Today is my birthday. I am 22 years of age. I had posted a status on the Facebook this:
Lord this is Your day so be glorified in what You have created. All over the world people are celebrating life. I share this day with those millions of people those who are of different skin color, nationalities, gender, and social status. That is why I believe this day is not about me. Just like the rest of the 365 days of the year. Today is about Christ and His sacrifice that allows us to be gifted this day. To God be the honor and glory forever. Amen.
(Going back over this post there are two parts: 1.) the fight for joy 2.) the fight for finding satisfaction) Both of these are found in God alone. God is our joy, and God is our satisfaction. Even on a day that is to be celebrated because of one’s birth we must not forget who has given us this unspeakable joy and who is our satisfaction that enables us to celebrate it.
There are other people today renewing their driver’s license or having their friends post on their Facebook wall “Happy Birthday”. It is not just me that was born today 22 years ago. That is why I believe that as much as I am thankful for the wishes I know that today is about Christ. Every day I wake up it is a gift from the hands that created my life.
I sit here at my computer desk wondering what else there is to say because as much as I do believe that this day is to be given back to Christ. I am left feeling unaccomplished. I begin to think about as an 18 year old. By this time I expected to at least be started towards marriage with my running mate. I thought graduation would have come on time and I would be looking either at seminary or a church to work in right now. I didn’t expect to being behind in school for a semester or still being a single guy. At my age I am learning this is okay. My goal is to glorify God. My joy is in Him alone. As long as I am pursuing His will and being obedient it is okay if that 18 year old kid doesn’t meet all of his goals in his time. I am in the battle for holding onto joy. This is a daily struggle, but at my age I feel like I am losing it.
As you get older people tend to feel this way. One day you are 25 then another you are turning 40. You are left there wondering “where did my life go?” We have all heard about “mid life crisis” where a man or woman will go out and buy an expensive gift for them to try to fill the void of their dissatisfaction with life. I guess you can say that it what I am feeling right now. Instead of buying something because I am a poor college kid, I have decided to write to you. During this I pray that this is comforting to you in your fight for joy and finding satisfaction.
Yesterday I had the honor of guest speaking at my grandparent’s church. The text was on Philippians chapter 4. You can go ahead and read it if you like. Something remarkable about the text is the setting and the hand that wrote it. Paul was in prison for preaching to the Gentiles as we see in Ephesians 3. He wasn’t in a prison like we see today which have cushioned beds, running water, daily meals, recreational areas, clothing, and jobs provided. Prisons today look like Holiday Inns compared to what Paul was thrown in. Yet we see that Paul was “content”. Why was Paul content? Lets look at who he is writing to. The book is called Philippians because this is the people of the church he was writing to. These people were facing all types of trials. Belittling of the message of the Gospel to persecution of the church, yet they still remained in communication with Paul. This man in prison is writing to a church who is also going through a season of difficulty. The letter he was writing the church was able to relate, but instead of writing a letter of weariness and gloom. He writes encouraging the believers telling them to “rejoice…again rejoice”. Why was Paul content? It was because he was more set on the church serving and giving a “fragrant offering” to him so that they would receive the “peace of God”. This peace surpasses all understanding, guards hearts and minds that are in Christ Jesus. He tells them then to think about the things of God, purity, love, truth, and things worthy of praise. Paul was more concerned about the church practicing the things of God than about him receiving any type of help, but through their extension of sacrificial giving and the sending of Epaphroditus they together shared in “the same trouble” as Paul and “entered into partnership with” him in giving and receiving”. My question for you today is what was Paul’s attitude while in prison? Go ahead and read Acts 16:11-40. I know it is quite a bit, but it will bring more clarity and understanding of the current text. Paul and Silas in prison sang joyfully because of the God who had instilled His joy inside them.
In the sermon Sunday I made a point that I go back and I have to give more thought. I said that Paul had joy, and this joy he expressed to the believers at Philippi. This joy is different from happiness. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Joy can only be produced by the Spirit therefore no one can experience joy unless they are called by the Lord from the dead. I compared the terms to sweet tea. Grandma always made grandpa and I sweet tea for lunch when we got in from the hay fields. Joy is the pure sugar. Happiness is the artificial stuff that we find in the bowls in tiny pink packages in the diner. Happiness makes the tea taste alright and in some cases it does help people who cannot have the real stuff, but that is not the point. Joy is eternal, and happiness is temporary.
Here is where I correct myself. When we seek happiness in something that is not of God it is temporal it will lead to dissatisfaction, but when we seek the things God is happy about which is bringing glory to Himself then we find true happiness. How does joy play in here? Joy is the strength we get when we trust in God. When we enjoy God forever, and glorify His name here on earth then that is when we will be most satisfied in Him and where He has us.
I am sitting in a temporary place right now and typing on a computer that will one day give out. Wearing clothes that will one day be thrown away and money in a wallet that will be spent, but my joy is in God. My joy is in the one who has given me all that I possess. I understand that they will fade away, but the gift that He gave us in sacrificing His only Son on the cross well that is forever to those who follow Him wholly. When our joy is in the Lord and we seek happiness in the things He seeks happiness in we will be satisfied in any circumstance and every situation we are faced with.
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
I use this word too much but this is an encouraging verse for today, and forever. When I was at Resolute Conference in Louisville I was roaming around in the LifeWay bookstore. I picked up this 80 page book by Joel Beeke titled “Heirs with Christ”. The pastor I was meeting with at the time told me about Joel Beeke and how profound his writings were so I picked it up along with a few more books and headed to the register. Little did I know as our group was headed back for Arkansas I opened up this book and looked inside. On the first white blank page was signed Joel’s name with the Scripture Phil. 4:19 written under it. I quickly opened my Bible app and scrolled to the book and to the chapter then to the verse. Remarkable. My….God…..Will…Supply…..Every Need of yours.
When we selflessly serve God selflessly gives. Even if He doesn’t give more we still are never without. We are cattle on a hill grazing openly. Everything is being tended to.
Lord help us to partner with the church and missionaries as you allow opportunities so that we might receive the true satisfying peace that you can only give. We are never without, but help us to ask those things that are according to Your will so that You will supply all that we need and we will be satisfied in You. We are thankful for your adopting of us, and your sovereignty over the universe. Lord be glorified in Your day that you created. Amen.