Friday, November 17, 2006

#176: Joy and Contentment

The joy of the Lord is one of many earthly rewards Christians will experience as a result of being content (a satisfied spirit) with their love connection with God as their lives continue in holiness, love, obedience, etc. This Godly joy is not an effect of circumstances as happiness is, but an enduring, euphoric attitude/feeling that rises above all unpleasant circumstances. Said another way, as happiness comes and goes according to what happens in life, Godly joy rises above whatever nasty stuff the world throws at us, and remains intact.

Could joy and contentment be concocted just by thinking joyful thoughts? No. That would be a form of happiness. As soon as something unpleasant happens, those thoughts of joy and contentment would fly out the window. Christian joy is a continual, multi-purpose result of knowing with certainty Christ’s acceptance of you, His unfailing love for you, and of looking forward to being in the presence of Jesus Christ, along with adherence to, belief in, and obedience to the truth as displayed in the Christian Bible.

Let’s explore a few other aspects of the Christian life that produce contentment and joy. How often do we meditate on the thought that, through our personal faith, we are actual PARTNERS with the creator and designer of the universe, and none less intricate, He is the designer of human life, which He is created in His image?

Above and beyond all the above, we as humans desire to be loved, wanted—and if it is not sacrilegious, I would also say needed; the love God Has for us does exactly that, and it is mainly love that truly satisfies our spirit person, even though human love does fulfill a needed purpose. If that thought doesn’t send one flying, so to speak, I don’t know what will. Only one condition: We must keep our Spiritual Lover on the tip of our mind as much as possible; as said in 1st Thessalonians 5:17, “pray continually” in order to enjoy the contented outcome.

As humans, we are elated when we touch, talk to, or even see someone famous. That will be a great moment we may never forget. Compare that with seeing, talking to, and touching Jesus Christ through faith. That is not a hyperbole, but an actuality. Christian faith/belief is that potent.

There are many New Testament verses that tell of how Christians will be mistreated and persecuted, and how we will/should respond. Here is just one: Luke 6:22-23. “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”

Joy that is real and comes from God is one of the necessary attitudes/ingredients to get us through tough times. And obedience gives us the ability to live up to many of the difficult and seemingly ridiculous, hard-edged New Testament verses that many believe are not meant for Americans, especially in our modern culture. Enjoying or desiring “the worldly good life”’ is by all means our most ubiquitous and revered lifestyle. It may be, but not for genuine Christians. “The good life,” pertaining to having life easy along with material prosperity, is full of many seemingly pleasant, though unexpected, pitfalls.

Any Christians that are not continually experiencing the joy of the Lord in all circumstances must examine where the cracks are in their Christian lives, a difficult job to do. This blog can help. Joy is there for the taking. It has already been allocated and paid for by the life and death of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. It would be next to impossible to live as required without joy. Start believing and living in a way that generates contentment and joy; it is contagious.

Let God reveal a mystery, which should not be a mystery to those who are in tune with the Holiness of God and Jesus Christ. Genesis 1:26. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness . . . ”’ It is common knowledge that God and Company are spiritual beings and not physical. Since that is the undeniable truth, God did not have a physical likeness to pass onto humans; therefore, with certainty, He created us in His spiritual image. That means that fundamentally, all humans are spiritual beings (potential gods) with physical bodies, and not physical beings with a spirit. Our spirit is all-important, and maintaining its health must be our primary objective.

Here are two extremely interesting New Testament verses to collaborate the aforementioned: John 10:34. “Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, “I have said you are gods”?’ The man, Jesus Christ, is the end result and our only role model of God’s creation of all humans. Also, it was Jesus Christ who said in John 14:9, “Anyone who has seen me [God with a human body] has seen the Father.” [Emphasis added]. They are the most audacious words Jesus ever spoke in the entire New Testament.

With that said, all humans were born with an emptiness of spirit. In fact, the majority of humans may not believe they have a spirit, let alone be a spiritual being. Then, at an early age, we/they attempt to fill that empty spirit (trying to find fulfillment, contentment and satisfaction) with worldly things and self-centered attitudes.

Our God is a joyful God since He knows the very end results of what will be in the future. That means joy is—or better yet, should be—one of many intricate parts of all spiritual beings. Then our desire to be content becomes one of the major attitudes needed to start to fill that spiritual emptiness.

The problem arises because many of us are separated from God—though we may still call ourselves Christians—because of our ignorance/disbelief, and therefore, God is unable to inform us of what’s what. That is the reason we continually are attempting, without knowing it, to satisfy that need for spiritual/Godly joy with material things, relationships, and other worldly accomplishments. It just won’t work. It is like a trying to put a square block in a round hole. Before you read any further, please read the last four paragraphs again and maybe again. What they reveal is that important. In fact, those four paragraphs most likely contain the most poignant revelation thus far published. The above truth is what is missing in most religions, including the Christian religion, and the reason for the mess we humans have made from day one of a potentially joyful, loving, and peaceful world. That also is the reason wars and all other forms of malice are contrary to the kingdom of God.

Here is another potential problem: When people, especially Christians, have many worldly circumstances and happenings to be happy about—like a good family, a wonderful wife/husband and close relatives, a good job, obedient children, living the “American dream,” great health, an excellent reputation, etc.—then the need for heavenly joy may not be apparent. In turn, they may mistake worldly happiness—which could be classified as joy since some may be long-term—as if it comes from God. That is disastrous. Therefore, the spiritual is what should rule who we are and what we do, and not success, which more often than not goes to our head, resulting from our physical niceties. Nevertheless, a few of the above-mentioned family conditions could be acceptable as long as the love, joy, and contentment are received from God, and as long as believing and living as Christ requires is not usurped by family and company.

