Articles

The joy of the Lord is our strength

 A text transcript of the message preached at Elijah Ministries in June 2007

 

Good morning brothers and sisters

Greetings in Jesus name…

 

Shall we pray…

 

 

But before we start today’s message, I just want to add something to PJ’s message. In his sermon 2 weeks ago, PJ stated that we don’t have to submit to his authority if we don’t want to. Now while this is a choice that we must each  make, I don’t believe it’s the right choice to make. It’s not Biblical. I know PJ was just being humble in not demanding that we submit to his direction and authority, but we as a congregation and part of the body of Christ need to follow the Word of God in this regard, and in this respect the Bible is clear. There is a teaching that we did a few years ago on Christian submission that deals with this issue in detail, but I think it’s necessary, to just briefly touch on this aspect again. Turn to Heb 13…

 

Heb 13:17  17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

 

This is talking about our church leaders, not the leaders in government. V 7 says:  Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. So it’s talking about our church leaders, and what this passage is saying, is that we must Obey our pastor and submit to his authority. He has to give an account one day of how he shepherded us. It says that if we obey him, his work will be a joy, and not a burden. And it is abundantly clear that PJ’s work as leader of this church is becoming burdensome – and why is that? I believe that it’s primarily because of our disobedience.

 

The bible is clear – we are to obey our Pastor in all things concerning this Ministry, and unless they contradict the Word of God, the Lord expects each one of us to make his job, and the work of the leadership of this church, a joy; and not a burden.

So when PJ asks us to do something for this ministry, we owe it to him, to follow his wishes, just as a simple matter of respect and gratitude for what he has done for us. And over and above the simple matter of respect and gratitude, we owe it to God, we owe it to this church and we owe it to each other to put something back into the life of this church – by submitting to our Pastor, and by helping and giving wherever we can, not half-heartedly, but by doing things unto the Lord….

 

This is not my opinion, it’s what the Bible says and it’s something for us all to think about – we need to submit to our Pastor.

 

 


 

But onto today’s message… what’s been put on my heart is the subject of Joy -

The Joy of the Lord is my strength.

 

Now to prepare a teaching on the subject of Joy would be almost impossible, because the Bible is just full of Joy… the word Joy and rejoice are mentioned almost 500 times. Just to read those passages alone would take a few weeks. So this is not a definitive teaching, we haven’t got time for that – it’s just one aspect and I hope it will make a difference to someone out there…

 

And speaking of time…. Can you believe that it’s already the end of April? I can’t believe how time flies… Where does it all go? How often have you said that there isn’t enough time in the day?

 

You know, it’s a shame, but modern day society has made us so “performance driven” that we look at time purely in terms of lists ‘To do’ and projects to complete, targets and performance charts. There are forces at work in our modern world that propel us into a whirlwind of activity, which is essentially just organized chaos. But becoming more efficient is a top priority, because there’s not enough time in the day.

 

 

But perhaps more than anything else, our society has been led into a dangerous mood of impatience. Our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second TV commercials. Our sense of reality has been flattened by thirty-page book summaries – the so-called abridged versions. There are even abridged versions of the Bible. And this abridged version of life invades every aspect of our existence. Everyone is in a hurry. Everyone wants results, and they want it… yesterday. They are impatient…

 

Have you noticed that in the last 20 years, there is a great market for religious experience in our world; people want miracles, signs and wonders, a new movement of the Spirit, and they want it now – and talking about a new move of the Spirit, it is my Biblical obligation to warn you of yet another South African False prophet – There is a church called Solid Rock in Northcliff, that is run by Johan van Wyk and his wife – they sent out an advert for this weekend’s meetings: Saturday night is a healing meeting, – this church also has it’s own a pool of Bethesda – and they promise that the miracles are becoming greater and greater! And then last night they had a revival meeting, advertising: REVIVALIST ANDRE SCHROEDER from America is with us again. He has a tremendous move of the Holy Spirit together with many manifestations of clouds and gold dust, which accompany his ministry. Can you believe that there are still people gullible enough to believe in the gold dust nonsense? They also have financial deliverance meetings where people bring their bills, pile them up before the pastor and he prays over them, prophesying financial deliverance within 90 days?!

 

We need to be aware of this false church, we need to warn about it – and we need to pray for the people within this church to see the light and come out of it.

 

Anyway, lets move on… So today, people want to have a religious experience, they want miracles and signs and wonders, and they want them now, even though the Bible calls those who look for signs and wonders, a…

wicked generation!

 

Today, there is very little enthusiasm for the patient.. acquisition.. of virtue,

Today, there is little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians, called…. holiness. Isn’t that sad.

