Our God of Joy

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

The late entertainer Joe E. Brown once said, “I have no understanding of the long‐faced Christian. If God is anything, He must be joy.” How true! We have a God who loves us more than we love our children or even ourselves—a God who sent His Son to die for us and who has prepared a place in eternity just for us. He is indeed a God of joy—and we have much to be joyful about!

This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way. When we were first married, Jim and I taught school, served in the church, and carried many responsibilities. Jim was working on his master’s degree at the time, so he wasn’t able to help me carry my load. I looked forward every week to Saturday when I could rest and recuperate. Gradually, I fell into the trap of being truly happy only one day a week. And if anything took that day away from me, I was very frustrated. Slowly, I learned to enjoy every day of the week, even though I was busy. It was a simple change in attitude that brightened my life. Someone once said, “If you have to cross the street to be happy, you’re not seeing things properly.” I agree.

There are many “long‐faced” Christians who are caught up in the trials of this world. It’s not always easy to remember that we can experience joy even in the midst of struggles. We forget that Jesus told us that our worldly grief would be like a mother giving birth: She experiences pain during labor but then forgets her anguish because of her joy over the birth of her child (John 16:21). We forget that the apostles, after being flogged on orders of the Sanhedrin, left there “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41).

Joy is something we experience when we begin to understand the magnitude of God and the love He freely gives us. It’s not something to be grasped, but shared. It’s not something to be contained, but made available to all. Joy is a selfless, abundant quality modeled by our Lord Jesus. He is the one who has called us to “rejoice” and “leap for joy” when we are poor, hungry, weeping, hated, and rejected, because “great is your reward in heaven” (Luke 6:23).

Joy can begin right now—if we choose! “Rejoice in the Lord always…!”

Shirley M Dobson

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Bible Gateway

Justice in the Book of Titus, Day 3

Today’s reading is drawn from Titus 1-3.

The text of Titus is short; it is only forty-six verses. Nonetheless, the brevity of the text contrasts with the content’s depth, in particular from the perspective of what it teaches about God’s justice. In this epistle, justice is not a theoretical discourse to fire up heated philosophical and theological debates. On the contrary, justice is a value to be expressed practically in the life of the Christian community (1:5–16), in the personal behavior of family members (2:1–10) and in their behavior as citizens (3:1–8).

In his letter to Titus, Paul begins with instructions about the way the Christian community in Crete should be governed, establishing ministerial ranks and making sure that every position is filled with people of Christian character. He also indicates how to deal with people who, teaching erroneous ideas, cause divisions and disrupt harmony in the Christian community and even whole families. Such persons not only lead people astray with their doctrines but also commercialize the gospel for their own benefit (1:10–11). Then comes the apostle’s central teaching: the opposite of false doctrines are not the correct theological declarations but rather unity and concrete social practices that promote (and are in themselves) God’s justice (2:11–13).

At the time Titus was written, Crete was apparently a prosperous island. Nonetheless, the Christian community included people who were left on the sidelines of that prosperity. Slaves, for example, who (amazingly enough), are now worshiping alongside their masters. This unprecedented breakdown of class distinctions could be the reason why the author insists on the need to do good works and to give testimony of God’s justice in concrete ways.

The major concern expressed in the letter is not combating the false doctrines that abounded in Crete. Nor is it the lack of orderly and respectable church leaders. The deepest concern Paul and Titus have is to challenge the Cretan church to give, through service, true testimony of its faith. For them, doing what is good is the crucial expression of the salvation found in Christ (3:7–8). When believers act with solidarity together, they are expressing their faith in a just God who has acted with love and mercy for everyone.

— Harold Segura Columbia, Costa Rica (Excerpted from the book introduction to Titus)

 

 

Bible Gateway