Sunday, June 5, 2011

Joy!

Joy.
It is what Stephen had when they stoned him.
It is what Daniel had in the lion’s den.
It is what Shadrach, Meshach and Abindago knew and held on to, not bowing to an image.
It is what Paul and Silus had when they had no hope in the prison.It is what Martyrs all over the world know that keeps them going through torture day after day.
It is what we are strengthened with when, through Christ Jesus, we endure trials and tribulations of many kinds, and the reason that we sing to the Lord even when it seems as if everything is lost.


The religion of Christ is the religion of JOY. Christ came to take away our sins, to roll off our curse, to unbind our chains, to open our prisonhouse, to cancel our debt; in a word, to give us the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Is not this joy? Where can we find a joy so real, so deep, so pure, so lasting? There is every element of joy - deep, ecstatic, satisfying, sanctifying joy - in the gospel of Christ. The believer in Jesus is essentially a happy man. The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful man. His sins are forgiven, his soul is justified, his person is adopted, his trials are blessings, his conflicts are victories, his death is immortality, his future is a heaven of inconceivable, unthought-of, untold, and endless blessedness. With such a God, such a Saviour, and such a hope, is he not, ought he not, to be a joyful man?
Octavius Winslow
Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him! Psalms 33:1 
The Lord has filled me up with so much joy lately! I can not even explain the song in my soul! He has done miraculous things and I praise His name. Jesus is still teaching me in many ways, to live out this verse: 
"Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing..." 2 Corinthians 6:10


How can we not obey God's command to be joyful always (1 Thessalonians 5:16) when He has laid down His very own life for us? How is it, that we, who claim to be Christians can be anxious, fearful or stressed, when we see all that their Saviour has done for us? It is such a precious promise when the Lord tells us that He supplies us with all we need for life and godliness - yes, He even supplies the joy.

Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God. Robert Schuller
There is a joy which is not given to the ungodly, but to those who love Thee for Thine own sake, whose joy Thou Thyself art. And this is the happy life, to rejoice to Thee, of Thee, for Thee; this it is, and there is no other. St. Augustine
 A beam of God's countenance is enough to fill the heart of a believer to overflowing. It is enough to light up the pale cheek of a dying saintwith seraphic brightness, and make the heart of the lone widow sing for joy.                                    Robert Murray M'Cheyne
My little brother, Jesse, was deeply distressed the other day. He walked around saying "Jesus died on the cross" (with a very sad voice) and pointing to his hands he would say "He had cuts on His hands and it was bloody". My sister had read him a children's book about the crucification. She had not gotten to the part where Jesus rises from the dead, so Jesse thought that was the end of the story and he was deeply saddened. Eventually, trying to calm him a little bit and if possible, put a smile back on his face, I took Jesse (who was so upset over the fact that "there were cuts on His hands!") on to my lap,  and I read him the rest of the story telling him how Jesus rose from the grave, and although it is very sad that He had to die for us, it is a very happy thing that He came back to life. Jesse became very happy and explained once again to everybody that Jesus now is alive!  :)

I was pondering Jesse's sorrow about how Jesus died, and then his joyful heart when he heard that Jesus is alive, even today! I realized clearly how we too ought to be deeply distressed over the fact that the Lord actually had to give His life for us, in order for us to truly live, yet live our lives with a joy beyond explanation of our Saviour's love for us. It is so precious, the joy of new life. Jesus is so marvelous!!


We are to cast all of our cares on the Lord. He truly will sustain us with an outpouring of joy which will strengthen us. 
Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!" Nehemiah 8:10
For those of you who have not fully taken that as your own, that the joy of the Lord is your strength, I would like to encourage you to bask in His presence. James 4:8 says "Come near to the Lord, and He will come near to you". That is a promise and you can claim it for your own. Come near to Jesus through prayer and supplication and He will come near to you. Come into the sweet presence of the Lord. 
 "Thou wilt shew me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" Psalm 16:11 
Is your joy full? Are you joyful always? If your answer is no, I would like to encourage you to keep looking towards our Beloved Jesus, and get into the Lord's presence so that you may experience fullness of joy! Ask of Him and you will receive joy everlasting, but it is very important that we come humbly into His presence with repentant hearts. For His glory, we ought to be joyful always as He commanded! 

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2 

I love you all dearly and pray for you often. Keep your eyes fixed on Him who is worthy! Trust in our King, who is deserving of all glory! 
In Christ Jesus, 

Hannah Brooke Hartman

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