We all know the Scripture in Psalm 37:4 that says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Many so-called Christian doctrines have stemmed from this Scripture with the interpretation that God wants us to have all the “material possessions” that make us happy. And the truth is, Continue reading
Have you ever wondered how some people can be so happy and carefree one minute, and then become totally ticked and angry at the slightest dispute the next? It’s because the happiness that they display when everything is going well is a result of their emotions. And our emotions can and do change, just like the weather. Continue reading
The 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”. In 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 and 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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Faith is the substance that links us to God and makes us who we are. It goes along the same line as the old antic, we are what we eat. The more we learn about God, the more faith we have and the more like Jesus we become. Knowledge leads to conviction which leads to faith which causes change and builds character.
People place their faith or trust in different things to help them get through life. Some people rely only on themselves while others depend on drugs, alcohol, sexual activity and even food. The essence of all of these dependencies is that their decision on where they’ll put their faith is one that forms their character.
But faith or trust in worldly substances or in oneself is deceptive and leads to destruction because they don’t build Godly character through the conviction of God’s Spirit. Instead, they give a false security to those who follow them by giving only temporary courage to perform their jobs, face the world or deal with their problems.
Faith in God builds character. As we study the Bible, our knowledge of God grows and our faith gets stronger. And the more we put our faith to work the more developed our character becomes. And the more our character develops or matures, the more we are convicted in our hearts, and this leads us to change from our old ways so we can become more like Jesus.
What are the characteristics of someone who does not know God?
Galatians 5:19-21 describes worldly characteristics this way: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” It goes on to say that these characteristics prevent people from inheriting the kingdom of God because they don’t know God.
What are the characteristics of Jesus?
Jesus’ characteristics are referred to as the “Fruits of the Spirit”, and they are found in Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,meekness and temperance.”
Our character is not developed over night. It’s built as we grow in faith and it’s comparable to a child attending school. She begins in the first grade and is taught and tested and then she goes on to the second grade and is taught and tested on that level, and then continues until graduation. At that time the child has had to learn and be tried for everything along the way. Each test was more intense than the last and required more studying.
And it’s the same principle for faith. We study God’s Word and then we’re tested on it. The only difference is that in school the tests come automatic and we have no choice but to do them. In real life, however, we can choose to test our faith or not. God presents the opportunities – the tests – and we can accept them or opt out and go the way of the world.
King David said that God tries us like silver, “For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.” Psalm 66:10
All these tests add to our character. If we don’t put our faith to the test as we grow, our confidence and trust in God is very limited and our character remains weak because we’ve got some characteristics of the world and only some characteristics of God. If we put our faith and trust in God and test our faith as we grow, then we build our character to become like that of Jesus, and we become strong in faith and a useful vessel in God’s ministry.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” … Romans 12:2
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
We all love to unwrap presents as we try to anticipate with excitement what’s inside. Receiving gifts is fun and encouraging and can be the highlight of our day. So, why would anyone rather give something than receive it?
There is a blessing that comes – joy unspeakable – when we can give to others and light up their life. When we can reach out and help in that time of need or bring a bit of peace to an aching heart. There is a thrill beyond words that touches us when we our hearts are filled with compassion to give to others.
Perhaps, it’s because we’re doing God’s will and sharing with our bretheren; perhaps it’s because we’re becoming Christ-like and have the same concerns and feelings for others, making giving a part of our nature.
When we give to others we not only receive back a blessing, but we are showing them that God cares for them and through us they will be able to smile and know that God loves them, too.
Luke 6:38: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
Spring brings joy and peace but most of all, it brings new hope. As the signs of winter begin fading away, we hear the welcoming sounds of colorful song birds and we see some tiny sprouts of crocuses popping up in the garden. Somehow, the stress and challenges of winter past seem almost forgotten as we focus on all the good things that lie ahead for us.
But for many people, a day like today is just another day of fear and torment as they face the destruction of an earthquake that has literally stripped them of all joy, of all peace and of all hope.
We can’t change our weather or their tragedies, but we can pray for them. We can pray that their hope is renewed through the diligence of caring people who work together to help restore their communities.
We can’t all physically go there to help them, but we can give of our abundance and share our blessings financially so they can see the love and know the hope. And when we can’t give financially, we can pray. We can pray that those who can give, will give.
The Bible says that the fervent prayer of a righteous man (or woman) avails much. So, let’s pray and extend our help to these hurting people. Through our prayers and our help, they will see the love that God has for them because God works through people like you and me.