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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #12)

BLESSING #12: The Blessing of a Permanent Joy
Joseph Haydn was once criticized for the gaiety of his church music. He replied: “I cannot help it. I give forth what is in me. When I think of the Divine Being, my heart is so full of joy that the notes fly off as from a spindle. And as I have a cheerful heart, He will pardon me if I serve Him cheerfully.”

“Count your blessings — Name them one by one . . . “🎶 I sang this song as a young Christian. In thinking about my unsaved friend Mike, I’m counting the blessings I have in Christ. My heart goes out to him — for he doesn’t have these blessings because he doesn’t have the Lord.

I long for my friend to have this next blessing. And I want to remind my family in Christ that —

12. WE HAVE A PERMANENT JOY !

THE BLESSING Joy is quite different from the kind of temporary happiness our world offers. Happiness, as someone has said, depends on happenings. Joy for the believer is solid and lasting and eternal, for it comes from the everlasting God! Dr. Willard S. Krabill has said that “The mentally and emotionally healthy are those that have learned when to say Yes, when to say No, and when to say Whoopee!”

THE BIBLE Jesus had much to say about joy. He promises a complete joy in John 15:11 when He says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  He challenges His followers in John 16 by saying, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (v. 24). He promises that the disciples’ grief will turn to joy in John 16:20 and that no one can take away their joy (v. 22).

Spiritual leaders like C.S. Lewis and John Piper focused much of their ministry on the concept of pursuing joy in the Lord. “Joy is the serious business of heaven,” Lewis said.

He also wrote,
“Either the day must come when joy prevails and all the makers of misery are no longer able to infect it, or else, for ever and ever, the makers of misery can destroy in others the happiness they reject for themselves.”

Pastor John Piper so aptly wrote,
“Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It’s a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God. If we don’t want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel.”

ACTION STEPS 1. List several joy killers that you have experienced recently. These may be circumstances — or people! What steps can you take to not allow those issues or individuals to steal your joy?
2. Unit-reading is reading an entire book of the Bible at one sitting. Unit-read the book of Philippians each day this week, and take a few notes on the topic of joy.
3. “The joyful Christian is an arresting advertisement of the gospel,” someone once said. We all have different personalities. Would your friends and associates describe you as a joyful person? Why or why not?
PRAYER 4. How do I pray for my unsaved friend? First I need to show that joy in Jesus that my friend does not yet have. Second, I need to pray that he would sense a lack of true, biblical joy in his life.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2022 in blessings

 

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JOY! According to Psalm 18

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2022 in joy

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 15)

Almost each Saturday I’m given a “honey-do” list. These are jobs my wife of 50 years wants me to complete. Lists are important, aren’t they? If you had to make a list of the blessings you have as a believer, what would your list look like? Would it be just a few items? Or would you need a second or a third page?

My friend Mike — who has not yet trusted Christ as his Savior — enjoys many of the common grace blessings of a providential God, but is missing out on so many benefits of being in the family of God. I’ve recently been listening to some powerful Christian music (I’m a Lauren Daigle fan) and it dawned on me that my unsaved friends —

15. THEY DON’T HAVE A REASON TO SING!

Of course, they have their music. And some of it is quite good. But heart-felt praise to God for all He has done for them? That’s a tune they have yet to learn.

Music, singing, dancing are very important in the Scriptures. Psalm 96 says, “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. …” 2 Samuel 22 says, “Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.” (v. 50). I Chronicles challenges the believer to “Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.” (16:9). And the writer gets even more specific about the theme of our singing later in the same chapter: “Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.” (v. 23).

You see, the problem with my friend is that he hasn’t become convinced that he is in grave danger without Christ. The Psalmist hits this note when he writes, “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” (5:11). This same idea of finding refuge in the Lord is reiterated in Psalm 59: “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” (v. 16).

