October 25, 2016
Be a Joy-Giver, Part 1
The prospect of the righteous is joy (Proverbs 10:28).
Friend to Friend
We all want to live a joy-filled life - right? But it seems that everyone has their own definition of joy and their own plan for how to experience joy.
A pastor told the story of a lesson he learned when he casually wished one of his older church members a good day. The man remarked, “They’re all good days, Pastor. It’s what we put in them that determines the amount of joy we experience.”
Joy is the deeply rooted confidence that God is in control. When our life is under the control of God, priorities fall into place, life is simpler, and we can experience true joy.
Proverbs 10:28 tells us, "The prospect of the righteous is joy." In this verse the word “prospect” means to view or to anticipate. The word "righteous" refers to those who have given their lives to Jesus Christ – fully devoted followers of God. To experience joy, God must be the Lord or the boss of our life. As our Lord, He produces joy in us and funnels that joy through us into the lives of others.
Over the next two days, we will examine the life of Paul and the letter he wrote to the church at Philippi. Paul was a simple man, but one who profoundly understood and experienced joy in its truest sense. Paul wrote his letter to the church in Philippi while he was experiencing brutal circumstances that were anything but joyful. He was in prison, awaiting trial, and facing his own execution. Paul was old, alone, almost blind and in poor health, having suffered severe and constant physical abuse because of his faith in God.
To me, Paul had no earthly reason to be joyful. But here's the deal. Joy is not an earthly treasure. Joy is a heavenly gift from a loving Father who is committed to the joy of His children. Joy is a "God-thing."
I love the story of the little girl who misquoted her favorite Bible verse, John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have ever-laughing life." Exactly! Jesus not only came to give us eternal life, but He also came to give us a life saturated with joy here on earth.
If you are like me, there are many times when I look at myself and wonder how God could possibly love me and why my joy is so important to Him. That thought just rocks my world because He does love me and He does want me to live a life filled with His joy. And He loves you the same way. Why?
The first reason is simple. Jesus loves us - not because we are so lovable - but because He is love. However, there is a second and just as important reason - to give His joy away.
God wants us to be joy-givers. Most of the time, we are focused on what will bring us joy when we should be focused on how to share God's joy with others. The paradox is that the more joy we give – the more joy we will receive.
Paul was a joy-giver. Paul gave to the church at Philippi, and while he was there for a visit, the church at Philippi gave back to him. In Philippians 4:15, Paul says, "You people in Philippi remember when I first preached the Good News there." Paul is basically writing a "thank you" note for their gift to him, but more importantly, Paul is thanking them for being "joy-givers" in his life.
To experience joy, we need to stop and remember what we have been given. We tend to think first of temporary things when our true wealth lies in eternal things such as the miracle of knowing Christ personally and having our sins forgiven. A personal relationship with God brings purpose and meaning to life because His very presence produces joy. You cannot give what you do not have. To be a joy-giver, you must first have joy.
Joy is not an emotion or feeling. Joy is a deliberate choice to enthrone Jesus Christ as Lord. When I make that choice, I experience the peace and confidence that God is in control - no matter what life looks like today. I don't always understand the way God works, but I do understand that His ways are higher than mine, and His heart is filled with incomprehensible love for me. And that is enough.
Father, I want to be a joy-giver, but I sometimes find it hard to encourage others when I am so down myself. Please teach me how to choose Your joy instead of trying to create it on my own. I want to know You more and experience the joy that only You can give. Today, please teach me how to be a joy-giver.
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
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