 

Everyone is in a hurry. Impatient for results …

 

Unfortunately, the Christian life cannot survive under these conditions… because the most basic premise of Christianity depends on spending time alone with God.

Yet some Christians view time alone with God, the daily Bible reading and praying, they view this as a virtual impossibility, because of… time constraints. And Richard made it quite clear to us last week, that if you want to hear from God and seek His will, then you have to spend time alone, in the Word and praying.

 

King David knew his need of daily time alone with God and even though he was faced with trials and pressures that were pulling him in other directions, he vowed that nothing would keep him from meeting with God daily—especially at the beginning his day.

 

In Psalm 5:3 we read that David prayed: 3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

 

No doubt it was this intimate morning meeting with the Lord that cemented David’s faith and made him a man after God’s own heart. This morning “quiet time”, as we call it, has the special reward of knowing God more intimately, and of becoming more Christ like in nature.

Surely the Lord had this in mind, when He said in Matthew 6:6  But you, when you pray, enter into your room. And shutting your door, pray to your Father in secret; and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.

 

But just as the rewards of time spent alone with the Lord, might not be immediately evident, so the negative effects of neglecting to spend time alone with God, are also, not immediately visible. The consequences of failing to draw near to God, is more like the decomposition of something dying, it’s slow… but sure.

 

Turn with me to Psalm 16…

 

But the rewards of time spent alone with the Lord are made known in verse 11… Psalm 16:11  You will make known to me the… path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

 

Isn’t this what we are all after? Not just a little happiness, not just a little joy, but fullness of joy, complete and perfect Joy! Pleasures forever!!

 

But if you want this joy, you have to come into the presence of the Lord, because it’s the only place you will find it.

 

 

 

But look at the world around you, in it’s hussle and bussle, the dog eat dog mentality, the survival of the fittest, there is very little joy out there, isn’t there? There’s never any good news, everyone is miserable, complaining all the time, unhappy, depressed and surviving on Prozac.

Even Christians have a hard time being joyful. And with the incredible promises we are given in the Bible, isn’t that a tragedy? Surely Christians should be joyful! How come there are so many of us who aren’t?

This is puzzling, because God expects us to know His joy. And Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5.   So why aren’t more of us Christians bubbling over with joy?

Lets examine this a little closer…

So what exactly is Joy?

People tend to confuse happiness and Joy. It's easy to be "happy" when things are going well. It’s easy to be happy when the Sharks win a rugby match… or when the deal you’ve being working on, goes through, or when someone is kind to you. But can you be happy when your team loses? I know I can’t! Happiness is so temporary, it depends on things going according to plan. It depends on things going well.


And that’s the biggest difference between Happiness and Joy. Joy is not simple happiness. Joy isn't just a smile or a laugh. And perhaps the most important thing to note is that Joy is unaffected by circumstances. It's anchor is deep within. It is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. Joy is a deep and settled state of contentment, confidence and hope. As I hope to show you, a joyful person will be joyful regardless of their circumstances, regardless if things are going well or not.

I want to live the joyful life and I suspect you do too.

 

Turn with me to John 15

John 15:9  "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  (10)  "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.  (11)  "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.  (12)  "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

 

 

 

Notice that fullness of joy depends on remaining in the love of Christ. In other words, joy comes from a consistent relationship with Jesus. When we experience His love, you WILL want to pass that love on to others. We don't have to buy anything. We don't have to spend a lot of time or effort working at it. All we have to do is receive the gift of God's awesome love for us, and then pass it on to others, as freely as it was given to us.

 

Love is a state of being that we should live in. And so it is with joy.

 

Turn to Luke 15.

 

In the parable that Jesus gives us in Luke 15, we get a view of how closely salvation and joy are linked.

 

As we look at these verses remember that Jesus said, …”that My joy may be in you”, so the joy He speaks of, is His joy being given to us.

 

Hear then how this joy is made in heaven:

Luke 15:3. And He told them this parable, saying,

(4)  "What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  (5)  "When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  (6)  "And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'  (7)  "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

 

 (8)  "Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins … oh as a matter of interest, women of the time used to be given 10 silver coins as part of their wedding dowry. These coins obviously had significant monetary value, but they had a much greater sentimental and symbolic value…

Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 

 (9)  "When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!'  (10)  "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

 

Isn’t that fantastic! Heaven erupts with joy each time someone repents and is saved!

When you repented, the angels in heaven sang with joy! And I hope you all know that feeling, because there is no better feeling than seeing someone you have witnessed to, come to their salvation.

