FROM THE PASTORS DESK
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 16-18
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart……….. Well, most of you know the rest. I pray that this is truth in your life. Do you have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in your heart? Are you a joy-filled person?
I am not talking about happiness, I’m talking about joy. Happiness is fleeting, it usually comes (and goes) because of worldly pleasures. A really good ice cream cone (Graeters) can make me very happy, but when the last bite is consumed, the happiness disappears. Joy on the other hand, as the song suggests, is so much deeper and cannot be put out when properly nourished. That is why Paul encouraged the folks in Thessalonica to “always be joyful.”
So how can you be joyful all the time, especially in a world that seems so hell-bent on self-destruction, or when your body fails you or when you experience brokenness in a relationship? How can you be joyful when bad things happen? Well, that’s the beauty of joy. It is not dependent on happiness, instead, it is dependent on faith. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:7: We walk by faith, not by sight. When we find faith in Jesus, no matter what comes, we can have a constant hope, a peace that passes all understanding because we know that God is with us, that Jesus cares.
How do we find this unstoppable joy? Paul makes it clear: 1. “Never stop praying.” Prayer is the wellspring of joy, a continual source of our joy. 2. “Be thankful in all circumstances.” Be thankful for everything, even the hard stuff knowing that God is with us and will never leave us.
In some ways I think my dog, Jasmine, knows this kind of joy. You want to know how I know it? Her tail. Every time she sees me, no matter what, even when she’s half asleep, her tail wags. She has come to trust that I care about her, that I will always be there for her, providing food, shelter, belly rubs, treats, a walk, and all the things that make her happy. She has faith in her master and therefore, has deep down joy. Her tails gives it away.
How about you, do you have faith in your Master? Do you have faith that Jesus will never leave you or forsake you? Do you know Jesus loves you? I pray you do and that with that assurance you can have real abundant joy way down deep in the depths of your heart.
This summer, enjoy all the things that God has provided for you happiness; ice cream, a beach, an amusement park, a pool, being out of school……. But even if your picnic gets rained out, even if the storms come, even if your dog bites you, find your real joy in Jesus.
Joying in the Lord,