Choose Joy

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                  “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” – Philippians.4:4

In most cases, even us Christians have fluctuating feelings depending on our situations. These are God given feelings. God has given us all these feelings of happiness, sadness, love, empathy and even anger and hatred. It’s just a matter of how we use them, that makes it a holy/unholy behaviour. For example, we are meant to hate sin, we are meant to be angry when we see injustice or something wrong. It’s also about what we do with those feelings; whether we act on them or just feel them and stay quiet. 

Today’s subject however, focuses on joy and happiness. This is what God has been teaching me. For the major part of my life, in fact right up to recently, i didn’t understand the difference. 

Now as the Holy Spirit taught me to meditate on this, I learnt that happiness is conditional, but rejoicing is a decision. Situations determine whether we feel happy or sad. For example, if something bad happens, you’re bound to feel sad or upset and something great happens, like meeting a long lost family or friend, you are bound to be happy. 🙂 

Joy however, does not fluctuate with situations. It’s anchored deep in the heart as a founded truth. As Christians, Paul is reminding us in the above verse that we are to rejoice at all times. All times?? Even when we are going through tough time? I know a friend who’s going through a grieving time due to a loss of a family member. Am I to tell her, ‘you need to rejoice’? 

Paul the apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote this while he himself was in prison. He sure knows what pain and suffering is, because he says,

“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. In my frequent journeys, I have been in danger from rivers and from bandits, in danger from my countrymen and from the Gentiles, in danger in the city and in the country, in danger on the sea and among false brothers, in labor and toil and often without sleep, in hunger and thirst and often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from these external trials, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” – 2 Corinthians.11: 24-28

To the outside world, it seems madness to say I rejoice in my suffering, for they see no reason to rejoice for in their moments of despair. But, as followers of the Risen Christ, as children of the Almighty, as a nation waiting for the establishment of God’s Kingdom, we have so much to rejoice for!! 

The Bible says: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians.4:16-18

There is so much joy in that, don’t you agree?! This great gift of salvation we have received, this everlasting love we have been loved, this mercy we have received, and this hope of His 2nd coming that’s placed in us… Don’t these make our temporary troubles minute? When we think of all that’s been done for us and all the promises that are yet to come, when we take our eyes off what surrounds and look up to that mount  to see the glory and peace and everlasting worship looking to the face of our Beloved, wouldn’t we jump for joy, raise our hands in praise and smile?

Dear reader, we all have our own struggles and pains in life, and we all have moments of unhappiness, but let us not allow those situations and the enemy to steal our inner joy – that is only found in Christ. 

Rejoice brother/sister, rejoice… for your King reigns high above all,

                                                          for you are a child of the King, 

                                                          for your God is Sovereign,

                                                        for you are honoured in His sight and the apple of His eye,

                                                         for you are engraved in the palms of His hands,

                                                         for you are carried on His wings,  

                                                         for your Lover’s life gave you eternity with Him. 

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FAITHFUL in February

Dear readers, here’s a great lesson I have been learning through this month amongst many other things. If there’s one character of God that really means a lot to me, it’s His faithfulness! I always said, “God is faithful”, but never understood the extent of what it actually really meant in my life. So now God showed me a glimpse of it, I pray He does the same for you through His words.

Bible verses on faithfulness

“God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” – 1 Cor.1:9

“The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” – 1 Thess.5:24

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” – 2 Tim.2:13

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” – 1 Cor.4:2

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” – Heb.10:23

“He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them – He remains faithful forever.” – Psalm.146:6

“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” – 2 Thess.3:3

Faithfulness defined

“He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.” – Deut.32:4

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Faithful implies: Long continued and steadfast fidelity to whatever one is bound to by pledge, duty or obligation.

God is all these things because, He is Love! His love compels Him to be faithful and His faithfulness compels Him to love.

 

  1. Constant

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” – Romans.12:12

God’s faithfulness does not change by circumstances, because His faithfulness makes Him constant, unchanging and unswerving.

Faithfulness requires remaining true to who you are and what you’ve promised. Thus, God’s faithfulness makes Him dependable and trustworthy, because you can be sure that no matter what happens, He remains the same.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James.1:17

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” – Heb.13:8

 

1.1 Time

Constancy has an element of time and change as part of its equation. Yet this element (constancy) stays the same despite those two variables. Being constant requires time. If time didn’t move on, how can you say that something has changed or not changed?

Indeed time reveals many things in life. And being faithful means: even if time is passing, even if all circumstances change, you remain true and firm in your original word/promise/belief.

This means faithfulness requires patience. Because we don’t know what the future holds and we are almost certain that time and circumstances move/push against our constancy, faithfulness becomes a difficult battle.

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  1. Hope

“Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?” – Prov.20:6anchor.png

Hope is the anchor on which faith is attached to. The stronger the anchor, the more secure the faith. It’s also amazing that an anchor is in the shape of a cross. It reminds us that the cross is our greatest source of hope. Because the cross tells us that we are now God’s children and our Heavenly Father wants the best for us. And because our Father is faithful, we find the courage and strength to be faithful.

 

2.1 Vision

anchor2Vision is the ground on which faith is planted on. This vision is God’s word and promise. Vision is where hope faces towards. Unless you have an end goal or destination, you are dropping your anchor on shallow grounds.

 

 

2.2 The wind and storms

The wind and storms are the forces mentioned earlier (such as time and circumstances) that try to move faithfulness from its rooted ground. With passing time, patience’s thread can weaken and with intensifying wind of circumstances, the anchor (hope) can be shaken.

Yet there’s one good news even in all this. The ground beneath on which the anchor holds on to, is constant and undisturbed by the wind and storms. This constant and unchanging faithfulness of our God is what makes a Christian smile and still able to say, “I’m good, by God’s grace.” This strong foundation is what enables a Christian to be faithful despite changing times and circumstances. And because of this, many of our fathers considered it pure joy to partake in His suffering.

 

  1. The reward

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” – Matt.25:23

Being faithful does not depend on the size or type of matter we are entrusted with. What really matters is how we have dealt with it; whether we have been faithful or wicked or lazy.

Christ is the perfect image of faithfulness. He remained faithful to His calling until the end, even when it cost Him His life. And as His followers, we ought to be faithful just as He is, whether in small or great tasks, whether in the storms or relative peace.

May we find great comfort in knowing that He is faithful to us at all times and may that spur us on to imitate and reflect our loving Father! Amen!

“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep His commands and remain faithful to Jesus.” – Rev.14:12

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True…” – Rev.19:11