Ministry of Love

The intention of this blog is to share Biblical messages at least on a weekly basis. Any response is appreciated. I do not expect everyone to agree with my interpretation of Biblical passages. I will try to respond with love and thoughtfulness.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Musings:02/07/10,Joy Before Happiness by John

Not one of the prophets ever laughed as far as I can tell from reading the Scripture; yet, many of today's prophets (pastors classify Biblically as prophets) laugh often and much. Is the difference just a matter of the chroniclers not recording the prophet's laughter? Could it be they had nothing to laugh about until Jesus came? Was it because the Old Testament prophets were being persecuted and were constantly struggling to stay alive as they served the Lord? Perhaps it was a little of all these things.

Jesus told His disciples, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." According to this, joy is the direct result of obedience. It is not dependent on circumstances. That's why Paul and Silas could sing when they were chained in jail. Acts 16:25 says, "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." I'm sure one reason they were there was for the conversion of the jailor and his household.

Happiness usually depends on our circumstances, doesn't it? I'm sure Paul and Silas were not happy about being imprisoned and bound with chains, but joy is God's gift as a result of our obedience. He may also change our circumstances as He did for Paul and Silas, and that may result in happiness, too.

Our work-a-day world strives for happiness and seems to be unaware it only lasts a moment. The joy God gives is eternal!

Were the Old Testament prophets happy? I doubt they were too often. Did they have joy? I can't be sure about that either, but I do know they were on the right track. They obeyed God. Jonah is a story about a prophet not caring for lost people who were different from him, and who tried to run away from God rather than obey. God brought him back into line very gently and instead of being grateful God didn't strike him dead, he was angry with God! Still God treated him gently. We just don't understand how much God loves us, and how wonderfully He treats us even when we are disobedient! In Philippians 1:3-6, Paul wrote, "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Paul's joy in this instance was a gift from friends. That's a different use of the word, but the two usages are directly connected since the friends were obeying God, too, and they had joy within themselves.

I must add that obedience is not coerced compliance. Obedience comes from a person's heart. It is our love of God that causes us to joyfully do what He asks and just as joyfully refrain from doing the things He tells us not to do.

One illustration: Jesus told us if someone slapped us on one cheek to turn the other. I am sure He did not mean we were to like being slapped. He meant God wants us to treat others like He treats us, not the way someone else treats us. That's worth thinking about, isn't it?


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