Psalm 42:5, Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

     As Pastor Dick was speaking a couple of weeks ago some thoughts came to my mind.  One of the thoughts was about something once said about Helen and I, which we were later told about.

     Some college aged Japanese had come to our home for dinner.  Helen and our children had met a young lady a few days earlier and she said that she was attempting to find a host family for her cousin who wished to have an American home stay to improve her English.  Helen invited Yuki (Yu-ke), her cousin Norie (Nor-E-A) and Yuki’s boyfriend, Yoshi (Yo-she), to join us for dinner so we could discuss the possibility.  We had a pleasant time and agreed to host Norie for a few months.

     Yuki later told us about their conversation after having left our place.  Yuki mentioned she thought that Helen and Les were Christians.  Yoshi flatly answered that we were not.  Yuki asked him why he thought that and Yoshi replied, “They are too happy”.

     I have always considered that statement to be one of the nicest things anyone ever said about us.  Still, it is disquieting that Yoshi had previously met enough unhappy or despondent acting Christians that he thought it to be normal.

     As Pastor Dick said during his July 10th message, being a Christian is a serious matter; a matter that we need to be mindful of as we go about our daily lives.  Still, having accepted Christ into our hearts should be cause to be overjoyed.  Knowing Christ is a freedom to wear a smile and warmly interact with others, Christian and non-Christian alike.

     We are free to exercise the gifts that the Spirit has placed within us.  We are free to ignore those who seem to have ‘the spiritual gift of discouragement’ and still warmly accept them while praying for them to have a change of heart.  We are free to act positively while recalling the words of Ephesians 5:8-10, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of the light (for the fruit of the light consist in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.”

     I have often thought that one of the joys in Christ comes from exercising the gift that the Spirit has bestowed upon us.  The gifts exist to build up, to encourage and to comfort the church.  The church is a body of believers, a group of Christ minded people who congregate for the purpose of worship and service.  Using the gifts bestowed upon us is a blessing to both ourselves and to others.