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Joyfully We Proclaim God's Glory

posted @ 1/14/2005 08:59:00 AM - 0 comments - share your thoughts

By: Rommel Escoto
(This was Rommel's Theme Talk given on January 14, 2005; he gratefully acknowledges the inspiration from Charles Swindoll's "God's Masterwork: A Concerto in Sixty Six Movements", vol. 4 for this particular talk and exhortation.)

Introduction: Remembering the past years’ themes

2001 “Go forth with great courage!”– As Lingkod QC is starting, the Lord exhorts us to be step forward for it is He who called us. The call is go out and proclaim God’s salvation. The community’s number start to grow.

2002 “Boldly we conquer as God’s anointed!” – The Lord clarified our identity before Him as His anointed servants, and in that we should be confident as we conquer our weakness, our fears, and our limitations. Just like the previous year, the call is also to continue reaching out to people who don’t know Him yet.

2003 “Abiding in Christ, we herald His light.” – The Lord is calling for greater intimacy with His people. It is no longer enough for us to just know Him. He asks us to abide in Him, to dwell in Him, to find our permanent residence in Him.

2004 “In God’s Kingdom we share, In His Spirit we dwell.” This was a call to discipleship and greater maturity. God said that if we will share in His glory, we will also share in His sacrifice. The call was to die to ourselves and grow in the fruit of the Spirit.

Now, this year:

2005 “Joyfully we proclaim God’s glory!”

As we step in our fifth year as a community, we came full circle. God is once again leading us to move out and proclaim the good news, but this time He wants us to do that with joy. No longer will we look at evangelization as an obligation, but an endeavor that comes out of the great joy we experience in the Lord.

What does this mean to us this year?

Let's take each part of the theme separately.

1. Joyfully – God’s delights in us will not be diminished. His delight is
in us, as we are.

Baruch 4:36-37 God is saying, “Look! I’m bringing you joy.” This reflects having joy in Christ: Christ is the source of joy. He is the object of our joy. It is the object that makes joy possible. Apart from Him, there is no joy.

What's the difference between Joy and happiness? Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit; happiness is not. James Montgomery Boice points out, “Happiness is our translation of the Latin word fortuna, and it is closely related to chance. Thus, if things happen to work out in a way which we approve, we are happy. If they do not so happen, we are unhappy. Happiness is circumstantial, but not joy. Joy is an inner quality of delight in God, or gladness, and it is meant to spring up within the Christian in a way totally unrelated to the adversities or circumstantial blessings of this life.”

This year, it doesn’t mean that we will not experience challenges or difficulties. On the contrary, despite these, the Lord commands us to be
joyful.

We can find joy even in some of the unhappiest places. One of my personal realizations is that joy is too important to let our circumstances control it or dictate when we will experience it. We have to make a decision to be joyful.

God is “commanding” us to be joyful, and not just suggesting or
recommending it.

Let's examine some passages from the handbook of joy: Paul’s letter to the
Philippians.

“If Philippians had been written about happiness, the author would
probably have been penning his words while sunning himself on the polished
deck of a Mediterranean luxury liner. But since Philippians is about joy,
the circumstances didn’t matter.” (Charles Swindoll) It was, in fact,
written in prison.m The word “joy” and its derivative “rejoice” appear 16 times in the book.

a) Joy in living for Christ (Phil 1:20-24)

Paul illustrates that even if he is in a prison, he is still joyful
because the prison guards were converted. Others were proclaiming Christ out of selfish ambitions, but Paul didn’t make an issue out of it as long as Christ is proclaimed. AS he said, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

b) Joy in serving Christ (Phil 2:4-18)

There are two roadblocks to this: selfishness and grumbling; the antidote: humility. Jesus is the perfect model of setting aside one’s own interests for others’ sake. Paul calls us to find joy in sacrificing for others.

c) Joy in knowing Christ (Phil 3:7-14)

The greatest joy is in knowing Christ. Just like Paul, we can consider everything as losses in order to gain much more: knowing Christ. The greatest joy is not found in our names, titles, and trophies but to experience the death-conquering power of His resurrection and to strive to be like Him in all respects, even if it means suffering and dying as He did.

We put past mistakes behind us and “press on toward the goal” of knowing Christ and we yearn for a greater joy (for we are no longer citizens of this world); as we do so, we experience the joy of being transformed into the likeness of Christ.

d) Joy in resting in Christ (Phil 4:4,6,11-13)

There are three things that are important here.

The first is Unity – “Live in harmony in the Lord” (v2), rather than trudge through life nursing grudges and sulking over past hurts;

The second is Inner peace – “Be anxious for nothing . . .”;

The third is Contentment – the secret is depending on Christ in all circumstance (“I can do all things . . .”). Paul reassures the Philippians that God will
supply all our needs.

I would suggest that we look at it as an if-then statement. If you are joyful, then you can/will proclaim God’s glory. The directive is to be joyful, and the
proclamation of God glory is the “fruit”.

Joy is not a future event. If you are not joyful now, there is no guarantee you will be in the future. To ensure joy in the future, you should have joy now.

Joy is an important ingredient in evangelization. If it is done out of joy, then it is more natural, and not hard sell. Joy makes our Christianity contagious, even during hard times.

2. We - Acts 2:1-4 There will be a fresh outpouring of His Spirit to us a body and as individuals.

Take heart, You are named by God and therefore empowered. In 2 Peter 1:3, God has already given us everything we need so that we can live our lives for Him. By the fresh outpouring of His Spirit, we are also cleansed. And though, the laborers are few, we are empowered by this outpouring of His Spirit.

3. Proclaim - Isaiah 60:1-5 God is telling us, “Arise. The glory of God is shining upon you. Nations will come to you as you shine for God’s glory."

Again, though laborers are few, the harvest is rich.

We are called to proclaim God's glory by direct proclamation through the preaching of the gospel in various ways. We can do that by our Crossroads, CLP, mission teams and similar activities.

We are also called to bear witnessing; this is an indirect proclamation of the gospel by joyfully living our lives. Joy is like meninggococcemia; its contagious.

As we proclaim His glory, we are confident that we may advance secure because God is leading us joyfully.

4. God’s Glory - Colossians 1:10-12 God is asking us to live a life worthy of the Lord. God is also asking us to endure everything while “joyfully” giving thanks to the Father.

We are called to bear fruit in every good work. This is not easy and there are many obstacles:

1. Suffering
2. False teaching (lies of the enemies);
3. Rift among members/grumbling;
4. Selfishness;

But as God’s children and servants, we are called to make our joy be evident so that those around us will see God’s glory in our lives (whether we declare it verbally or not), and thus make a decision to follow God as well.

By centering our lives in Christ, we can experience a joy that transcends our circumstances and spills over into the lives of those around us.