Tag Archives: Joy

What I’ve Learned From the Book of Philippians #3

Last time, I told you I’d be writing about “Joy” in this post, but little did I realize how much there is to write about this uniquely Christian word.  I call it a Christian word, right or wrong, because it’s a word that I don’t find addressed much in any real way in the secular world, not by atheists, cultural elites, or all those people who seem to think it’s okay to tell me how to live and what to say, but can’t stand it when I have the nerve to smile at them, and simply say, “NO.”

To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot of people who live with a sense of joy, and, sad to say, this includes many people who call themselves Christians.  I can see and hear the protests right now, but don’t try to tell me that every Christian you know lives with joy because we all know at least one whose face would break into shards of glass were they to smile.  You know it’s true and so do I.  🙂

To me, there’s nothing sadder or more depressing than to be around someone who says they love Christ Jesus, and that He’s living in their heart, and yet, all you hear from the minute they start talking is all about their latest illness, ache, and pain.  Their discontent and unhappiness about this or that person, place, event, or idea.  Complaint about any and everything seems to be all they can talk about . . . even in church.

As an aside, I’ll tell you the easiest way to dissuade these people from trying to ruin your worship and the awesome experience of honoring and glorifying Jesus Christ is to wear them out, gently, by responding positively to every negative thing they say.  For example:

(I’ll call this woman, Gertrude, or if it’s a man, I’ll call him, Herman.  These are examples, folks, so please don’t take offense at my using a set of names that just came to me as I’m writing this.)

Gertrude: “I’ve been so sick this last week I just knew I was going to die (or something to that effect).”

You: “Praise the Lord He pulled you through.  Isn’t it wonderful how God can pull us through the worst of times, and look at how nice you look.  It truly is a time to be thankful to God, isn’t it?”

And so it goes . . .  The point being people who want to complain want someone who’s going to listen to their complaint, not someone who’s going to force them into thinking about how grateful they should be.   I’m not talking about the person who genuinely just needs to talk, but to those who are the habitual offenders.  The ones who constantly and consistently complain no matter what.  Call me mean, nasty, deceitful or a thousand other names, but when I go to church I want to worship God.  I want to honor and glorify Him, and isn’t that the reason why we’re going?

Now what has this to do with “Joy” you might be asking, and the answer is that “Joy” should be the expression of your heart to God for all that He is, and for all that He does in bestowing His many, many blessings upon us.  “Joy” is a far different thing than being happy because “Joy” is “in spite of” (Don’t ask me where I got that because I can’t remember, but I freely admit it’s not an original thought of mine.  I’ve read it somewhere before.)  It means that you choose “in spite of” rather than, “because of” and that’s a much greater thing, and I believe reveals something to the world and those around you that needs to be seen.

“Joy” is what the world needs to see, and what it should see when looking at the Christian life, and why shouldn’t they?  We have the most wonderful reason to be joyful, and to rejoice.  We have Jesus Christ.  We have the power of God living inside us, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of eternal life.  If that’s not enough to give us “Joy” on a daily basis, and the desire to share that “Joy” with everyone we meet, then I have to wonder what it is that’s going on in your life that you don’t feel and live with that sense of “Joy” in living your life in Christ.

Even in the midst of much sorrow, suffering, and tribulation, Paul never failed to live with “Joy” because he had what the Holy Spirit has given to each of us, but which we seldom acknowledge and seek to live out.  The inner-knowledge, and hope that springs eternally in being able to see beyond the moment we’re living in, and see and experience the glory we’ll share in living our lives forever with Him.

“The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, once scornfully said of Christians of his day, “I would believe in their salvation if they looked a little more like people who have been saved.  (The Speaker’s Quote Book by Roy B. Zuck, P. 215.)”  There’s a lot of truth in that, I believe, and sad, as I am to say it, I think the reason there aren’t more Christians is simply because of Christians who don’t live out their lives in a tangible and experiential way.  I believe another quote by Philip Brooks addresses this when he says, “The religion that makes a man look sick certainly won’t cure the world. (The Speaker’s Quote Book by Roy B. Zuck, P. 216.)”  Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not knocking Christianity, but rather our display of it, and our living it in front of other people.  Too many Christians are exhibiting the symptoms of hopelessness and despair and this brings me back to the issue of “Joy.”

