Tag Archives: Joy

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

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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.

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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

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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!

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