Joy of Faith

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

—Jas. 1:2-3

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

—1 Pet. 1:8-9

A Dutch Catholic priest Henri Nouwen (1932–1996) wrote, “Each day holds a surprise.  But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us.  Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy.  It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.”  May God of hope fill us with joy and peace!  We ought to trust him, so that we may overflow with the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13). But such blessings may come through friends.  Charles R. Swindoll (b. 1934), an evangelical Christin pastor said, “I cannot imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy.  Let’s face it; friends make life a lot more fun.”

Appreciation of Life

When people think about heaven they delight in knowing there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the ninety-nine righteous persons who have no need to repent (Lk. 15:7).  This is a Christian’s promise of eternal life.  Richard Bach (b. 1936), an author wrote, “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”  Bach saw all people as God’s family.  What does this mean in life?  Sharon Draper (b. 1948), a children’s writer and educator said, “Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall.  It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events.”  It takes faith to truly appreciate nature.

The Psalmist says that anger lasts only a moment but favor a lifetime.  He sees weeping staying only a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning (Ps. 30:5).  Kevyn Aucoin (b. 1962), a make-up artist and photographer wrote, “Today I choose life.  Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain … To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.”  Much of Aucoin’s beliefs might be likened to an appreciation of living that Albert Einstein (1879–1955), a German-born physicist said, “Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.”    

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The Beauty of Life

Peace is the beauty of life.  It is sunshine.  It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family.  It is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth.

—Menachem Begin (1913–1992), Prime Minister of Israel

Men and women are expressions of God’s beauty.  He created male and female in his own image (Gen. 1:27).  Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), a leader of the Indian Independence Movement wrote, “When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.”  God’s good.  His beauty is revealed in people and nature.  David Allan Coe (b. 1939), a songwriter and guitarist said, “It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.”  For this attribute we must praise God.  We’re wonderfully made and marvelous are his works (Ps. 139:14).

Philippians 4:8 states, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  That was why Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), the first lady of the United States wrote, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993), a British actress and humanitarian said, “The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway of her heart, the place where love resides.”

 Love of Beauty

With love we would enjoy the rejoicing of the heavens, the earth would be glad, the fields jubilant, and see the trees of the forest singing for joy (Ps. 96:11-12).  Elisabeth Kŭbler-Ross (1926–2004), a Swiss-American psychiatrist wrote, “People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.”  Moreover, Our Lord loves righteousness and justice and we should be full of his unfailing love (Ps. 33:5).

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), an essayist and poet said, “Never lose the opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.”  Daily we should pay attention to God’s designs and learn from them.  Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), an Indian artist wrote, “Beauty is truth’s smile when she beholds her own face in a perfect mirror.”  While Emerson said, “Love of beauty is taste.  The creation of beauty is art.”  Ultimately with mankind God is concerned with our hearts.  For the Lord instructed the prophet Samuel when he saw Eliab saying, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  But upon David’s arrival the Lord revealed to Samuel, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one” (1 Sam. 16:7, 12).

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True Happiness

Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land.  The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

—Deut. 30:9-10

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

—1 Tim. 6:17

Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430 AD), a Christian theologian and philosopher wrote, “Every man, whatsoever his condition, desires to be happy.”  What is happiness?  How could people have such happiness?  Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892), an English Baptist preacher wrote, “Those who are ‘beloved of the Lord’ must be the most happy and joyful people to be found anywhere upon the face of the earth.”  Thomas Boston (1676–1732), a Scottish theologian and philosopher also said, “Consider what man is.  He is a creature that desires happiness, and cannot but desire it.  The desire of happiness is woven into his nature, and cannot be eradicated.  It is natural for him to desire as it is to breathe.”  In Jeremiah 15:16 it was written that to be called by your name, O Lord God of hosts gives joy and delight to our hearts.

George Whitefield (1714–1770), an English Anglican cleric questioned, “Does [Jesus] want your heart only for the same end as the devil does, to make you miserable?  No, he only wants you to believe in him, that you might be saved.  This, this, is all the dear Savior desires, to make you happy, that you may leave your sins, to sit down eternally with him.”  C. S. Lewis (1898–1963), a British theologian said, “It is a Christian duty … for everyone to be happy as he can.”  Lewis further explained, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday by the sea.  We are far too pleased.”  James 5:11 told us that people should count those blessed as the ones who endure like Job.  We have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, because he is full of compassion and mercy.  Johnathan Edwards (1703–1758), a preacher and theologian wrote, “There is no man upon the earth who isn’t earnestly seeking after happiness, and it appears abundantly by the variety of ways they so vigorously seek it; they will twist and turn every way, ply all instruments, to make themselves happy men” For Christians the answer lies with knowing their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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Good Relationships

“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

—Deut. 5:16

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

—1 Cor. 13:4-7

Earl Nightingale (1921–1989), a radio personality and author wrote, “Learn to enjoy every minute of your life.  Be happy now.  Don’t wait for someone outside of yourself to make you happy in the future.  Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family.  Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.”  1 John 4:19 stated, “We love because he first loved us.”  Kim Kardashian (b. 1980), a TV personality and actress echoed this same reality saying, “At the end of the day, life is about being happy being who you are, and I feel that we are so blessed to have the support system and the best family to really just support each other no matter what we’re going through.”

Peace in Life

How do we find peace?  In Acts 10:2 reminded us that our family should be devout and God-fearing.  People ought to give generously to those in need and pray to God regularly.  Menachem Begin (1913–1992), former prime minister of Israel looked at peace a bit differently when he said, “Peace is the beauty of life.  It is sunshine.  It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family.  It is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth.”  These gifts are undoubtedly the essence of peace.  But it begins with us.  Buddha (563/480 BC–483/400 BC), an Indian ascetic and sage said, “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind.  If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”

In Colossians 3:13 was written that believers should bear with each other and forgive one another.  If any of you have a grievance against someone, forgive as the Lord forgives you.  This forgiveness begins in one’s family.  George Santayana (1863–1952), a philosopher wrote, “The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.”  So why wreck it with grudges?  Lex Luger (b. 1958), a professional wrestler said, “Many times, the decisions we make affect and hurt your closet friends and family the most.  I have a lot of regrets in that regard.  But God has forgiven me, which I am thankful for.  It has enabled me to forgive myself and move forward one day at a time.”  It isn’t only family and friends people have to forgive, it also starts with them.

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