Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Returning to Joy

Chuckle: "Why is it that at class reunions you feel younger than everyone else looks?"
Quote: "Happiness is not a station to arrive at, but a manner of traveling." --Margaret Lee Runbeck

"God blesses those who realize their need of him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:3-4 NLT).
Jesus began His Sermon on the Mount by giving us what are often called, "The Beatitudes." The theme of the Beatitudes is the path to a joy-filled life -- not just flashes of happiness, but constant and ever-present inexplicable joy. Do you have this kind of joy? As a Christian, no doubt you can remember the joy that filled your heart and mind when you first trusted Jesus Christ as Savior. There was a new presence in your life, the Holy Spirit, and you were elated that your sins had been forgiven and your eternal destiny with God had been sealed. But maybe as time has passed, that joy has diminished somewhat.
The way to joy is total dependence on God. In verse 3, some translations read, "Blessed are the poor in Spirit." The picture here is of the spiritually destitute -- the poorest of the poor -- the spiritually bankrupt. Max Lucado says we are "beggars in God's soup kitchen."  This is how we all stand before God. However, when we begin to understand our plight and see ourselves in this light, we are in the right frame of mind to see our desperate need for God's help. But the sad reality for many is that they go through life thinking they are doing just fine. They may think they can be good enough to please God and receive his joy. However, those who recognize their condition in the eyes of God and turn to him will receive His joy. We receive the indescribable riches of God's grace.
The second way to joy is to grieve (mourn) over our sin. "Blessed are those who mourn" describes what can be called "Godly sorrow." "For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow, But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death" (2 Corinthians 7:10 NLT).
The sorrow God wants us to have is genuine sorrow to the point of mourning and grieving over our sinful condition. This kind of sorrow will turn us to God. But the other kind of sorrow described in this verse is "I'm sorry I got caught," and does not result in repentance but a return to sin. When we see ourselves as spiritually destitute and begin to grieve and mourn over our condition and turn to God in faith and repentance, God will replace all our sorrow with His joy and comfort.
The world can never give us this kind of joy. If you are a Christian, you experienced God's joy when you received Christ into your heart and life. But, it behooves each of us to sorrow over sin that may have crept into our lives and is robbing us of the joy of our salvation. God, in his love and mercy, has made provision for us Christians who sin. "But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong" (I John 1:9 NLT). Then we can once again experience the joy of our salvation -- the joy not dependent upon circumstances.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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