So many folks that I was blessed to have deep conversations with over my many decades, often amazingly answer certain questions the exact same way.Although all were unique in age, professions, gender, wealth status. Yet similarly when asked what was their main goal in life, being happy was their answer. Happy? Happiness is nice, it’s good, sure beats angry, but it’s fleeting. It’s a feeling. A feeling based on subjective matters. Did your day go well? Did you get a raise? Good news? It’s temporary by any reality,
I think that may be why Jesus wants us to have Joy. Not just happiness. Joy is objective. It is not subjective. Jesus gives us Joy when we become His family. Even in sad times, unhappy times. Let’s face it the world we live in today is not a happy place. It’s more of a scary place. But we can have joy through it all. We know who loves us. We know who guides us, protects us. We can fear not.
I heard a story of a middle aged man who was in the hospital with a nasty brain tumor. Treatments were exhausted and he was waiting for death to take him. On the team responsible for his care was a nurse who wrote a note in her end of shift notes that Jim, (a made up name I gave him just cause I could) was inappropriately responding to his
condition. It was not appropriate for Jim to have Joy to show Joy. She said her new goal was at the end of her life she can also be inappropriate with Joy.
Jesus gives us when we trust only in him, the fruit of the spirit, (Galatians 4). The Holy Spirit imparts it to us, and doses as needed. When we trusted in Jesus, we were through God’s Mercy, given Grace. An absolvement of punishment for our sins. All and any. Jesus bore them for us on the cross. We know this in our hearts, not just in our head. Jesus also gave us A Guarantee of a new life, no death as others know death, no fear. Nor ever being alone in times of trouble, or sadness. His strength and courage is imputed to us if we want it. He is A Guardian of our steps in this world through to the next. When we vere off the path, He comes for us and brings us back. Teaches us, disciplines us and sits us on His lap. I don’t know about you but I really need those three G’s!
That’s JOY!. Jim knew this Joy, I know this Joy. Do you have this Joy?
Such was the free Grace of God to me. That though corruption has worked strongly in my soul, yet I can recall very early movings of The Blessed Spirit upon my heart. Often I had early convictions of sin and some persons made it their business to tease me.
Mathew 19:14 Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom belongs to such as these.
Matthew 7:21-23 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
From what Jesus said it is possible to stand in this wonderful place and preach or teach His Gospel – And yet still be lost. It is possible to be a great missionary who – confronting devil possessed people – can cast out devils – and yet still be lost. You could run an orphanage, or go on missions, and minister to those in need – and still be lost. You can pastor a mega-church or a mini-church, or lead the worship services, or serve in the choir, and still be lost. The danger of wolves being in sheeps clothing is real. We must and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit now living within us discern the truth. ‘Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.’ 1John 4:1 Our excellent news is that Our Lord promised not to lose any of His Children, given to Him by The Father. We will not fall out or be plucked out of His hands. We need to be wary at all times. For instance there is a false thought encircling the church by more than a few members that misleads them into thinking that responding to an altar call or answering an invitation saved them. When we meet Jesus on that last day He may ask us how we know we are saved? Any answer starting with well I did this or that, any answer with I starting it is a problem. Our choosing Him is an answer to His call, He died for our sins, if not yours He did mine. I know that my sins put Christ on that cross. If there was not any other person who sinned, “we know we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,”” Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we may be saved.”
We accept the gift understanding all of it, even our answering is from God’s call first.. Planned since the beginning of time. ” For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I was six when I was Baptized. At Cross Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. I remember it well, I took it to heart. I felt so special to God, but with questions. Why did my God Parents get to speak on my behalf, to answer the Pastors questions and not me? I was right there! I believe in Jesus why didn’t anyone ask me? So I told them anyway, “Yes I do” I spoke out and everyone around me said “shhhh”.
Note that this verse in Galatians clearly the word Believes comes first. Believing not just in Christ, but Believing Christ. Christ as God, What He says, expects and gives. Christ as your personal Savior, Believing you personally are a sinner, Believing you personally need saving! When faith in Christ takes hold Repentance will naturally follow. We will bare witness to Him. We all try at various times to change, give up our bad habits, turn from our sins. At least those sins we already know of. But we fail. Over and again with good intentions, yet we fail.
