Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 25:15-26:24 / 1 Thessalonians 5:1-28 / Psalm 119:17-24
As a child, we used to sing the song, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…” That was a fun song to sing but a difficult song to live. We encounter some heavy-duty difficulties in life that seem to zap the joy right out of us. It’s not easy to maintain a heart and spirit of joy.
Paul instructed the Thessalonians to “Be joyful always”. (1 Thessalonians 5:16) This is the shortest verse in the entire Bible. Some may believe “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) is shorter but in the Greek, “Be joyful always” is only two Greek words compared to three Greek words for “Jesus wept”. This still doesn’t make it easier to live but when we find our sufficiency in Jesus alone – living it is possible.
Biblical joy comes from God and it is not just a superficial emotional response to our positive circumstances. Joy is not dependent on our circumstances, but on God’s character that never changes! His love, goodness, power, wisdom and presence are enough to fill our joy reservoir. Every circumstance bows down to His character!
I am reminded of a story I heard early in my ministry about Robert Reed. His story conveys joy much better than I could ever hope to express…this will bless you!
“I have everything I need for joy!” Robert Reed said. His hands are twisted and his feet are useless. He can’t bathe himself. He can’t feed himself. He can’t brush his teeth, comb his hair, or put on his underwear. His shirts are held together by strips of Velcro’. His speech drags like a worn out audiocassette.
Robert has cerebral palsy. The disease keeps him from driving a car, riding a bike, and going for a walk. But it didn’t keep him from graduating from high school or attending Abilene Christian University, from which he graduated with a degree in Latin. Having cerebral palsy didn’t keep him from teaching at a St. Louis junior college or from venturing overseas on 5 mission trips. And Robert’s disease didn’t prevent him from becoming a missionary in Portugal.
He moved to Lisbon alone in 1972, rented a hotel room and began studying Portuguese. He found a restaurant owner who would feed him after the rush hour and a tutor who would instruct him in the language. Then he stationed himself daily in a park where he distributed brochures about Christ. Within 6 years he led 70 people to the Lord, one who became his wife, Rosa.
Men would carry Robert in his wheelchair onto the platform to speak. They would lay a Bible in his lap and his stiff fingers forced open the pages. The audience was moved and wiped away tears of admiration from their faces. Robert could have asked for sympathy or pity, but he did just the opposite. He held his bent hand up in the air and boasted, “I have everything I need for joy.” His shirts were held together by Velcro’ but his life is held together by joy!”