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Chasing Endurance, Issue #002 -- The Joy Edition
November 15, 2015
Once again, I want to say thanks for subscribing to the Chasing Endurance newsletter. This edition will be about “Choosing Joy.”
I'm going to ask you to take a minute to think about or jot down those things that prevent you from being happy or joyous.
Ready? Okay. I'm going to share something I've recently discovered: God wants us to have joy. Did you get that?
God. Wants. Us. To. have. Joy.
While you're letting that sink in...
In this edition we'll have:
Remember, weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.
Have you ever noticed how easy it to get bogged down in the cares of this world? The bills need to be paid, a family member gets sick and it seems there’s never enough to money to go around. There’s a problem at work, a co-worker who’s not pulling their weight or some crisis that demands more attention than it should. We wonder if the school of our choice is the best one for our child. We think about other, “better” options that we would make if only we had enough money. All these things serve as siphoners of our joy. Let’s call them “joy-suckers”. Pretty soon, if we’re not careful we become the bitter old woman or the grumpy old man that everyone avoids. But this is not what God intended for us.
Jesus, while He was on earth, told us that we will have tribulations (John 16:33) and it’s human nature to focus on the trials that we’re going through, because, well, let’s face it, life can be hard. But James told us to “count it all joy” (James 1:2). We need to get intentional about being joyful in everything. When life gives us sour oranges, we have to choose to make lemonade, or as Jamaicans call it “bebridge”. So this month I want us to focus on choosing joy.
Choosing joy means being intentional about how we live. We have to be able to say, “Yes, I know that money is tight, but I choose to focus on the good things. I choose to focus on the fact that my family members are alive and in good health.”
Choosing joy means that even if you’re having a bad day, the moment you realize it, you choose to respond differently and change your attitude.
Too many of us believe that Christianity is about solemnity and following a bunch of rules. We allow our expectations or that of our churches to suck the joy out of us. But you know what? God is a god of Joy. Don’t believe me? Let’s go the scriptures.
The New King James Version has 192 references to joy, here are just a few:
“Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything…” Deuteronomy 28:47
And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the LORD made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. Ezra 6:22
Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:4,7
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises. Psalm 98:4
I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness..” Galatians 5:22
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials… James 1:2
I hope you see the pattern. There was joy when God created the earth. God gives us joy. We are to worship and serve Him joyfully.
Interview with Paul of Tarsus
There’s a man who is well-known by every believer. He had one of those 180 degrees conversion stories. One day he was persecuting people for believing in Jesus, the next day he was preaching Jesus as the Christ. Can you guess who I’m talking about? If you said Paul, you’d be absolutely right (or maybe you just read my heading, hmmm.)
I wanted to look at Paul’s life because we’re talking about joy this month. And the truth of the matter is: if he can keep his joy then we can too. Let’s imagine for a moment that Paul was being interviewed on television. The reporter has come to visit him in those last few weeks of his life. He’s imprisoned, chained, unable to move about as he would like but he still he finds things to be joyous about.
Reporter: Hi Paul, thanks for agreeing to see us.
Paul: It’s my pleasure.
Reporter: You must be one of the most unfortunate persons on this planet. You’ve been beaten with rods three times by the Romans. You have been stoned. You have been shipwrecked. You have been arrested at least two times. Why do you continue to preach Jesus as the Messiah?
Paul: There’s no salvation in anyone else. God has not given any other name by which we may be saved. I was called to be His apostle and set apart for the gospel of God. I was sent to bear the news of Jesus to the Gentiles, kings and Jews. If I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
Reporter: A few years ago you were persecuting the Christians. How did you get to this place where instead of being the persecutor, you’re now being persecuted?
Paul: Well, it’s a pretty interesting story. I was on my way to see the high priest. I wanted letters that could be used to arrest the disciples of Christ so that they could be brought bound to Jerusalem.
As I came near Damascus, a light shone around me from heaven. I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to me, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
I asked, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the voice said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” I was so astonished, I started trembling and said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Then the Lord said to me, “Get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men who traveled with me were in shock. They also heard a voice but could see no one. When I got up from the ground, and opened my eyes I couldn’t see. My companions took me by the hand and brought me into Damascus. For three days I was without sight, and I neither ate nor drank.
A man named Ananias came to the house where I was staying. He told me he had gotten a vision from the Lord. He laid his hands on me and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Immediately there fell from my eyes something like scales, and I received my sight at once; and I arose and was baptized.
Reporter: Wow! That’s quite a story. I noticed though that you used to go by the name Saul but now you’re known as Paul. Why is that?
Paul: (He smiles) You see, God has made such a dramatic change in my life I feel like a whole new person. The name change is a slight reflection of what happened inside my heart. Saul was the persecutor of the Christians, Paul is the servant of God bringing the news of the gospel to the whole world.
Reporter: I have one final question for you Paul. If you could say one thing to the followers of Christ, what would it be?
Paul: One thing? I’m not sure I could think of just one thing to say. But, I would encourage them to always be full of joy in the Lord. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks. Fight a good fight. Finish your race. Keep the faith. Keep your eyes on Christ. If he could endure the cross for the joy set before Him, we can endure also. Let us continue to offer the sacrifice of praise to God, giving thanks always unto His name.
My friends, joy has to be a choice. We have to deliberately decide that we want to claim the joy that God offers. If we don’t choose joy then it means we’re choosing other things: misery, depression, sorrow …
Like Paul, my family and I are making the decision to choose joy. I hope you’ll join us.
What's New on Hebrews12Endurance.com
For the month of November we're focusing on those "But God" moments in the Bible. There are some times that we are go through hardship and we wonder what's going to happen. As we examine these stories, we see the hand of God working in the lives of His people and we can draw comfort from the fact that He will work in our lives too. God never changes. He's the same today, yesterday and forevermore.
We've also added a new feature - Bible verse of the Week. We spend the week exploring one text. We look at in its context, we dig into it to pull out its meaning. We don't just want to memorize, we want to really understand what God has to say to us.
Thanks for taking the time to read this month's Chasing Endurance. Talk to you soon!
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