My former District Superintendent answered my question on why so many failed to experience peace and joy, a life filled with love that Christ promised by saying, “Dennis, they live their lives compartmentalized.”
Jesus invites us into His life, His kingdom through His sufferings and promises to fill us with His Spirit. Ah! The Spirit of God, the giver of life! He transforms us from self centered people dying from our own egocentric living into obedient, loving, stable, faithful and chaste human beings. We are living in Him, unto Him, always in His presence with others and serving them in His name by the power of His Spirit. Joy!
How does this transformation take place?
For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia. And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it, for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God. 1 Thessalonians 1:5-9, NLT
The Holy Spirit gives us full assurance that the Good News of Jesus is true. The effect of that joyful news is that we, like the, Thessalonians turn away from the idols of our day to serve the living and true God! Turn away is another way of saying repent.
Repentance is a joyous word. It is not miserable. In one sense it is a transformation. It is our way of cooperating with God as He imparts new life to us. The Holy Spirit renews us and enables us to obey Christ and the Scriptures in all of life. The totality of our life, not compartments of it, are transformed as we obey Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit. The key is joyfully obey Christ!
We live in a marvelous world filled with the glory of God and in His Holy Presence! Oh, may the Holy Spirit make this real to us! “In Him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28, NIV We must realize that in Christ we are living in a vibrant, new and exciting world. The world of the Spirit!
Our marvelous God then enables and calls us to live with family, church and community. Live joyfully together! Becoming like Christ is lived out in these communities of faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:3,4)
For instance, to learn self denial, watch a young mother get up in the night to care for her baby, a father work hard to provide for his family and look at the joy on their faces! Self denial is not on their mind, it is love for one another, their children and above all God that motivates. It is really an act of joy and love!
Just keep expanding that thought to all of life. It is the work of repentance, life transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit. Loving the other including our enemies overwhelms our soul as egocentric behavior is gradually burned away in the fire of His Spirit.
I just got out class and I can ramble when I’m sleepy, so let me wrap this up with one more point.
Imagine that severe suffering can’t diminish our joy! Imagine living in such a way that imitates Christ and the apostles. Imagine becoming such joyful examples that people everywhere tell about our faith in the living and true God.
That my dear friends, is a life that only the Holy Spirit can produce in us!
Peace and Joy!