 

When someone repents and is saved, that person suddenly realizes how much Jesus loves them, and so they begin to abide in His love, they begin to live out the love of Jesus - and consequently they become partakers in the Joy of the Lord.

 

Happiness is temporal, short-lived – whereas Joy is much more permanent, because it comes from the Lord.

 

And once we are saved, we are told by Paul, in his letter to the Colossians; how we should grow and maintain the Joy of the Lord.

 Turn to Colossians 1

 

Here, Paul, and the others with him, prayed for the Colossians, and we read in verse 9: For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

 

Paul's prayer is that the people of the church may be filled with the knowledge of God's will and as we learnt last week, if we simply read our Bible every day, and spend time alone with the Lord, we will soon be filled with the knowledge of God's will in our lives.

 

But Paul prays for something more here. He prays that their knowledge of God's will in their lives, would increase in spiritual wisdom and understanding. And what exactly does that mean? It means we should be seeking His will in our lives, not our own. Spiritual wisdom and understanding can only come from the Lord, just as true joy can only come from the Lord.

 

We can be filled with all kinds of knowledge, but if we don't understand and know how to use it wisely, it profits no-one. Often, we men, in a macho display of ego, pretend to be experts in DIY, when something needs to be fixed at home. I say pretend, because when I try to do some handyman repair work around the house, most of the time, I have absolutely no idea of what I’m doing and just make things worse than they were in the beginning…

My particular gift is electrics… the last time I tried to change a plug, I’m think I managed to short out the entire Rosebank substation. So standing there with my frazzled hair and smoke coming out of my ears, my wife just looks at me, shakes her head and says: all brains and no common sense.

 

You see… we can read the manual, we can possess the knowledge, but without the understanding of how to put the knowledge into practice, that knowledge is useless.

 

That’s why we need to pray for this wisdom and understanding, and the importance of praying for it is made known to us in verse 10…

10 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience;

 

Do you see the results of our growing in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom? We are able to apply the word of God in our lives! We are able to walk worthily before the Lord; and then, we are strengthened with power…. not just any power, but the Lord’s power, according to His glorious might!

 

And it's in this power that we are able to become more steadfast in our faith, with patience and the power to …  overcome …sin.

 

We are empowered to overcome sin, so that we can walk in a manner worthy of the Lord our God, bearing much fruit and growing in the Lord by increasing in the knowledge of Him. And when we do this, we are further filled with the joy of the Lord. And so we should be... verse 12

 

12 joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ……..HALELUJAH!

 

When we overcome sin in our lives, we are filled with the love and joy of Christ, and are filled with spiritual strength to walk acceptably before Him. In Nehemiah, it goes further and tells us that part of this spiritual strength is the Joy of the Lord. It says The joy of the Lord is our strength –Turn to Nehemiah 8.

 

This is exactly what happened in Israel after the people returned from captivity in Babylon. Under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, the people had rebuilt Jerusalem's ruined walls. And now they set their sights on re-establishing the temple and restoring the nation. At this point, Nehemiah called a special meeting at the city's water gate, within Jerusalem's rebuilt walls.

 

Nehemiah 8:1. And all the people gathered as one at the square, which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel.

 

We read in Chapter 7, the long list of people who had returned from Babylonian captivity -  some 42,360 Israelite men turned up for this meeting. Standing alongside them were 7,300 servants, including 245 singers. Altogether, about 50,000 people were gathered.

 

First came the preaching of God's word. Scripture says the people were hungry to hear it:

 

2. Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.

3. And he read from it before the square, which was in front of the Water Gate, from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

 

Now the book of the Law was the Torah, the first 5 books of the Old Testament, the books of Moses. And notice that these people didn't have God's word pushed on them. They asked for it to be read, they wanted to hear the Word.

 

Amazingly, Ezra preached to this crowd for five or six hours - "from the early morning until midday" . And no one even noticed the time. "The ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law". These people were totally captivated by God's word.

 

What an incredible scene! Modern day churches preach and prophesy revivals a dime a dozen – but true revival can only ever take place with this kind of all-consuming hunger for God's word.

 

On the contrary, when God's people grow weary of hearing His word preached, when they get tired of reading His Word and spending time alone with Him, that spiritual decay that we spoke of earlier, begins - and the joy of the Lord departs, because it is only in His presence that we find this Joy.

 

And at the water gate in Jerusalem, there was no eloquent preaching, no sensational sermon. Ezra read straight from the scriptures, for hours on end. And at times, he was so overcome by what he read, verse 6 says  Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

 

The people humbled themselves before God, in brokenness and repentance. Then, after a while, they stood up to hear more.