Do you have “Joy?”  Are you experiencing the healing that comes from living joyfully?  Are you finding the strength, feeling the peace, that comes from knowing that the Holy Spirit gives knowing that your life is in Christ?

Well, I’ve said enough for the time being, but I’ll leave you with this last quote, and it’s one I’d like you to give some thought to.

“Joy is not a luxury or mere accessory in the Christian life.  It is the sign that we are really living in God’s wonderful love, and that love satisfies us ((The Speaker’s Quote Book by Roy B. Zuck, P. 216.)”

My question to you is does it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From “The Word For You Today” by Bruce Christian

BE HAPPY FOR OTHERS

William Barclay said: “It’s more difficult to congratulate another on his success if it involves disappointment to us, than to sympathize with his sorrow… Only when self is dead can we take as much joy in the success of others as in our own.”  Karen Ehman’s home had been for sale twenty months when a friend called to say hers sold in twenty days.  Ehman says: “Although I was thrilled…I was a tad jealous…that ‘poor me’ mentality when God answers someone else’s prayer and my answer seems to be ‘no,’ or ‘not right now.’  As a child I envied kids from two-parent homes…in high school it was other girls’ looks and cute clothes…I was average looking, and although I was every guy’s pal, I was nobody’s gal.  In college I envied girls whose prayers for a knight in shining armor were answered…Once married, I struggled with miscarriage and dashed dreams of motherhood…I slapped a smile on my face and attended yet another baby shower.  The cure for envy isn’t easy…but when you call on God He will ‘tell you…things…you could [never figure out on your own]’ (Jer 33:3 NIV).  Instead of begging Him to sell my house, take away my pain, and fix my kids, I need to ask what He’s trying to teach me that I won’t learn if He rescues me; and what qualities He’s trying to grow in me.  God’s willing and able to answer our prayers as He sees fit…[His goal is] growing us to be more like His Son.”  Paul writes, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”  To be Christlike, you gotta be able to do both.

My Prayer to the Father, August 15, 2012

Heavenly Father
My cup overflows with Your love;
You who give me all that
I have keep giving me more.
Father, You have blessed me
Beyond measure.
Father, You have given me
Such a place
Within Your mind and heart
So filled with Your
Love and goodness
That I am overflowing with it,
And it’s strength
And it’s beauty
And it’s purpose
Is something that I cannot
Ignore.

Heavenly Father
You have given me
Streams of living water;
You have made me
A fountain that overflows
With love
& joy
& peace
& strength
& faith
& trust.
You have given me Wisdom
And Knowledge.
You have given me
In my inward parts
Truth!

Heavenly Father
All that is beautiful
I have
Because You have given
It to me.
You have held no good
Honorable
Beautiful
Praise worthy
Thing from me.
You have given me that
Greatest gift;
That most treasured,
And precious gift
That shines upon my soul
Brighter than the
Brightest light
In My beloved
Lord and Savior
Jesus.

Heavenly Father
I come to You tonight
And I ask You
In the name of He who is
Holy and Perfect and True
In the name of Jesus.
Father I ask You
To do only what You can;
Father
I pray for my brothers and sisters
In Christ
Who have stood beneath
The cleansing flood
Of His precious blood,
And I ask You
To give to them what
You have so graciously given
To me.
Father,
I pray that You do whatever
You have to do
To bring them to the point
Where they, too
Can feel the cup of joy
Overflowing within them.
Father
Make their light to shine
In the darkness;
Make their life
A beacon , a lighthouse
That can safely guide
Those who still
Sail upon stormy seas.

Heavenly Father
I see so many of my beloved
Brothers and sisters
Stuck in the quicksand
Of this grasping world
Struggling and in despair
Wanting and wanting to let go
Of sin.
Trying to hold on
And let go
To that which should it
Maintain it’s grasp
Will lead them
Where no one should have
To go.

