Wednesday, 12/15/21 – Pressing on… Sorrow and Joy

Sorrow and Joy

I’m just wondering… Were you puzzled about my statement at the end of Monday’s post this week? After stating that abiding joy is found only in loving obedience in Christ and that this joy is among the “gifts” of His Spirit living in and through us, I said “It [Joy] is found in only in Christ, and remains — even in times of sorrow.”

Sorrow, yet Joy? How is that possible? And what does that look like? Are you crying… laughing? Aren’t these things opposites by definition?

So far this week our Advent themes have pondered Hope, Peace, and now Joy. Paul referenced all three of these in his letter to the believers in Rome. He wrote, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Rom. 15:13).

In another letter he reminded the sorrowful Thessalonians, that as believers they “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” (1 Thess 4:13). Why? Because they had hope. In their flesh they may have felt grief, but grief, like happiness, is also temporary. “Weeping may tarry for the night,” wrote the psalmist, “but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps. 30:5).

I know, I know… many sadnesses last much longer than an overnight. But as I sometimes say to believing chronic pain sufferers like myself, “It can only last a lifetime!” And it’s true. Jesus promised us abiding joy, but He also promised us what we should expect of this life… during our sojourn time on this earth. He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Or as some translations have it, “Be of good cheer!”

The joy Jesus gives “no man can take away.” This joy is your possession forever in Christ. Though you may feel sorrow, you have joy! What you feel is fleeting, but what you have is eternal. Think on this truth when life is hard; “…the joy of the Lord is your strength,” said Nehemiah (Neh. 4:8). Let it bring strength to you!

“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:22).

Press on…

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, 12/14/21 – Pressing on… Shining lights…

Shining lights…

Last week my wife changed the light bulb over our front porch. She put in one of those rotating multi-colored Christmassy type lights. A filter around the bulb rotates casting a myriad of circling colours along the front steps, across the exterior wall and through the front door window onto the floor of the entryway inside.

The unceasing movement of rainbow circles traversing the entry is driving our cat crazy. She scrapes at them, pounces on them, crouches low ahead of them, but no matter what tactic she employs she just can’t seem to grab hold of even one of them! She meows at us in her frustration but all we can do is chuckle for we know the absolute futility of her goal.

As I settle down to write today’s post about Joy our cat’s behaviour becomes an illustration to me of mankind’s quest for happiness. Temporal things bring short-term happiness but like the lights they’re always on the move and like the lights they are ultimately things one simply cannot hold on to. I think of the frustrated souls who do not know the joy that God can bring. Do they perhaps look up to Him grim faced in their frustration… and “meow” out complaints? “It’s not fair!” “Why don’t You let me win the lottery… become famous…  have multiple lovers?” Does God chuckle back knowing within Himself the truth — the absolute futility of these goals?

God loves us too much to enable us to settle for fading earthly lights. He intends for us something far better. What was it the prophet said…

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” (Dan. 12:3).

And Jesus has promised His people this:

“…I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:22)

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.

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.