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Joy Is Good Medicine ..... March 29, 2020

A joyful heart is good medicine.... Proverbs 17:22 ESV

What is your heart condition this morning? Is it burdened with the bombardment of bad or frightening news that seems to dominate the radio, internet, and television? I know that perhaps it is difficult not to be concerned about what the future holds concerning your health, the health of loved ones or friends and even future finances. I know that we know - God is in control; but how do we get what we know in our mind to corporate with our emotions and physical well being? The rest of Proverbs 17:22 states.... but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. What crushes a spirit? Answer....attempting to carry the heavy load of things for which a person has no control. As in many of my past teachings ...... What dominates your thoughts will dictate how you deal with life. Faith in God is what is needed to set your mind free. Faith is trusting God even when it might not seem reasonable to do so. This is not being irresponsible in how we live, but rather it is being spiritually responsible, that you might experience joy of heart. Let me give a couple of examples.

JESUS: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 1-2 ESV

Jesus, as in all things, is our best example. Remember the account in the garden of Gethsemane just before He was to be crucified. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; never the less, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26: 38-39 ESV Two more times Jesus approached his Father in prayer asking for this cup to pass. ( vs 42 & vs 44) It was God’s will that Jesus die in order that we might be saved from our sins. This was by no means a pleasant time for Jesus but he looked beyond his present situation, knowing that in his dying, many would come to salvation. It was this truth that set Joy before him. Let us know Joy by looking to Jesus’s example. As Christians we know the JOY that is before us— that one day we will see the one who died for us and will look upon his face. What a JOY it will be to sing Holy, Holy, Holy with the angels to our heavenly Father. You can make it through the valleys when you keep your eyes on the Lord Jesus. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Psalm 105:3 ESV

PAUL AND SILAS: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:25 ESV

Note who was listening to Paul and Silas?... Prisoners. Paul and Silas were in prison, but before being put there they were beaten with rods with many blows to their body. They were then placed in the deepest part of the prison with their feet placed in stocks. (Acts 16: 16-24) I’m not sure about you, but in those circumstances I’m not sure I would feel like singing. However, Paul and Silas were doing exactly what Psalm 100:1 teaches.. Make a JOYFUL noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! (ESV) I equate singing with joyful worship before God. I do not believe you can truly sing to the Lord and not feel a sense of joy. Do you suppose the prisoners were listening and wondering who is this God, that two men treated in such a fashion would still sing to him? These prisoners were in the same circumstance as Paul and Silas but were not necessarily in a singing mood. We are by no means in a prison setting, but many of us feel more confined than we are used to.... Don’t let it go to waste.... Sing in worship to the Lord even if it sounds more like a joyful noise. If you are alone and think no one will hear you remember two things. One… God to whom you sing hears and two.... the cloud of witnesses, which surrounds us, hears. If you have children or grandchildren, they will know whom you worship, and it will be an example to them that in every situation of life you can experience the joy of singing to the Lord.

APPLICATION: I encourage you to memorize or become very familiar with the following verses and repeat them often through out your day... (my) The Joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 ESV

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Psalms 5:11 ESV

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Psalms 95:1 ESV

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being, May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. Psalm 104:33-34 ESV

In other words, do on purpose the very opposite of what may be dominating your mind. These things that consume the mind such as fears, worries, feelings of apprehension, discouragement, and anxieties, to mention a few, only add to a weight that crushes the spirit. BUT All these are conquered when we DO NOT focus on our present situation but rather have JOY IN THE LORD in the moment. We look forward to the future JOY we will have when we are able to do so in his visible presence. Let me close with the lyrics to a precious hymn..

Why should I feel discouraged, Why should the shadows come Why should my heart feel lonely, And long for heaven and home When Jesus is my portion, A constant friend is he His eye is on the sparrow, And I know he watches me I sing because I’m Happy, I sing because I’m free His eye is on the sparrow, And I know he watches me

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David