What Does it Mean to Have Joy?

1044951014_faaa3e0f40_mThe Bible talks a lot about joy, and it’s an emotional word that we’re most familiar with in songs such as Joy to the World. But what does it really mean to have joy? Who can get joy and why do we want it?

The word, “joy”, is used almost two hundred times in the Bible (KJV) and always in reference to an emotional state of delight, wonder, bliss, happiness, and gladness.  We are told repeatedly to be joyful, to be filled with joy and to display our joy. Yet, many Christians have no idea how to rejoice or why, especially when life on earth can be at times anything but happy.

We need to understand that the “joy” the Bible talks about is NOT a reaction or a consequence to things or events that make us happy. The joy that God speaks of is a heartfelt contentment or confidence that we have in Jesus. It’s the ripple effect that comes from trusting Him and knowing that no matter what happens to us, HE will walk through the trials with us and take us into victory.

The Bible says in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Joy is a constant state of peace in our heart, of happiness and delight, because we know that Jesus is with us and will get us through the dark hours. We know that God in Heaven is looking out for us and guiding us and instructing us so that we can survive the attacks of the enemy.

Jesus tells us in Philippians 4:6 to be, “anxious for nothing”. stock-photo-a-guy-grabing-his-hair-with-angry-3211190In other words, when things happen and we face a trial that we can’t easily handle on our own, we should pray and tell the Lord about it and then trust Him to get us through it. We would wait on Him in prayer and wait physically before doing anything because He WILL get us through it even if He has to send other people across our path or arrange situations around us to change.

Instead of crying and talking negative, complaining and giving glory to the devil, we need to rest in the Lord and let our heart be free and excited with “joy” because we know that Jesus is on the scene. We need to get it down deep into our heart until we know that we know that “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26).

And when we have this confidence, then our heart is filled with a joy that no person can take from us. So, how do we get this joy?

By reading the Bible and knowing just how loving our Father in Heaven really is. He loves each of us so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for us – a judgment that we all deserve. And He did it because He loves us and wants us to be free of sin and filled with His Spirit. This is unconditional love because Jesus took on our sins before we even realized who He was.

We can only begin to comprehend the love that He has for us when we study the Bible and learn what He will do for us while we’re here on earth. Our faith in Him will grow and we’ll begin to trust Him with our lives. And we do this because we love Him, and our hearts become filled with excitement, confidence and trust in the Lord, and are filled with a feeling of happiness and contentment that is called, joy.

But that joy doesn’t always stay bottled up inside us because at times we need to express it 3258159011_3154366ae5_mand shout it out. If we were at a football game and our team scored a goal, we wouldn’t just sit there and think, “Hurrah!”  No! We’d jump up and shout and sing praises to them because we were so happy.

Jesus is our hero and He is winning the game against the devil in our lives when we give the battles to him, and He does it one step at a time. With each battle that He wins we should shout His praises as loud as we can and display our appreciation. And we do this because of the joy that it’s our heart.

Have you ever met someone who you knew was going through a rough time and yet they didn’t seem to be affected? If they’re a Christian it’s likely because they gave the problem over to God and trusted Him to get them through it. We need to be careful that we don’t judge someone or speak negative about them because they don’t seem to be concerned. The joy that’s in their heart will keep them sane and able to handle life through the bad times, and we need to find that joy for our own lives.

“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.” … Psalm 5:11

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When We Lose a Loved One…

400766_671314232893980_922941860_nWhen we lose someone we love, someone who’s  our best friend and who we depend on for our own personal inspiration, it hurts when they pass on. It doesn’t matter how old they were or how perfect they were, our heart aches when we realize that they’re really gone.

We knew that this person loved the Lord and that they knew in their own heart they would soon be going to be with Him. We admired their faith and their hope and we supported them and encouraged them in the Lord. But when they got to that last hour and their life was finally gone, the sadness and the pain took over and those hopes drifted to the background of our thoughts. All of a sudden we were scared and felt so alone.

But this is where the family of God comes in. We can’t change what’s happened, but we can support each other with love and with prayer. We can ask the Lord to comfort the ones left behind and encompass them with His warmth because it will override all fear and hurt.

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” … Matthew 18:20

Today, gospel singer Michael English lost his father and best friend, Aubine English, to cancer and he and his family are heartbroken. The English family loves the Lord and has spent a lifetime singing His praises to the world, and they know that their father is in Heaven with Jesus. But it’s still a very sad time for them, and those of us who have gone through this know that watching a loved one struggle with an illness and then succumbing to it at the end is devastating.

Please join me in prayer for Michael and his family, that the Lord will comfort them in this dark hour and fill them with the love and with the hope that Aubine’s life is not over; he’s just moved on to the next phase of life – to a place where we all hope to be when our time on earth is done.

“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart.” … Psalm 34:18

I wrote a poem in memory of Aubine English and I hope that if anyone else is going through a similar situation that it will be a blessing to you, as well.

(In memory of Aubine English who went home to be with the Lord August 15th, 2013)

 In Memory of Aubine English

Today your heart is aching

  and you can’t believe he’s gone,

He fought the battle with dignity

  and now God has called him home.

 

You have such precious memories

  that are blessed from God above,

When together you sang God’s praises

  To a world hungry for His love.

