Friday, March 1, 2024

The Ichthys Letters: Joy and Wisdom


I am excited to finally publish the first draft of this letter for my newest blog series, The Ichthys Letters. This is a series I have actually been working on for most of February and to have these tie into The World of Kedoshim is going be a lot of fun. There will be little connections in these letters to stories I'm working on, and even stories that I plan to write down the road. I pray you will find these letters encouraging in their own right and that God will speak to you through them as much as he has spoken to me through creating them...

I, James, the Brother of Jesus, write to you, John Mark, with a great sense of joy in my heart. 

It was a privilege to hear from you regarding your stay in Caesarea, a place I have longed to visit again for some time. Your visit, however brief, has been a blessing to the church there and I am encouraged that you found common ground with Phillip and Cornelius, both of whom have served through faith and obedience in these trying times. 

Simeon, who has been a partner in ministry, speaks of you often and we were all greatly strengthened to hear about your ministry together in Alexandria. It is hard to accept, at times, that our God calls us out of bondage to serve another day and I was discouraged to hear about the struggles the two of you endured while there. 

As I write this letter to you, I am not writing to the child I once knew. Rather, I am writing to the man you are becoming. The change I see in you is more than promising. I have prayed over you and your faith often. My joy, dear friend, is immensely greater now that I have heard reports of how you willingly ministered with Phillip and Cornelius while you were in Caesarea. Despite your desire to return to Alexandria, you found a way to work hand-in-hand with them in our continued efforts to accomplish the goal set before us—furthering the faith. Your actions speak a great deal to Myself, Peter, and the other Founders and it is a privilege to witness the growth taking place in your heart. 

It is rare for us to bear witness to the strength you have portrayed through adversity. In the past, this would not have been possible for you, dear friend. It is encouraging to see that your past has not taken hold of your spirit and it will not define your future. There are always times when we have to step back so we can move forward in the hope of the inheritance we have all been promised. In time, the path you are choosing today will lead you to the fulfillment of that promise. It will do this for all of us.

Remind yourself of this often and you will never lose sight of that promise. Trials come, and they always bring unwanted troubles, but just as I have found joy in hearing about your triumphs, and even your failures, you will learn how to find joy in all circumstances. I have written these words to you before and I pray you will take them with you wherever the calling that has been placed upon you will eventually lead. 

Especially with someone who has meant so much to our brother in faith, Barnabas. He speaks often of you my dear friend, and I am grateful for your partnership with him. He intently cares for you, as if a father cares for his son, and the same is true for you, as if a son cares for his father. Knowing of the loss you suffered as a young child, it speaks to my heart to know you have found that fatherly guidance again. Continue to develop this together as you begin your ministry together through his homeland, Cyprus.

Do not doubt your value to him on this journey and seek to find joy in everything you will face. Do not be fooled by those around you. In Cyprus, you will find unexpected circumstances that will test your faith in ways you cannot even imagine. In truth, dear friend, you may even experience worse tribulation than what you and Simeon encountered in Alexandria. 

Listen and be slow to speak. In doing this, you will find more wisdom than even I can give you. Joy is always on the horizon and even when you cannot see it, there is a hand above that will guide you back to it. It will be wise for you to remember that the joy you seek will not come in a fleeting moment, it will be a state of being. While your actions may give you a temporary feeling of happiness they do not often give you the joy you seek. Joy, dear friend, stands firm amid even the hardest of circumstances. Give yourself completely to God and joy will find you. 

Speak kindly to Paul and Silas once you arrive in Antioch, and trust that Barnabas will encourage you even more as you take on this mission together. You will depart from Seleucia again, and even though your past experiences there were less than ideal, your journey is just beginning. Do not worry about your mother Mary; she will continue to serve as she has been called. Peter and his wife are already preparing to further their ministry with her here in Jerusalem.

If you see our brother, John, please tell him that I hope to come stay with him there soon. He has sent word that he too will begin a journey of his own and I wish to see him before he departs. He has done well taking care of my mother, and I am grateful for his dedication. Upon your arrival, greet the elders with an open heart, and they will speak and teach you many things.

Give this message the Church in Antioch and the Elders serving there, I pray that the Lord will grant you great joy in the midst of all circumstances. Though we may not always understand the Lord's purpose, let us continue to move forward patiently, eagerly waiting for his return. Remember to draw near to him who provides us often with His wisdom and understanding. 

Thanks again for visiting 'The Gathering Room' and I’ll see you in the pages. 


PS (You can find all episodes of my new Episodic Series, Finding Philemon, currently available to download at this Affiliate Link. You can also follow my author hub, Writing the Journey,  on Facebook.)

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