1. It was one of the happiest and joyful times of my life. I had grown up in church and made confession of faith, but as most of you know, I went through a period of years when I stopped believing in Christ. It all seemed unreal.
2. For various reasons, used by God, I started going back to church. This time it was different. I couldn’t get enough of God. I wanted to learn more and experience more of Him.
3. It was a time of joy - the joy of knowing how much He loved me, the joy of discovering amazing truths from the word, the joy of worship in which I could freely express my praises of God, the joy of seeing how God was reaching out around me and through me into the lives of other people, the joy of giving - I just couldn’t give enough - the tithe was just the beginning. The joy was overpowering and overwhelming.
4. It included times of tears and struggles, but the joy I had - I cannot describe it.
5. I still feel joy today but that joy seems faded at times. I have developed something that I believe Satan is using to hamper my ministry. and he is using it in your lives and I believe in the church as a whole. The joy seems like it is slowly, almost without notice at times, being replaced with an attitude of negativity.
6. I see it in my preaching. My daughter comes home after months away and see it coming from me in my home
7. For what I am doing, and many or most, if not all of us - is this. We look around us - at our circumstances, at other people - and we see the negatives. Someone shares or gives of themselves and we question their motives or the theological correctness of what they say. We are a critical people.
8. We miss out on the wonderful, abounding grace and love of God by focusing on the things that are wrong or that bother us. And as long as we do that, there is no way out of our dilemma
9. For no one is perfect, no church is perfect - and if we look for what is wrong we will find it but somehow the joy of knowing and serving God is pushed to the background. Oh it come to the surface every so often but it is not what motivates and determines our thoughts, words and actions.
10. Do you agree with me? Lets test my assumption
11. Last Tuesday the ladies had a speaker from Chatham Outreach for Hunger come and share about that ministry. When you hear the words "Outreach Hunger" what thoughts or feelings come to mind. Do we think of people who are lazy, liars, people who are out to milk the system?
12. Yet I am told the lady who spoke opened the eyes of the ladies who were there. Even the numbers of ladies was down - could that be because of the topic and our negative feelings about it.
13. I pray and plead with God that I may get rid of these negative feelings that control me and that instead I would experience again the joy.
1. James talks about joy in the midst of trials. What he teaches us makes us think about how we react to the things that take away our joy. For we have all been hurt, disappointed, challenged, and overwhelmed, but rather than these things causing our joy to fade they can become the opposite - they become sources of even greater joy.