Hope you're having the sweetest, chill-est after-Christmas week of all time! Whew! We made it! And I can't wait to tell you the most hiiiilarious story that happened at our house on Christmas!! But before I do, I just want to wish you a day full of…in fact, I want to wish you an entire after-Christmas week full of…in fact, I want to wish you an entire New Year's full of… JOY!!! And not just a New Year's Day of joy, but a joy-filled 2013! Joy the whole year thru!
I really mean it!
I realized the other day that I almost always started all the 2012 CCC emails out with those words…”Hope your day is filled with joy and praise!...”
But there’s NOTHING more important than days filled with…and hearts filled with…joy! I learned this from an unlikely teacher…especially if you’ve ever seen a picture of him! Remember Jonathan Edwards? Y’know…the ”Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” dude from high school Western Civ…If your text book had his picture, you wouldn’t forget it! Talk about grim!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but nobody smiled for pictures back then! Maybe it’s because it woulda been too tiring to keep the corners of your smile turned up for the fourteen hours it took to paint your face. Maybe dentists didn’t have it quite together yet. But pretty much everyone was sour-looking "back in the day".
Problem is…we grew up thinking Mr. Edwards’ heart was as dour as his face appeared to be. Not true!
Sure, he could preach a heated sermon now and then, but most of his talks were about the beauty of grace…and about love (you should read his sermon, “Heaven is a World of Love”! Wow!)…and tons of them were about joy!
You’d never know it, but that ol’ Puritan looooved chocolate! Once he wrote to a friend to remind him to not forget some on his trip to the Edwards home…” If you will bring what chocolate remains, you will much oblige your humble servant."
And he loved joy even more! It’s why he loved Jesus!
He said over and over that joy is the most essential heart ingredient for a healthy vital faith!
"It would be worth the while to be a Christian, if it were only for the pleasantness of it! …It begets love and peace, good will one towards another…" Tons of pleasant stuff!
He first felt this “pleasantness” the day he opened his heart to Jesus. "My soul," he reminisced, "was led away in pleasant views and the contemplations of them. And my mind was greatly engaged, to spend my time in reading and meditating on Christ; and the beauty and excellency of his person, and the lovely way of salvation, by free grace in him."
He believed that knowing and loving Jesus was the most pleasurable thing the heart can do, and "our number one duty is to seek our highest pleasure”
“The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here…”
Wow! How could a guy with a heart like that look so grumpy? Maybe the painter was the grumpy one! Maybe he just didn’t believe a person should be as happy as Jonathan!
The very Apostle Paul felt the same joyous way! He told the Corinthians that he was a “worker for their joy” Not “Lead Pastor”, or “Youth Pastor” or the “Small Groups Pastor”, but “Joy Pastor” was his job title!
He told the Philippians that his only reason for not going to Heaven immediately was so they could have more joy in Jesus! (Phil. 1.25)
His prayer was for joy (Rom 15.13)
The Kingdom is about joy (Rom 14.17)
The fruit of the Spirit is joy (Gal 5.22)
Joy! Apparently there’s nothing more important!
So, as I was saying… I hope you have a joy-filled 2013!
Oops! With all that, I don’t have time for my hilarious story…Oh, well. Probably wasn’t that funny. And these verses will give you more joy than a joke would, anyway!