Monday, 12/13/21 – The J.O.Y. Group!

The J.O.Y. Group!

We used to have a group in our church called “The J.O.Y. Group.” The group was comprised mostly of seniors, and they were indeed mostly joyful. But the reason this group was so named had more to do with its acronym: Jesus + Others + You = J.O.Y.! You see, these folk had figured out the proper priorities for a joy-filled life.

The greatest commandment, Jesus said, was this: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,'” Then added, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matt. 22:37-39).

In another place Jesus said,

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:9-11).

Yes sir, the old guys had it right: Jesus + Others + You = J.O.Y.!

I know if no greater joy myself than in bringing joy to another. Joy is way better than happiness! Dictionaries define happiness with phrases like these: “a feeling of great happiness,” “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires,” “a state of felicity,” “to experience great pleasure or delight.”

A feeling, emotion, state, experience – all things that come… then go. Then, when they’re gone, we’re back at whatever feeling, emotion, state, or experience we were at before happiness “happened.” The root “hap” carries with it the sense of a thing occurring by chance or good luck… by “happenstance.” Happiness is just something that occurs. There is little you can do to hold on to it.

But Joy… the sort Jesus gives to us… that Joy is eternal. As many translations put the above verse, “that my joy might remain in you.” And in verse 16 Jesus adds, “I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16). And “Joy” is one of those “fruits.” (See Gal. 5:22). It is found in only in Christ, and remains — even in times of sorrow.

This Christmas, consider J.O.Y.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11).

Are you a member of “The J.O.Y. Group?”

More tomorrow…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 10/19/21 – Pressing on… Which is your King?

Which is your King?

On this date, Oct. 19, 1987, 34 years ago a second “Black Monday” shook stock markets worldwide. The first had occurred Oct. 28, 1929, a part of the huge Wall Street crash which began four days earlier on Oct. 24, and resulted in a 24.8% drop in the Dow. It led ultimately to the Great Depression. But the 1987 crash was global! The Dow fell 22%, a shocking 508.32 points!

Other “Black Mondays” followed:

1929 Crash – Headlines | American Experience | Official Site | PBS
Sept. 29, 2008 – A financial crisis since 2007 and real estate bubble burst crashed world markets into the Great Recession.
Aug. 8, 2011 – Stock markets crashed due to a credit rate downgrade of the United States’ debt.
Aug. 24, 2015 – Chinese stock market crash. SSE Composite Index declined by 8.45%.
Sept. 16, 2019 – Federal Reserve interves in the repo market 5 months prior to 2020 stock market crash after overnight lending rate spiked above 8%.
Mar. 9, 2020 – Investor panic over COVID-19 pandemic and Russia-Saudi oil price war prompt worst losses since Great Recession. Mar. 16, 2020 – Larger falls than the week previous!

These were huge disasters for those whose trust was in money. Many fell into deep depression. Many found themselves penniless and without hope. Some committed suicide.

Nothing is secure in this world. But the Christian’s confidence is in Christ. He has chosen Christ, not cash, as King. Money may make the world go round but the Christian trusts “the God who made the world and everything in it” (Acts 17:24). This world is passing away (1 John 2:17) but the Christian trusts in a world to come. Paul writes, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Cor. 15:19). But in Christ, Paul says, we are “…poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Cor. 6:10).

As I chat with homeless folk on our downtown city streets I uncover both the lottery playing hopefuls and the heavenward praying faithful. Regardless of social strata the distribution of trusters in cash and trusters in Christ seems about the same… and each of us will choose.

Christ drew the first line in the sand on this and pointed out the decision we each must make. “No one can serve two masters,” He said. “Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt. 6:24). He pointed to the simplicity of faith found in His creation , “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt. 6:26).

Ultimately we must all surrender everything. As Paul points out, “…we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” Chasing riches is always short-lived.  “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that,” Paul continues.”Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim. 6:6-10).

Choose God over money and He will see to the rest. He has given this promise: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:33-34).

More tomorrow…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.