Several years after my Baptism while reading my Bible and teaching Sunday school when I could, more questions began to haunt me. The Lutheran Church I had been raised in couldn’t answer them for me. My pastor would sit and talk about these with me for long periods of time without being able to answer them with a biblical backup. The question I asked during my Baptism was one of them. Why do they teach that without Baptism you can’t be saved? How can a stand person in know how the child will eventually believe, turn out? How many actual God Parents are Godly and will keep the vow they are making before God? The thief on the cross didn’t get baptized. Baptism is extremely important but thinking it saves any of us is wrong. There is not one instance of infant baptism found in the Bible. Dedications yes for infants and small children but that is not the same thing. It is an apple in an orange grove. Baptism should take place when we are old enough (even a child, old enough who can express their faith) to understand it’s important meaning. It is a sacrament after all, which to me means God takes it seriously. We should heed this as well. When God tells us to believe and be baptized, I don’t read anything wishy-washy or anything maybe suggested about it.. He said Do it. To have faith, even if as small as a mustard seed is a great gift. Somewhere that seed was planted in our heart, then watered, weeded and is now just sprouting. Faith like that of a child is the absolute best kind of faith.
Whole family baptism actually started in the 1700s. Some family members baptized were children, babies, so others spoke for them. That does not make it Biblical, it also won’t save you. It’s putting the horse before that cart. According to George Whitfield a great man of God, Baptizing of infants was first made aware to him during his days preaching in the coal mining towns in and around London while working with the Wesley Bros. Also, King Constantine, quite a believer thought it was a good idea to increase the church numbers this way.
That it may be a convenience for some was stated but again I can’t find it anywhere in the Bible. Remember however, I am no great theological scholar. I let my conscience/Spirit be my guide.
WE as believers need to hear Gods call, understand His word and answer for ourselves. A few other weighty questions were a part of the reason my family and I left that Church and found a strict Bible believing teaching non-denominational church group to join. This is not to say that Lutherans or other mainline denominations are not wonderful, believers. They certainly led me to the point of faith, wonder and choice. Being Lutheran did not lose me. God knows His from before their birth. Even though they do not preach on being born again which created a conundrum for me when I was born again. Mainly I didn’t know exactly what was happening to me but I loved whatever it was. Ecstasy, joy I certainly couldn’t shushhh up anymore. I realized what was happening to me from the Bible itself and a Presbyterian Pastor and a Baptist both speaking on the Christian radio. I asked questions of anyone who might know about Jesus and never stopped. Exactly as Jesus teaches He will find us and call us out from anywhere and everywhere. I was actually on a Jesuit retreat when I heard the call of all places. Being silent, listening and responding to Gods teachings. How diverse is that. I can say easily no religion saved me. Purely Jesus.
The New Birth is required. Jn3:3, “Truly truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God. “ We need a new heart, or we end up believing like Satan and his followers. They all know Jesus exists, they know all about Him and the Bible. But they do not submit to Jesus nor to the Bible. They certainly don’t follow it, quite to the contrary. The carnal world finds the things of God foolish. Their eyes are blinded to spiritual things nor can they hear them, the unbeliever is dead spiritually speaking. Only God can awaken the Spirit through Faith, by His Grace.
Jn 10:27 “My Sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.”Jn10:15 “..even as the Father knows me and I know The Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
Gifts are given to us all for many occasions but do not belong to the recipient until they were received and opened.
We follow Him by His Word, by His example, especially upon conversion. I have yet to meet another convert who does not know when they were converted. Undergoing a heart transplant is hard to miss. The transformation begins and grows in us until the Lord sends for us to be with Him forever. Making us more like Him. Just as in most families there is a resemblance, a trait or characteristic that automatically links you to your parents and family. The same is true of our Father, making us more like Him that there should come a time when all who know us will know of our Christian heritage. Even though we are adopted our mannerisms, habits desires will become more like our new family in Christ. If it doesn’t something is wrong. Have people noticed a change in you? For example, several years after my conversion my husband and I were having a conversation. One of those chats most couples wish they didn’t need. A comment he made to me at that time struck me in the heart. He had been relaying some of my faults that he was unhappy with, as I had been also. When he said that he missed the woman he married. That I was not her, and that I had changed a lot! I rejoiced, he thought I had slipped a gear or two. He had not yet been converted and was still looking through the fogged up lens with eyes adorned by scales. His ears were still closed to spiritual things. We spoke well into the evening and at a point I offered him the opportunity to leave our marriage. I showed him in the Bible where it gives an unbeliever that option. I also pointed out that as long as he stayed he was benefiting from sanctification. That was the evening of his spiritual ground being furrowed (again) and the seed being planted. He opted to stay. We spent just short of 35 years together. My change took place in the third year of our marriage. He went home to be with the Lord a believer!
There are times of failing for all believers, we will slip and even fall for a while. We are indeed a work in progress, but we won’t be comfortable being away from our Father and church family for any significant amount of time. We will come back in deep repentance and faith, calling Abba Father. Sooner than later. A beautiful work progressing. Bearing witness to Christ because we can’t not.