Monday, January 8, 2007

Salvation Brings Joy

1 John 1:4 – “These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”

Men of all eras have spent their days searching for joy - most to no avail - some with great success. So where can one search for joy in this life? One of Dr. Sightler’s favorite methods in describing or defining a subject was to first describe what it is not. In order to explain where joy may be found, let’s explore where it cannot be found through some well-known figures from history:

Alexander the Great thought it could be found in military might. But no – after conquering the known world, he wept in his tent, declaring, “There are no more worlds to conquer.”No joy!

Lord Byron thought it could be found in pleasure. He lived a life of hedonism – but he wrote, “The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone.”
No joy!

Voltaire thought he would find it in infidelity. This noted French infidel wrote, “I wish I had never been born.”
No joy!

Jay Gould, the American millionaire, tried to find it in wealth. But in spite of all his riches, he came to his death declaring, “I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth.”No joy!

Benjamin Disraeli tried to find it in power and fame. This great British Prime Minister declared in despair, “Youth is a blunder; manhood a struggle; old age a regret.”
No joy!

So where can one find joy? A man traveling by train through the South got off at a station during a stop. While taking a walk, he came across a native of the South and asked him, “Do folks down here enjoy religion?” He received this reply, “’Em ‘at’s got it does.” Though we don’t put much confidence in religion, what is usually referred to as “old time religion” is really true salvation. And true salvation brings true joy. In fact, our text verse tells us that salvation brings a joy that is full – that is complete – that is perfect. What are some things that salvation brings us joy in?

Salvation brings us joy in sins forgiven. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Can you imagine any greater feeling of rejoicing than to know that our wrongs against God can be totally forgiven?

Salvation brings joy in fellowship with the Father. “And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)” That’s what salvation is all about – restoring our fellowship with the Father – a fellowship broken by the fact of sin.

Salvation brings joy in fellowship with God’s people. “That ye also may have fellowship with us. (1 John 1:3)” The fellowship that we can have with fellow believers is one of those marks by which we know we are saved.

Salvation brings joy in tithing. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “For God loveth a cheerful [hilarious] giver.” Giving back to God in proportion to how He has blessed us brings about a wondrous joy – a hilarious joy – a cheerful joy.

Salvation brings joy in soul-winning. Paul declares this joy in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 in thinking of those he has won, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?”

Salvation brings joy in seeing Him. This should be one of the greatest joys we look forward to. Titus 2:13 says, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

Salvation brings joy in the Word of God. The psalmist says in Psalm 119:162, “I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.” His Word is so wonderful, so marvelous, so richly rewarding, that we cannot help but to rejoice in plumbing its depths.

Quote –– "The world may have pleasure, but only the Christian has joy." –– Unknown

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year!

1 Corinthians 16:9 – “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me.”

Every New Years Day that rolls around brings new resolutions – to lose weight – to make more money – to gain more things – blah – blah – blah.

Now I don't put a whole lot of stock in New Year's resolutions - we should live a consistent Christian life every day of the year. But for those who must make resolutions, why don’t we take a page from the Great Awakening preacher Jonathan Edwards? Look at his resolutions:

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat Him, by His grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ's sake. [I will] remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence.
Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.
Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
Resolved, Never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
Resolved, Never to do anything out of revenge.
Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one, so that it shall tend to his dishonour, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
Resolved, Never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession which I cannot hope God will accept.
Resolved, To ask myself, at the end of every day, week, month, and year, wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done better.
Resolved, Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
Resolved, After afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them; what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.
Resolved, Always to do that which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak.

So, as the new year comes upon us, let us resolve to do more for Christ, to seek His face more, to please Him more, and to strive to do His blessed Will in all we say and do.
Happy New Year

As I look in the face of another year,
I thrill with expectation.
As I close out the old and ring in the new,
It comes with jubilation.
For it holds a blank page upon which no pen
Has ever made any mark,
And not a single day has there been besmeared
By this world’s pretentious spark.

For if we give over every new day
To the Lord our God on high,
He can write on each page with a heavenly pen,
As to Jesus we draw nigh.
Then each day will be penned in God’s perfect Will,
The marks of His Spirit we’ll see,
And as we move on through the passing new year,
His obedient children we’ll be.
© 2006 Paul Stultz

"He Knows My Name" - MVBC Young Ladies Trio

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