 

Yet in some churches we see people constantly glancing at their watches, even before the sermon has started. After 30 minutes, some are fast asleep, and when the sermon is finished, there is a mad rush for the parking lot.

How much joy is there in a church like that? How can we expect desperate sinners to ever want a part in something as boring as Christianity?

 

But for the Israelites, 5 hours of preaching wasn't even enough. They were so hungry, they wanted even more of God's word. So they formed small groups, with seventeen elders leading them in Bible studies for the rest of the day. Verse 7 gives the names of the elders and Verse 8 says  So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, translating to give the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

This is much like what happens in our Home cells and Bible study groups today.

 

And as these people grasped and understood the Word of God, they began to mourn over their sin. The end of verse 9 says For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.

 

This is an amazing scene… Just Picture it… 50,000 people lay scattered, faces to the ground, crying and mourning their sin, united in their conviction. The double-edged sword of God's word had cut them to the marrow and had exposed their pride. And now their weeping echoed over the hills for miles.

 

And people need to understand…. this is what true revival is all about! It’s a word so piercing that people are driven to their knees, weeping and repenting before God!

 

But God's testimony is never that His people are lying on their faces mourning. No, the testimony he wants to bring forth in his people is joy - genuine, lasting joy.

And so we see in verse 10 Then he said to them, "Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

 

The joy of the Lord is your strength. This joy - which results from biblical preaching,  from true repentance, from coming into the presence of the Lord – this joy brings true strength to God's people, and results in true revival.

 

Most Christians never associate joy with repentance. Instead many churches out there rather want to experience Christianity, they want results, signs and wonders and another great move of the Spirit. But repentance? That’s Sadly forgotten.

But repentance is actually the precursor of all Christian joy. Without repentance, you cannot come into the presence of God. Without it, there can be no true joy. Those Christians who walk in repentance, will be flooded with the joy of the Lord. And this joy, which is genuine and soul-satisfying, strengthens us beyond what we could imagine – it strengthens us to the point where it doesn’t matter what our circumstances are – regardless of our circumstances, we will still be joyful, satisfied and content. And this, I believe, is how all those saints survive the persecution in countries like India, Pakistan and China, where to own a Bible, you risk being beheaded. It’s the Joy of the Lord that is these saints’ strength…

 

And it’s this joy that is sadly missing in much of the church of today… And it’s missing because it is impossible to maintain the joy of the Lord if sin is present and there is no repentance.

 

When David sinned, he lost the joy of the Lord. And that joy could only be restored by true repentance. So he prayed, in Psalm 51 "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Purge me". And then he prayed in v12  "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation".

Only once David had dealt with his sin and repented, could he have the joy of the Lord restored to him.

 

In 1 Samuel, we read that the Lord lifted his glory from Israel because the high priest, Eli, refused to deal with sin in God's house. So God judged Israel. In a battle against the Philistines, Israel suffers a great slaughter, and just hours later, Eli dies when he falls off his chair and breaks his neck after he hears that his sons are killed in the battle. And immediately after this, Eli’s grandson "Ichabod" is born and his name meant, "The glory has departed." Because of sin, God's glory - including all gladness and joy – left Israel – and without the glory of God, Israel was doomed to destruction and calamity. And without repentance, it will be the same in your life…

 

Back to Nehemiah 8:11  So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.  (12)  And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.

 

Here, the glory of the Lord falls on Israel, and the people spent the next seven days rejoicing: because they had understood the words that were declared unto them. And this great mirth that the KJV talks of isn't merely happiness or a good feeling - it's an inner joy, a deep exuberance, a great celebration of the Spirit. And when this glory and joy falls upon you, it will be clear to everyone around you that this joy comes from heaven.

 

God had seen the Israelites’ hearts – they had heard the Word, and being convicted of their sins, they had mourned and then repented. Once more, the Lord had mercy on them and forgave them. God had heard the Israelites' cry, and had turned their mourning into mirth, allowing them to shout and rejoice with the joy that only comes from repentance and salvation. And then we read in Chapter 12 of Nehemiah…the results…

 

Nehemiah 12: 43  and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy, even the women and children rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard from afar.

What a wonderful picture – an entire nation rejoicing in the mercies of God.

And so the Joy of the Lord is our strength, and it’s this Joy that strengthens us to the point where it doesn’t matter what our circumstances are – regardless of circumstances, a true Christian will still be joyful, satisfied and content.

I want to briefly show you a good example of this…

There once lived a man who became a Christian as an adult and left his career to follow Christ. Persecution became his constant companion. He was misunderstood by his friends and hated by his enemies. Nevertheless, he pressed on joyfully.