The believer in Christ recognizes the many blessings of being “in Him”: “I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Ps. 13:6). And the Psalmist invites us to “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” (Ps. 33:3)

So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? First of all, he needs to hear me sing (figuratively if not literally)! He needs to see a tangible joy in my life that can’t keep me from bursting in song. And I need to pray that God the Holy Spirit would bring that new song to his heart. (to be continued)

 

 

 
 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 13)

“Count your blessings — Name them one by one . . . “🎶 I sang this song as a young Christian. I’ve been counting some of my blessings as I think about what my lost friend Mike doesn’t have as an unbeliever.

I believe we should rejoice in the many blessings we have as followers of Jesus. And, conversely, I think we should grieve for those we love who don’t yet know Christ — and, therefore, don’t have these blessings. Grieving and rejoicing are emotions — and emotions are critical for human life.

However, what emotions mark the follower of Jesus? Sometimes I get really happy about things that don’t really matter. I also find that a lot of times I’m not concerned about the things that really count. The emotional life of the believer is critical. God made us with emotions, but, like the other aspects of our personality, our emotions are fallen, twisted, out of balance, sometimes inappropriate. So I would suggest that my lost friends —

13. THEY DON’T HAVE BALANCED EMOTIONS!

“Balanced” might not be the right word. But I believe that knowing Christ fundamentally renews and re-orients all that we are (intellect, will, and emotions). I need to weep over what grieves the heart of God and rejoice in those truths that He has graciously given in His Word and in His world.

Jesus was not just a man of sorrows. He was also a man of JOY. He says to His disciples in John 15, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (v. 11). One of the most important things a Christian can do is to study the emotional life of the Lord Jesus. What brought Him sadness? Disappointment? Excitement? Regret? Joy?

The Bible puts a premium on our proper emotions. Psalm 126 refers to “Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (v.6) And the believer is clearly commanded in Romans 12:15 to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I show by my godly emotions both appropriate joy and grief in life. And I pray for my friend that the Holy Spirit would give him a longing to know God personally and rejoice eternally in Him! (to be continued)

 

 

 
 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 11)

“Count your blessings — Name them one by one . . . “🎶 I sang this song as a young Christian. In thinking about my unsaved friend “Mike,” I’m counting the blessings I have in Christ. My heart goes out to him — for he doesn’t have these blessings because he doesn’t have the Lord.

We’ve looked at ten blessings so far, but there is an eleventh that I must touch on. And I long for my friend to have this blessing. But we must be true to the Bible and state that, when it comes to my lost friends . . .

11. THEY DON’T HAVE A PERMANENT JOY !

JOY is quite different from the kind of temporary happiness our world offers. Happiness, as someone has said, depends on happenings. Joy for the believer is solid and lasting and eternal, for it comes from the everlasting God! Dr. Willard S. Krabill has said that “The mentally and emotionally healthy are those that have learned when to say Yes, when to say No, and when to say Whoopee!”

Jesus promises A COMPLETE JOY in John 15:11 when He says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  He challenges His followers in John 16 by saying, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be COMPLETE.” (v. 24). He promises that the disciples’ grief will turn to JOY in John 16:20 and that no one can take away their JOY (v. 22).

Spiritual leaders like C.S. Lewis and John Piper focused much of their ministry on the concept of pursuing JOY in the Lord.

How do I pray for my unsaved friend? First I need to show that JOY in Jesus that my friend does not yet have. Second, I need to pray that he would sense a lack of true, biblical JOY in his life. (to be continued)

 

 

 
 

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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Joy of Life)

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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IF THE GOSPEL REALLY IS TRUE . . . We Have JOY! (Part 7)

I don’t agree with Karl Barth on much, but his question — “Is it true? Is the Christian faith true?” is essential to biblical Christianity. We’ve seen that certain conclusions follow IF Christianity is true, for example, we have a message for the world which is both good news and bad news. Second, we have every reason to challenge other worldviews and religions as to their response to the gospel. Third, if the gospel is true, we have a complete justification to make the Bible our absolute guidebook for life. Fourth, we agreed that we desperately need the people of God, the church. Our fifth conclusion was that we can honestly face the suffering in the world without becoming cynical or callous. We have a theodicy which helps us understand evil and suffering.

