Joyful Medicine

Proverb 17:22

A joyful heart is good medicine.

I was watching a movie over the weekend and noticing that the lead actor had a propensity towards smiling. It put me in remembrance of another movie I watched where the male lead seemed to struggle to smile. Just watching the movie, I didn’t like that guy. It turns out that a joyful heart is good medicine to those around you as well as doing amazing things for your health.

You have heard that smiling and laughter, especially belly laughter aids health. As I have grown and watched people, I have learned a bit about our emotional content and our health. Because of what I have learned, I try to remain at peace. It isn’t always easy to do, is it? Do you know this verse, Romans 12: 8,As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone.” That is not just spiritual advice, it is health advice.

Do you know someone who always seems to be embroiled in some kind of mess? Or someone who seems angry all the time? Maybe you know someone who is gruff. They are doing themselves harm. God gave Paul this message about remaining at peace. At the time Paul received this “Word” from the Lord, he may not even have known the full purpose of it, but this I have learned. Being upset or angry is damaging to your body systems. I believe a person can do serious damage to their heart with these destructive emotions. We know that negative emotions inhibit digestion preventing the body from even nourishing itself.

We’ve all been through a couple of tough years. People have carried more stress, worry and anger than is healthy. Meanwhile, gyms were not always available to work off those toxic emotions. Now is a good time to do some healing. You need to work through your emotions with the Father. Talk with Him about the things that have upset you. Release those emotions to Him and ask Him to restore your joy. Meditate on Jesus. Imagine seeing Jesus face to face. How would you feel if you looked into his eyes? Push away all the bad emotions because, believe me, they are killing us. Let God’s love pour over you like warm honey. Find your seed of happiness and water it. And, can I say, turn off the stressful movies for a couple of weeks and find some that make you laugh out loud? It is healing and brother, we all need some healing. Let joy and laughter be your medicine. Take at least twice a day.

Glory and Joy

Luke 2: 6 – 18           TPT

That night, in a field near Bethlehem, shepherds were watching over their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid, for I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. You will recognize him by this miraculous sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in the feeding trough!”

Then all at once in the night sky, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing:

“Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven!
For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.”

When the choir of angels disappeared and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go! Let’s hurry and find this Word who is born in Bethlehem and see for ourselves what the Lord has revealed to us.” So they hurried off and found their way to Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in a feeding trough.

Upon seeing this miraculous sign, the shepherds recounted what had just happened. Everyone who heard the shepherds’ story was astonished by what they were told.

The Christmas story never gets old. This was taken from the Passion Translation and shows a little more of the astonishment of the occasion. I am sure there are no words which could describe what people experienced during this time, though.

I want to leave you with a few thoughts. First, it is not an understatement to say that shepherds were regarded as lowly. They stayed out in the fields and smelled like their flocks. So, it is interesting that the host of angels should appear to such lowly folks. The reason is so that none of us can deny our own position in the kingdom. If God saw fit to appear to the lowliest of all people, then we are assured access as well.

Second, this good news, this miracle, is for all people. Those are important words and are still playing out. What began as an Israelite miracle, has transformed the entire world and continues to. This great savior is for all and what great news is that? Even as the shepherds heard the good news, foreign wise men began their trek, men who were not Israelites but you journeyed to offer expensive gifts to the king. Wow!

Third, the word the shepherds used regarding going to see this “miracle” was “rhema”. They said, let us go to Bethlehem and see this “living Word”. That is so amazing. You “Word” people should be shouting right now as I know my Jewish friends are. The shepherds heard what the angels were saying, that The Living Word of God had come in human form to save the world. Glory to God! I pray this fills your heart with great joy!

Party Invitation

Ephesians 3: 12

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

I thought we might hangout in Ephesians 3 a bit more. We all know that the Apostle Paul had a revelation of Christ. Part of what makes the letter to the Ephesians so special is how on display that revelation is. Paul wrote this from prison. I often think that Paul’s imprisonment was for our good. Rather than travelling around setting up churches and speaking, he was forced to convey his thoughts via letter. What Satan meant for bad, God turned for good. It is, Romans 8: 28; lemons for lemonade. Anyway . . .

I see so much of the Apostle John’s revelation in Paul. Paul continued John’s revelation of God with us. He certainly understood about living our lives with and through both the Christ and the Father. In today’s passage, we can see how the life of faith in Christ and our life intertwined with him leads us to a bold and dynamic, full faith relationship lived in the very presence of the Father. Hallelujah! Because of Jesus, and equally importantly, because of our faith in him, we now have confident access to the Holy Presence of God.

