December 13, 2016
“I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people!” (Luke 2:10)
Tim Hansel lived every day with debilitating, excruciating pain. Yet, in his book, You Gotta Keep Dancing, he wrote: “pain and suffering are inevitable, but misery is optional.” That is true for a Spirit controlled disciple of Jesus. Tim also wrote: “I can choose to be joyful.”
Joy is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit the Apostle Paul described in his letter to the Galatians. (Galatians 5: 22, 23) As evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, joy can be paraphrased “happiness that does not make good sense.” The derivation of the word “happiness” pertains to what happens to us. But this joy, which is the fruit of the Spirit living in us, is not controlled by what happens to us. That is why we say it does not make good sense, especially to secular non-spiritual people. In the very short letter the Apostle Paul wrote from prison to his favorite church, the Philippians, he used the word joy seventeen times!
Appearing to the shepherds, the angels explained why their declaration would bring great joy to all people: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
Great joy came because the One born is the Savior. He is the Christ, which is the Greek way of saying the Messiah. And He is to be our Lord. Joy came because Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to those who follow Him. This joy is intended for all people, including you and me.
Are you choosing to be joyful, anyway?
Dick Woodward, 20 December 2013
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Posted by Dick Woodward
October 18, 2016
“…for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
In this epistle of joy, the epistle to the Philippians, Paul exhorts us, “Delight in Jesus. Learn to derive your joy from knowing Him.” He uses the word ‘joy’ again and again and again. And what he’s really saying to us when he uses the word joy in the conditions in which he’s living is simply this, “Learn to derive your joy from your relationship to Jesus Christ. Learn to delight in Him.”
What is the source of your happiness? In what do you delight? Now again, if you delight in your health, well, you’re on thin ice. What would you do if you lost your health? If you delight in money, what would you do if you had a big crash and you lost everything? If you delight in your loved ones, and many, many people do, what are you going to do when you lose them?
It’s because God loves us that God tells us things like this, “Delight in Me. Learn to derive your joy from knowing Me.” That’s the source of joy. And so that should be our delight. That’s the reason Paul could have peace, even in the dungeon, even when he was in prison, no matter what the circumstances were, the reason he could say, “I’m ready for anything. I have learned how to live when everything’s good, I have learned how to live when everything’s bad.” Here is one of the big keys: Paul’s delight was the Lord, and the Lord was the Source of his happiness.
Not what he had or didn’t have.
Dick Woodward, (Ben Lippen Retreat, 1979)
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Posted by Dick Woodward
August 19, 2016
“Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.” Philippians 4:4
Misery is optional even though pain and suffering are inevitable. Those words were written by a man who lives with excruciating pain every day. How can misery be optional for someone in pain? How is it Paul can mention joy 17 times in a short letter he wrote from prison?
For those who experience and express the fruit of the Holy Spirit, who have a relationship with the risen, living Christ, there is a joy that is not controlled by circumstances.
The peace Paul experienced and prescribes for you and me can be called the peace that doesn’t make good sense. It is a peace that “transcends all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) The joy of which Paul writes can be called the happiness that doesn’t make good sense. This is true because this peace and joy are the fruit and evidence of the Spirit Who lives in us and they are not controlled by our circumstances. What is the foundation of that joy? According to Paul, that foundation is the Lord. We are to delight ourselves in the Lord and find our joy in Him at all times.
What is the foundation of your serenity and joy? If it’s your spouse, children or special human being with whom you have a relationship, then the foundation of your serenity is very fragile. There is no relationship on earth you cannot lose.
If the foundation of your serenity and joy is your health and athleticism, I bear witness to the sad reality that you have an extremely fragile foundation for your peace and happiness. Thousands of people, who had a physical orientation around which their lives revolved before illness or injury destroyed that foundation, will join me in warning you that health, athleticism and youth are fragile foundations for joy and happiness.
Jesus commended Mary when her sister Martha was upset because she chose to sit at His feet and hear His Word rather than help with dinner preparations. With much love for Martha, Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the good part that will never be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
When Paul writes his words about joy, he agrees with what Jesus told Martha about Mary, and he directs us here to a foundation for serenity and joy that is not fragile: “Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.”
