“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
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.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
How We’re Called to Live
From: Our Daily Journey
I found myself in a tense, combustible situation—standing between two groups of angry people who were nose to nose, boiling over with rage and hatred. One group spewed vile, dehumanizing words at the other; then that group spewed vile, dehumanizing words back. In that volatile space, both groups completely lost perspective of the other’s humanity. Locked in an intractable posture of opposition, neither side would acknowledge any common ground. Neither side would consider there might be some way to resolve their differences or even begin any kind of constructive conversation. Both sides felt wronged and wanted only to punish their foe.
In contrast, when Jesus confronted sin, His ultimate goal was always reconciliation. Jesus’ mission was to reach out to those who “were far away from God” and bring them near (Ephesians 2:13). He reached out to all of us, though we’ve all rebelled against God and resisted His love. He moved right past our ignorance and our protests in order to offer us healing. “God was in Christ,” Paul tells us, “reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
And this posture of reconciliation isn’t merely the way Jesus lived but also how He calls us to live. Christ “gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Now He’s chosen to reconcile the world through us. “We are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
In conflicts, we should never seek revenge. Rather, we should seek healing and reconciliation. We’re not to inflict pain on those who have wronged us but seek the possibility of forgiveness and the divine mending Jesus brings.
Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct in this passage for those people who have His Spirit. He urges us to keep our minds filled with the concept of God’s control over everything, which means that a disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.
Fill your mind with the thought that God is there. And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be as easy as breathing for you to remember, “My heavenly Father knows all about this!” This will be no effort at all, but will be a natural thing for you when difficulties and uncertainties arise. Before you formed this concept of divine control so powerfully in your mind, you used to go from person to person seeking help, but now you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those people who have His Spirit, and it works on the following principle: God is my Father, He loves me, and I will never think of anything that He will forget, so why should I worry?
Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him. At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God’s will is behind it. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but is an attitude of the mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7).
By: Kathy Schultz
I have recently spent some joyless days, days where the joy of the Lord was not my strength. These were times I cried and could not even begin to smile, much less laugh. Circumstances had changed and I was not a happy camper. You probably have had moments like these as well.
Christians have often quoted the last part of Nehemiah 8:10:
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (NIV)
The truth of this statement is that it is not ourjoy, but HIS joy that is our strength. I had been looking for my own joy and it could not be found.
I went to the Bible to see what it had to say about joy. I found many scriptures and stories about joy and laughter. I reread the story of Sarah laughing when she heard God say she was going to have a child. (Genesis 18) This laughter came from unbelief, a nervous laughter. I’ve had that type of laughter and it always hid how I felt at the moment. Thankfully, God did not leave Sarah there but gave her the promised child. We can imagine the joy she must have had when the promise became true! It was the Lord who fulfilled the promise. In my mind, I can picture her laughing again, but this time with real joy.
King David did not always experience joy. The book of Psalms is full of him crying out to the Lord. But David found that in God’s presence was the fullness of joy. Joy was not found in himself but in God.
“… you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11 (NIV)
We all have times when things go wrong and suddenly God gives us the ability to laugh. I began to remember times in my life when laughter had calmed the chaotic moment. Once, while my family and I were camping at the beach, a storm suddenly came up and the rain began to come down by the buckets. The campsite we had picked was clean but was at a low ground level. Some experienced campers told us we should dig a trench around our tent to keep the rain out. The only available shovels were our children’s toys. What a sight we were, four adults digging around a tent in the rain with toy shovels. In the midst of the downpour, we all began to laugh. God had given us the ability to see the situation with humor.
You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Isaiah 55:12 (NLT)
Joy is even one of the fruits of the Spirit. It isn’t something we do, but something we can ask to be given. It is God’s gift to us. I certainly need this gift – to have God’s joy in my life.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
Joy could shine through us if we would let God have his way with us. I have to admit, I was not allowing God’s joy to shine through me. I resolved to get in God’s presence and have the joy restored, not mine, but His joy. There is a difference. I want to remember that God can restore my joy and give me laughter. I want to live as the scriptures say “in joy and peace.”
Yes, in our lives we will experience difficult moments. The scriptures tell us that even Jesus wept, and there is no sin in weeping.
“… weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5(NIV)
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 (NIV)
After Jesus wept, He restored Lazarus to life again. Those who loved Lazarus must have experienced great joy!
“God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh.” Luke 6:21 (NLT)
May you, along with me, ask God to restore your joy. Remember, apart from God’s presence, there is no joy!