The Passion Translation reads thus, “[W]e have boldness through him, and free access as kings before the Father because of our complete confidence in Christ’s faithfulness.” In reading this, one can feel Paul’s complete confidence in the person of Jesus as well as his faith, i.e. full belief, in the faithfulness and completeness of the Christ. He knew that our presence with the King is fully assured in Christ. Paul doesn’t have to humble himself with ridiculous gestures because his eyes are full of the magnificence of Jesus. To even talk about our worthiness, or lack thereof, is almost sinful. It is to take the focus off of Jesus and put it on ourselves. Absurd! It is he who is worthy and because he is so glorious and his faithfulness to the Father so profound, we can walk boldly into the throne room without a qualm. My big brother is the king of kings and I go with him. Who is going to be looking at me with Jesus in the room anyway? But, where he goes, I am always welcome.

If your heart doesn’t almost burst with love for this brother who is prince and king, you just need to see through Paul’s revelatory eyes more. When you see through Paul’s revelation, the glory of Christ so covers you that you shine as he does. Jesus gets on you. His glory shines all about and the Father is overjoyed at your presence. Jesus is the reason for the season, but we are the reason for the Christ. It’s crazy, but we are the reason there is a Christmas. Father sent Jesus down here to get us so that we could hang out in the throne room, no longer to be separated by sin, doubt and worldly distractions. The light has come and filled the room and all who love him are invited to the party, daily. It is a place of great joy and you are always accepted.

Go to Him, child. Go to the Father. Go sit upon His lap and gaze upon the face of love. Listen to the music. Sing aloud and with great joy. Glory to the world indeed, for the Christ has come and in his wake is laughter, singing and confident access to the King. Glory to God and I’ll see you in the throne room.

Relief

Psalm 30: 11 -12

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.

This is a picture of a saint who was in mourning until the Lord turned his sorrow into joy. Sackcloth is a symbol of mourning like wearing black. But God removes that deep hurt from us and replaces it with joy. He takes tears and creates from them a dance. There is no hurt so deep that He cannot soothe it; no sorrow so expansive that He cannot bridge it. He is healing and comfort to all who grieve. The wails of the night He turns into the praise of the morning. He causes our hearts to sing with joy. The joy of His presence is greater than the brokenness of our experience and we find healing in Him. Our mouths will open to sing praises to Him, and thanksgiving will be our constant refrain. Great is the Lord; great to behold and worthy of thanksgiving and praise.

Comfort and Joy

Jeremiah 31: 13

Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.

I told you I spent Monday outside setting up Christmas decorations and singing Christmas music at the top of my voice (sorry neighbors). One song that made a big impression on me was God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. How many times have you heard that song and even sung it for yourself? I especially heard and appreciated the line which wishes us tidings of comfort and joy. This year, as a group, we need comfort and joy as perhaps we have not in recent years.

I told you in yesterday’s Word of the Day that as I sang it was if I was transported to that little town on Bethlehem all those many years ago. I thought about the situation into which the child savior was born. The people of that day were as desperate for God’s help as we are today. The lived in an occupied territory. Think of that in present day military terms. They were not under self-rule accept to the degree that the Romans did not wish to be bothered with what they considered mundane issues. The big questions of the day were decreed by the Roman rulers. The people cried out for the promised Messiah to come relieve them of the burden of Roman rule. They were oppressed. It is into this environment that the babe was born.

Mary should have been home preparing for the birth of her child. Instead, she was forced to journey to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken. Can you imagine having to travel with those primitive transportation means when you are near your due date. However, the Jews had no choice but to do everything the Romans demanded. Those were some people who needed comfort and joy.

God promised he would send a savior. He promised He would turn their sorrow to joy and their mourning to gladness. He pledged to give them comfort. And He did. He sent His own son so that generations of people could receive comfort and joy in the place of sorrow.

May you be comforted and may your heart receive joy. The Christmas miracle is reborn in you today!

The Test

Matthew 7: 16

You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they?

Jesus gave us the method by which we can know whom we can trust. We can know people by their fruit. We saw last week Paul’s elucidation of this principle. Colossians 3 shows the fruit of the chosen of God and also the habits and traits of those not reformed by Christ. Some of the traits Paul identified for Christians are: “a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other,” (Colossians 3: 12 – 13). In this list he also included the pursuit of unity (See the Word of the Day for 11/13/20).

Jesus’ teachings give us the principles. Paul’s teachings explain Jesus’ principles. He expounded on them to give further understanding. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul further described what the life of a Christian looks like. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its passions and desires,” (Galatians 5: 22 – 24).