And yet there is room for serendipitous happenings in Christianity. The only thing is that when this unexpected luck comes our way, we could thank God for it. And then we must be cautious because it might be no more than the great joker (Satan) attempting to distract us from our dedication to Godly affairs. In these circumstances we must be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. The main thing is, we must recognize it as worldly happiness that we are most likely experiencing—not Christian joy. These circumstances may sometimes be tough calls; without patting ourselves on the back, we need, in order to recognize which is which.

In the Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians, Chapter 4, Verse 12, he expresses his thanks for the help he received from his followers in that city. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content [joyful] in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. . . .” Please don’t take that word “plenty” as living in wealth. “Plenty” most likely means not being in want of the bare necessities. The reason I say that is because this letter to the Philippians was known as the second of four prison epistles, written in a Roman prison during Paul’s first imprisonment. Their gift to Paul made him feel as if he was living with plenty. The main punch line in this paragraph is that even in “want” we can be joyful since our joy does not come from pleasant and congenial circumstances or surroundings.

In conclusion, see 1st Timothy 6:6. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Genuine Christians are the ones experiencing the love, joy and contentment we receive while remaining active in the mission that the Son of Man left for us to accomplish. For that reason, it can honestly be shouted from the roof tops (letting the world know) that we are the most fortunate and blessed people on the face of this earth. What in heaven’s name is of greater value than that?


Jay said...

Al… Can you please elaborate on your interpretation on Genesis 1:26. I believe the part about us that says , fundamentally all humans are spiritual beings The part I would like you to clarify is, (potential gods) with physical bodies, and not physical beings with a spirit. Thanks Jay

JC said...

Jay, thanks for your question, I am certain others may also need a further explanation. First, I ask you this rhetorical question: was Jesus Christ a man with a spirit or a Spirit man with a body?

Being created in the image of God (Jesus Christ) we as Christians, have the potential ability to also become spiritual beings with a body. All genuine Christians are active extensions of Jesus Christ, to continue the holy work He started.

I assume you all believe the New Testament (N.T.). I mean believe to a point where we actively desire to live as he did. There are many N.T, verses that tell how we will/must live as Jesus did. I will present you only three.

John 14:12. “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing . He will do even greater things that these because I am going to the Father.”

Philippians 2:5. “ Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:”

1st John 2:6. “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

Since my words may not mean much to some; therefore, this elaboration may not be sufficient, I will continue to let the Bible speak. It could be, you or others do not have the Spirit of Christ. As Romans 8:9. explicitly says, “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

1st Corinthians 2:14-16. “ The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned . . . . But we [genuine Christians] have the mind of Christ.”

Jay, I hope and pray you have the Spirit of Christ, of course, your life will always tell the truth.

Thanks for your inquiry. Althinker

Jay said...

Al: No disagreement about us being spiritual beings with a body. That’s the way God made us. It’s on us if we choose to be Christ like in spirit or go with the anti- Christ spirit. The question I had was the way you said potential gods in parentheses, I was hoping you were not in the belief that we are little god’s as many misinterpret John 10:34
Thanks for you quick reply… Jay

Anonymous said...

I have a question, does Islam and the Koran come from the God of the bible, if not, who and where does it come from.

JC said...

Thanks for your inquiry, In the sixth century a man named Mohamad who claimed to be a prophet of Allah (god) did some writing and called it the Qur’an. Where he got the information to write it, I am not sure, but since some of his writings are similar to the Christian Bible, he may have had some form of an old Biblical manuscripts to refer to. And his interpretation of what it taught, ended up being the holy book of the religion called Islam.

I personally believe the people of that time in [that] region knew very little of the True God Jehovah/Yahweh, therefore, could not refute what Mohamad wrote, thus accepted it as the truth.

Again, there are several Islamic teaching that are dubious, if not down right false, but the most ungodly is no emphasis for love of neighbor, rather to hate them. althinker

Anonymous said...

For many are called, few are chosen. Is this verse directed at christians only or the entire world, where in the bible does it explain what, born again, means or is. Christians say that human beings are spirits that live inside a body, when the body dies it goes to where it came from, and the spirit goes to where it came from, does this mean that these spirits were angels before being now inside bodys.

JC said...

Anonymous, thanks for your questions. There are many that claim to be Christians but are not. It is not certain if that verse means them; although, I doubt it. The more probable answer is there are many who are called and start to live the Christian life but give way to the many of life’s subtle and pleasing temptations; thus, falling away from the faith. Read Mark 4:15-19. They are the ones described in those verses that are called but not chosen.

As to your second question: that passage about being born again is in John 3:3-8. Born again means to be born of the Spirit of God. When a person truly desires to believe, live and obey all that is required in New Testament Scripture, at that time the Holy Spirit comes into a person via his/her brain and starts to loving coax that person to live a life that is pleasing to Jesus Christ. That is the new spiritual birth. And if that person continue in the faith, she/he is one that God has chosen.

As to your last question: at physical death, regardless if a person is burned to death until there are no physical remains, or a person receives a ordinary burial, it makes no difference to God. At death the body is useless. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how they die or what is left of them.

Here is the answer to the second part of your question: contrary to popular belief, when anyone dies, their spirit sleeps until the judgment day. Then the spirit will be gives some form of a body and stand before the judge. They will be either condemned or justified by the life they lived. Concerning the sleeping of the spirit at death, there are many New Testament verses to verify that belief. althinker