This man was a brilliant scholar, an eloquent public speaker, a fearless lawyer, an outstanding religious theologian and a dedicated missionary. He once boasted how great his achievements were, but he would later write, ‘
I count it all as loss for the sake of knowing Jesus Christ and His power.

If there was anyone who had a reason to give in to despair and claim that he was a victim of his circumstances it was the apostle Paul. From his prison in Rome, Paul wrote one of the most joy filled letters anyone could ever read. Turn with me to the book of Philippians.

 

Now we don’t have time to go through it, but when you read this book in your own time, you will see that we actually have a very narrow view of joy – the view that Joy is only there during the good times. But Paul introduces us to a joy that is deeper than anything we have conceived with our minds. It is a joy that is completely independent of circumstances. It is the Joy of the Lord. Yes, it is present in the good times . . . but it is also present in the difficult and painful times.

Most Bible commentators and historians believe that this was one of the last letters Paul wrote before being beheaded by Nero. How then could Paul maintain such a joyful spirit? I believe the book of Philippians tells us how. When Paul writes about joy he is not writing theory . . . he writes from experience. He is not writing from a wood-panelled office, he writes from prison.

The secret to his joy is found in verse 21 of Phillipians 1.

Php 1:21  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Paul was content because Christ was central to his very existence. When Jesus becomes central to our lives, he gives us a completely different perspective on life.

Paul could have complained, he had every right to. He could have pled his case. He could have been bitter, discouraged and depressed. But he wasn't. Instead, Paul declares that his circumstances are being used by God.

Philipians 1:12  Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,  (13)  so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the palace and to everyone else,  (14)  and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

The word Palace in the KJV is poorly translated, it actually should say Praetorium, which was the barracks of the Praetorian Guard attached to the palace of the Roman Emperor - The Imperial Guard. This Praetorian guard was a group of elite soldiers, stationed in Rome. They were there primarily to protect the Emperor. At times there were between 10,000 and 16,000 of these troops stationed in Rome. These men also served as guards over the important prisoners in Rome.

 

Throughout his imprisonment, Paul was bound to one of these men with a short length of chain on his wrist, 24 hours a day. Every four hours the guard would change. I'm sure some of the guards were harsh, some were friendly. But all of them were too close! Yet, instead of being bitter about this invasion of his personal "space", here, he sees an opportunity. Paul realized that he was not being chained to soldiers . . . they were chained to him!

Paul had a real "captive audience"! For four hours at a time Paul could talk to these men about Jesus. Six different men each day! And apparently, his witness was effective. Paul remarks that because of his imprisonment, the gospel of Jesus Christ was known throughout the whole Praetorian Guard – that’s 10-15000 men! And amazingly, from there the gospel message had even worked it's way into the Emperor's home.

Quickly turn to Philippians 4:22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household.

Isn’t that amazing… because of Paul’s imprisonment, there were now believers in Caesar’s house!

 

I see we are running out of time, so in closing, there are a few principles we can learn from Paul as to how to find joy in difficult circumstances.

 

First, we learn that although we can’t control our circumstances, we can control our response to them.

We don't have to despair when tough times come. We don't have to withdraw. We don’t have to become depressed. These are all choices we make.

Paul reminds us that whether a difficult circumstance defeats us, or deepens us, depends on…. how we respond to it.

 

It is our natural response to feel sorry for ourselves. It is natural for us to wonder, "Why me?" But by the grace of God, we can CHOOSE to be joyful.

We can choose to trust the Sovereign hand of God even when we don't see His purposes very clearly.

We can choose to believe that God is indeed working for the good . . . even though we don’t understand why we need to suffer. It won't remove the pain . . . but it will enable us to live joyfully in spite of it.

 

 

 

 

 

Second, we need to look for opportunities as servants, rather than wallow and complain about our circumstances. Paul saw an opportunity to share with those he would not normally encounter. He used his chains as a teaching tool that would strengthen others. He chose to dig deeper rather than to be swept away in self pity.

 

Part of  being joyful, means that we should let others have their joy and not bring them down when they are excited about good things.

The only thing worse than not having joy… is stealing someone else's.

 

If we stop feeling sorry for ourselves, and look around for opportunities to glorify God … you will truly be astounded. And we will find joy as we use those opportunities for God's glory.

When we have the joy of the Lord, we'll know it and so will others. Since joy is given by God and something that He wants us to have, we need to be joyful! As Christians, there are a multitude of reasons to be joyful. After all, we're going to spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus… isn’t that something to be joyful about?

 

Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!"

Amen and thank you for your time