Tag Archives: Joy

It’s Healthy To Be Happy

Proverbs 17:22 

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

Happy Health

Her name is Kay, and she’s my mother-in-law, and without a doubt she’s the happiest person I’ve ever had the privilege to know.  Kay’s happiness is contagious.  There would have to be ice flowing in your veins not to break into a grin when Kay enters the room.  Over the years as my mother-in-law has been deeply transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ, a sincere and powerful love for people has grown inside her, a cheerful love that embraces all and disarms all.  Whether Kay’s changing a baby’s diaper or greeting one of the great potentates of industry (and she does both regularly), the same hearty chuckle wells up from within.  And you can’t help but smile along.

The first half of today’s proverb is one of the most quoted of all the Proverbs, and its verity is universally recognized.  Cheerfulness is good for the body.   It’s healthy to be happy.  The second half of the proverb, though not as well known, nonetheless does contain an equally recognized psychological principal.  A crushed spirit or melancholy disposition will tend to manifest itself in physical infirmity.  However, please remember that the proverbs are to be interpreted as principles, and not as promises.  Cheerful people do become ill, and depressed people can be (otherwise) physically healthy.  But those exceptions merely serve to prove the general rule that “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”

Pharmacists of Cheerfulness

Granted, we come into this world with variations in temperament.  Some people tend toward cheerfulness, while others tend toward melancholy.  I count myself in that latter group!  That’s why I need people like Kay in my life.  We need those pharmacists of the merry heart to dispense the good medicine of cheerfulness for its psychological as well as physical benefits. To the reader who would describe herself or himself as a melancholy, I urge you to prayerfully and intentionally seek out friendships with Christian brothers and sisters who have the merry heart.  We need them!

Christ’s Joy and Our Responsibility

Jesus said in John 15:11, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”  This verse is found in the context of Jesus telling the disciples that He is the True Vine, and we are the branches.  In a vital, dynamic relationship of faith with the Son of God, His joy overflows to us.

However, to return to the metaphor of the pharmacy, it’s our responsibility to drop off the Rx and pick up the meds.  Is the marrow drying from your bones? Take some time alone with Jesus.  Remember, re-claim, and re-apply the promises of the gospel to your life.  Make a list of the things that are good in your life, for which you are grateful to God.  Pray for a fresh anointing of His joy.

Recommended Reading

For further study, order yourself a copy of Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Spiritual Depression:  Its Causes and Cure.

Father God:  I pray for the reader whose spirit is broken, and the marrow of joy has dried within.  Touch the reader with the unconditional love of the Lord Jesus, and renew his or her joy this day.  May cheerful, Godly laughter overflow.  Through Christ our Lord, Amen.    


Bright Eyes

Proverbs 15:30 

The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health. (NLT)

Recently one of the television channels in the UK screened a documentary entitled ‘Island Hospital.’ The documentary featured the lives of people who work in the Princess Elizabeth Hospital in Guernsey, and the way that they change the lives of their patients. It also showed much of the scenery of Guernsey and the other smaller islands nearby. Watching the documentary brought back many very special memories of my childhood in Guernsey. The joy of those memories pales into insignificance when compared with the joy of the hospital patients and their families as the doctors and nurses brought healing and recovery into their lives.

smiley_faces-wideAfter a ten-day stay in hospital in March 2000 the news that brought joy to my heart was to be told that I was well enough to go home. Good news and joy go together don’t they? So why do so many Christians have problems in displaying the good news of their salvation in their eyes and on their faces? If a person has accepted Jesus Christ and received the Holy Spirit shouldn’t there be a visible indication of the change that such momentous events have made in the life of the recipient?

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23 NIV)
Bright eyes,
Burning like fire.
Bright eyes,
How can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly
Suddenly burn so pale?
Bright eyes.
(Art Garfunkel)
 
http://youtu.be/a502RejLz8s

Tears of a Clown

Proverbs 14:13

13 Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.

Covered Up

In 1970, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles released the song “The Tears of a Clown“.

