Sunday, November 23, 2014


The Secret of Joy is Thanksgiving (revisited)
Pastor Ryan Freeman
Payson Christian Church

What’s the hardest thing to do in the New Testament?
In Philippians 4:4-9, Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (in Greek, when you repeat yourself repeat yourself, it’s the same as using an exclamation point. REJOICE!) Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (think about that one. The Lord is near.) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition (they are two separate things?), with THANKSGIVING (this is the lynch-pin of the whole process), present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me- put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

The Message puts it this way:
Philippians 4:4-9
4-5 Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!
6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
(SonRise Christian Fellowship and Sandra –praise the Lord)

It’s this same honest, jubilant thanksgiving which naturally comes out of us as Joy. And Joy is the secret to LIFE and living. REALLY living well. Without Joy, life is hollow and monotonous. Joy is never caught, but chased- that’s what CS Lewis learned as you read his spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy. It’s something living and active- apart of you and yet also ever before you- beckoning you on to the truly best way, even if you don’t know it yet.
The key to true, deep joy is thanksgiving, or thankfulness. Real, raw, genuine thankfulness. When you can come to a place inside where you are honestly thankful, that is where you’ll more often than not find that ever elusive creature, Joy, lurking, too. When you get a moment, read all of Philippians and you’ll see Paul’s thankfulness leading to joy shot through all the pages, words and ideas- Just like there are real people behind and within the Bible, real thankfulness and joy are what actually drive us and move us, too. This is because they are eternal themes- truths that are written into the High Magic of everyday living.
Being joyful and being thankful are synonymous. They mean the same thing- so as I go on saying one or the other- remember this. Being thankful and being joyful mean the same thing.
Anxiety is transformed into excitement when God is near us; we are joyful and thankful all at once- like Christmas morning as it ought to be. And because of this, because of joy anxiety cannot exist at the same time. They simply don’t go together- like lawyers and honesty, like pumpkin pie and algae. To have one is to, as a rule, not to have the other. And because we are thankful- it’s going to naturally spill out of us- it’s infectious and can’t be helped. When you pray about anything and everything- whether it’s that the Cardinals win next season or the price of gas goes down or deep personal troubles- pray with thanksgiving. By doing so, your own position regarding yourself and the situation is radically altered- and your joy is pure and lively. When we are thankful we are naturally humble and gentle with ourselves and others because we see ourselves without any exceptions or self-defenses.
Do we even leave room for God’s peace he wants to give us when we insist on living our own way- seeing situations our own way, demanding our existence on our own grounds? When we forget about all of our own silliness, and are simply content, thankful- that is when we are being molded.
Living with this on-going thankfulness and joy leads to contentedness.
Paul went through a lot, like we are all going through right now. From family issues, to home buying to shipwrecks and assassination attempts there is a great secret to living well tucked right in this letter to the Philippians- Paul says starting in verse 11:
“… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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 in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

There is a new and better way to live- really live. To live now is to live fully and richly- to breathe without worry- to walk without anxiety- to be excited, interact honestly and to smile and mean it. There are no more masks, for they are not needed.  Because Love drives out all fear- as we live in thankfulness we can find ourselves not just truly happy- but truly joyful. It is all indicative of the new way, the best way- it is Jesus himself- not merely more verses about, but light which, if we but tend it, will soon radiate out of us, transforming us as his own brothers and sisters.
Sandra battled with cancer three separate times before finally passing. She lost her lovely black hair, her left breast and her life here- but she never, never lost her joy or her thankfulness. Some lessons are more than mere verses on a page- but living and active- far sharper than any two-edged sword.

What will the pages of your own life’s story say?

If you want to find contentedness and peace in your life right now- practice being thankful and new, creative ways to show you care- live with a lifestyle of Thanksgiving and you’ll soon find joy- and before too long this new way of living will begin to change you from the inside out. You’ll be a new person, the old gone, the new arriving more and more each day.
Rejoice in the Lord always- he is bringing all things together for the good of those who love him.
And it goes without saying that this is, in fact, a very good thing.



Like what you read? Join in with your own insights, stories and art- send them to Thanks and God bless -Ryan

No comments:

Post a Comment