Some people are only focused on what they will receive when they get to heaven one day, and that everything will be good then, and it will for sure be, but God wants us to have a joyful life here as well.
If we don’t experience this life here and now, we can’t give life to others, either.
God want us to share his love and Good News to others, but we are not able to do that in an effective way if we loose our joy.
In Hebrews12;2:(AMP), it says: ”He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame.”
When I read this sentence before I thought it was only talking about heaven.
I thought: Down here on earth I will only have sorrow and pain, and when I go to heaven one day I can be happy. This is a religious way of thinking which says that we will only achieve joy in heaven one day.
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God gave you emotions. Part 15
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Let me take you to a scripture which many people have not understood.
“So for the present you are also in sorrow [in distress and depressed]; but I will see you again and [then] your hearts will rejoice, and no one can take from you your joy [gladness, delight].”
22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (NIV)
What does Jesus mean when he says: You have sorrow now? Did he say; as long as you are here on this earth? Was it heaven Jesus was talking about when he said that he will see them again?
Many Christians still believe this, but I don’t. Jesus says this in connection with his death and resurrection; this was the night before he was crucified. The disciples did not know what Jesus really was about to do for mankind, but when they saw him raised from the dead they knew it, and this was the joy He was talking about.
So the joy that Jesus talked about was not in heaven one day, but in the near future for His disciples and also for us today!
If you also understand how much God loves you, and what He has done for you, you will also have a joy that no one can take away from you.
I am a missionary, and I know that many people have a picture of being a real missionary is to forsake or give up everything, and not expect anything in return here on earth. I know of missionaries who can’t treat themselves a small vacation, or any good things, because if they do they don’t feel that it would be spiritual or they would feel very guilty. For a good missionary must suffer.Many people read this scripture and think that we will only get our reward in heaven.
Matt. 19:29; (NLT)
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for My name’s sake will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life”.
But it is important to read the Bible in its context, for if you read about the same story in Mark it says something more:
29. “Jesus said, Truly I tell you, there is no one who has given up and left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for My sake and for the Gospel’s
30. Who will not receive a hundred times as much now in this time–houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions–and in the age to come, eternal life”
Did you notice what Mark adds? It is, hundred times as much now in this life. Not when we get to heaven one day, but here in this life, we will get hundred times!As I have said; I am a missionary in Thailand, and there are things I gave up. I like winter sports, for example, and I like to go skiing. I also like to see winter sports on TV, but I am far away from Norway. As I write this, it is almost 40 degrees outside, and skiing is certainly not Thailand’s favorite sport. I have also given up many friends as it has been difficult to keep in touch with them out here. I have sacrificed my old job (that was not a big sacrifice though), my family, Norwegian food, my home, mild climate, etc. I also gave up having it pleasant in Norway in many ways, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t thrive out here.
Some might think that I am often depressed, have almost no food for myself, living in bamboo hut in 40 degrees on a rice field and often have malaria and other tropical diseases? I am not saying that it can’t be at all difficult, and that I am never sick, etc. But I am not a sad, suffering, depressed, defeated and homesick missionary. For I have gotten something back for what I have sacrificed, such as: Good food, prices that are ¼ of the Norwegian, loyal and a good wife who appreciate me, a job I love, good beaches, beautiful nature, a private house I rent cheap and I enjoy being out here, here where God has put me right now! Let me also add that you will also get problems, and that is a promise too. We will get persecution, in other words; problems.
It is a joy set before us!
To follow Jesus can often mean that we must go through difficult times, like it was for me when I first made the decision to go to Thailand, I was both sick and had very little money. And when you do ministries you will also meet oppositions and persecutions.Sometimes we might focus to much on how difficult it would be to follow Jesus, and not for the joy that waits for us, because there is a joy in it too. Heb 12:1-4 (NKJV)
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls
Never give up!
Last in this teaching I want to tell you some personal stories on how I have met difficult things in my life, things that could have made me give up. And even though I felt like giving up sometimes, I did not. I went through them and found a joy on the other side.
My greatest testimony is that I am still here, doing what I know God has called me to do, and I have not given up.
