Thursday, March 10, 2016
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How much would you pay for a piece of cardboard; $100, $500, $2,000? Actually, people do it all the time, if that cardboard is a valuable baseball card. My sons, over the years, they really profited from collecting that cardboard strategically. They tried to anticipate rookies who would be stars and they bought their cards before there was much demand. Later, when lots of people wanted those cards and there weren't many to be found, our guys cleaned up. Now, they didn't have any of those cards that sold for thousands, because they're most valuable for one reason. There just aren't many of them. You have something like that.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Contagious Joy."
There's an asset that is increasingly rare in our world today, and if you have it, it will make you really valuable wherever you are. Apparently, the Old Testament leader, Nehemiah, was known for this asset. So much so, that his boss noticed the rare occasion when he didn't have it.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Nehemiah 2:1-2. Nehemiah works for the king (he's the king's cup bearer), but he's pretty down because of news he's gotten about the conditions back home. The Bible says, "I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before. So the king asked me, 'Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.'"
Nehemiah wasn't smiling – and apparently, that was an event. Remember, this is the man who said in Nehemiah 8:10, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." From the king's reaction, it appears that Nehemiah stood out at work for at least one big reason – his consistent smile.
You know, a smile is a powerful, attention-getting witness for Jesus Christ. Remember, baseball cards are valuable when they're rare. Smiles are increasingly rare today. Just look around. I remember our daughter's first day of high school. She came home and she said, "No one smiles there!" So, we challenged her to try to change that, and she made it a personal mission to have her smile be her trademark. Years after she graduated, teachers would still tell us how they remembered her smile. And partly as a result of the joy on her face, she saw ten of her high school friends come to Christ.
Don is a businessman I know who was asked, "How can you be so positive all the time?" His smile opened the door for him to say, "Wouldn't you be happy if you'd just spent 30 minutes with the Creator of the universe?" People like this get to experience the life-giving scenario described in 1 Peter 3:15, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." Now, that's what's going to make people curious. It's going to be your hope, your positiveness – your smile.
And this kind of joy begins in Jesus' presence every morning, where you see your Lord being so much bigger than your circumstances. So, He determines your attitude for the day. And if you're the joyful one in your situation, I think you're going to have a chance to explain the relationship that brightens your life.
I think about what the king said about Nehemiah, and it says that "he had never been sad in his presence before." Would your boss say that about you? Would your neighbors say that about you? Would the people around you a lot say, "Wow, I can't remember... They've not been sad in my presence very much." See, if the joy of the Lord is there, it is not dependant on your circumstances. It is anchored to your relationship with Christ.
If you've ever wondered, "How can I get people interested in Jesus?" have you considered the power of a positive spirit where you work, at home, at school? Believe me, you'll stand out in a world where smiles are getting more rare, more valuable all the time. Each day, ask the Lord to help you be known for your joy.
Make the rejoice choice; that you will have His joy radiating on your face. When it comes to attracting people to Christ, your best weapon might be your teeth!