Joy - Part I

Joy - Part I



Monday, November 19 2018

 

It’s not an easy thing to be a Christian.

 

Becoming a Christian, or a Christ-follower… that’s easy. John 3:16 says that we need only to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and we will be saved. Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” So, becoming a Christian - someone who believes in and follows Jesus Christ the Son of God - really IS quite simple.

 

The hard thing, the difficult thing I think, is to be a Christ-like Christ-follower. Because many say that they are Christians, but their lives betray their declaration. Because a Christ-like Christ-follower doesn’t just profess certain things. A true Christian IS certain things, and LIVES by certain standards: like integrity, honesty, humility, justice, faithfulness, hope, peace, love – and one that I have been thinking about a lot these days… JOY.

 

After all, if we are Christ-followers, we ought to be joyful: because we have been granted eternal and abundant life at no cost to us, but costing Jesus Christ His very life! – and because we have been given hundreds of promises of God’s presence and protection, provision and blessing upon our lives!

 

The other day I read a devotional about JOY that spoke to my heart, and that I would like to share with you this and next week: an excerpt entitled “Follow Jesus, Follow Joy”, from Robert Crosby’s book The One Jesus Loves. I hope these words speak to your heart as well.

 

“Jesus promised His disciples three things: that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.” (F.R. Maltby) Oh! those first two sound so wonderful! - don’t they? and that last one so disconcerting! – isn’t that right?

 

In Robert Crosby’s words: “Jesus wants His followers to experience great joy. I am convinced of this. As late as His Last Supper discourse, He let them know they could find joy in part from their prayer life: “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:24)

 

I know Christians are supposed to be joyful people. And I realize joy is a result of having the Spirit in me. Among all the people of the earth, Christians have the greatest reason to be full of joy. But sometimes life steps in and robs me of the joy. I know I should feel it, but sometimes I just don’t. The questions emerge: Is joy something I should just wait for? Will it just come upon me?

 

I am not alone. There seems to be a great absence of joy in the lives of many Christians and congregations today. Of the several fruits “of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22–23), joy seems to be the most elusive.

 

Interestingly enough, the Bible never recommends we rejoice; it commands us to do so. “I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

 

When I first realized this, a few questions immediately came to mind: How can I suddenly have the emotion of joy? According to the Bible, how can it be cultivated? …

 

After plowing through some of these questions, I made up my mind a few years ago that I wanted to be a joyful Christian, not periodically, but consistently. I wanted to be a person who regularly experiences the fullness of joy that Christ promised. Most of all, I wanted my experience and expression to be authentic, real, and contagious.

 

But God won’t force the expression of joy on us. Much like a host throwing a party, who invites you to the event in full hopes you will absolutely enjoy yourself, He provides all that is needed for a good time — the atmosphere, the food, the people — but your attitude and actions determine how much you enjoy the event.”

 

Dear friend: let’s stop here for today – and in a few days, on Saturday September 1, I’ll post JOY - PART II. 

 

But before you leave, think for a moment about your life: is it filled with joy? or does it lack joy?

 

- is it because you don’t pray in Jesus’ name, and you don’t receive anything, so there is never anything to be joyful about?

- is it because you have so little of the Spirit of God abiding in you, that you have so little joy?

- is it because you see joy as a good suggestion and recommendation for your life, but certainly not as a commandment?

 

Think and reflect upon these things, my friend – and, like Robert Crosby, desire to be a joyful Christian, not periodically but consistently, and with an experience and an expression that are authentic and real and contagious.



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