A City of Joy
By: Rev. Suzie Chamness
You can see almost anything in my town. You can see poverty and plenty, sorrow and happiness, but my town is seldom known as a place of great joy. It is a place where people work, live, and perhaps celebrate, but it usually not simply places of great joy.
Sometimes there is an exception. As a Floridian, I know the joy of getting up each morning to a beautiful sunny day. True it may be too warm but the sunshine keeps me remembering that I will not face the cold north winds in winter and for me it soothes me on the extreme days. There is great joy in knowing that. Some days as we say are more joy filled than others.
A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.' As he said this, he called out, "Let anyone with ears to hear listen!" (Matthew 13:3-9)
When the Gospel came to a city in Samaria, there was great joy. Christian people are more often happier than most on a consistent basis. We have reason to be happy with life. We may have some "down" times, but it is certainly safe to say every Christian is happier than we would be without Christ. If not, we have not understood the real meaning of the Gospel of God's Grace. So, when the multitudes came to know Jesus, there was great joy in the town.
We should have joy because we know Jesus. We should have joy because the burden of any guilt we might have is lifted through Christ who came to earth for our transgressions. Feeling guilty is a great burden to bear. Through Christ we can be free from the negativity of a guilty conscience.
It is great to feel God's forgiveness but even between humans, it feels good to be forgiven. How much more we should rejoice in the forgiveness of God. There is a peaceful joy in having a free conscience before God. It comes through Jesus.
We can have joys in this life because we know an eternal reward waits. Jesus sent disciples to towns He intended to visit. His instructions were to prepare the way for Him by preaching the Kingdom and healing the sick.
They came back with the knowledge that even the devil and demons submitted to them in Jesus' name and Jesus promised even greater power. He taught them to keep their priorities straight. To recognize that treasures in heaven would out last any joy that might be found here on earth.
Our joy as Christians should come from our hope of treasures in heaven. We can be sure we have a home with Jesus. We have been blessed in knowing we will have victory over death. This knowledge of future rewards helps us to live daily through trials and challenges.
We can have joy because we build relationships with God through prayerful communion with the Jesus and the Spirit of our God. We are safe in the knowledge we are never alone. Sometimes we may want to be alone, but we don't have to be lonely. We are in a relationship with God. When we grasp a sense of God's Presence, we are never lonely, even without the company of our friends here on earth. God's Spirit within us gives an opportunity for intimate fellowship. The closer we become with God as our companion, the more encouragement, strength, and comfort we receive.
We have joy because God has called each of us to do the work just as the disciples were call to do God's work. This brings great joy when we have a purpose in life. If we are not tuned in to our life, we may become miserable when we can't find a purpose for living.
Jesus can give meaning and purpose to our life no matter where we are if we just work toward a meaningful relationship with Him. His desire and need is for Christians to spread the Gospel. His joy is in our happiness in doing His ministry. That includes all ministries; all efforts that we make to do His work. So, we all have a ministry. Every Christian is in relationship with the work of God and should find a ministry to serve God and all people. We can all do something for God and others. We can always rejoice in the work of others in ministry and in our own accomplishments. Christ rejoices in a faithful joy filled disciple. A great joy in working with God, is that there is nothing done in vain.
The child born this Holiday season brought a joyful opportunity to have the life of a Christ filled people. There are times we will miss our goals but that is only temporary. Christ filled people always have hope and through that hope, Joy. God is good, how can we not rejoice in the holy Presence.
We share the joy of God through Christ's birth with those around us this season so they may know the joy of the baby Jesus. When we share we are joy filled.
Rev. Suzie Chamness serves as the Interim Pastor of Spirit of Life MCC in New Port Richey, Florida. Contact her by email at revsuzie-at-spiritoflifemcc.org
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