11 I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy. – John 15:11 NCV
Jesus wants each of us to know the same joy that He knew because of His relationship with the Father. Because of the Holy Spirit, we have access to that same joy. Happiness is temporary and fleeting but the joy that we have is a fruit of the Spirit. Since the Spirit never leaves us, we always have access to that joy.
22 But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness–Gal. 5:22 (NCV)
We also have access to the same love and the same knowledge. As we learn to love Jesus, obedience becomes an act of adoration and not an act of obligation. One of the results of loving Jesus is that we will also love those around us and it will be easy to show them that we love them thus making it easier to obey the command that we should love each other. The Holy Spirit produces love and joy all the time. The question for us is this: If we are not full of love and joy, why not? Maybe we need to check our connection to the flow of the Spirit. Or as Zig Ziglar said (and I paraphrase here) We need a “checkup from the neck up to get rid of stinking thinking and replace it with an attitude of gratitude”.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.
— 1 Timothy 6:6 NLT
As more people in our society are finding out, we can be materially rich today and in poverty tomorrow. We need to learn to be content with just the basics; food, clothing, shelter. C H Spurgeon says that 95% of Christians fail the prosperity test and only 5% fail the poverty test. That is another way of saying what Paul is telling Timothy here. Money is neither good nor evil, that is determined by the use we make of the resources we have. While the world pursues monetary gain, we should be pursuing spiritual wisdom. It is important for us to remember that no matter who signs the paycheck, God is the source of all our wealth. He is the source of all of our blessings and provides every thing we need.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
38 “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? — Luke 24:38 NLT
As the two men who had met Jesus on the road to Emmaus were sharing their story with the disciples, Jesus suddenly appeared among them. Jesus spoke to them and said “Peace be with you”. But they were startled and frightened, how could this be? After three years of walking with Jesus and hearing HIs teachings on a daily basis, the disciples were still not convinced that Jesus would really be resurrected. They thought they were looking at a ghost. Jesus told them to look closely and see that it was really HIm. He invited them to touch Him and know that He was real. Still, they were not fully convinced, so Jesus asked for something to eat. We can wonder at the unbelief and lack of faith of the disciples but we show that same unbelief and lack of faith when we are fearful and worry about things. We need to examine ourselves and ask ourselves the same questions that Jesus asked the disciples, “why are we frightened and why are our hearts filled with doubt”? God has told us over 365 times in the Bible in one form or the other, :“DO NOT FEAR!”. Yet, is there a day that goes by that we do not express fear and doubt with our words and/or actions? Instead of accessing the peace and the joy that Jesus has promised and is waiting to give each of us so that we can enjoy today with Him, we obsess over what MIGHT happen tomorrow. If we really believe that Jesus can and will provide our every need, then we should just rest in His arms and allow Him do exactly what He said He would do.
11 You will make known to me the path of life;In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. — Psalm 16:11 NASB
In our busy, busy world, we often think about just getting away from it all. Just go somewhere and relax, where we don’t even have to think about anything. Perhaps, at some time in the past, that was possible (I doubt it), but, not now. Why? Because we take everything with us. It fits easily in our pockets, it is lightweight and it is our umbilical cord to the world. We think we can’t live without it. I posit that we can’t truly live with it. It is time to cut the cord and relax in the arms of Jesus. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life.” So, to experience life, we must experience Jesus. To experience Jesus, we must spend time with Him, both in quality and in quantity. Time with Him and Him alone. While we do need time away from our jobs with just the family, we need time away from everything and everybody with just Him; Our God is a great God and a good God. Yes, we need to fear (as in respect) Him for who He is, but we also need to understand that He loves us and longs for our companionship. He longs for us to be focused and fully dependent on Him. So, if you are looking for real life, real peace and real joy, run to Him, curl up in HIs lap, marinate yourself in His presence and just experience His love. You will never want to leave that spot. It is totally impossible to live a life of joy and peace without being completely addicted to Jesus.
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” — Matt. 11:28-30 NLT
3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. — Isaiah 26:3, 4 NIV
The eye of a hurricane is the calmest part of the storm, there is usually no wind and the skies are clear. It is usually true that the stronger the storm the better defined the eye of the hurrciance will be. The eye is surrounded by an eyewall of thunderstorms that contain the most dangerous weather. When a hurricane is at sea, the eye is still calm except at sea level where waves may reach a height of 130 feet. If we can compare the violence of the world around us to a hurricane, we can see that there is a place of peace and calmness in the middle of all that chaos. But we can’t just sit on the surface and wait, we have to prepare for the storm by keeping our eyes on Jesus and not on the world. By trusting completely in Him, we can rise above the waves and live in peace in the midst of the storm. When the storm starts to dissipate, the eyewall will start to break down and we will experience some winds but they will not be strong enough to harm us. There will be some rain but only enough to water us and make us grow, not enough to wash us away. God never allows more than we can bear. If we choose to focus on the world and its carnality, we will find ourselves in the eyewall of the storm. But if we repent and pray Peter’s short prayer. “Lord, save me”, He will stretch out His hand and pull us to safety. We can’t stop the hate and violence in the world, but God has provided a place of peace and safety for His children. The choice is ours. We can choose to stay focused on Jesus and live in the peace that He gives us or stay where we are and live in the chaos.