 

There’s so much you wanted to say,

  but he’s left and gone on home,

And now it’s left a painful void

  that hurts, and you feel all alone.

 

But remember God’s watching you

  and He guides you from above,

And  you’ll make it through each day

  because of His undying love.

 

Today it’s hard to sing at all;

  your heart is heavy and sad.

But soon you’ll be together again 

  Singing His praises with your Dad.

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Aubine English

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”  … John 14:3

Love Isn’t Love Until You Give it Away

“Love isn’t love until you give it away”. It’s an old saying that’s been passed down through the ages, but what does it mean?

Love is a commitment of the heart that we have towards someone and this begins with our love for God. In Mark 12:30 we are told to “…love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul and with all our strength.” We see that love is a commitment of our entire being without exception, and that nothing anyone can do or say will overpower the devotion, respect, loyalty or commitment we have within us towards God. And share this love with other people.

Love is not an emotion. It is not a feeling. It is not subject to our surroundings, turned on by appearance or responsive to sensual lust. Love is a conviction of the heart and has nothing to do with our senses, our emotions or our circumstances, although these will be greatly affected by the love we have in us.

It’s a compassion that molds our character and is often seen by others as a good virtue, but it’s really just our nature – God’s nature in us – that is spilling out onto those around us. God tells us in Matthew 22:39 to love our neighbours as much as we love ourselves. This means that we treat other people the way that we treat ourselves and that we do it regardless of our feelings, our culture, our opinions or our financial status.

If every person could do this, we would never have an issue with racism or political indifference. We’d respect each other’s opinion and we’d never puff ourselves up above anyone else who didn’t have the money, education, successful career or outside beauty that we have. We’d see everyone around us through God’s eyes and we’d treat them the way we want to be treated.

Love is a conviction of our heart. It is not the infatuation that we have for someone we are sexually attracted to, and it is not the passionate sexual experience that we covet in them. These are lusts of the body and of the mind, and are not from the heart. Yet, when a married man and woman make love, it is an extension of the heartfelt commitment that they have for each other, and Hebrews 13:4 says that this is blessed by the Lord.

Love has no fear but is totally trusting, and in 1 John 4:18 it says, “There is no fear in love.”  When we are filled with God’s love we are not afraid because we know that He lives in us, that He loves us and that He gives us the wisdom and the strength, through prayer, to conquer all things that come against us. He says in Romans 8:15 that He has not given us the spirit of fear but of sound mind where we can cry out to Him and know that He’s with us and will help us.

The love that we have inside us needs to be shared with those around us and we can’t let pride or circumstances raise us up in our own minds so that we feel superior to anyone. In 1 Corinthians 13:4 it says, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.”

When someone needs our help or asks for something, we should always be willing to share what we have with them, whether it’s tangible things, a helping hand or a fervent prayer. In Acts 3:6 a lame man asked Peter for money, and since Peter didn’t have any money to give, he laid hands on him and healed the man instead. He didn’t just walk away.

Love is not showing ourselves to be Godly and caring people in public places, yet self-righteous and uncaring the rest of the time.

If we keep the love of God locked into our hearts and don’t act on it and don’t share it with anyone, how can those around us ever see the goodness of God through us? God is a spirit and when we’re born again, His Spirit comes and lives in us so that we become ambassadors for Christ, and our commission is to show the love of God to the people around us.

It’s not enough to speak about love and appear righteous; we need to act in love – in God’s love – and be righteous.

 “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”  … 1 John 4:20

 

 

 

The Heart of Christmas

The spirit of Christmas can be the greatest feeling in the world, and the hype of shopping along with the traditional Christmas carols and glittering decorations set the perfect atmosphere for the season. Family gatherings and great feasts add joy and excitement to the hearts of everyone, whether they are Christians or not.

This is because we are programmed to accept that Christmas season is the time for being friendly and for giving a little extra money to charities. It’s the time to forgive and forget and to make new starts in life. It’s when most people are prepared to be happy, to experience the joy that comes with the season and to help their fellow man.  Even in a secular world, the feeling of the season comes with great peace.

But Christmas is also the time of year when people who are hurting will experience the most pain, realize their greatest losses and become burdened with intense emotional loneliness. It’s the time when many people realize that their lives are missing the joy that others are sharing and it can be very difficult for them to enjoy any part of Christmas.

If the love and joy that comes with Christmas could last all year ’round, this world would be filled with peace and happiness. There would be no more wars and many of the sorrows that we see around us would be gone because the kind hearts of others would extend their passions to the poor and to the needy. What a wonderful world this would be if the heart of Christmas could be experienced every day.

Christmas for Christians is a time for celebrating the birth of Jesus, even though according to the Jewish calendar He was not really born on that particular day.  It’s the time when praise is shouted out and carols are sung in honour of the Lord. We decorate our homes, prepare great meals and spend excessive money on gifts, and it’s all because we are celebrating the reason for the season.

But this feeling of sharing and giving, and of joy and peace should never be limited to one day. It should be part of our character, of our natural being, so that we can LIVE the peace and joy of God everyday, and so that we can SHARE the peace and joy of God every day.

We should live every day with the celebration of Christmas in our hearts so that others can see the love of God in us every day and not just one day of the year.

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”…Colossians 3:15