These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11
In March 2022, CNN reported on the findings of the World Happiness Report, a United Nations publication. The report ranked 150 nations in the world in terms of happiness. For the fifth time, Finland was rated the happiest nation with Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Israel, and New Zealand rounding out the top ten.
Also instructive would be a survey of the most joyful nations, distinguishing joy from happiness. In general, happiness is deemed to be based on circumstances, but joy goes deeper—it is a sense of peace and contentment in spite of circumstances. The Bible acknowledges both happiness and joy, but focuses on the latter when it comes to persevering during hard times. When writing from prison in Rome, Paul stressed contentment (joy) in spite of his circumstances. He had “learned . . . to be content” (Philippians 4:11), suggesting it was a “secret” (verse 12, NASB) and realizing “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (verse 13).
Christ wants us to be full of joy, to be content in all things. Make sure that His joy is abiding in you today.
Joy in the Lord should be the loftiest of joy.Charles Spurgeon
A person can do nothing better than to . . . find satisfaction in their own toil.Ecclesiastes 2:24
I used to dread Mondays. Sometimes, when I got off the train to head to a previous job, I’d sit at the station for a while, trying to delay reaching the building, if only for a few minutes. My heart would beat fast as I worried over meeting the deadlines and managing the moods of a temperamental boss.
For some of us, it can be especially difficult to start another dreary workweek. We may be feeling overwhelmed or underappreciated in our job. King Solomon described the toil of work when he wrote: “What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain” (Ecclesiastes 2:22–23).
While the wise king didn’t give us a cure-all for making work less stressful or more rewarding, he did offer us a change in perspective. No matter how difficult our work is, he encourages us to “find satisfaction” in it with God’s help (v. 24). Perhaps it will come as the Holy Spirit enables us to display Christlike character. Or as we hear from someone who’s been blessed through our service. Or as we remember the wisdom God provided to deal with a difficult situation. Though our work may be difficult, our faithful God is there with us. His presence and power can light up even gloomy days. With His help, we can be thankful for Monday.
Are you using your gifts to serve others? To be effective, the church needs the participation of every believer.1 Corinthians 12:1-13
God has prepared work for us to do, and He’s equipped us with spiritual gifts to do it. Spiritual gifts are special abilities the Lord gives us to serve others in the body of Christ.
These gifts are given to us, but they’re for the benefit of others. Though they come in several varieties, can be used in various ministries, and have a wide range of effects in the church, they all originate from the Holy Spirit. He’s the One who chooses which gift each believer will receive. When all church members serve the body using their particular gifts, everyone benefits spiritually.
The Lord has a specific purpose in mind for each of us, and He’s gifted us accordingly (Ephesians 2:10). Without our individual contribution, the local church will lack something. Part of living in the power of the Holy Spirit involves employing our divine endowments as God directs. By operating in our area of giftedness, we’ll have the motivation, ability, and confidence needed for effective service. If you don’t know what gift you have, start by volunteering at something of interest, and eventually you’ll discover it.
“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?” (Luke 12:16-17)
God called this rich man “thou fool” (Luke 12:20) because, rich as he was in his own eyes, he was “not rich toward God” (v. 21). Instead of choosing to bestow his goods on others in need or on any kind of ministry for God, he decided to build more barns, and “there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods” (v. 18). The barns did not need them, however, and neither did the rich fool, for he died the very night on which he made this selfish decision.
The intensity of his self-centered nature is pointed up by the fact that he used personal pronouns (I, my) no less than 11 times in three verses (vv. 17-19). Furthermore, no counselor advised him on this course of action. He just “thought within himself” (v. 17) to keep it all for his own comfort and pleasure.
Jesus told this parable not just to rebuke selfish rich people, however, but to warn all of us against the wicked sin of covetousness “which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). “Beware of covetousness,” He said in introducing the parable, “for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).
Complaining American Christians (and almost all American Christians are wealthy compared to multitudes in many other nations) need to hear the ancient word of the psalmist still relevant today: “Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him….Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:16-17, 20). HMM
He that cometh after me is mightier than I…he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. —Matthew 3:11
With the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the same imagery (fire) was continued. “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:3). That which came upon the disciples in that upper room was nothing less than God Himself.
To their mortal eyes He appeared as fire, and may we not safely conclude that those Scripture-taught believers knew at once what it meant? The God who had appeared to them as fire throughout all their long history was now dwelling in them as fire. He had moved from without to the interior of their lives. The Shekinah that had once blazed over the mercy seat now blazed on their foreheads as an external emblem of the fire that had invaded their natures.
This was Deity giving Himself to ransomed men. The flame was the seal of a new union. They were now men and women of the Fire. POM099-100
A new heart comes with regeneration, the pure heart by the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire. We are born into one and baptized into the other. SAN006
For the word of God is living and effective … it is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.—Hebrews 4:12
Whatever we do, we must not let any lurking doubts go unchallenged. Pascal said: “Doubt is an unhappy state, but there is an indispensable duty to seek when we are in doubt, and thus anyone who doubts and does not seek is at once unhappy and in the wrong.”
How do we go about resolving doubts? One way is to bring them to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to help us overcome them. If prayer does not dissolve them, apply the tactic which Nehemiah adopted: “So we prayed to our God and stationed a guard” (Neh 4:9). Take a verse of Scripture that is the opposite of your doubt and hold it in the center of your mind, repeating it to yourself many times throughout the day. Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones once said: “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? We must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ourselves to talk to us!”
In listening to our doubts instead of talking to them, we fall prey to the same temptation that caught Adam and Eve off guard in the garden of Eden. The order of creation was stood on its head when the first human pair allowed themselves to be dictated to by the animal world (in the form of the serpent), when, in fact, they had been put in a position to dictate to it.
Don’t let your doubts dictate to you. Turn the tables and dictate to them. Talk to them with words from the Word of God.
Father, help me never to be nonplussed, for in You there are ways to overcome every problem. Drive the truth I have learned today deeply into my spirit so that I may apply it whenever I am faced with doubt. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Then Abishai said to David, “Today God has handed your enemy over to you. Let me thrust the spear through him into the ground just once. I won’t [have to strike] him twice!”—1 Samuel 26:8
You will sometimes be tempted to take shortcuts to your destinations in life. David faced this temptation numerous times before he finally assumed the throne. Samuel, God’s prophet, had anointed David and prophesied that he would be the next king of Israel (1 Sam. 16:12–13). Yet, while David waited on God’s timing, he watched in frustration as a crazed King Saul brought the kingdom into jeopardy. Saul pursued David to murder him, forcing David to flee for his life.
Then an incredible opportunity presented itself to David. David found Saul in a vulnerable position, sleeping with his army. Abishai, one of David’s warriors, offered to kill Saul. It seemed to make perfect sense. Saul had tried to kill David on numerous occasions. God had said He intended for David to be the king. By taking matters into his own hands, David could bring an end to his exile and assume the throne as God’s anointed servant. Yet he refused to compromise his integrity in order to become king, even though he wanted the position and it was rightfully his. Accomplishing God’s will in any manner other than the way God prescribed was unthinkable.
At times you may face similar temptations. Well-meaning friends advise you to hasten God’s will for you rather than waiting upon Him. You may be sorely tempted to take control of your situation, assuming the end will justify the means. These are the times when you must trust God’s perfect timing. God may plan for you to attain a certain position or take a new direction, but the timing may not be right. Watch over your heart. Don’t allow others to persuade you to compromise your integrity as you follow God’s will.