Page 122 was not only a Sunday, it was the first Sunday of the month which meant I got to preach at the North Wayne Mennonite Church in Dowagiac, Michigan this morning. 🙂 This morning’s sermon was taken from Philippians 3 and titled, “The ACT of Joy”. As we unwrapped the third chapter of Philippians, I shared about the Attitude of Joy, the Commitment of Joy, and the Treasure of Joy. While joy is a part of the fruit produced by God’s Spirit living in us, it is a process that begins in our mind with an attitude that sees beyond the day to day circumstances of life. If our thought-life is the seedbed of our actions, our attitudes are the soil in which our thoughts either grow or die. When we take on the attitude of Christ Jesus, who humbled Himself in obedience to the Father, we allow our thoughts to grow into actions that are filled with the deep abiding joy that can only come from God. Taking on this attitude of joy is a daily commitment that decides to represent Christ well in all circumstances no matter what. Paul counted all of his credentials that the world would have seen as valuable to be nothing more than garbage. Instead, it was the opportunity to share in the sufferings of Christ that Paul viewed as having great value in not only identifying with Christ, but in sharing in the joy of the resurrection through sharing in His suffering. Our attitude and commitment of joy leads us to the treasure of joy that is found within the family of God as citizens of heaven.
Following the church service, it was lunch at Subway followed by some Sunday afternoon relaxing. By late afternoon, the cloud cover had become less intense so we headed to Mishawaka for an evening stroll on the river walk. Even under gray skies, the colors of spring stood out in the trees and shrubs lining the walk. Perhaps the gray skies make them even more noticeable than they would be on a bright sunny day. As I thought about it, I think that is the lesson that was at the heart of this morning’s sermon about joy. It shouldn’t be that difficult, or even that noticeable, to have joy when we are living in the beauty of everything going as we would like — as if that’s possible. 🙂 The true value of having the type of joy that is produced by God’s Spirit living in us is that it becomes impossible to hide it when the skies of our life darken and the storm clouds prevail. When we have joy at those times, the people around us notice. When people notice our joy in the difficult times of life, we are given opportunity to give an answer for the hope that lies within us. God’s Word says that when we have that opportunity, we must give that answer with gentleness and respect to everyone who would ask.
I pray that you and I would seek God’s joy in our lives each day that we live. I pray that we would guard our hearts and minds through consistent time in God’s Word and prayer. I pray that we would live with a daily commitment to living with an attitude of joy in all circumstances. I pray that we would recognize the great treasure we have, not only through our relationship with Christ but also in our relationships with fellow believers. I pray that our joy in the midst of difficult circumstances would be used to represent Christ well in all that we do.