|Thursday, May 2, 2019|
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
elcome to this great month. The Month of May 2019 our month of Rejoicing in Christ. Often, we read from that peculiar Apostle, Paul, phrases and exclamations like, "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you." Phil 3:1; "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" Phil 4:4. The Psalmist declares in the same sentiment: "Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart." Psalm 32:11. Prophet Zephaniah was not left out of the proclamation when he said "Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! Zephaniah 3:14. I have good news for you, the embodiment and totality of what Jesus Christ personifies for you and I is for us to live our lives rejoicing in our great God. God has not call you to a low life of diseases, frustration, depression, whining, murmuring, complaining and limitation. Rather he has through his Son Jesus Christ made a way for you to escape them. The Scripture declares "I am God, the one and only. I don't just talk to myself or mumble under my breath. I never told Jacob, 'Seek me in emptiness, in dark nothingness.' Isaiah 45:19. (MSG) No, my brothers and sisters we are not to seek God in vain, emptiness and nothingness. Therefore, let us roll out our drums with great rejoicing as a life style, this is the life God has called us to - a life of rejoicing in Christ from this month. Christ's death must not be in vain in your life. This is what God wants me to remind you of this month - "The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly." Psalm 118:15. My prayer is that the shout of joy, if it is not already in your house or marriage or life, shall be yours this month in Jesus name, and if it is already there it shall remain permanent! God shall give you reasons to rejoice this month- joy unspeakable!
The Difference between joy and happiness
Online dictionary defines joy as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. The synonyms include delight, great pleasure, joyfulness, jubilation, triumph, exultation, rejoicing, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, ebullience, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy. John Piper writes, "Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world." No wonder the bible says the joy of the Lord is my strength.
Happiness on the other hand is dictated by circumstances. It is a state of mind influenced by emotion. When you buy a car, get married, pass an exam you are happy. If you have everything the world can give - pleasure, possessions, power - but lack peace of mind, you can never be happy. When you fail an exam, you are not happy. When something bad happens, you are not happy because it is more of momentary, instantaneous emotional state. Have you asked yourself why do people with great wealth, great possession commit suicide? A major reason is because they have lost the happiness those things used to give them.
It is important to know the difference between being happy and having joy. Happiness is an emotion in which we "experience feelings ranging from contentment and satisfaction to bliss and intense pleasure," whereas joy "is a stronger, deeper experience that is not dictated by circumstance but by life. Joy could be dictated by emotion but it is much more of a life encounter, your total being, what defines you. When you give your life to Christ you experience 'joy unspeakable.' You have peace of mind. Maybe you have been in anguish and pain, suddenly such will be lifted. When Job lost his wealth and all his children and was in pain of sickness, the wife said 'curse God and die!' Because all the possession that was giving them happiness were gone. But Job said no: 'I know that my redeemer liveth.' There was something inside of Job that was giving him strength and hope that others could not see - Joy of the Lord. Theologians are not sure when Job existed, but they are certain it was before the advent of Christ on earth. But even then, Job was rejoicing in His creator. "Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Job did not commit suicide because the stock market crashed and he lost all his wealth, rather Job worshipped God, because his life was not defined by all those material things, that gives only happiness. He had joy that all his four friends who were healthy did not have. Paul says: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17) Happiness is a subset of joy. You can be happy and not have joy but you cannot have joy and not be happy. Happiness is dictated generally by the mundane things of the earth; joy is spiritual, dictated by the eternal values. That is why rejoicing in Christ is not an option, you need to know Christ to find the joy on earth and the world to come.
Lack of knowledge and application.
There are three things that limit us as Christians. (1) lack of knowledge in Christ (2) reveling in sin (3) unsaturation of the Power of Holy Ghost. Those who excel in any area of life have some peculiar knowledge. You will never grow beyond your level of knowledge. That is why you need to constantly and continuously learn, unlearn and relearn. Paul writing to his coverts said- "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:" Eph 1. What is spiritual blessing? Everything to make us joyful, healthy and wealthy. When he saw the people were not taking advantage of that he resorted to praying for them. "That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn't stop thanking God for you-every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask-ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory-to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him-endless energy, boundless strength!" Phil 1:15-19(MSG) Wow! Unfortunately, our story is like that woman that died wretched despite the fact that she had a huge inheritance. Her story goes thus: A story was told about a minister who visited a poor dying old woman to comfort her in her last hours. However, he noticed a frame on the wall with an unusual seal which aroused his curiosity. Upon closer attention to the frame, the minister discovered a letter that was actually a Will from an aristocratic lady that designated her as heiress of a large estate with attendant comfort. The minister asked the woman about the letter but all she could say was that she valued the letter so much because a lady she served faithfully for many decades gave it to her before she died - so to her the letter was a mere cherished memory of her dear matron. She had no knowledge of the content of the letter…how sad! (Angelo Delzotto, "Counselling & spiritual warfare") The bible tells us the prophetic and love journey of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. What he will come to do and how he will do it (OT) and how he came and accomplished it (NT). We are to learn about it daily and when we do so, we shall find ourselves constantly rejoicing in Christ
Three broad Things Jesus came to do for humanity.
