Where is the Joy? Part 3


Where is the Joy – Part 3

Paul mentions that the Philippians’ help to him and their service in response to the gospel is a great comfort to him.

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.

–         Philippians 2:17

For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. – Philippians 4:16

I have long known that especially when I’m feeling down, giving help to others can be a great source of joy.

By service I am not talking about anything that you might have joined because you were urged to join a “ministry” and you were instructed that it was a necessary part of your Christian walk you needed to make sure you were doing.  I am not talking about working for your local body because “everyone should”, although you may find the place God draws you to is a role in the local church.  I hope, as you read this, you don’t find yourself in a situation doing work that does not bless you that you got into “because” of someone or some unspoken group pressure.  You may have already found that it gives you more of a sense of obligation than of joy.  The joy I’m thinking about, the joy that makes your heart light, is not that kind of service.

As you pray and look at Jesus as both your Savior and example, and as you come to love others while looking through His eyes, a change happens in your desire to reach out to other people’s needs.  You start to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit nudging you to get involved in some way.  You might meet someone who needs basics, like clothes or food.  You might meet someone who needs help in an area you have a talent for, like cooking or carpentry.  But you might meet someone who needs a friend, or just needs someone to be there with a hand to hold and a kind heart.  And as you give that kind of help, He gives you an indescribably beautiful joy.  It’s unforgettable.

Some believers pray that God gives them opportunities and expect He will ask them to be an outreach of Jesus’ love during the day.  But even if you didn’t pray, sometimes when you least expect it, you can just feel the Holy Spirit asking you to do more for the person in front of you.

My friend Christa recently had just such an experience.  She and her mom (Michelle, who writes the blog posts with me) were leaving the grocery store when an elderly woman asked them if they had a cell phone.  Her car wouldn’t start and she needed to call AAA.  Christa didn’t just hand her the phone.  She called AAA for her, navigating through all the prompts and questions that can be difficult for older people who didn’t grow up in an automated world.  Christa and her mom waited for the truck to arrive.  They brought the woman and her groceries home.  They learned that the woman lived alone and had no one.  They left their phone number and made a friend that day.

You may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned giving people the salvation message.  Many, many people emphasize that vital part of service, to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”(1 Peter 3:15b)  I am just speaking today of the joy we have doing the quiet promptings Jesus gives us as we go about our lives to do something for others.

Jesus says unbelievers will recognize us by the way we love each other.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one  another. – John 13:35

One way this love becomes evident is in our serving each other, meeting the needs that are in the body of believers.

Share with God’s people who are in need. – Romans 12:13a

Some churches march out the door to reach the lost without realizing they’ve left the needy and broken of their body behind them.  Those moments of salvation ministry will come, too, and the Holy Spirit is the one to direct us to them.  But are we listening to the Holy Spirit to direct us to the needs of our brothers and sisters?   Paul and others encourage us to see to the needs of believers.  As we come to know, love and rejoice more in each other, we will learn how we can serve our brothers and sisters in love.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. – Romans 12:10b

When I was a little girl, I was taught to call the next-door neighbors Grandma and Grandpa.  Grandma had several life threatening illnesses in the last years of her life, but she didn’t give a second of time to self pity.  She spent her days making crafts for others.  When I was sixteen, my sister lost her husband and daughter and came to live with us for a while.  Grandma came to visit her every day, and never empty handed.  She just brought little gifts, flowers from her garden, a cup custard from her cooking.  I can just imagine her asking the Lord what she could do to bless my sister each day, and the joy she must have had in doing it.  One day she brought my sister a book to read.  Paula thought it was the last thing she wanted to do, but she started reading it.  The book had an engaging plot and she found Grandma was right – it did help take her mind off things.  Grandma was a shining example of doing what Jesus would do, and that humble service glows with joy 35 years later.

I don’t mean to disparage the kind of service where God leads you into a disciplined role.  I have served in that kind of service extensively.  One of my talents is music, and at times I have committed to being available week in and week out to a church because I knew God was encouraging me and blessing me in sharing both this talent and my faith in this way.  I was contacted a couple of weeks ago about playing next weekend.  I didn’t really want to, but I know that God has blessed me in this area.  I am good at going to a church I don’t know and filling in.  And these are God’s people asking me for help.  As I’ve been conversing with these people, I can tell they are so grateful that they found an organist for the holiday weekend that I can already sense the joy.  I am busy, and it will be a challenge to make the time to prepare for them, but I already sense that the coming Sunday will be great.

So while God may speak to you about a major role in Christian service, He will definitely speak to you about the little things you can do to ease someone’s way and show them His love.  Be looking forward to what He will say to you and me!

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