5/29/19 – Pastor Brian’s Blog –
If you are reading this blog the day it is posted, Judy and I will be flying back from Columbia, South Carolina. We have just finished spending a week with 3 of our children and 11 of our grandchildren. We went down to South Carolina to watch our grandson Jesse Eyler graduate from High School. Good news is that he graduated. I don’t take that for granted, as he does have some of my DNA in him! The not so good news; is that Judy and I are old enough to have grandchildren that are college age. How did that happen??
I must admit that we did not find it hard to celebrate Jesse’s accomplishment. We enjoyed the time we were able to spend with our family. As we make our way back to the Manchester, NH airport, memories flow as we think of all the fun things we were able to do and the memories we were able to make.
I enjoy it, when all the circumstances of life come together to create a good place, a safe and enjoyable place, a happy place, yet we know that often in life that is not the case. Sometimes there isn’t good news and bad news. Sometimes it is only bad news.
Bob Marley wrote a song that is familiar to many of us, it goes like this… “Here’s a little song I wrote, you might want to sing it note for note, don’t worry, be happy. In every life we have some trouble, when you worry you make it double. Don’t worry, be happy.” If only being happy was as easy as singing a little jingle.
Yet in real life, things happen. For the Christian, they may not always be happy in the circumstances of life, but they can always have joy. Happiness is often determined by our circumstances, by the things that are going on around us. Good circumstances usually produce a happy face, while difficult circumstances often turn those smiles upside down.
Joy is different. It is different because joy is not created by our circumstances; joy comes from God… “Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 Don’t be fooled into thinking that if I can only get that promotion or buy that new house, or have a new spouse or win the Publisher’s Clearing House Grand prize, I will find joy.
For the Christian, joy is settled in facts, not based on circumstances. Joy is a byproduct of knowing who God is, and living in light of His promises. Promises like, “You will never be alone…” God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
Joy comes from knowing that no matter the circumstances surrounding me, God has it covered, and will use it for my good… And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Joy isn’t manufactured by a bank account overflowing with money. It comes from knowing that whatever need I have, God knows about it… So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:31-33
Not only does God know about all my needs, God has commissioned Jesus to take care of them… And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
We receive joy from knowing our sins are all forgiven…. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 That we have a home prepared for us that is out of this world… In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2-3
Circumstances looked pretty bad for Paul and Silas, but they did not allow the circumstances or the problems of life to rob them of their joy… The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:22-25
How does that happen? How can you have joy and how can you be singing hymns and praising God when you hurt so badly? It can only happen when you put your trust in God’s promises and allow Him to provide the joy that only comes from Him.
Paul and Silas found joy, not in their circumstances, but in the promises of God… Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4
Harry Bollback would ask people how they were doing. When they would answer, “Good, under the circumstances,” Harry would respond by asking, “Why are you under the circumstances?” If you are a Christian living “under the circumstances” and you have lost your joy, Jesus said there is something to be joyful about… “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20
We couldn’t stay forever in South Carolina; we had to come back to NH, back to our “normal” life. Although the happiness meter might be down a few notches, the joy meter is sky high. Sky high because no matter what happens, I know that we will be together again, if not here on earth, we will be together in heaven for all eternity. Not because I wish it to be, but because Jesus said it would be… And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3