Happiness is an emotion we experience every so often. It’s a powerful emotion. It’s the kind of emotion we find ourselves pursuing.
Happiness is like a powerful drug. Once we have tasted it we want to taste more of it. Our bodies; our minds want to experience more of it. We deliberately seek happiness.
Happiness is envisioned in opening gifts at Christmas morning. Happiness is the anticipation of receiving something. For most of us we find happiness in watching our children and grandchildren express their happiness at their good fortune on Christmas morning.
Happiness is the emotion we feel when walking hand-in-hand with out beloved mate or your baby no matter how old your baby may be. Your baby is happy and secure in the knowledge you are close-by. Your protection is near.
Happiness is being surprised by your friends on your birthday. They remembered your birthday. They thought enough of you to remember your birthday. Happiness is laughing at a good joke.
We all want happiness. We pursue it in our jobs and try to bank happiness. Happiness is an ideal that we chase and reach for.
Happiness is dependent on circumstances and circumstances change. My friends, happiness passes away. The toys that brought happiness rust. The loved ones we count on disappoint us. Those we put so much stock in for our happiness die; our parents, loved ones, friends.
Happiness deteriorates. One day; inevitably that thing that brought happiness is gone.
JOY, ON THE OTHER HAND, RUNS FAR DEEPER THAN HAPPINESS.
Joy’s root is in Christ where happiness is rooted in a happening. Christ is permanent and the joy in Him is forever. Happiness is fleeting.
Joy is the confident assurance that Christ Jesus is at the center of life and of living. Joy is the knowledge that God, The Father, has taken away our sins through the everlasting love of Christ Jesus. Joy is the knowledge and understanding that God is at work in our hearts.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Joy is knowing that God will be there for us no matter what!
Philippians has been called “Paul’s Joy Letter.” It is an epistle full of love and expressions of grace to a church in Macedonia that has supported Paul and encouraged him. It’s an epistle full of love and expressions of grace through the Holy Spirit written directly to you and to me. It’s a letter written to encourage us. It is a letter reminding us of God’s affection for us.
There is real joy in Christian living and this letter points that joy out to us.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Paul has suffered more for his Christian walk than many men could bear. He was flogged and beaten multiple times. He was run out of town on a number of occasions. He was penniless and he was hungry. He was ill without cure.
Philippians 4:11, 12
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Paul’s joy rests in the strength he prayed for. He was enabled by God “…to rejoice in the Lord always.”
Paul’s purpose was to walk as Christ in Him led him to walk. Everything in Paul’s life was joy in his relationship with Christ Jesus.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Even in times of need our hearts as Christians are filled with joy. When our lives are full as Christians we share our joy. This year reach out to the Lord. Ask Him for the strength and power to hold and know the righteousness of Christ is in you. Share His love. And, as always thank Him for His grace. Amen