To me, the word “joy” is difficult for anyone to rightfully define. From what I have seen in my research of the meaning, it seems that even dictionaries have a hard time with it. Even so, it may be the first word that comes to mind in the hearts of many of God’s children during the Christmas season. I believe that if they were asked to fill in this blank: Christmas ---------- , the word most chosen would be “joy.” After all, even those who are not regular church folks are familiar with Luke 2:10-11, which reads: “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Going back to the word’s definition, I think “joy” is in a higher plane than “happiness. To me it is more a state or condition than a mere emotion which may disappear in an instant. When I read Hebrews 11:2, it implies that “joy” is the feeling of happiness and excitement one gets when looking forward to the fulfillment of a desired goal. It reads: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Did you get that? Some have wondered what was on Jesus’ mind when He went to the cross. This verse implies that His heart was filled with joy at the thought of what would transpire after having completed His mission. He was thinking of the coming joy of setting captives free, of their victory over death and sin because of His sacrifice, of sharing eternity with all those who trusted in Him, of having fulfilled His Father’s will and finally, of being the greatest gift the world would ever know. Is not your heart filled with joy when you do something that obviously helps others or puts a smile on their face?
May we never forget that from the day that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was the Father’s will that joy would be a permanent part of our every day lives. Many of you may be going through a difficult trial even as you are reading these words. If that is the case, Hebrews 12:2 reminds us to think of the joy that was in Jesus’ heart even on the day of His encounter with the cross. If joy filled His heart in spite of it, we can do the same. Remember, joy is the state of our hearts and minds when we think of what is up ahead for us. In fact, it is pure joy. May it fill our hearts this Christmas and every day thereafter.
God’s word for today (Psalm 32:11) : “Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!”
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
I have read that in the old Anglo-Saxon language the word “thankfulness” means “thinkfulness.” I like that! It is pretty safe to say that all of us would be more thankful if we would take the time to think about our many blessings. More often than not, we tend to dwell on the negative things in our lives instead. To me, gratitude is a product of a good attitude.
I also read an illustration about the time when my favorite bible commentator, Matthew Henry, was robbed. That very night he prayed: "I thank Thee, first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed." Apparently, Matthew Henry really believed in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which reads: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
I pray that this Thanksgiving will be one of your best ever and that you will take the time to reflect on all the blessings we, as God’s children, are afforded always. Happy Thanksgiving!
God’s word for today: (Psalm 100:4) “Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.”
There has been a lot of division causing controversy for a couple of years now regarding the respect or disrespect of our country’s flag, especially at the playing of our national anthem in sporting or public events. I don’t have to convince you that some are very passionate in their stand, especially those have served or are directly or indirectly tied to someone who has served in the military. As it relates to me, one of my brothers died while in active service in the Air Force and another endured 10 months of hardship and misery in a German concentration camp in the latter stages of WW11. And is spite of the fact that we were affected by the sting of prejudice and racism, which was more blatant and prevalent in those days, our family is and has always been very patriotic. Perhaps, that is one more reason I still get a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye every time I see Old Glory passing by.
How do I feel when I see someone kneeling and not standing up at the playing of the national anthem in a public venue? It breaks my heart. Yet, it never causes me to hate or be angry with those who do. We have to keep in mind that not all of them are taking that stand with the purpose of disrespecting the flag, which is how many patriotic Americans view it. We don’t know the heart; only God knows that. Almost everyone who has chosen to kneel during the anthem has declared that it only represents their stand against racism and everything else that, in their eyes, may be wrong with this country. We must also keep in mind that, although many of us totally disagree with that stand, our constitution allows for freedom of speech and expression. Ironically, many died so that we could enjoy this type of freedom, something many nations around the world wish they had.
If it is difficult for God’s children to always be in agreement, what can we expect from those outside the gospel? Paul, addressing the issue of the opposing points of view among Christians, wrote this, among other things: “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5) In other words, be true to what you really believe in your heart. And to those who are intent on “making a statement”, I say this: Helping others, being kind, considerate, understanding, compassionate, merciful and loving, makes a very clear statement too. It says you love God and people. It says you want to bring people together in peace and harmony, not pull them away from each other. I trust, that as a child of God you may agree with this last point, even if you don’t agree with the rest. And because of Christ, I know we can all continue to love one another in spite of our occasional disagreements. In closing, lets ask God to help us deal with this issue, to be firm in our beliefs without marring our Christian testimony. In the end, It is He, and He alone, who can heal our nation and bring us back together.
God’s word for today: (2 Corinthians 13:11) “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”
Editor’s note: Please excuse my long absence; I needed some time to take care of some personal matters. I plan to continue writing as often as I can, and as long as I can. On another note, some of you have suggested I write a devotional book comprised of these meditational thoughts since I’ve written more than enough to cover a complete year. The truth is, I don’t even know where to begin. Any ideas or tips by you will be greatly apprerciated, especially if one of you would consider being my agent.