The Tears of a Clown” is a song about a man whose girlfriend left him. He is singing to the girl so that she knows he is utterly saddened by her leaving, so she should not be misled by the act he puts on in front of others. Like a clown, he covers his emotions and puts on an entertaining show.

How many times do we play this game in our own lives?

There are times when this is okay, such as when Jesus told us to keep ourselves looking happy and healthy when fasting (Matthew 6:16-18). However, this is to keep ourselves from seeking the attention of people rather than God.

Torn Down

On the other hand, in those times when our joy is stolen from us, we should not hide it.

Like Nick said the other day, we must be willing to share all of our joys and hurts with others. The only thing guaranteed to happen if hold in our hurts is that we will become bitter and lonely.

The authors of these devotionals have been able to help each other, because we have confided in each other our joys and our hurts. I have made it through over a decade thus far in ministry, because growing up I kept my hurts to myself. Eventually I stopped sharing my joys, as well. I learned how much pain and bitterness grows within, gradually eroding mind, body, and soul. Therefore, as a new believer I made the commitment to share my experiences with others I could trust (and sometimes anyone who would listen).

Without confiding in someone, especially God, it weighs down on you. It builds up and tears you down to nothing.

Built Up, Again

Fortunately, there is a God who cares. There is a God in the restoration and peace business. Jesus calls us to take off those masks that burden us and find rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30); for Jesus is the only source of true peace (John 14:25-27), a peace that we may never fully understand but that brings that rest He promised (Philippians 4:6-7).

God not only restores us, He makes us more. He builds us into the likeness of Jesus. But we must be willing to share our joy and pain.

Merciful God, grant us peace in our troubles and release from our pain. Help us to confide in You and dearly loved ones. You did not create us to handle things alone, so we ask that You help us by changing our hearts and minds to be willing to remove our masks.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 3rd Week of Advent – Day 6

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
-Hebrews 2:14-15, KJV

construction destruction power steel

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Through Mary came the first Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ – who, although He had the form of God, considered equality with God something to be grasped and therefore emptied Himself to take on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:6-7), took on flesh and blood to become one of us to take on our penalty for sin.

I will repeat it again, as I have in the past: the entire reason Jesus came was to die to remove our sin!

So, now we have a great joy, for we know that in His first coming Jesus overcame death and defeated the one who held the power to hold us in fear of death.

We have joy, because our enemies – death and the Devil – are defeated. The battles rage on, for now, but the war was won 2000 years ago, when Jesus smashed through Satan’s hold on us and made us children of God.

Lord of all, fill us with Your joy this season and all seasons as we remember what You have done for us.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 3rd Week of Advent

Welcome to the third week of Advent!

Tradition holds that the third week of Advent is about the joy and peace we find in the Messiah, with Mary, the mother of Jesus, being our example. We finally begin to see the the connection from seeing our need for a Savior to discovering and sharing the news of that Savior to beginning to see some of the rewards of following the Savior.

assorted color gift boxes

Photo by George Dolgikh on Pexels.com

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. -Luke 1:38

But those rewards rest on our response to what God has done.

(This is not to claim that we can do anything to earn salvation. This is also not the place to have a major soteriological debate [hash out matters and merits of salvation, i.e. over Calvinism, Arminianism, and the like]. Please enjoy the thoughts today, and head over to the Proverbial Thought Extra Facebook page if you want to dialogue with us, or you can leave a respectful comment.)

Contrary to what many teach today, God will give us more than we can handle. It encourages us to rest in Him, trust that He knows what He is doing, and let His power flow through us by the Holy Spirit.

Case in point, young Mary – who is yet to be married to Joseph at this juncture in the story of Christ – is told she is to carry the Son of God and give birth to Him.

Think about it: a young female, not yet married, in a society that limits what women can do with a religion that shuns the sexually impure, being told she is about to be pregnant. She is risking being ostracized by family and friends, thought a liar and a slut, and severely limiting her prospects for the future.

And how does she respond to this news?

“I am the Lord’s servant.”

How willing are we to be willing to the call of God?

We do not have to carry the baby Jesus to term, but we are tasked with carrying His Gospel to a fallen world.