10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. — Isaiah 54:10 NIV
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. — John 14:27 NIV
In our daily lives, why do we not experience the peace that God has made available to us? Is there a secret to finding and holding onto that peace? Is it necessary to do something special or quote a particular verse to access the peace that God has so freely given to us? Is that peace for now or for some time in the future? Is that peace even real? If we could discover how to find and hold onto that peace, wouldn’t it be a great blessing to us and a great message to a world in chaos?
Maybe, it starts with our definition of peace. God’s peace isn’t the absence of troubles or violence or loss or storms. It is learning to have peace while we live in and go through those times. Jesus, as a man suffered rejection, ridicule, betrayal, and tremendous persecution, yet He did not sin by worrying or being afraid, but held onto the peace that the Father gave Him. We say,”Yes, but Jesus was _______” and you can fill in the blank. The truth is that while He was on earth, Jesus was fully human. He walked, talked, grew tired, rested, became hungry and ate common food. He was, in fact, just like us, except that He didn’t sin. He is our example that peace is not a lack of certain issues but a gift that we must learn to experience everyday. When He was in the boat with the disciples in the midst of the storm, He slept. The disciples became anxious and feared for their lives. Jesus spoke, the storm dissipated and peace was restored to the sea. Jesus is with us in the boat as we sail through life. When the storms come, ask Him to speak to your storm and experience His peace. So, it is not some secret formula, it is complete faith in believing what Jesus said.
29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. — Acts 17:29, 30 NIV
When we read scriptures about idol worship, we tend to think of those that worship statues or symbols of dead men or useless religions. While we may not have an image of the dollar setting on the mantle of the fireplace, we can still be worshiping all the things that money can buy. While we may not have statues of anyone in our homes or churches, we can still hold others in higher esteem than we hold Jesus. If someone asks you to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or violates your beliefs and you go ahead and do it, you have placed that person above Jesus. Our work here is to do the will of the Father, not the will of those around us.
38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.– John 6:38 NIV
We are not in a popularity contest. Our goal should be to please our Father. If we do that, He will take care of us. If we are obedient and seek Jesus and His righteousness, He will handle all of the issues that satan puts in our way.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. — Matt. 6:33 NIV
“All these things” is everything that we need to live a Godly lifestyle. Everything means every thing. Don’t stress out. Repent, Relax, Remember, Repeat.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. — Eph. 4:4-8 NIV
Though the official day of Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year, we need to continue to let that attitude of gratefulness rule in our hearts and lives on a daily basis. We are fast approaching the season that we will be celebrating the greatest Gift of all, so we have every reason to continue in our celebration of thanksgiving and remembrance of all that God has done and continues to do for us. We should continue to rejoice and cast our cares on the Lord by presenting them to Him through our prayers and petitions. If we do this, we will find that peace that transcends all human understanding. We need to keep our focus on Jesus, who is the total embodiment of all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Think about such things, especially when satan tries to put thoughts in our heads that would destroy the peace that Jesus died for us to have. We have the Prince of Peace Himself as our constant companion, learn to lean on Him and experience the joy of total dependence on our Lord and Savior.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited..—Romans 12:16 NIV
To live in harmony or peace requires us to put the needs of others above ours. To develop and maintain a relationship requires giving from both sides. It isn’t give and take, it is give and then give some more. To do this requires each of us to be humble, not just with those close to us, but with the strangers we meet on the street. We should never presume that we are better or of higher position than those that God brings across our path. Our birth and our address do not give us, as Christians, any right to feel or act better than others. In fact, it requires us to do just the opposite. It requires us to love the “unlovable” and to touch the “untouchables”, just as Jesus did. If ever, we should meet someone and presume that we are of higher or better position than they are, it is pride that makes us feel that way. Presumption and pride are sins.
12 People cannot see their own mistakes. Forgive me for my secret sins.
13 Keep me from the sins of pride; don’t let them rule me. Then I can be pure
and innocent of the greatest of sins. Psalm 19:12,13 NCV