More than laughter

I love a good laugh!  Yesterday, Jay and Sean (my sons) called while they were driving together. We started joking about some of the absurdities in our world. Our laughter was refreshing.  Some people enjoy late-night shows with those guys that are supposed to be ‘funny.’ Those comics can make us laugh, but it’s not real lasting joy. We know that the “joy of the Lord” is completely different from the sit-com laughter, don’t we?  In fact, some of the deepest experiences of joy in my life are accompanied by tears, really.  

Driving on a back road yesterday, the fall colors mixed with misty fog, were beautiful and suddenly I was “God-aware,” with a sense of His love, so that I was momentarily tearfully joyful.  I love it when someone relatively new to our worship at Faith Discovery Church says “Pastor, sometimes I feel tearful here, but not because I’m sad. There is a peaceful sense of God’s Presence.”  My heart rejoices with them.

Nehemiah, the rebuilder of Jerusalem, called the people of God together to instruct them in God’s ways.  As they heard him they realized how badly they had failed God and they began to weep. “Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  (Nehemiah 8:8-12, NIV)

In this turbulent year, when so many of us are struggling with the emotional fall-out of COVID-19 (yes, depression is a BIG problem), we must reach beyond the laughs of life to find that JOY that is found in the Presence of the Lord. That joy that gives us an ability to rise above our circumstances, to go through dark days and not to be crushed by them. God’s joy is both a gift and something that we must reach out to own. We cannot manufacture it or manipulate our emotions to ‘feel’ it, but we become aware of Him, pausing from the endless rush and noise of life, looking past the problems. 

Christian, remember that our life in Jesus is not just a grim slog through daily duties as we ‘try harder’ to do the right thing. He said “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed 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, NIV)

We find His joy when faith rooted in the Word helps us to understand that there is more to life than what we can see at this moment.   
Joy can find us when we acknowledge our limitations and choose to rest in Christ Jesus.
Joy will win if we will silence the clamor of our heart to wait for Him to make a way where there seems to be no way.
Joy springs up when we confess our sins, accept His forgiveness, and renew our fellowship with our Father.
Joy is able to flourish in our hearts if we will let Him lead, even along those paths that we would never choose for ourselves.

In the life of the Holy Spirit we find joy! 

There’s no sin in sorrow!  Grief has many causes. Are you wrestling with temptation to the point of exhaustion?  Are you frustrated with something that won’t yield to your best efforts at finding a solution? Has someone you loved rejected you?   Is life not at all what you thought it could or should be? Are you angry with the Lord for allowing things to develop in your life that you did not expect?

Breathe this line – The joy of the Lord is MY strength.  Instead of attempting to joke your way around your sorrow or hiding your disappointment bravely, may I suggest that you find a place to be alone with God? You don’t have to drive to a church to find Him, though I hope you’ll find your way there weekly! I found His Presence on a back road a few hours ago.

He’s here now! Tell Him what’s weighing you down, lay it down and thank Him for Who He is!  Give it up.  If tears flow, let them, for they are a language that the Man of Sorrows understands.  Joy will find you as the Spirit fills you.

Make this word from the Word as a benediction.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
(Romans 15:13, NIV)

Knowing Him will bring JOY to you today.

Joy To The World (Unspeakable Joy)

(We need to sing this more often than just around Christmas!)

Joy to the world the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing

Joy to the world the Savior reigns
Let all their songs employ
While fields and floods rocks hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat repeat the sounding joy

Joy unspeakable joy
An overflowing well
No tongue can tell
Joy unspeakable joy
It rises in my soul
Never lets me go

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders wonders of His love

Chris Tomlin | Ed Cash | George Frideric Handel | Isaac Watts | Matt Gilder © sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Vamos Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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