We do not have to risk being labeled liars, but we risk being ridiculed for believing a man is God in the flesh, was killed, and came back to life.

We may not have to risk family and friends thinking we are crazy and abandoning us …

Actually, yes, we do.

Such is the cost of believing in and following Jesus. It may even cost us our lives.

If we want to find the joy and peace that comes with following Jesus, we first must be willing to actually follow Jesus. With all that it may cost us.

Emmanuel, thank You for coming to save us. Give us the resolve to pursue you throughout the world, or even to our literal neighbors and family.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 6

And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.
And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. -Luke 3:15-18, KJV

person touching sand with right index finger

Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

Just as John and Paul had people wonder if they were the Christ or a son of a god, we should be setting the example “in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12) and in good works “that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

They may begin thinking we are divine, but just like John and Paul, we should be quick to point them back to Jesus. We do good works because “the love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14), the One who came to earth and out of His love sacrificed Himself for us, and we are merely unworthy servants of Christ.

But this must also come with the warning that you must believe in Him, or you will be removed in the age to come.

There is no good news without first revealing the bad news of our sinful condition. But when we come to see our need for the coming Savior, it will lead to joy and praise of His return as we see the peace brought through His life, death, and resurrection!

Our world today is longing for peace, someone who can save them from the perils we face. They have an expectation that either things will get better or get worse.

May we be ready to respond to expectation and humble enough to point to the One who is coming.

Cleansing Creator and Savior, thank You for saving us. Please give us a heart for the lost, to preach righteousness and salvation, the peace of Christ; and give us a boldness to share the gospel.


No Reason for Envy

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. – Proverbs 23:17

Testimonies

I love to hear stories of how God has changed people’s lives. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thrills to hear how the Lord can take a dreadful, hell-bound sinner and turn him into a saint in all respects.

But sometimes testimonies can turn into a glorification of past sin. Sometimes a well-meaning story of God’s grace can make the average person wish they’d taken a chance at being bad.

Like,

“I once was a drug dealer and had everything money could buy. I woke up with champagne and girls, drove fast all day, and then partied all night until I passed out in the arms of another supermodel. Then Jesus saved me.”

Sorta makes becoming a believer a little anti-climactic, doesn’t it?

The Truth

What we need more of is the truth – not just the truth about the consequences of sin, but the literal joys of following Christ and honoring the Father.

So often we are bombarded by images of those who are doing everything the Bible condemns and having fun while they’re doing it. All of us want to have fun and enjoy life, don’t we? Therefore, these images tend to make a lot of us envious.

But if we had more stories of the joy, peace, and awestruck wonder that accompanies the one who walks in the fear of the Lord, the fleeting pleasures of sin wouldn’t even be worth talking about.


The Rejoicing Woman

Proverbs 31:10,25.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies… Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.” (KJV).
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future.” (NLT).

The Strong Woman:

The first thing we learn about our virtuous woman in this verse is that she is strong. Daniel 11:32b declares: “but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” When we take the time to get to know God, and cultivate our personal relationship with Him, we become strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 gets her strength from the Lord.

Do you want to have the strength to serve the Lord, and do everything you need to do today? The key is found in the Bible: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31). Amen!

The Honored Woman:

Not only is a virtuous woman strong, but she is also one who will be honored. Other translations of the Bible render that word honor as dignity, self-respect, beauty and nobility. A little later in King Lemuel’s poem, he writes: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Women who respect God will be honored by others.

And notice that King Lemuel says that she wears her strength and honor like clothing. She doesn’t need fancy clothes or jewelry to look beautiful – her beauty shines from the inside out.

The Rejoicing Woman:

Finally, we see that a virtuous woman shall rejoice in time to come. There is a joy that comes from living a godly, virtuous life that can’t be found anywhere else! It’s unfortunate that many people have bought the lie that anything that’s fun is sinful, and Christians can’t have fun. The Bible says that Jesus came to bring us life, and that more abundantly (John 10:10). One of my favourite Scriptures is Psalm 16:11: “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Do you need more joy in your life? Joy unspeakable and full of glory? The joy of the Lord that is your strength? Then walk in the pathway of life. Live in God’s presence, where there is fullness of joy, and eternal pleasures! As you walk in holiness, happiness is not far behind. You can rejoice in the Lord always. Taste and see that the Lord is good!

p.s. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Trapped or Rejoicing?

