Today I want to talk about joy. Joy is often seen as synonymous to happiness but in my experience it is not.
Happiness evokes Christmas parties , opening presents, strolling hand in hand with the one you love, getting away from it all by taking a holiday in a beautiful exotic location. Happiness clearly depends on what happens! But when the toys rust, the loved one dies, the health deteriorates and the money is spent, happiness is over and despair sets in. Happiness is the surface waves that have the power to splash us, but also to capsize us.
Joy I suggest is something deeper. It lies beneath the superficial froth of life. It is the current that carries us. It has much less to do with transient feelings of pleasure and more to do with direction and purpose in our lives. For the Christian it is the quiet assurance of God’s love and work in our lives, that he will be there no matter what. It is not about ‘getting away from it’ all but rather bringing Jesus into it all.
Philippians is Pauls letter of Joy written from a prison cell to the Macedonian church with whom he had built an obvious relationship. He thanked them for the joy and support they had brought him. Deep friendships like that always foster joy. However he goes on to speak of the joy of the `Christian life The concept of rejoicing and joy appears 16 times in the four short chapters. And the pages radiate this positive message culminating in the exhortation “ rejoice in the lord ALWAYS I say it again rejoice.”
What made Paul so full of Joy?
Paul clearly had dedicated his life to serving Christ he had faced hardship pain abundance and poverty He had tasted life in all its fullness. As I have said he even wrote this letter from a prison cell and represents the authentic voice of Joy He wrote “I have learnt to be content in every situation whether fed or hungry living in plenty or in want, I can do everything through him that give me strength.”
He had a personal experience of Christ on the Damascus road that changed him from a mocker and knocker of Jesus to the most powerful advocate of Christ ever and it was the power of that testimony energised him. He found joy in knowing Christ and in obeying him. It was this passion for God that fuelled him “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”
HA Williams writes in his book True wilderness that ‘the joy which man finds in his work and which transforms the tears and sweat into happiness and delight is God.”
The Bible says that without vision people perish spiritually. They accept what is instead of seeing the world that could be. Wilberforce Shaftesbury Martin Luther king had that vision, and that is what carried them through. That is what gave then the power to swim against the flow , In their mind set they were not swayed by what others thought , by the nay sayers. They lived their life for an audience of one God. They had joy.
So what has this got to do with Reliv business.
So what was our Damascus road. I have to admit when I met Reliv for the first time I was a mocker and knocker not just of nutrition but also of the personal referral marketing method we use.. My mind had been soured by stories of fraudulent pyramids and fraudulent health products.
My introduction to relive happened at a “chance meeting with a friend 100 miles from where we lived. That very week we had been praying and fasting for direction and provision . However I knew my friend was a born again Christian of great person of integrity. I had a sick wife and needed a purpose in life and an income after the paid prison work I had been doing came to an end. Despite my prejudices and opinions I decided to take a further look. I asked myself could this be what I had been looking for . Had our faithful God answered my prayer. I decided to open my mind before I made it up. I am so glad I did. Within two months Gipsy health had been restored.
It was in experiencing the benefits that my belief grew enough to get me to a meeting. There I saw an 81 year old lady who had been crippled by arthritis and a mother od an autistic child whose family and church life had been turned around I weeks These stories touched my heart I also found in the room quality people who despite their struggles witnessed a joy caused by purposeful living in the service of others.
The Bible says in the end times young men will dream dreams and old men will have vision.
God has called me into Prison ministry. He has given me a vision to work in prison bringing hope that comes from a knowledge of Jesus Christ to the men who have know pain , inflicted pain and lived lives of despair.
But we do not have to be behind bars to be in prison. There is the prison of poverty, the prison of depression the prison of debilitating conditions like ME Fibro myalgia and MS. There is the prison of the autistic child and the prison of arthritic pain to name a few..
And God has given me the key to ameliorate these conditions in a radical way.
That is my joy. This is not my business. It is His business.
The outcomes are not always the obvious ones that I, the patient and their family are seeking. I arrived too late to sufficiently impact one of my clients ,who died last month of cancer after a week on the product. He was a lapsed Christian. Before I was involved with Reliv I had never met him but because of Reliv I was with him in his last days and had the opportunity to pray with him. I believe my presence in being able to speak with him of Jesus’ love was why I was there. He wept and I believe God knew his heart. He died peacefully two days later. His widow has gained comfort that we had prayed together before he died, as his lack of expressed faith had been a huge concern for her.
In the exercising of this ministry that God has gifted me I have, like Paul, tasted rejection, disappointment and had my motives misconstrued. But what is new? It does not ,I hope, detract from my joy. Jesus had the most hopeful message ever and he too was rejected, not just those with a vested interest in the status quo and by the religious leaders of the time but most painfully, by those closest to him. Should we expect any less.
But if we have the vision we will push through. I pray I will get better at what I do, handling the objections of those I speak to, be it about Jesus, Christianity or Reliv so that Gods kingdom can grow,
Like Paul I know this is not something I do alone, so today I honour not the Macedonian church but the team of people from Luton and London who have loved me and supported me in the work. I pray that I will be the able to offer the support needed to those new in the business, “comforting those in the way I have been comforted”.
I have found Joy in my work, and I pray that you have found similar joy. God never promised that life would be easy but he did promise that if we walk with integrity and honour him in all we do, we will be “overcomers”, be “the head and not the tail” and will be “victorious, “ But we need to understand that in facing opposition our weapons must not be earthly logic but heavenly love.
As we start the week can we join Paul and say together “let us rejoice in the Lord always, I say it again rejoice” . Meanwhile my prayer for all of you is that wherever your ministries and life takes you “you will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.”
Have a wonderful week.
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Me and Aneela with the European Chairman of Reliv International
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For the past Eight years, I have been hosting a weekly prayer call for the believers in the offline company that i work alongside. Looking at biblical principals and seeing how we can apply them into our businesses.