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Celebration of Joy

Pastor and author Bruce Larson writes, “The bottom line for you and me is simply this – grimness is not a Christian virtue. If God really is the center of one’s life and being, joy is inevitable. If we have no joy, we have missed the heart of the Good News.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest, paleontologist, and philosopher, put it even more simply. “Joy is the surest sign of the presence of God.”

I have discovered two truths in my Christian journey. First, if you walk with God, you will always be in trouble with someone else. Second, you will experience outrageous joy. James, the brother of Jesus, said it like this: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Joy is the result of walking with God. Joy is a mark of mature living. Joy is the nature of God. Joy is the promise of God. Joy can be yours today. You will meet a lot of somber saints along life’s path. Keep walking.

St. Teresa of Avila said, “From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!”

Amen.

The Rushmore Report: The Source of True Joy

Joy is not found in our circumstances. In Biblical times a person showed sorrow and suffering by putting on sackcloth. In Psalm 30:10-12, David describes how God had removed his sackcloth and exchanged it for joy: “Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.”

David continued: “Lord my God, I will praise you forever.”

Joy isn’t rooted in our circumstances. It is rooted in our God. Our hearts can sing praises to him even if our mouths cannot. As Psalm 32:1-2 says, we can have joy because our sins are forgiven. We have joy because at the end of the day God says, “I forgive you.”

We can’t determine if God loves us based on good or bad circumstances in our lives. We determine God’s love for us based on the cross and the resurrection.

Joy is found in knowing that our record of guilt has been cleared and that he has fully forgiven us.

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” (Psalm 32:1-2).

Joy is not found in our circumstances.

About the Author

Derwin L. Gray is the founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church, a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, mission-shaped community with two campuses in South Carolina and one just south of Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Rushmore Report: Top 10 TV Shows of All Time – What This Tells Says About Us

A few years ago, TV Guide conducted a national survey which produced a list of the 50 most popular TV shows of all time. The list was restricted to regularly scheduled series, and therefore does not include sports or movies. Below is a list of the top 10 shows. As you read the list, something should jump out at you – something that says a lot about us.

Here’s the list, along with the network and years the shows ran.

1. Seinfeld (NBC, 1989-1998)

2. I Love Lucy (CBS, 1951-1957)

3. The Honeymooners (CBS, 1955-1956)

4. All in the Family (CBS, 1971-1979)

5. The Sopranos (HBO, 1999-2007)

6. 60 Minutes (CBS, 1968-present)

7. Late Show with David Letterman (CBS, 1993-2015)

8. The Simpsons (Fox, 1989-present)

9. The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968)

10. Saturday Night Live (NBC, 1975-present)

How many of those shows would you have on your list? More importantly, did you catch anything that really jumps out about these shows?

Seven out of ten are comedies.

Audrey Hepburn, one of Hollywood’s most iconic stars, said, “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing. Like most people, I like to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

The Bible says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). Look around you and you will find a lot of crushed, dried up bones. We are a fallen people who live in a fallen world. And 70 percent of Americans agree we are on the wrong track to do anything about it.

I would argue that laughter is a sign that God is at work, in your life, your church, and especially your marriage. King David wrote, “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them'” (Psalm 126:2).

I have been married for a third of a century. Through all the challenges and in the midst of all the blessings, one thing has remained constant. Beth and I laugh – a lot. We laugh at others. We laugh at animals. We laugh at ourselves. We have laughed at many of you! We laugh – a lot. And that’s a good thing.

The same God who inspired John 3:16 inspired the verses about laughter. People are starving for laughter. How else can you explain The Simpsons coming in ahead of Gunsmoke on the list? It’s simple – people want to laugh.

I once knew a man who never laughed or smiled. I asked him if he was happy. He said, “Sure!” I responded, “Then tell your face!”

If you are walking with God, you will be blessed. And if you are blessed, you will be happy. And if you are happy, your face will eventually find out. And then you will smile. And then you’ll laugh. And suddenly – the world will be a better place.