Proverbs 29:6.

“In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.” (KJV).
“Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for joy.” (NLT). 

Of Monkeys and Bananas:

When I was a youth pastor in Surrey, BC, I hosted True Love Waits teenage abstinence seminars for young people. Over the course of several years (from 1999-2004), we saw around 900 teenagers and young adults make pledges to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. In one such event, we invited Dave Koop, the lead pastor of Coastal Church in Vancouver, to speak at the opening session of the weekend event. To this day, I’ve never forgotten this powerful story.

In Africa, they have an interesting method of capturing monkeys in their jungles. They will take a container with a narrow opening in it, and place a banana (or some other sort of sweet-smelling fruit or nuts), and place it in the bottom of the container. Then the hunters hide in the bushes and wait for the monkeys. When the monkey comes to check out the container, he reaches in his little monkey hands and grasps the banana. However, when he goes to take out his hand, which is now closed in a fist around the fruit, he can no longer get it out of the container. Out jump the hunters and club the monkey to death.

The sad part of the story is that at any time, the monkey could drop the banana and take its hand out of the container, but it won’t. And the result is it is trapped. And then it dies.This is Solomon’s Proverb in action: Evil people are trapped by sin.” Sin is a trap that is very difficult to get out of – on our own.

The Joy of Freedom:

Thank God though for the second part of that verse: “but the righteous escape, shouting for joy!” Even though sin is a trap that is difficult for us to escape, the Bible teaches us that Jesus came to save His people from their sins. In the very first sermon Jesus ever preached, He quoted the prophet Isaiah and said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives.” (Luke 4:18). Jesus wants to set us free – not only from the guilt and penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin.

My favourite Christian author, the 19th century Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, told this story that illustrates today’s Proverb well: I remember my old friend, Dr. Alexander Fletcher say to the children that when men came out of prison, they praised him who had set them free. He said that he was going down the Old Bailey one day and he saw a boy standing on his head, turning cartwheels, dancing and jumping about in all manner of ways, and he said to the boy, “What are you doing? You seem to be tremendously happy.” And the boy replied, “Ah, old gentleman, if you had been locked up six months and had just got out, you would be happy, too!”

If you are a Christian, then Jesus has set you free from the trap of sin. Our response? Rejoice!

cartwheel


Parents’ Joy

Proverbs 23:24-25

24 The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.
25 Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.

My Testimony

Today, I begin a new chapter in my theological journey at Phoenix Seminary.

My parents are very proud to see me pursuing ministry for God so diligently and wholeheartedly.

My parents raised me to be respectful. I was also taught to be open-minded yet reasonable.

When I first began attending a local church, they were not enthused. They were worried I might be indoctrinated with bigoted ideas and a judgmental attitude.

Instead, I began to believe what I was taught about the Bible and Jesus of Nazareth. That little Church of the Nazarene congregation helped me see the truth of love and grace and the need of a Lord and Savior.

In less than a year of my believing, of my life being changed, of the Holy Spirit moving through to me to act in wisdom and righteousness, my parents believed in the same Savior.

God the Father sent His Son to die, and then He sent my parents’ son to show them His Son.

It was none of my own righteousness and wisdom that won them over. It was seeing the righteousness and wisdom of the Father – Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit – that drew them to glorify His name!

They found true joy and the true reason to rejoice through me, thanks to our Lord!

A responsible and intelligent child can bring much joy to his or her parents. The greatest joy comes from seeing God manifested in the life of their child, and that is only true if God is manifested in their lives, as well!

Heavenly Father, gracious God, help us to seek You diligently. Live in us and through us that our parents and our children may see Your glory and turn to You. Make our joy complete as Your joy is made complete in us through Your Son.