Heavenly Father
I beg You to send
Those of your children
Who have Your strength
And Your love
And Your truth
Flowing ever onwards
In and through them
To those
Whom You love
To pull them from the
Quagmire.

Heavenly Father
Send Your faithful servants
With their loins girt with Your truth
And their feet shod with the
Preparation of the Gospel of peace,
And wearing the helmet of their salvation
Upon their heads;
With their shields of faith,
With their breastplates of righteousness,
And With their mighty swords,
And let them
Stand before and around
Your little ones,
And let them cut a swathe
Through the clutching hands
Of evil
To clear the path
To where You are ever waiting.

Heavenly Father
Show Your Children
All Your Children
That Love is mighty;
Love is true;
Love seeks not it’s own way
But the way for others;
Show them love
Holds no hand with compromise;
But stands against it
Ever ready with the truth.
Show them love
Is not to embrace or yield
To evil
But to confront it
And to turn from it’s path
Those who walk upon it.

In Jesus name, I pray
Amen.

 

 

From “The Word For You Today” by Bruce Christian

THE JOY IS IN THE JOURNEY

Sometimes when we achieve the things we strive for, we find they’re not very fulfilling.  As we look back we realize that our greatest joy was not in the goal we reached, but in the growth we experienced on the way to it.  Scientist Koichi Tanaka describes this phenomenon and how it can come about during the enjoyable pursuit of a dream.  As he worked on trying to create an ion with lasers, he says: “I failed for weeks and months before I succeeded in making an ion.  Why did I continue the experiment?  Because I enjoyed it.  It was fun for me to come to know something that I had never known before, and that fun enabled me to persist.”  That persistence helped him to win a Nobel Peace prize in chemistry.  You have the potential to make many wonderful discoveries in life, and none greater than what you discover about God, and yourself.

One leadership expert writes: “The pursuit of my dream has taken me out of my comfort zone, elevated my thinking, given me confidence, and confirmed my sense of purpose.  My pursuit of the dream and my personal growth have become so intertwined that I now ask myself, ‘Did I make the dream, or did the dream make me?’  When your mind accepts a new idea or learns a new truth, it’s forever changed.  And once stretched, it takes on a new shape and never goes back to its original form.  When that happens, you experience true fulfillment.  No wonder children’s book author Elizabeth Coatsworth said, ‘When I dream, I am ageless.”

From “The Word For You Today” by Bruce Christian

LIVING FOR OTHERS

Jacques Cousteau, the famous French explorer, said, “If a man for whatever reason has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.”  Jesus lived that way.  He said, “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11 NKJV).  To be like Him, you must live for something greater than your own interests.  In his book Half Time: Changing  Your Game Plan from success to significance, author Bob Buford says, “The first half of life has to do with getting and gaining, learning and earning.  The second half is more risky because it has to do with living beyond the immediate.”  By that he means living for a cause that is greater than yourself, and for others beyond yourself.  The greater men and women of Scripture were not great because of what they earned and owned; they were great because they gave themselves to people, and causes that lived beyond them.  There dream was to do something that benefited others.  Only a rare minority of people are able to hold closely to their dream to make a difference, and are willing to give up everything to make that dream come true.  Of people like that it will never be said that when they died, it was as though they had never lived.  Their dream lives on after them, because they lived for others.  And it was in living in for others and not for self that they found their greatest joy and fulfillment.  The poet wrote: “Others, Lord, yes others; Let this my motto be.  Help me to live for others, that I may live for Thee.”

Brother, Sister by Wayne Augden

Brother, Sister
As your brother in Christ
I come before you
As the “Word of God” says.
I come to you, bearing you only love,
With a sincere desire to
Show you the love, and truth
That we all must live
If we are to be of any value
To the eternal God
Who has given us every
Good and precious gift.

I come to you, in sadness
For I have some things on my heart
Concerning you that are
Not easy for me to say;
Yet, must be said
For not to say them
Is to not only wrong you,
But the great and almighty God
That has called me with a
Holy calling
Into the service of He,
Who I love most,
Who is faithful and true.
My Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ.

