Friday, June 15, 2012

What About Joy? Pastor Paul

When this weeks blog topic appeared I found myself overwhelmed with ideas and directions for writing.  So I went to the scriptures in search of clarity.  I just finished going through all of the verses on joy in the Old and New Testaments.  They both encouraged and challenged me.

I was encouraged by verses in Joel and John...
Joel 1:11-12 (NLT)   
 Despair, all you farmers! Wail, all you vine growers! Weep, because the wheat and barley— all the crops of the field—are ruined.  The grapevines have dried up, and the fig trees have withered. The pomegranate trees, palm     trees, and apple trees— all the fruit trees—have dried up. And the people’s joy has dried up with them.   
 John 16:20 (NLT)
I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice...
It might sound strange, but I was encouraged to hear Joel say that the peoples joy dried up.  And to hear Jesus tell His disciples that they would weep and mourn when He died.  There are times in our lives when we are in the midst of terrible things.  They hurt, we are sad, and our joy might dry up!  The prophet said it this way in a very famous poem, "A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance."  Ecclesiastes 3:4 (NLT)  When Christians fail to acknowledge the pain and hurt in a persons situation it produces guilt, not healing.  There is a time to mourn, cry, weep, and hurt.  We would be less than human if we did not!  The shortest verse  in the Bible is, "Jesus wept."
Then the word came full circle and challenged me.  "Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!"   Philippians 4:4 (NLT)  The Apostle Paul wrote this from a Roman prison cell.  He said it again to the church at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 6:10 (NLT)  Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.  And again he wrote to the Christians at Rome.   Romans 15:13 (NLT)   I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Taken together these verses give me a clear message.  There are time