is to recognize the source of true joy. Until we do, we will be the most miserable, dissatisfied, and discouraged people alive. Even Christians who seek joy in their marriage, their families, their work, and maybe even in their church, come away with disappointments. The reason for discouragement, of course, comes from the fact that there is no one and nothing that can take the place of Christ in the heart, who alone is the real joy giver.
Christ gives a permanent, eternal joy and the certain hope that comes with it to those who have been raised from death to life by saving faith in Him. Peter says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (I Peter 1:3) A living hope, a true and everlasting joy, and a certain peace - all of these come by knowing the One who loved and gave His life for all whose trust is established in Him.
To know God, who has revealed Himself in His Word and through His Son, is abundant joy. Jesus said, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10b) How many miss the fact that joy can only come through trusting and serving Jesus Christ!
Friends, have you surrendered your lives to Christ? Be careful how you answer that. I suspect that most in our materialistic culture could not truly say that they have. And if you have not, then why would you not be willing to forsake all for the sake of Jesus Christ? For He alone can give us eternal spiritual blessings, which money could never purchase.
You make known the path of life;
in Your presence there is fullness of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.