Acts 16:25-26 "But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed."
What follows in the next verses is stunning, too. The jailer passed from despair (he was ready to kill himself as he believed all prisoners had escaped) to huge joy, as he and his household received Jesus as Lord and Savior and were all baptized!
Paul was writing to the Philippians to be happy, no matter what they were facing. Even if the circumstances he was facing were terrible, Paul urges God's children (from Philippi at that time and all Christians of all times, including us), to REJOICE!
If we look more carefully at our lives, we see that the most frequent causes of our sadness and lack of peace are not usually major issues, but more commonly the minor ones. The Bible teaches us to repent (to admit we did sin, to regret we did, and ask God to forgive us) quickly of every sin, of every wrong we commit. Whether we realize it or not, when we choose sin over obedience to God, then we are giving place to the devil, which opens us up to attack and hurt. Jesus warned us of Satan's evil ways in John 10:10 "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. "
Does it seem to you that a life lived mainly being sad, with a unsatisfied attitude, complaining all the time and with little or no joy is an abundant life? I am sure it doesn't.
Also, it is very important to NOT believe the lies that the enemy brings in our minds to keep us "under the weather," full of sorrows, making us believe we are weak, unworthy, big sinners with no hope that God cannot love.
Our heavenly Father is teaching us step by step, how to fight to win and have real joy, continuous joy in Him, to live with the joy that comes from the security of salvation in Jesus Christ, as long as He is our Lord! The more we learn to hear and obey His voice, the happier we'll be!
Yes, there are problems and troubles that sadden and upset us, but we have no reason to camp there... our sadness is not solving the problem and does not undo the damage or hurt, and can even ruin our health.
Proverbs 17:22 ”A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
For those who love God, we know that we belong to Christ, who paid for our sins by dying in our places. We live with the desire to please the Lord and trust Him that He will even turn our troubles into something good. Why? Because God changes the evils that the devil and even people did and uses them for good.
Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
As Joseph told his brothers, who had sold him as a slave:
Genesis 50:20 "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."
God even changed Balaam's curse into a blessing for the people of Israel.
Deuteronomy 23:5 "Nevertheless the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam, but the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.”
Spiritual warfare is not occasional, but continuous, as the enemy is in attack-mode at all times. That's why we need to be alert, online with the Lord at all times (prayerful) and recognize enemy attack from its first signs and not falling into his traps. How much better it is being aware that we have authority and power through Jesus, who dwells in God's children and to know how to fight.
The Christian life was for too long, considered to be a life of pain, suffering and false humility. Apostle Paul, faced many very tough trials and tribulations (if you want to find out more about it, read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, where Paul shares what he faced in those 22 years of ministry, approximately from 36 AD to 68 AD and ending when Nero ordered his execution).
The words joy, glad, happy appear about 330 times in the Bible... For sure God loves JOY. He created it, and it defines Him. Heaven is the place of joy, gladness, peace and full truth!
Our heavenly Father wants us to learn to rejoice in Him and to stop focusing on our problems and needs. He wants us to learn to know and trust His heart, to enjoy what we have, even the little things. In so doing, bitterness and worry will not find place in our hearts. When we allow the negative it separates us from the joy of being in God's presence. God wants us to know Him and how much He love us and for us to love Him back for who He is, not for what He gives us. The result is a greater relationship with God and being greatly blessed Him.
Our carnal nature and spiritual enemy if left unchecked, would have us focusing on material things and daily problems which is not God's plan for us. If allowed, it comes between us and the Lord. On the contrary, the Lord wants us to seek Him, His kingdom and righteousness first and in so doing, the Lord will see our needs met.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
We read in the book of Nehemiah, how God touched the hearts of the people of Israel, while they listened to the reading of the Law. The people were crying, understanding how far they were from what God expected from them... Likewise today, when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, God does not want us to continue to be sad after we admit our sins and we sincerely ask Him to forgive us. His desire is for us to enter into His presence and rejoice!
Nehemiah 8:9-12 " And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them."
Romans 5:3-4 "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. "
Romans 14:17 " for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. "
May the Lord our God help us overcome quickly the hard times and remember this big truth: THE JOY OF THE LORD REALLY IS OUR STRENGTH!