Summary: Living with joy is not easy, but if we pursue joy as God instructs we we can live the joy filled life!
Bible verses mentioned in today’s message
1Th 5:16 Be joyful always;
1Th 5:17 pray continually;
1Th 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Sometimes it is hard to be optimistic.
Gladys Thornapple was fixing lunch when in walks her son, Wilberforce, all decked out in his baseball outfit. Mom asks, "How did Little League go?"
Wilberforce growls, "Terrible, I struck out three times."
Trying to console her son, Mom says, "That’s all part of the game, honey."
Wilberforce exploded with exasperation, "Mom, its T-ball!"
When faced with times of trouble it is hard to be thankful, but it is possible. It is impossible for the world to maintain an attitude of thankfulness, but the follower of Jesus Christ can. It is an attitude of gratitude that leads us into god’s presence.
Heb. 13:15 says: Our priestly sacrifices are not lambs and goats; pigeons and turtledoves, But the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
Many of God’s people have lost the sense of the presence of God in their lives; they have lost their joy and peace. There is no sense of victory in them, it seems that the glory of God has departed from them; they feel like victims of everything life throws at them and it all starts with denying God’s word. God’s word that instructs us to be joyful, be prayerful and be thankful, because this is God’s will for every one of us.
I am reading from the Literary Digest dated Sept. 1923, "History knows no disaster which parallels the earthquake and fire that visited Japan this month and laid waste the capital city and the chief seaport."
The New York Tribune called this earthquake “undoubtedly the greatest disaster in recorded time.” The New York Times described the havoc as covering about 45,000 square miles which contained five big cities and a population of 7,000,000. Other dispatches reported that virtually every building in Yokohama was destroyed. Perhaps three-fourths of Tokyo was burned and the entire city with its 5,000,000 inhabitants was shattered by the earthquake.
A joint survey made by Herbert Hoover and the Red Cross estimated the dead at almost 300,000 with 2,500,000 people homeless. Disease and despair rode throughout the island empire.
Then help came! Help from America for helpless Japan! Food, clothing, medical supplies, and volunteer workers came by the shipload. The American Red Cross collected ten million dollars from people of the United States for the suffering and homeless.
It seemed those who lived through the awful earth tremors, the gigantic waves, and the tongues of fire must perish, from starvation or disease. But they didn’t. Why? Because America remembered—remembered their need, their suffering, and their hunger.
The Nipponese were grateful. They even put their appreciation in writing. Walter Kiernan, correspondent for the International News Service, recalls their words: “Japan will never forget!” END QUOTE
However, Japan did forget! 22 years, 3 months and 7 days later Japan sent warplanes to attack Pearl Harbor—and they proclaimed that America, brought to her knees, would beg for mercy.
But Japan is not the only one who has ever forgotten. Wedding vows are forgotten, commitments to God, promises made to children or parents are forgotten and the lists go on. Long ago the Lord said of Israel, “My people have forgotten me days without number” (Jer 2:32).
SOURCE: R. G. Lee as quoted in Ted Sutherland’s Sermon The Thanksgiving Catalogue. http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon.asp?SermonID=41026&ContributorID=5301
So how do we make this change? How do we go from forgetfulness to remembering? How can we move from ungratefulness to gratitude or from apathy to interested? First, we face the fact that we need help, Divine help.
Ac 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Ac 2:2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Ac 2:3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
Ac 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
I will get into trouble if I say that every believer must be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues. But if I qualify the statement by saying the every believer must receive the Holy Spirit and speak with a new tongue, a tongue that is transformed in the way it speaks. The Christian’s language changes, it becomes new. Crudeness changes to politeness, curses to blessings, doubt to faith, skepticism to encouragement, vengeance to mercy, blame to forgiveness, doom to possibilities.
Romans 12:2 reads, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”