August 13, 2009 
Be a Joy-Giver 
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth 
Proverbs 10:28 "The prospect of the righteous is joy."

Friend To Friend 
We all want to live a joy-filled life. Right? But it seems that everyone has their own definition of joy and their own plan of how to get it.  A pastor told the story of a beautiful lesson he learned one day when he casually wished one of his older church members a good day. The man remarked, “They’re all good days, Pastor. It’s what we put in them that changes them.”

Joy is the deeply-rooted confidence that God is in control. When our life is under the control of God, priorities fall into place; life is simplified and is soon characterized by joy. Proverbs 10:28 says, "The prospect of the righteous is joy." In this verse, the word “prospect” means to view or to anticipate.  The word "righteous" mentioned in this verse refers to those who have given their lives to Jesus Christ, have been made righteous by His blood and have been given right standing with God. To experience joy, God must be the Lord or the boss of our life. As our Lord, He produces joy and makes it a reality in us.

Over the next two days, we are going to look at the life of Paul and the letter he wrote to the church at Philippi, which we now know as the bible book, Philippians.  Paul was a simple man but one who profoundly understood and experienced joy in its truest sense.  I really don't understand why, because Paul wrote the letter in the midst of brutal circumstances that were anything but joyful.  He was in prison, awaiting trial and facing his own execution.  Paul was old, alone, almost blind and in poor health, having suffered severe and constant physical abuse because of his faith in God. To me, Paul had no earthly reason to be joyful. But here's the deal.  Joy is not an earthly treasure.  Joy is a heavenly gift from a loving Father who is committed to the joy of His children.  Joy is a "God-thing."

I love the story of the little girl who misquoted her favorite bible verse: "...that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have ever-laughing life." Exactly! Jesus not only came to give us life but to give us a life saturated with joy now and for all eternity.

If you are like me, there are many times when I look at myself and wonder how in the world God could possibly love me and want me to be happy. That thought just rocks my world because He does love me and He does want me to live a life that is filled with His joy. And He loves you the same way.  Why?

I believe the first reason is that Jesus loves us - not because we are so lovable - but because He is love.  However, there is a second and just as important reason - to give that joy away.  God wants us to be joy-givers.  Most of the time, we are focused on what will bring us joy when we should be focused on how to share God's joy with others. The paradox is that when we share our joy with others, we will have more joy ourselves.

Paul was a joy-giver. Paul gave to the church at Philippi and while he was there for a visit, the church at Philippi gave back to him.  In Philippians 4:15, Paul says "You people in Philippi remember when I first preached the Good News there."  Paul is basically writing a "thank you" note for their gift to him, but more importantly, Paul is thanking them for being "joy-givers" in his life.

To experience joy, we need to stop and remember what we have been given. We tend to think first of temporary things when our true wealth lies in eternal things such as the miracle of knowing Christ personally and having all of our sins forgiven.  A personal relationship with God brings purpose and meaning to life and His very presence will produce joy.  You cannot give what you do not have.  To be a joy-giver, you must first have joy. 

Let's Pray 
Father, I want to be a joy-giver but often find it hard to encourage others when I am so down myself.  Please teach me how to choose Your joy instead of trying to create it on my own.  I want to know You more and experience the joy that only You can give. Today, please teach me how to be a joy-giver.

In Jesus' name, 
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn 

·         Make a list of the things in your life that bring you joy.  

·         How many of the things on your list are earthly treasures? 

·         How many are eternal? 

·         Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16. How does this verse compare to your understanding of joy? What do you think "always" means in this verse?

More From The Girlfriends 
It has taken me years to realize that joy is not an emotion or feeling.  Joy is a deliberate choice to enthrone Jesus Christ as Lord of my life.  Only then can I have the peace and confidence that God is in control - no matter what life looks like today.  I don't always understand the way He works but I do understand that His ways are higher than mine and His heart is filled with incomprehensible love for me.  And that is enough.

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