Brother, Sister
I call unto You
Remembrance of that which You have known
And experienced, and in
Time past have lived
Before all men.
You, who have tasted that
Which is most sweet,
That you have embraced
And now call your own.

What has happened to You?
Why have You turned away
From that which you used
To have joy in?
Who has bewitched you
Into thinking that You can claim
And take these things
Into your heart, mind and soul
And believe that He,
Our precious Lord can live
In concert with.
He, who has saved you
With an everlasting love
Is He no longer worthy
Of the honored place
You swore to give Him?

Brother, Sister
Why are you walking upon this path?
Where is He who leads;
Where is He who knows the way;
He who has shown You
To streams of living water;
To where you can find rest,
And partake of daily bread?
Where is his light
That I used to see leading you
Through the darkness
For I no longer see it
Shining so brightly
As once before.

Brother, Sister,
Our Lord who loves you so has
Sent me back to find you,
And has asked me to help lead you
Back to where His light shines
So brightly.
I see brother, and sister your load;
How can you carry such a burden?
Let me help you carry this.
What is this your carrying, brother, sister?
When did you begin to carry this;
And, why?  Why are carrying this?
Have you forgotten that our Lord
Said to leave that behind;
And this?  Did He not say
That He would carry this for you?

Brother, sister,
Let me put you in remembrance
Of what our Lord Jesus said to carry.
These are what
you are to carry:
Carry love.
Carry love for Him,
And for all you meet,
For love shall cover a multitude of sins
And brings light to the darkest
Of paths.
Do you not remember that He said,
Love seeks not it’s own,
But seeks the highest good
For everyone?

And where is your joy?
Have you lost it?
Where has it gone?
You used to have such gladness
No matter your circumstance.
Have you forgotten
That joy comes from
living with what we know
to be true, as a result
Of our belief and obeying
Our glorious God.

And what of your peace?
I don’t see it dear brother, sister
In you.
You do not seem content.
Have you no freedom
From worry and fear
And the troubles of this world
That oppress you.
Have you tried to carry on your own,
What our Lord told You is His
To carry?
Here let me share these with you
Till we see Him again.

You, Brother, Sister,
Who have always shown such goodness,
Who used to be so open-hearted
And generous;
What has happened to you?
You, who used to give to others
Above all they ever wanted
Or deserved.
And what of your faithfulness, dear brother, sister,
You, who are always so
Dependable, loyal, and trustworthy;
You, who were so filled with devotion,
Who were so loyal to your friends,
Who were so dependable
To meet all responsibility.
What has happened to you?
Please dear brother, sister
Share with me and
Let me help you carry
Whatever it is
That weighs you down.

Brother, sister
I pray to my Lord, God, Almighty
Let my gentleness and self-control
Be known by you.
Lord, God,
My blessed Savior and Lord
Make me humble and calm
And no threat
To this dearly beloved brother, sister.
I pray Father
That You will make them see,
That I love them;
That I live in harmony with Your will,
And that I live to do Your will.

Brother, sister
I implore you, I plead with you
Leave these things I see here behind;
Leave your anger and wrath,
And unforgiveness here.
Leave your bitterness, and resentment,
And your shame here.
Leave your longings, and strivings
For that which aren’t for you here.
Then give to me
And allow me to share,
And help carry
Those burdens of sadness and grief,
Those of hurt and disappointment;
Your pain and suffering
And let me share them.
Let me walk beside you
Dear brother, sister
Till we again see His light,
And He knows that
We are on the way.

My Prayer to the Father, August 2, 2012

Heavenly Father,
I come to You, Father, in humble spirit,
And adoration, for I adore You so.
You, know though that I don’t feel grateful,
And this hurts me so, for I know
I should feel grateful.
Tonight, though, I’m going to confess
That it’s hard to feel grateful
When I’m hurting so.
I am grateful, though, Father
For Who You are,
And all that You are,
And all that You’ve done.
Even though my body is
Screaming inside,
I will not deny, nor turn away
From You even in the
Midst of this storm.

