Tag Archives: Joy

Love, Joy, and Peace

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness”

This devotional comes from Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship.

The future is something we all should be thinking about, because we need to plan ahead. Not only do we need to think about what we will do in this life, but also what we will do for all eternity.

An extensive survey conducted in the United States by a leading polling agency distributed questionnaires to people of various ages and occupations, asking, “What are you looking for most in life?” When the results were compiled, the analysts were surprised. Most expected those who were polled to say they wanted to achieve certain materialistic goals. But the top three things that people wanted in life were love, joy, and peace—in that order.

Galatians 5:22 tells us the fruits of the Spirit include love, joy, and peace. Thus, the very things people are looking for today can be found in a relationship with God. Yet some have given up on these things. They say, “Love, joy, and peace? That’s a pipe dream of flower children. Give me a break. You are not going to find love, joy, and peace in this world . . . not in the real world I live in.”

Would that describe how you feel right now? That isn’t the way life ought to be. In a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we are promised not only life beyond the grave, but a life that is full and rich and worth living on this earth. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus gives us life with purpose and, of course, life with the hope of Heaven.

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Mighty To Save

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is in your midst, mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

rio-jesus-with-light-shining-through (1)He cannot contain Himself of the thought of you and with the greatest of joy spins around wildly in anticipation over you and has placed you above all other creations and in the highest place in His priorities. In fact He shouts and sings in triumph, joyfully proclaiming the gladness of His heart in a song of rejoicing.

Aim

In our stressful military world, we are often pushed and pulled in different ways. At times these ways be contradictory to previous instructions and require clarification and negotiation to sort it out. I think it’s fair to suggest that it can be demanding, frustrating and even aggravating at times. I would also suggest that at times we don’t respond as well as we could.

Matthew 22:36-40 reminds us, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”  (Leviticus 19:9-18, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28)

When we find ourselves squeezed in stressful situations our aim is to respond the best way Jesus tells us. Love God, Love Neighbor. He knows that what is inside of us dictates what comes out of us. He want us to know that too.

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Like a tube of toothpaste, no matter how hard or softly it’s squeezed only toothpaste will come out.

If we love self over others, when squeezed, Pride, Arrogance, Abuse, Disobedience and Ungratefulness comes out of our spiritual tube (2 Timothy 3:1-5). But in contrast, if we love God over self and love our neighbor, when squeezed, Kindness, Graciousness, Truthfulness, Hospitality and Welcoming comes out (Galatians 5:22-23)

If you love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well (James 2:8).

Aim for balancing Truth with Grace.

Thursday of the Commandment

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34

Today is Maundy Thursday. The name comes from the Latin mandatum, the first word in the Latin rendering of John 13:34, “A new commandment (mandatum novum) I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Holy-Thursday-Maundy-Thursday-2015

This commandment was given by Jesus on the Thursday before his crucifixion. So Maundy Thursday is the “Thursday of the Commandment.” This is the commandment: “love one another: just as I have loved you.” But what about Galatians 5:14? “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” If the whole law is fulfilled in “Love your neighbor as yourself,” what more can “Love one another as Christ loved you” add to the fulfillment of the whole law?

I would say that Jesus did not replace or change the commandment, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” He filled it out and gave it clear illustration. He is saying,

Here is what I mean by “as yourself.” Watch me. I mean: Just as you would want someone to set you free from certain death, so you should set them free from certain death. That is how I am now loving you. My suffering and death is what I mean by ‘as yourself.’ You want life. Live to give others life. At any cost.

So John says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16). Was Jesus loving us “as he loved himself ”? Listen to Ephesians 5:29–30, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”

In the horrors of his suffering, Christ was sustained “who for the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). And that joy was the everlasting gladness of his redeemed people, satisfied in the presence of the risen king.

Therefore, let us see the greatest love in action on Maundy Thursday and tomorrow on Good Friday. “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1). He loved us to the uttermost. And let us be so moved by this love that it becomes our own. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.(1 John 3:16).

This is the commandment. This is the Thursday.

Love to the Uttermost Devotional Readings for Holy Week
John Piper

Seeing The King On Palm Sunday

hosanna“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

Today is Palm Sunday. We picture ourselves welcoming the King into our city and into our hearts. He tries to make his intentions known by coming, not on a great stallion, but on a lowly donkey, meek and humble.

I wonder how many here look upon this lowly Servant- King and feel that this is just a thin veneer, and that beneath this lowly exterior there is a terrible power and authority which is just waiting to burst out against you if you slip in any way. I wonder how many feel that it is not really the deepest pleasure of this King’s heart to serve his people and meet their needs.

I wonder how many feel that he’s riding this donkey of lowliness as a kind of camouflage. And once he gains a foothold, he will throw off his rags, pull out his sword, and storm forth to do what he really loves to do, namely, judge and destroy. Of course, some will be saved—the few who somehow could please him. But that is not his heart’s desire. He is basically angry—always angry. And the best we can do is stay out of his way, and maybe, if we keep the rules well enough, we could sneak by him when he is in one of his temporary good moods.