Let’s look at a sixth conclusion and it is this —

IF THE GOSPEL IS TRUE, THEN . . .

We can be supernaturally joyful despite the challenges of this fallen universe. I love the statement by the preacher who said that Christians owe it to the world to be supernaturally JOYFUL! Yes, we do! And we owe it to the Lord of joy! The epistle of Philippians emphasizes the issue of JOY in spite of suffering.

2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Your present troubles may not see “light” and “momentary,” but they are compared to what our Savior suffered on our behalf. We are to be “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

The follower of Jesus recognizes the tragedy of sin, the effects of the cosmic fall, the sadness of unbelief, but he or she must keep in mind what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 14 — “for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 14:17)

Today’s Challenge: Would you describe yourself as full of joy in the Holy Spirit? If not, why not? What are some joy-killers that can drag down the believer and keep him or her from saying “Whoopee!”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2021 in gospel

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 8

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

We’ve noticed two parts of my outline of this challenging text:

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

We’ve also seen —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our prayers are to be for the critical issue of others knowing God’s will and growing in the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives.

Let’s continue our study and notice —

III. The Specifics of What We Should Pray for Others (vv. 10-14).

How easy it is for us to pray for each other’s health, job, family, choice of college, etc. So what makes Paul’s list as he intercedes for these believers? He prays —

A. That They Would Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

B. To please Him in every way (v. 10).

C. Bearing fruit in every good work (v. 10).

D. Growing in the knowledge of God (v. 10)

E. Being Strengthened with All Power to Endure! (v. 11)

Let’s notice a sixth request Paul makes for these believers —

F. Giving joyful thanks to the Father who has qualified us as holy people (v. 12)

Thankfulness. It seems to be a lost art or practice or orientation. But I need to pray for others that they would be marked by a joyful thanks! What other “thanks” could there be? Well, one might argue for reluctant thanks or conditional thanks or desperate thanks. But we should long for others to practice giving joyful thanks to the Father

Why? At the very least because He has qualified us as holy people! We didn’t qualify ourselves, did we?

Question: For whom are you praying that they will be marked by a JOYFUL THANKFULNESS, recognizing that God Himself has qualified them as holy people?

 

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #44 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 16

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, and to bless those who persecute them.

Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 15.

The sixteenth critical imperative is —

16. Believers are to USE THEIR EMOTIONS FOR THE LORD . . . AND FOR EACH OTHER (v. 16)!

“Feelings, nothing  more than feelings . . .” A popular song reminds us that we are often victims of our own emotions. “You can’t help how you feel!”, I’ve heard Christians say. No? We can’t?

The emotional life of the believer is very important. The Lord Jesus displayed various emotions in His earthly life — and we are to model every aspect of our lives after Him. Perhaps we can’t help our initial emotional response to something, but we are to have control over continuing emotions.  And we can choose to identify with other believers in their joy and sorrow. This assumes that we are attentive to their emotional state and that we want to encourage them in their circumstance, whether that circumstance is joyful or mournful.

What control do we have over our emotions? From this critical imperative we must conclude that we can identify with those who are rejoicing — and join them in their pleasure. We can empathize with those who are grieving — and join them in their sorrow.

Today’s Challenge: Think of a specific believer that you know right now who is going through either joy or sorrow. How might you express your identification with that person?

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #38 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 10

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter. Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 11.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, and to keep one’s spiritual fervor!

The tenth critical imperative is —10. Believers are TO BE JOYFUL IN HOPE! (v. 12)

I don’t know about you, but a joyful Christian is an arresting advertisement for the gospel! And we are to be “joyful in hope.” What does that mean? Our present circumstances do not necessarily give us joy. Nor does thinking about our past, especially our failures, provide us happiness. Our JOY is in the Lord and in what He is going to do in the future! Ours is a hope-starved world. Although some may suffer from biological or chemical depression, the normal Christian life is to be one of JOY!

Today’s Challenge: Would you describe yourself as a JOYFUL follower of Jesus? What is producing JOY in you? Is it your JOY in the HOPE of God using you in this world?

 

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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