Like Mary, you should prioritize a regular structured time in the Word of God before you enter into the rush and whirlwind of another day in the marketplace. Time in the Word is like sitting at the feet of Jesus. The communion with Him you can experience will never be taken away from you. It will set your sail for whatever adverse winds may blow against you that day.
Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 188-190)
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Posted by Dick Woodward
April 8, 2016
“Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in him at all times.” (Philippians 4:4)
“While pain and suffering are inevitable, misery is optional.” Those were the words of Tim Hansel, a man who lived every day with excruciating pain (in his book You Gotta Keep Dancin’.) How could misery be optional for someone in agonizing pain? And how do we explain Apostle Paul mentioning joy seventeen times in the short letter he wrote from prison to his favorite church?
Paul explains that for those who are experiencing a relationship with the risen, living Christ there is a peace and joy that is not controlled by circumstances. What Paul experienced could be called, “peace that doesn’t make good sense” and “joy that doesn’t make good sense.” According to Paul, the foundation of that peace and joy is the Lord Jesus Himself. He therefore prescribed that we are to delight ourselves in the Lord and then find our peace and joy in Him at all times.
What is the foundation for your peace and joy? If your foundation is the relationship with a loved one, do you realize there is no relationship with people here in this life that cannot be removed? If that foundation is your health, your youth or your athleticism, many thousands of people, who had those foundations before age, an illness, or an injury destroyed them, will join me in warning you that they are very fragile foundations for the peace and happiness Paul is prescribing.
In the Gospel of John 17:3 we’re told: “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Jesus identified and declared the right foundation for us as knowing God and Jesus Christ Whom God sent into this world.
What is the foundation for your peace? your joy?
Dick Woodward, 23 June 2009
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Tim Hansel, who was a great inspiration to Dick Woodward, check out this blog written at Dick’s request by Clark Morledge over at Veracity.com. Click here to read it: Joy: Tim Hansel
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Posted by Dick Woodward
September 15, 2015
“Now the works of the flesh are…but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control.” (Galatians 5: 19, 22, 23)
One of the most important New Testament passages of Scripture is found in Galatians chapter five where Paul identifies a war that is taking place in the life of every authentic disciple of Jesus Christ: the war between the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh is “human nature unaided by God.” According to Paul our human nature unaided by God is a monster and it produces what Paul labels “the works of the flesh.”
In contrast to a list of qualities that are like an immoral “train wreck” in slow motion, Paul gives us nine qualities that are the fruit and evidence of the reality that the Holy Spirit of God lives in us.
When we look in, Paul writes that we will find that we have a quality of love coming out of our life. We will also find a quality of joy and a peace we’ve never experienced before.
For a cross section of this love we should consult verses 4-7 of First Corinthians 13. We find it is a love that doesn’t make good sense because it is completely others-centered. Our joy is a happiness that doesn’t make good sense and the same could be said of our peace because all three are not related to our circumstances.
There is something to believe and Someone to receive. It is only when we receive God’s Holy Spirit that we can win the war between the flesh and the Spirit.
Dick Woodward, 19 November 2010
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Posted by Dick Woodward
July 6, 2013
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)
C.S. Lewis entitled the story of his conversion Surprised by Joy. According to Jesus any disciple of His who follows Him and is fruitful will be surprised by joy when they discover one of the reasons why He exhorted us to be fruitful. Jesus was the most fruitful human being who ever lived and it brought Him great joy. He wanted that same joy to be our experience and He wants us to experience the joy that comes along with being fruitful.
When I first started in the ministry I worked with a senior pastor I loved and wanted to serve for a long time, but he placed me in a satellite startup new church. As I complained he shared this verse in the letter of Paul to the Galatians: “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” Some time passed before I became fruitful in that new church but when that happened I cannot begin to describe the joy that came along with knowing that God could use even me.
The Gospel of John tells us in chapter four that when Jesus gave the woman at a well an experience He described as a drink of living water Jesus was obviously euphoric and filled with joy. The apostles offered Him food to eat. He refused their offer and told them He had food to eat they knew nothing about. He said that His meat was to do the will of His Father and to finish His Father’s work.
Have you been surprised by the joy that comes from proving that God can use even you?
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Posted by Dick Woodward