Greetings, dear sisters!
Hopefully, the title of today's message got your attention! Why is it that we think we are NOT supposed to be "happy" as Christians? There is so much dispute between "happiness" and "joy." Joy is within in our spirits, while happiness relies on our circumstances. You've heard the same things, and sometimes, (admit it) you have felt guilty because you are happy! And, even though I can't be "happy" all the time, 24/7, I do experience happiness regularly. I believe God wants us to be happy! Remember that song, "Don't Worry, Be Happy"? Jesus had a great sense of humor, and I find myself laughing at loud at times reading some of His parables. And, what a sense of humor God has! For instance, why is it that God gave me a husband that is so DIFFERENT from me, but children who are exactly LIKE me? I know so He can get a good laugh at the "fireworks" sometimes!
While "happiness" may be fleeting, and depends on our circumstances, joy comes from who we are in Him. No matter what is happening in our lives, we still experience the joy of being His, knowing that He is getting us through, holding our hand. Jesus tells us to "remain in His love so that His joy may be in us and that our joy may be complete." Paul, who should have been the most depressed and unhappy person according to his circumstances- beaten, stoned, imprisoned, and shipwrecked twice- was full of BOUNDLESS JOY- he said "in all my troubles my joy knows no bounds." He says, "In spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." When he is praising in jail and the chains fall off, I can't picture a man who is sad, but full of praise for His God! Paul prays for us, "May the God of hope fill you with all JOY..." Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Peter tells us that even though we haven't seen Jesus, we love Him and believe in Him and are "filled with an INEXPRESSIBLE AND GLORIOUS JOY." And, John tells us that through our fellowship with Father and with the Son our joy is complete.
But, what about "happiness?" Should we be happy? Psalm 128 says, "Blessed (happy, fortunate) is everyone who fears, worships the Lord, who walks in His ways and lives according to His Word. For you shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; happy (blessed) shall you be, and it shall be well with you." Psalm 144 says, "Happy and blessed are the people (who trust in God) who are in such a case; yes, happy are the people whose God is the Lord!" Psalm 146 says, "Happy (blessed) is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God." Proverbs 17:22 says, " A happy (cheerful) heart is good medicine." We don't always "feel" happy, but we can turn our thinking around! What makes you happy? A child's smile? Talking to a friend? A beautiful sky with puffy white clouds? A flower arrangement? What about making a craft for a neighbor and sharing happiness with someone else? Colossians tells us to "set our minds on things above, not on earthly things." We can choose to focus and keep our minds on what is making us unhappy, or we can renew our minds in the joy of the Lord, counting our blessings and thinking on the many things God has provided for our happiness- chocolate, lovely flowers, leaves turning in the fall, puppy dogs, a warm bath, a child's embrace...
Mother Theresa said, "Joy is prayer. Joy is strength. Joy is love. Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. God loves a cheerful giver. one gives most who gives with joy. The best way to show our gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ risen. This I tell you my sisters. This I tell you."
Greetings, dear sisters!