Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Week Twenty-Three - Joy

“And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”  I John 1:4
Full of joy!  Because of the things written.  And what might that be?  It is the promise of eternal life and of fellowship with God and his Son Jesus Christ. (Verse 2, 3)  Joy comes from good fellowship.
There is nothing so heartwarming and fulfilling than good fellowship.  When we can sit with a good friend and talk, share and discuss life it has a positive effect on our attitude and outlook.  Knowing that someone else cares and is trying to understand our hurts, struggles and goals makes us feel loved.  We were made for fellowship.  We were made to have friends and to be a friend.  The joy that comes from a good friendship is lasting and abiding.
Our fellowship with the Lord should be the same.  It should bring us into a friendship with the Creator.  If our fellowship with him is correct it will bring us into joy and confidence.  It will become a place where we run to for help, but also, a place where we go to share our heart and pour out our thoughts.
We don’t have to be afraid to tell Him anything.  He will understand.  He will even be the kind of friend that will point out where we are going wrong.  But he will never condemn.  He will simply lead us to truth and then give us the power to put things right.
The more we fellowship with Him, the greater will be our joy.  Full joy – because we can have good fellowship.
Are you a good friend?  Do you have a good friend?  Are you in fellowship with your Lord?  A lack of joy is an indicator that there is a lack of good friendship/fellowship.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 
III John 4
Isn’t it great when you hear good things about your children?  To have a good report from the teacher just lifts your spirits and gives you hope!  A bad report is totally disheartening.
Here in the book of Third John we have two people mentioned by name.  Gaius and Diotrephes. Gaius is described as a well-beloved elder.  Because of his walk in obedience and truth, John tells us in verse two that he is wishing prosperity and health for this man.  Diotrephes is described as malicious, proud and controlling.  John’s response toward this man is one of warning.  No doubt John was going to have to sort the issues with this man.  We read toward the end of this little book that he had more to say and would be coming to speak face to face.  Pretty serious prospect!
It is certain that our testimony goes before us.  We cannot escape that fact. If we are walking in truth our testimony will be one that rejoices the heart.  If we are walking in disobedience, our testimony will not bring joy, but heartache.  I don’t know about you, but I want my testimony to bring joy.  I want it to give life and a breath of fresh air to those who need the encouragement.  I don’t want to leave a poor testimony at any time.  Most of all, I want to have a good testimony with my Lord.  I want to hear that “Well, done…”
It won’t happen just because I want things that way.  It will come because I discipline myself to walk in truth, to make Biblical choices, and to live a life well-pleasing.
How about you?  Are you just hoping for a good testimony or consciously building one?  Are you a Gaius or a Diotrephes?  Does your life produce joy or heartache?

“…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” 
Hebrews 12:2
The prospect of joy creates endurance. For our Lord, the prospect or promise of the fulfillment of all the joy He and the Father proposed for mankind and for the hosts of heaven lay on the other side of the cross.  The plan of the ages hung on this one act.  There would be no joy in heaven without it.
It is always marvelous to think about the fact that the cross was not the paramount focus of Christ.  It was only a tool that would catapult forward God’s plan.  As he went to the cross his focus was on what would be accomplished and the joy that would be known for eternity.  That is why he could be forgiving and kind through the awful ordeal. 
Sometimes we face awful ordeals as well.  Never as great in comparison to the cross, but for us in our human form, just as challenging.  The example of Christ gives us a healthy pattern for facing trials.  The ability to focus beyond the immediate and look to the benefit of the outcome gives us the endurance we need to make it through our trials and struggles.
Futurizing is what I call it.  It isn’t a real word – yet – but it means to have an attitude of looking beyond today.  To think about what you desire in the future and to make choices today that will enable your dreams to come true.  It creates endurance.  It gives trials meaning.  It gives hope. There is a future for all of us.  We need to be looking further down the road.
How about you?  Are you hung up in the immediate and failing to see what might be the outcome?  Are you willing to pay the price now to create joy in the future?  Do you have endurance?

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing…For ye are our glory and joy.”  I Thessalonians 2:19, 20
What made Paul rejoice?  It was the believers in Thessalonica.  He had observed their works of faith, labour of love and patience of hope as he records in verse three of chapter one.  He knew the suffering they had endured for the name of Christ and he longed to come and visit them, but he had been hindered.  So he wrote them this letter we now call First Thessalonians.
His emotions penetrate these verses. He is like a proud father toward these people seeing them as a crown upon his head.  Joy is his outward emotion and the core of his deepest love for them.
Having the privilege of being a missionary and being involved in church planting gives the same emotions.  As I see new ones coming to Christ I rejoice.  As I see the maturing ones taking steps of faith, I rejoice.  As I see the more mature ones discipling their fellow brothers and sisters and then taking the lead of the church, I rejoice.
The fulfillment of ministry brings a deep joy, confirmation, and satisfaction. It also produces wonderment and gratefulness at the evidence that God has actually used ones life to influence others for Christ and to bring glory to His name.
Do you know that type of joy?  Is your life being used of God to create something bigger than yourself?

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy…”  Acts 20:24
Paul had just been sharing his heart with the elders of the church at Ephesus.  He was ready to head toward Jerusalem, not knowing what might happen there.  His attitude was not one of carelessness, but of determination.  He had faced confrontation before. It was not doing to deter him now.  He had a ministry to fulfill.  He wanted to complete it with the knowledge that he had done what had been appointed unto him.
I see three important traits that can be incorporated into our lives to create joy.  First, we must determine that the circumstances around us will not move us from our goal.  Second, we must not deem our own lives more important than the goal.  Third, we must finish.  We must see things through to their end.  Then, we will experience real joy.
This three-point formula can be applied to many avenues in life – marriage, parenting, education and ministry.  For example, in marriage we cannot let the happenings of life separate us.  We cannot have joy in marriage if we think we are the most important factor.  And, we must stay with the commitment – til death do us part – to know the depth of joy that can be ours in marriage.
In parenting also, we have to hold fast.  We cannot let the temper-tantrums of the three-year-old cause us to give up on discipline.  We must not be self-seeking, but willing to sacrifice for the benefit of the child.  And we must stick with it.  The joy of parenting is the finished product – a self-sufficient, upright citizen!
I think you get the idea.  Education and ministry also require us to be consistent, to sacrifice, and to see things through to the end.  Getting sidetracked along the way will not produce real and lasting joy.
Have you gotten sidetracked in your marriage?  Your parenting?  Your education or ministry?  There is no time like the present to re-establish your goals so that you, too, can finish your course with joy.

No comments:

Post a Comment