Monday, October 10, 2016

Joy in the Journey pt. 2

From Jiufen

For it is by grace you have been saved, 
through faith -
and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God
Ephesians 2:8

How does understanding God's grace in our lives bring joy?

The greek word for grace is charis.  Charis is a kindness or blessing; unmerited favor of God.

Grace is God being kind to us when we don't deserve it.  He was kind to send His Son to die on the cross for our sins.  As a believer, that is the first kindness of God.  But God's kindness doesn't stop there.  He is kind to us every day.

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.
For the law was given through Moses,
but God's unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.
John 1:16-17

How often do we forget the underserved kindness God has shown us?

How often do we overlook the little gifts He gives us day by day?

Every day, God is showering you with little gifts of love.  A sunny day, a smile from a coworker, a hug from your child...  The list goes on and on.  And how do you respond when you receive these gifts?  Do you smile?  When someone thinks of me and sends me a note or invites me to lunch - I smile, even if no-one is around.  When my daughter says "thank you " or my husband says it was a good meal, I smile.  It's a natural reaction to kindness.  It shows that we are human and not robots!

So as we understand God's kindness in our lives, joy and happiness are natural reactions.

When my pastor's wife asked me to do this talk, she presented the question "Are you a fun person to live with?"  The harsh reality for me was "no, I'm not particularly a fun person to live with and in fact, I may not be the most fun friend to have."

So I did a little poll on facebook to find out who the most fun person people had lived with was.  About 50% said their spouse or children and the rest came up with roommates from the past.  

I think that in the Christian world, we have taken happiness and laughter, the natural reactions to good, funny things in life, out.  We have spiritualized a stoic life with few smiles.  It's easy to do that.

How many times do you think the word "fun" appears in the Bible?

0 - None!

And yet, I still think that God doesn't want us sitting around with mopey faces.  I actually believe that He gives us glimpses in the Bible that show us that He intended for us to have fun!  Think of the weddings that Jesus went to.  His very first miracle was to make more wine for a wedding.  I think they were having a bit of fun!  Remember David dancing in the streets to celebrate bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem?  The text says "David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might..."  (2 Samuel 6:5, 14&15)  You can't celebrate without having fun.  God established seven feasts in the Old Testament as a time to remember and celebrate.  (Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of First Fruits, Pentecost, Feast of First Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles)  As a Christian, I only have two major celebrations - Christmas and Easter.  Do you think God possibly wants us to enjoy life a bit more?

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