You will never have a joy again
Towards the end of the 90’s, I led a DTS (DTS is YWAM’s Discipleship Training School) team to a former Soviet state, and I had a very challenging team. I was a new and an insecure leader, and I did not know how to handle a team member who was some years older than me, and was in opposition to me.
I still struggled some from the fear of rejection, and this situation made it difficult for me to make the right decisions.
The fear and the negative emotions made me take some decisions based on my bad feelings, and eventually the whole team was against me. I remember I was lying in my bed and wanted to be far, far away. I could hear the demon whisper blasphemous to me: Smile now, smile, you can smile, be happy.
I felt that I would never get out of this situation and never be happy again. But in the midst of this situation came the Holy Spirit and gave me His peace. I can’t quite explain it, but it was a completely supernatural peace that filled me, and I experienced God saying to me: I still love you! The next few weeks and months were very tough, and I still wanted to give up many time.
I felt, among other things, to stop serving God full time and start working again in an ordinary job.
The confidence in me as a DTS staff had also been weakened, and there were some leaders who suggested that I should do something else.
This too was very hard for me. But fortunately, there was a person on the team who still had faith in me, and that also helped me to not give up. He asked if I would not be with the leadership team as staff on the next DTS also, and I finally said yes to it.
Although I had a very bad experience behind me, I decided to continue to be on staff for a new DTS.
That year, I led a team to Thailand, and it was when I first met the people group that I am reaching out to today. If I had given up and followed my feelings, I would have never been where I am today, in a quite important job in reaching out to the un-reached.
I have already mentioned about the disease I had, and how hard it was at times. I also felt many times to give up, actually to give up my life, but I never gave up and won victory over that difficult situation and the sickness.
Should we close down the ministry?
The last thing I want to share with you was something that happened in the ministry that I was a part of here in Thailand (I am still engaged in a similar ministry today, but this was the first one I was a part of pioneering) .
This happened for about 14 years ago, and we almost closed the ministry I were a part of down.
We had started a school for poor refugee children, and we had established some house churches to reach out to an un-reached people group.
To begin with, things went pretty well, but for some reason, as we found out later, it started to stagnate. One of our staff went to Myanmar to see his mother, whom he had not seen for over 16 years.
One morning we got shocking news, our staff and my good friend that had visited his mother, had suddenly died. We were all in shock, and a very difficult time began. During this time, it was also revealed that two of our staff, as both were married to someone else, had been sleeping with each other.
After this was revealed, there were very few of our staff who wanted to continue in our work. During the worst time my co-worker accidentally also ran over my puppy dog. The dog was also given to me by my good friend who died.
When I got this news, I was frustrated and really depressed, and I said to God: It is enough! I really felt like giving up the ministry and returning home to Norway.
But again, there was something in me that would not give up. I also knew that it was the enemy, the devil, who had made all of this to happen.
I made a decision in spite of my feelings. I said to God: If I only have one staff left, I will continue working with him. I refused to give up!
We in the leadership team of four said the same: We decided to not give up! When we had the summer vacation, we said to the all our staff that they had to decide during the holiday if they were to continue with us or not. When we resumed the ministry again, we only had two that were still with us. A week later we got a new staff, and a month later a couple came back to us.
Today there are many full time staff in this ministry, and a school for many children, and in the next 2-3 years after this incidence we saw people become Christians every week. If we had given up during the difficult time we experienced, we would have never seen this happen.
Encouragements in the end!
Do not be afraid of what kind of plans God has for your life. Do not be afraid that if you follow what God has for you, that the best thing will not happen for you! You will have joy in whatever you do because he is always with you, and you can trust Him!
Do not look at your own capabilities and abilities and how you feel about your selves, but trust God. Fear not, only believe.Learn to trust in God and remember that fellowship with Him is what he wants first of all. Have the wisdom, and do not follow after your feelings. Remember that the emotions should follow you, not the opposite.
Remember that God has given you the power to control your emotions (2Tim 1:7). Do not let this world tell you otherwise! If it does, it is a lie!
Eph 5:17; (Amp.)
Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.
A grate thanks to David R. Garza that have helped me with most of the editing. Some content have also been added by me later.
Edited by David R. Garza, Soldier of The Cross, Amazing Grace Music Ministry. AMAZINGGRACEMUSICMINISTRY@AOL.COM
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