Wednesday, March 29, 2006


What distinguishes you as a Christian? Not just what we say, but what we do, and how we act, and more importantly, how we react. Are you different than the world around you?

Philippians 4:4 – rejoice in the Lord always
1 Thessalonians 5:16 – rejoice evermore

It sure seems hard to rejoice when things aren’t going so well, however. Actually that is part of the problem, because what we do is we look to our present circumstance only to define our mental state. It is sometimes difficult to remain on an even keel when everything else is off kilter. What are we to do to remedy the situation?

Well, what many try and do is to “tip the scales” by seeking out fun things, things that will lighten the moment, things that they believe will bring a temporary sense of joy. Then this excitement will balance out the negatives, or so they believe. The problem with this is that joy is not a temporary thing. Happiness in circumstances is temporary, and finding pleasure in the present only leads to becoming addicted to “fun”, as if this is the real way to lasting joy.

It isn’t.

Fun is fun, but it is only part of the pursuit. Christians who have a biblical worldview (not all of them do) understand that fun things can be made more enjoyable because of out understanding of their place in life. Fun is fun, and things such as sports and such enjoyable and not necessarily evil in themselves, but their place is to point us to Christ. Yes, I said that. The glorious feeling we get when listening to Beethoven, the sense of wonder we get when looking at Michelangelo, the heightened imagination we get from reading Shakespeare, these all are only parts of the reality of the world we cannot see. These things point us to a greater reality, the reality of the spiritual.

Ice cream may be wonderful to a child, but what it represents is a simple picture of the delight we are to find in Christ. Earthly pleasures and pictures are only shadows of something greater. All art, writing, and music, etc., are essentially attempts to reach out and capture something of the majesty that we seek after, a yearning for something beyond our normal experience, even when these things point to normal experiences. A Christian who understands this will be able to enjoy temporal things with a better sense of their place, and not as the “be all and end all” of existence. They won’t have to succumb to the need to be entertained.

Many things give us thrills, but they do not last. I went to see Beethoven’s Ninth symphony performed recently, and I love that piece of music. Including the voices it was over 250 people involved, and there were three renowned vocalists taking lead parts, all singing in the native German. I may not have understood it all, but it was marvelous. “Ode to Joy” – it brings the goose bumps, but they go away. The question is, how do we get and how do we keep true, lasting joy?

Nehemiah 8:10 – the joy of the Lord is our strength
John 15:10-12 – it is the joy of Jesus (vs. 11), and we get it through loving one another (vs.12)

Psalm 16:11 – in the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy
Psalm 105:3-4 – seeking His face brings the joy and His strength

1 Peter 1:8 – joy unspeakable and full of glory
Romans 14:17 – the kingdom is joy, Thy kingdom come!

The devil wants to “destroy the joy” with circumstances, but we can have joy when the world cannot. This is what the world needs to see, that we trust in the goodness of our God and have joy despite circumstances. It isn’t, “okay under the circumstances”, it’s living above our circumstances, living from God’s perspective, it is prophetic living (James 1:2 / 2 Corinthians 6:10 / Psalm 126:6 / Psalm 30:5).

Joy is like a thermostat not a thermometer – we need to get the joy and let it permeate our lives, not react when we are happy, that is glee. The world substitutes thrill for true joy, thrills die out, and it is the nature of a thrill not to last, so you have people seeking thrills. Instead they ought to have true joy, it doesn’t go away, we need to seek it, and rediscover it.

Psalm 51:12 – repentance brings true joy
1 John 1:4 – Jesus restores fellowship with us so that we can rejoice
Romans 15:13 – joy comes through believing

The world needs to see us as Christians having as much fun as they are but only in a better way, and in a way that honors God, and in a way that doesn’t need to be entertained all the time. The world also needs to see us as Christians blessing God and not blaming God “when the chips are down”, and it needs to see us turning to Him instead of turning to doubt and turning to temporary excitements when the going gets rough. This will point others to Christ, when we have true joy. Amen.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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