Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Joy of Being a Christian - part 1

There are so many things in our lives that bring us joy. 

·      There is the joy of being a child and all the wonders that life holds
There is the joy of young love
There is the joy of a bride beginning a new chapter of life full of optimism and hope
There is the joy of a positive pregnancy test
There is the joy of holding a newborn baby, counting their toes and smelling their head
There is joy in watching our children grow and mature
There is the joy of seeing our children obey the gospel

·    We can have joy throughout every part of our lives!

·         The greatest joy we can ever know, is that joy of being a Christian!

Many of our hymns talk about joy, and there are numerous mentions of joy in the Bible.  Joy should be a major part in the Christian life.  Is it a part of yours?  If I were to ask you – do you want your life filled with joy?  I’m confident that you would say yes, and that is precisely what Jesus wanted for each of us. 

As we look into the pages of the Bible, we can see that joy is something that we should have.  Jesus said in John 15:11 – “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”  Jesus wants us to have joy!  I John 1:4 “and these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”  Having an abounding joy is desired for us.  Not just a thimble full, but overflowing! 

We also see this same joy in the apostle Paul as he writes “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!”  Philippians 4:4 – that while in prison, and enduring persecutions, he had the ability to rejoice.  We need to recognize that this Christian life is one that is meant to be lived with joy.  We have the greatest life in the world!

We may have heard the song “We are the only Bible, the careless world will read” and I believe that is true.  If we are to be showing the world Christ, and the life of a Christian, we need to be showing others joy.  Why if someone was miserable in sin would they ever leave it for a life of misery in Christ?  Not that I want all of us to be fake about the joy – life is not all rainbows, butterflies and unicorns – we need to understand the reasons we have for rejoicing, grow in the Lord and show others that joy. 

When we rejoice even through the sorrow, your coworkers notice it, your family notices it, your neighbors notice it and people are going to want that for themselves.
Christian joy is not a happiness that depends on our circumstances and our moods; joy doesn’t have to do with our emotions or station in life.  This joy is something that is constant; it doesn’t come and go.  One can have the same joy in terrible circumstance that they would have when all is well, the same attitude of being on the mountain top when they are in the valley.

Jesus didn’t say these words in John 15 lightly. He was facing a dark time when He instructed us to have His joy.  Consider that just a short while after this conversation with his disciples, is when Jesus was arrested and crucified, yet He instructed us to have this joy that would remain. 

Yes, there are bad things in our lives – the loss of a job, cancer, death, children leaving the church, so many bad things – and we are to rejoice?  Yes, we are to rejoice in spite of these circumstances.

Psalms 89:15-18 "Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!  They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.  In Your name they rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness they are exalted.  For You are the glory of their strength, and in Your favor our horn is exalted.  For our shield belongs to the LORD, and our king to the Holy One of Israel." 

Christians have many reasons for rejoicing!  When I think of joy, my mind immediately goes to the book of Philippians where joy is mentioned so many times.  The next few posts, I will be looking into the book of Philippians and examining 6 things that can bring a Christian joy.