Many years ago I was teaching a Sunday school class and the topic was JOY. I learned something as I was preparing for that class. There is only one way to spell JOY:
I look at the world today and I see no joy. I see no “ joy unspeakable“ that the Bible refers to in
(1 Peter 1:8)………., you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
It seems that our country has lost its joy. I am not only speaking of unbelievers but take a look at our churches. So many of God's people look sad and defeated, because they have lost the joy of the Lord. Many Christians seem just as lonely, blue and fearful as the unbeliever. It has become a disgraceful testimony to the world, and it is high time every Christian asked himself:
Joy is supposed to be the secret of the Christian life and it appears to be totally absent in this day and age. Church is the one place where life’s burdens should be lighter; where faces and attitudes should reflect a passion, zeal and gusto. People should be asking us why do you have joy in an evil and hateful world?
The most joyful people I have ever known have learned to enjoy their lives, their work, their families, and most of all - their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Such people who serve the Lord have no trouble convincing people around them that Christianity is real and that Christ can transform a life.
I remember many years ago visiting a woman in the hospital who was in critical condition. Her illness had totally crippled her physically. I went to pray with her and spend some time to encourage her and do you know what? She uplifted me! Her attitude of joy was so contagious that our visit together, which was her last, was joyful! Joy is the indicator that announces that the King of kings is in residence in our lives.
Yes, we all have bad days, and I am not so naïve to think that we will always be living on the mountain top. But neither am I so spiritually ignorant that I am not aware that Christ has provided for us in times of those valley experiences- to go through them with us.
You rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory is the intended state of every believer if our faith is anchored firmly in Christ. It can be yours, too. So Choose Wisely!
I recently watched the funeral of the Reverend Billy Graham, as did many millions of others around the world. As a Christian it did my heart good to see how the family reacted to his death. Yes, they were sad that he was gone but there was an attitude of celebration, a spirit of hope. Most funerals and most lives today are perpetuating a spirit of hopelessness. Many non-Christian people are sensing for the first time a genuine hopelessness. Anxiety is all around us as we see terrorist attacks, political fanaticism, social unrest, hate and evil in front of our faces.
What hope can there possibly be for a better world for our children, grandchildren and even our great grandchildren? Where can we find new hope for the present, let alone our future? Where can our friends, family, and neighbors turn for hope? The Bible fully understands that hope is vital to all living people. Proverbs 13:12 (KJV) says: Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. Hope outside of Christ is never realized. Yes, there are so many ways that hope is shattered: sickness, disaster, divorce, violence, debt, addictions, crime, bereavement, defeat, disappointments. These all seem to be symptoms of our modern society and are affecting millions of people, depriving them of peace, happiness and ultimately hope.
In the New Testament the Greek word for hope means the happy anticipation of good. As a Christian we not only have a hope by which to live but we also have a hope by which to die. Hope is the absolute certainty we have that God is good and that His promises are true. Hope is actually personalized in Jesus himself, He is our hope!
Colossians 1:27 …….Christ in you, the hope of glory (all made possible by the Cross).
So wake up Christians because this world needs people with a confident hope. Not a misplaced hope but a secure hope. The words of Jesus himself teach us that things are going to get worse before they get better, especially for the Christian. There is no chapter or verse in the entire Bible that says that God’s people are expected to live dictated to by world circumstances, NO, but there are many verses that tell us that we are to live by the principles and promises of God’s kingdom. We have the greatest hope of all in Titus 2:13 (KJV) Looking for that Blessed Hope --the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. We have a confident expectation that our lives and futures are in the hands of the One greater than the worlds strongest and most awful leaders. Other men see only a hopeless end; but the Christian rejoices in an endless hope.
Listen to the David Crowder song All Our Hope Is In Jesus. It is a good reminder of what the Bible says about Hope.
Christians rejoice in the God of hope, for our hope is a deep, internal certainty rooted in our trust of what God has said.
Rev. Grace Alfieri is a retired Pastor and published author who continues to share the HOPE of JESUS CHRIST in every way possible.