God’s Deepest Delight

Jesus is at pains to help you not feel that way about God. And I want to draw your attention to one verse, namely, Luke 12:32, because every little piece of this verse is intended to help take away the fear that Jesus knows we struggle with, namely, that God begrudges his benefits, that he is constrained and out of character when he does nice things, that at bottom he is angry and loves to vent his anger.

Luke 12:32 is a verse about the nature of God. It’s a verse about what kind of heart God has. It’s a verse about what makes God glad—not merely about what God will do or what he has to do, but what he delights to do, what he loves to do, and what he takes pleasure in doing. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

The phrase “good pleasure,” is a verb in Greek: “to be a pleasure” or “to be pleased by.” You could translate it: “It pleased God,” or, “God chose it gladly.” In other words, God is not acting in this generous way in order to cloak and hide some malicious motive. The word “good pleasure” utterly rules that out. He is not saying inside, “I will have to be generous for a while even though I don’t want to be, because what I really want to do is bring judgment on sinners.”

The Lord’s meaning is inescapable: God is acting here in freedom. He is not under constraint to do what he doesn’t really want to do. At this very point, when he gives his flock the kingdom, he is acting out his deepest delight. This is what the word means: God’s joy, his desire, his want and wish and hope and pleasure and gladness and delight, is to give the kingdom to his flock.

Love to the Uttermost Devotional Readings for Holy Week
John Piper

Do All Things Without Grumbling

fire-barrell“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,”. Philippians 2:14-15

Life can be hard. Not everything works out the way we plan. That is why God created us with the capacity for resilience. By faith, we can return to joy from negative emotions. But returning to joy is a choice. Sadly, instead of joy, many times we choose to grumble. Grumbling is different than simple negative emotions. Sadness, disappointment, even anger can be natural reactions to difficult situations, and with time spent in reflection, we can find our way back to joy. But grumbling is different.

Grumbling, unchecked, becomes a bitter root that destroys faith, hope and joy. It grows and festers, blaming, attacking and rebelling against any and everything that would be cause for its pain.

So today, let us check ourselves. Are we letting anger and frustration get the best of us? Are we blaming and complaining? Is it possible that we are spending more and more time grumbling? If so, let us heed the warning of Paul and stop. Let’s not let grumbling get the best of us.

Joy

“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, ‘Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.’ But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her: ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end'” Luke 1:26-33.

candles 3Happiness is an emotion that can disappear as quickly as it rises to the surface. Joy, however, is a choice. We have a choice. God gives us a joy that is unconquerable. We can choose to live in an attitude of resentment, anger, and fear or we can choose to pursue the joy of Christ. So what is the picture of joy in the Bible?

Joy is trusting when you want to doubt.

“Trust in the LORD forever, because in Yah, the LORD, is an everlasting rock!” Isaiah 26:4. As Christ followers we aren’t pressured to do it all for everyone. We trust in Jesus to do the heavy lifting. The key is trust. We just need to have Mary’s response to the coming of Jesus, “‘I am the Lord’s slave,’ said Mary. ‘May it be done to me according to your word'” Luke 1:38.

Joy is receiving what you want to reject.

Can you imagine how the innkeeper would have felt if he said to Mary and Joseph, “Of course you can’t stay in that stable! That’s for paying customers. Who do you take me for?” We find joy in making room for people in need. Reflect on the mysterious words found in Hebrews: “Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it” Hebrews 13:2.

Joy is celebrating when you want to fear.

What’s the first thing angels say to mortals? It’s standard protocol. In just about every divine encounter the angels say: “Fear not.” I can hear Jesus instruct His most trusted angels. “OK, let’s go over this again … Most of the people that I’ll tell you to speak to will be scared out of their wits! So let’s practice the greeting one more time.” Then the angels would all say in unison, “Fear not.”

The message is clear. God is not looking for ways to scare us into faith. He drew near to us to relieve the worries we have about crossing over the divide between heaven and earth. He wants us to know that He’s going to take care of us no matter what happens. One of the names that He was called long before he ever stepped on this world’s stage was Immanuel meaning “God with us.” No matter what we go through we can whisper this simple truth: “Jesus is with me.” Think about it. He is with you in your greatest victories and your most humiliating defeats. Jesus is with you at all times in all things.

 

*** Matt Tullos is pastor of Bluegrass Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee

Art of Life

Psalm 16:11 “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence isfullness of joy; At Your right hand arepleasures forevermore.”

LORD, it is not life to live,
If Thy presence Thou deny;
Lord, if Thou Thy presence give,
‘T is no longer death to die.
Source and giver of repose,
Singly from Thy smile it flows;
Peace and happiness are Thine;
Mine they are, if Thou art mine.
We live from day to day, as it were, by chance; and forget that human life itself is as much an Art, governed by its own rules and precepts of perfection, as the most complicated profession by which that life is maintained or adorned.
The art of life consists in taking each event which befalls us with a contented mind, confident of good. This makes us grow younger as we grow older, for youth and joy come from the soul to the body more than from the body to the soul. With this method and art and temper of life, we live, though we may be dying. We rejoice always, though in the midst of sorrows; and possess all things, though destitute of everything.