When I was practicing law I came to despise when a client offered that they were Christian. Why? Ask many business owners and you will get the same response. It is code language for, “I’m not going to pay you.” It is as though they offered that bit of information in order to cover a defect in their character. As I said last week, pretend I am from the Show Me state. Let your actions identify you as a Christian. As my friend, Robin, said yesterday, “Actions speak louder than words.” Anyone can say, “I am a Christian.” It is an entirely different matter to walk it out. Most people who wish to deceive and take advantage of others will not identify their motives. Instead, they will use some covering ploy and claiming to be a Christian is one of the best. So, how are we to know who is the real deal?

That is the purpose of this series of devotionals which began last week. I know who you are and how you strive to live in the light of Christ. I also know that you are the most vulnerable because you are attracted to people who self-identify as Christian. Now, you don’t have to take their word for it. Look at their lives. Are they givers? If no, then you needn’t ask any more questions. They are done because Yahweh and Jesus are mega-givers. You can’t be in them and be stingy. Beyond that run the test of Galatians 5 and Colossians 3. Here it is synthesized for you.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, a heart of compassion, humility, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other.

You might want to cut and paste this bit into your own document or print it. We are not asking people to be perfect, but we are looking for a pattern of behavior. I hope you identify with people who are patient and kind, gentle of speech and generous. We can encourage and expect these traits of people. We should, in fact, expect these kinds of behaviors. More than ever, we need to be considerate. We need to concern ourselves with the best interests of all people. We need to think of others instead of ourselves. That is the Christian mandate. It’s the Word. Let the Word prevail over the lives of us all.

Fullness of Joy

Psalm 16:11

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.

There are easily several messages contained in this passage. The one that shouts most loudly to me today is there is fullness of joy in His presence. There is joy in Jesus, which means there is an answer to depression. I want to say it this way, there is no need to be depressed. Here me though, this isn’t to make light of depression and anxiety. Rather, the purpose of my comments is to extend hope and compassion. Jesus came that we might have life in its fullest expression, and one cannot enjoy abundant life while plagued with depression. Jesus also said that he came to proclaim liberty to the captives, and I would hope that my ministry might be known as setting people free. There are all kinds of bondages which weigh us down in life. Living with depression is certainly an unwelcomed burden. Jesus came to set us free from the oppression of depression.

Today’s verse does not say there is no such thing as depression for Christians. And, I do not wish for you to judge yourself or feel any sense of guilt because you sometimes suffer from depression. What this verse says that in the presence of our Lord, there is no depression because there is fullness of joy.

Understand that joy and happiness are not the same thing. I am not after happiness today as much as joy. Joy is a deep-seated belief that all is well. It has to do with Shalom, perfect peace, nothing missing, nothing broken. When we are conscious of being in the presence of Jesus or our beloved Father, then the worries, anxiety and fear of the troubles of this world fade away. The more we bask in the light of His presence, the more the worldly issues dissipate. Depression is dark and gloomy. Jesus’ presence is light. Remember that our God and Father is our sun. He is shining the glory of His presence and the warmth of His love upon us every time we move into His presence. Now, how do we partake of His presence.

When you are down or depressed, it is hard to reach out and touch the joy of the Lord. It is difficult to connect with His presence. Of course, deep meditation will take you right into the Lord’s presence but if you are in a state where that is a challenge, the best thing to do is to get out of your house and into a Spirit filled worship service. Sometimes even leaving the house is a challenge but getting out of the house is often a major help. Still, if that is impossible, there is so much online content these days that it is easy to reach out for music, praise, worship and teachings. You can become a member of church groups online. You can call prayer lines and talk with an actual human. There are resources which we can employ to help bring us into the Lord’s presence.

One of my favorite blue funk day tools is music. Please understand that I am not comparing a blue funk with clinical depression. None the less, the power of praise music should not be underestimated. I especially like songs about the blood but there is so much opportunity, musically, that everyone can find something that speaks to them.

As you praise, focus your attention on the presence of Jesus and the angelic host all around you. Let the light begin to penetrate your body and your consciousness. Release your tension to that flow of light and music. Relax all the stress from your body and then release it from your mind and spirit. Be at peace and enjoy the presence of the Lord.

Don’t let the devil steal your joy. He sure wants to. Get into the presence of our beloved and allow Him to fill you to overflowing. Remember, Jesus came to bring abundance, not a little trickle.

Mostly, please don’t feel alone. There are people, including myself, who care about you. Reach out to others. Get together with a group of believers, go to a church service, or just call someone. Don’t isolate yourself. God has promised He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is with you right now and in His presence is fullness of joy. Let this, and Him, minister to you.