There are two broad of knowledge you need to know in life, being and doing. You must constantly seek to know who you are, said in another way discover yourself. The second one is what you are to do, that is, your purpose. The first is a prerequisite for the second. You will be limited in achievement in life if you don't know your potentials and what you carry. Jesus knew who he was and what he came to do.
To seek and save the Lost. "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Lk 19:10.I have better translation for you: "For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost."(MSG) The whole essence of Jesus incarnation (becoming man) being crucified, dying, buried and resurrection is to rescue you from your despicable terrible sinful situation and restore you to a non-sin carrier situation so that you will not pay the weighty penalty of sin which is death! (If that is not a reason for you to rejoice in Christ, I don't know what it is!
To make available the Holy Ghost: Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: John 16:7-8. When Jesus was on earth, he had the Holy Spirit without measure. (Jn 3:34) He knew we cannot operate; we cannot come to him and be what we need to be or do what he has called us to do without the power of the Holy Ghost.
Two broad areas where we can rejoice in Christ.
Rejoicing in the blessings of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Rejoicing in the responsibilities of what Jesus want us to do. Unfortunately, over 80% of Christians rejoice in what Christ has done for them but never rejoice in what he has called them to do. Said in another way, 80% 0f Christians have consumer mentality while only 20% has producer mentality. (My own observation-based statistics, not based on any survey) Let us look at the first part which is what Jesus did for us.
Rejoicing because of who, where, and what we are in Christ and other reasons.
Who we are in Christ Jesus
Where we are in Christ Jesus
What we possess in Christ
More reasons why we rejoice in the Lord
Rejoicing in what responsibilities Jesus gave to us.
When Christ went to the cross, he accomplished much for us some of the benefits are enumerated above. One of the clear discussions after the resurrection of Christ was the issue of the meeting in Galilee. "But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you" Mk 16:7. I believe strongly that one of the discussions in Galilee was how the disciples 'must sit tight'. No more business as usual after the departure of Jesus. I imagine Jesus saying, now as you are rejoicing that I am back and never to die any more, you must know I have a big assignment for you, and I want you to do it…rejoice!
These assignments could be summarized below.
Rejoicing in Christ is not only about the blessings but in taking up the challenges, responsibility and suffering. "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Rom 5:3-5. Let is rejoice in serving the Master. What are you doing for the Lord? Paul says if you want to give to God do it cheerfully. Are you a wife/husband do it rejoicing in the Lord. Raising our children in the Lord. Are you a Minister, missionary, politician, professional, academician, businessman/woman do it rejoicing in the Lord. Paul said giving thanks to God who qualified me to be in ministry. That is why when he was incarcerated for preaching along with Silas he was singing and praising God! James said-"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Brethren it is a privileged to be saved, sanctified and satisfied. Let us rejoice in the blessings, challenges and responsibilities that our Master has given us. If my theology is correct all we shall do in heaven is worshipping our God and rejoicing in His presence.
Conclusion: We are specially favoured to be saved. Favoured to be called children of God. To be conquerors of the power of darkness. Let it be joy for you to serve God. Let joy fill your heart no matter the situation. Let it be joy when you have money and when you don't have. When you have children and when you don't; When you are sick and when you are healthy; When you are wealthy and your wealth is yet to come. Joy is beyond the ephemeral, mundane things. The Kingdom of God is about joy in the one that took away from you and I the penalty of our sin-death. The opposite of joy is sadness, sorrow and melancholy. Brethren we are called to rejoice in Christ whether for blessing or challenges and responsibilities. I say again, rejoice in Christ Jesus!
Post script- We are currently on tour of Europe (Spain, Sweden, Italy, Holland and Norway) for International Gathering of Eagles Leadership conference 2019. We covet your prayers and support in all ways.