Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Joy in Chains

A key indicator of spiritual maturity is a deep abiding, unshakable joy, regardless of circumstances. Joy comes from living in the conscious presence of the Lord  24/7/365.   We live in His presence as we read and digest His Word by meditating on it day and night.  In Jeremiah 16:11 the prophet describes the source of joy as eating God’s Word. It was “the joy and rejoicing of his heart.” 

 

When we lack the  joy of the Lord, we tend to become unthankful, critical, sullen and bitter.  These negative emotions rob us of His joy.

 

The real test of our Christianity is how we react to disappointments and differences of opinion with others.  Joyless Christians are one of the major curses in churches. It’s one of the red flags that discourage visitors from returning to our churches.  A joyful church is attractive to visitors.  That joy must be genuine; not just a big grin behind a sour personality.  It must be seen in the lives of the teens and children, as well as the adults.

 

Although some people seem to be born with a constant smile (and that is a wonderful quality) people need to see more than a smile.  They need to observe the constant love, joy and peace that bubbles up from a Spirit-filled Christian, regardless of his circumstances.   That is supernatural and cannot be worked up in the flesh.  According to Galatians 5:22-23,  joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit.  That fruit is seen in the lives of those who are surrendered to Christ.  When we are surrendered to Christ, His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, fills and controls us under every circumstance of life.

 

The Epistle to the Philippians repeatedly tells us to rejoice always.  To rejoice is to live in a state of constant joy.  That does not mean that we wear a constant smile; but one who rejoices can be recognized whether he smiles or weeps, whether he is a conversationalist or the silent type.

 

Only sin robs us of joy.  That’s why David in his confession in Psalm 51 cries to God to restore the joy of his salvation.

 

EXPECT TROUBLE

 

Trouble comes to everyone: Christian and non-Christian.  Jesus warned His own in John 16:33 “In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world.”  We’re taught in God’s Word to learn to  rejoice in trouble.

 

Happy is the Christian who learns early in life that our joy is not related to our circumstances,  to our possessions, nor to what we call success. Rather, joy is related to living for Christ and serving Him with all our hearts.

 

Paul was hounded by trouble from the moment he became a Christian. He writes about it on several occasions in his epistles.  There’s no doubt that he experienced much more trouble than the average Christian.  When he went into a town, he did not check out the motels,  but the jails.  That’s where he usually landed when he preached the Gospel.

 

TROUBLE BRINGS BLESSING

 

That’s what James teaches us in James 1:2-4.  I can testify to the fact that most of my troubles in the ministry have been doorways into greater blessing. Paul wrote many of his Epistles from a jail cell. He wrote Philippians, this Epistle of joy chained to Roman guards twenty-four hours a day.

 

Troubles, including imprisonment,  did not hinder his ministry in any way; nor did it dampen his joy. His troubles always resulted in the furtherance of the Gospel. Serving Christ  was his passion and his source of joy. His joyful testimony for Christ resulted in many of his Roman guards coming to Christ and it was the talk of Caesar’s palace.

 

Can you imagine being chained to Roman guards 24 hours a day for two years?  But, better yet, can you imagine  a Roman guard being chained to the Apostle Paul for six hours stretches, day and night?  No wonder, many received Christ as Saviour.

 

How about you, Christian friend?  To whom or to what job are you chained each day?  Are you doing your work as unto the Lord?  Are you taking opportunities as they appear, to be a witness for Christ to those to whom you are chained through  your job?  I’m not asking you to ignore your job or disobey  your employer, but if your life is shining for Christ,  God is going to open up opportunities for you to be a witness. Be ready at all times to give an answer to those who ask you concerning  the hope and joy that fills your heart.  

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March 17, 2009 - Posted by | Philippians

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