Heavenly Father,
I know You are the Author,
The Composer.
You have written verses across my heart
As You’ve written
The stars in the heavens.
Creation is Yours to own alone;
You sustain it with Your mighty hand.
You and only You
Can uphold it .
You, who made the mockingbird,
Also make the thunder.
You, who gave us the rainbow
Can flash Your anger, and
Cast it across the night.

Heavenly Father,
There is no storm beyond Your control,
No echo of Your thunder,
No flashing fire in the night
No heart break, or loss
Or loneliness or despair
Or physical pain
That is beyond You,
And Your Power.
I know this because I know Your Son;
I know that as He walked across a stormy sea
His disciples in a boat tossed to and fro
Cowered in the bow of their boat
Afraid and huddled in fear,
Crying out as if they had no hope
As if they were doomed to die
To sink beyond
Their Saviors’ love and care.

Heavenly Father,
I know how they must have felt
To see their sweet Savior
Walking on the waves
As if He were walking amidst
A host of friends.
What joy, what happiness
Must have been theirs as
They saw him coming near.
And Peter, oh Peter
To see him so courageous
So fearless, so ready
To step out and walk to his beloved
And doing so, walking on water
And then he took his eyes off
And started to sink;
Yet before his cry could scarcely
Be heard, Jesus was there
Holding him.

Heavenly Father,
I know that as my Savior held Peter
He holds me, and us all;
Ever knowing in our eagerness,
And our excitement to see Him
That at times we will stumble, even fall,
And yet He is there with outstretched arms
To uphold us
Always willing
Always waiting
Always there.
Oh, what a Savior He is
That we can never fall so far,
That we fall beyond His
Love and care.

Heavenly Father,
Forgive me.
Forgive me for thinking that my pain
Is something I cannot bear.
Thank You for reminding me to
“Look to the Cross.”
When I’m hurting, in pain,
When I’m suffering and ashamed,
When I’m lonely and weak,
When all seems so lost,
And the distance to walk so far.

Heavenly Father,
Thank You
For my Lord and Savior,
Jesus Christ,
Who gave to me, and to all
Our example
Our model
Who showed us
How to live in the midst
Of suffering,
And not despair.

From “Morning and Evening” by C.H. Spurgeon

 

     This is what it feels like to be forgiven, and this is the response we should have. 

“The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

Eph_1:7

Could there be a sweeter word in any language than that word “forgiveness,” when it sounds in a guilty sinner’s ear, like the silver notes of jubilee to the captive Israelite? Blessed, for ever blessed be that dear star of pardon which shines into the condemned cell, and gives the perishing a gleam of hope amid the midnight of despair! Can it be possible that sin, such sin as mine, can be forgiven, forgiven altogether, and for ever? Hell is my portion as a sinner-there is no possibility of my escaping from it while sin remains upon me-can the load of guilt be uplifted, the crimson stain removed? Can the adamantine stones of my prison-house ever be loosed from their mortices, or the doors be lifted from their hinges? Jesus tells me that I may yet be clear. For ever blessed be the revelation of atoning love which not only tells me that pardon is possible, but that it is secured to all who rest in Jesus. I have believed in the appointed propitiation, even Jesus crucified, and therefore my sins are at this moment, and for ever, forgiven by virtue of his substitutionary pains and death. What joy is this! What bliss to be a perfectly pardoned soul! My soul dedicates all her powers to him who of his own unpurchased love became my surety, and wrought out for me redemption through his blood. What riches of grace does free forgiveness exhibit! To forgive at all, to forgive fully, to forgive freely, to forgive for ever! Here is a constellation of wonders; and when I think of how great my sins were, how dear were the precious drops which cleansed me from them, and how gracious was the method by which pardon was sealed home to me, I am in a maze of wondering worshipping affection. I bow before the throne which absolves me, I clasp the cross which delivers me, I serve henceforth all my days the Incarnate God, through whom I am this night a pardoned soul.