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Glorious Joy

January 23, 2012

1 Peter 1:8-9 “8 Though you have not seen him (Jesus), you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

As a band and ministry, one of the things we absolutely love is when we see people at a show truly connect with the Lord.  As a worshipper, you can literally see the change in their face and in their body language.  It is as if someone flipped the switch, as if chains have been broken off of their body and they now can move in freedom.  A joy overcomes them.

You see, this physical change is the evidence of what Peter was talking about to Christians in this text.  You didn’t see Jesus.  But you experienced the hope and freedom of his love and grace.  And this expresses itself in joy.  Now, I’ve heard joy explained as that contentment you have in life because you know Jesus loves.  So because of this love, you can praise God and go through whatever comes your way.  That’s awesome.

But I don’t think that really gets at joy.  I do believe joy comes when we understand who we are in Christ.  But it is much more than just being content no matter what circumstance comes along.  Paul talks about such contentment in Philippians 4.  I have come to truly believe that joy means what it says.  We REJOICE, we celebrate, we dance around, praising God exuberantly no matter what happens.  That is what the disciples did in Acts 5:41.  After being whipped for sharing the Gospel, the apostles rejoiced that they had been counted worthy to suffer for Jesus.  This doesn’t sound like, “Oh, that was cool, I feel content” to me.  They rejoiced! They celebrated.  Another time, they actually worshipped and sang in jail.

No wonder Peter calls this inexpressible and glorious! It doesn’t make sense.  It is one thing to just sit around and “be okay” with your situation.  It is another thing to literally celebrate and rejoice for what God is doing even through your suffering.  So how joyous are we?  If we have this hope in Christ that we call our salvation, knowing that we are in his hands and unshakable, do we rejoice even when things go wrong and negatively for us?  May we be like those apostles who, “Left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” (Acts 5:41).

Amen.

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Love Yourself

January 12, 2012

Matt. 22:37, 39b”Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… Love your neighbor as yourself.”

These are words that we as a ministry live by, though so often fall short on.  So why do we fall short? I mean I understand we are human and struggling in our sin.  But something about that doesn’t sit with me.  God calls us to be holy as God is holy.  And if the power of the Holy Spirit, that raised Christ from the grave, lives in us,  then why can’t we love?

As we have been writing and looking to take the ministry to a new level, we have realized that a major problem with how we love and where we place people in our lives is how we view ourselves.  The second of the great commandments is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  And so often we say, “Well we have to serve and put ourselves down and let others do what they want, in the name of Jesus.”  But the opposite is actually true.  Lately, we as a band have asked the question of how can we love others if we do not love ourselves?  If I hate myself, how can I love other people?

So be encouraged today by this thought: God so loved YOU that he gave his only Son.  If God could love you that much even when he knows how much you mess up, how much you screw up, and how much you just blatantly do wrong, then how can you not love yourself?  Okay, so its easier said than done.  But maybe if you got a hold of the fact that God loves you beyond words even while knowing every detail about you, then you can begin to love, truly love yourself.  This will in turn lead you to a deeper love for others. You are God’s treasure, his masterpiece.  So love yourself like it.