Tuesday, August 13, 2013

God Is The Author Of Joy

There is a children’s repetitive song that has been around for many years, “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” There are more verses to this song than I could ever imagine, as people have counted their happiness in one way or another. But one of my favorites is, “If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.” We often confuse our feelings of happiness with our deep sense of well-being in which we find our joy. But happiness is definitely one way in which we show how we feel inside, though it is not the sole determinant of how we are.

Christian comedian Ken Davis in his “Seriously Funny” DVD said the following, “I am so tired of people who claim to be followers of Christ who walk around with a face that looks like they swallowed a profusely sweating toad.” He continues, “I’ve been a Christian for twenty-seven years [scowling], and it’s been great [more scowling].” “I want to say, ‘well, tell your face. You need to send missionaries to your face. Your face has not yet heard the good news.’ God is the author of joy…..”

As we all know, our feelings change as we go through our days. We encounter things to which we respond with satisfaction and happiness, and other things which cause concern and sorrow. Yet, as children of God and joint heirs with Christ, we know that neither the best of the best here nor the worst of the worst is comparable to the overwhelming joy of knowing that our eternity is secure and that God’s hand on us is never failing. In both extremes we can find joy because we know that God will bring us through and that His purposes will be fulfilled.

James said to, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4) We can do this because of the confidence we have in our God that He will not abandon us, and that He will indeed complete that which He has started—which is a good work.

Jesus Himself was the ultimate sufferer for our good. We read in 1 Peter 2:21-24, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” And in Hebrews 12:2 we even read that it was Jesus, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Our welfare is not determined by our circumstances and God’s love is not fickle. His love is everlasting as Psalm 136 repeats over and over and over again, and His faithfulness reaches to the skies (Psalm 36:5). Peter’s response to this was to praise God and to encourage his fellow believers as we read in 1 Peter 1:3-9,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

I know this is a lesson I need to regularly remind myself of as I face daily trials, and I have also grown in knowing that my God is immensely faithful for these trials. As such I have done better and am encouraged to do better in finding my joy in Him in both the good and the bad, the rest and the wrestling. Knowing Him to be in control really does allow for my face (more and more) to show what my heart and mind already know.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/13)

Learn to enjoy life more. Relax, remembering that I am God with you. I crafted you with enormous capacity to know Me and enjoy My Presence. When My people wear sour faces and walk through their lives with resigned rigidity, I am displeased. When you walk through a day with childlike delight, savoring every blessing, you proclaim your trust in Me, your ever-present Shepherd. The more you focus on My Presence with you, the more fully you can enjoy life. Glorify Me through your pleasure in Me. Thus you proclaim My Presence to the watching world.

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:10-11

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