Joy Unspeakable … in the light of Amazing Grace

You give me joy that’s unspeakable … and I like it.
Your love for me is irresistable … I can’t fight it.
You carried the cross and You took my shame … I believe it.
You shine Your light of amazing grace … I receive it.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4)

I just listened to a great message by Francis Chan on the subject of “joy”.  He reminded me that in these verses in Philippians 4 we are commanded to rejoice always! I know that we are, but I obviously don’t think it’s serious enough to actually confess this as sin when it’s not part of my life. But if it’s a command of scripture, isn’t it sinful NOT to do it? You know, those of us who have grown up around Christianese have probably heard it this way: sins of omission – those sins we commit by not doing what we are supposed to do and sins of commission – those we commit by doing something we are not supposed to do. Would this not fall into that category of sin of omission?
I have found that many times, and I don’t think it’s always intentional, in American Christianity (in the church) we dwell on the sins of commission to the point of neglect of the unconfessed sins we have in our lives, due to NOT doing something we are supposed to be doing as radical Christ followers. For instance, I know that I do not confess the following enough: lack of love, lack of joy, lack of peace, lack of thankfulness, lack of prayer, etc.
There is a command in scripture about all of these. 

In fact in Philippians 4, it says to always rejoice. It says not to worry about anything. It says to pray about everything.  Wow!
So, that means if I go through a morning without joy, I’m disobeying this command. If I worry through the night, that is disobedience. If I think about problems for a period of time without praying about them, it is wrong.

I’m challenged today with this! I really am. My first reaction is to proclaim: I just don’t know many Christ followers who live this way. Then I realize (like the old gospel song says), it’s not my brother, not my sister, but it’s ME Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer. 
I am guilty. And this seems radical! Even as I consider the truths of this, I am overwhelmed by the thought of actually living it out.  Always joyful. Never anxious. Praying about everything. It’s impossible, Lord.

And then, as if he knew (by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) what I’d be thinking sitting here at my computer today in 2010, he gives me the answer in verse 13. It’s not impossible with Christ as my strength. 
Francis said in his message: I am not asking you to lose touch with reality. I am asking you to get a grip on reality, that regardless of how big you think your issues or problems are, in reality they don’t match up to the cross. That’s reality. Your little light and momentary problem compared to the forgiveness you have in Jesus … that’s reality.
Oh. My. Goodness. 🙂 Whew. What?! … that’s what is going through my mind. But the problem is just that. I do not have a grip on THE reality. The way to get a grip on the true reality, and not MY reality,  is found in the same passage. 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.
Francis said his (Chinese) aunt looked him right in the face one day and said, “Why you neva happy?” As a young boy, Francis replied, “probrems, probrems”! 🙂

Not where I want to live! Always saying problems, problems. Lord, help me to review my blessings. Not my problems. Help me to rehearse Your goodness. Not my worries. Give me Your strength to rejoice always.
You give me joy that’s unspeakable. And I like it. Help me to live it too, in light of Your amazing grace.

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