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I am amazed how some people have joy in the most challenging moments. Why is it that some seem to soar the upper strata’s of rarified Joy when many have trouble getting airborne? I suspect they graduated in the Joy 800 series doctoral level classes.
Our Lord Jesus graduated from the doctoral Joy class with highest honors! His pursuit of Joy gives him summa cum laud tributes. “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
Our Lord Jesus is the greatest model, going for the biggest prize by paying the biggest price. Jesus valued so highly the Joyful outcome He was willing to go the distance! All our Joys are connected to Jesus’ willingness to “Go for the brass ring.”
The Apostle Paul graduated with distinctions. Some might say he was a glutton for punishment but his avarice was for Christ’s Joy! In Romans 5:3-4 he says, “Not only that, but we also reJoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Some athletes reJoice when they, “feel the burn.” Paul rejoiced when he felt the sufferings! That’s advanced level Joy! Little children don’t think of squeezing Joy out of their suffering. Only a crazy person, or farsighted believer, can do this.
James also matriculated in the 800 series Joy classes. He is an expert in squeezing heavenly lemonade out of his trials. He advises in James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure Joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James knew things about gaining Joy most of us are backward about. By faith the Lord Jesus, Paul and James knew Joy can be the outcome of the hardest knocks!
Now for the reality of feeling crappy and far from sensations of Joy. These upper lever Joy graduates actually believe, “All things work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.” Romans 8:28
How insufferably, unimaginably crass it would have been as Jesus was sweating drops of blood to sing, “ReJoice in the Lord always.” There are times when the sensations of Joy are drowned by loss, pain and grief. When we are honest with those feelings and yet “faith” it to Joy we are practicing upper division Joy.
Paul’s greatest concentration of Joy references are in Philippians. This is Joy in the jail cell. Paul and Silas added singing to their suffering Joy. They may not have felt “sensational” Joy but rather practiced volitional Joy, doing Joy when Joy is not felt. Note in all the Joy the mix of pain. We do not, “Fake it till we make it” We Faith it until we Realize it. Upper division graduates can feel pain and operate in Joy at the same time.
We must consider Paul’s, “ReJoice in the Lord always” verses as they comingle with other heart-felt conditions.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 2 Cor 1:8
I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. Rom 9:2
Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 2 Cor 11:28
Small children think pain and Joy are either-or. Upper division Joy grads know pain and Joy may be realized together.
Habakkuk was a classmate of James and Paul. In his term paper he wrote:
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I Yet will I be Joyful in God my Savior. Hab 3:17-18
Habakkuk astonishes me. Without apparent success, fruitfulness or even something to eat, he is able to reJoice in God his Savior! I wonder if he sat next to Moses in class.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enJoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. Heb 11:24-26
I see again and again so many of these doctoral level classes are about perspective and “values clarification.” These people somehow transitioned from the typical worldling’s thinking that early stuff was the highest delight, to Christ is the highest delight! These upper level scholars must perceive something of the goodness of God most of us miss!
David was an Alum of this school. He wrote in Psalm 63:3, “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.” David’s value system priced God’s lovingkindness weightier in the balance than all the delights of life! He must have encountered God’s love in a way most cannot imagine. I am beginning to learn from graduates like Stephen, when we keep our eyes on Jesus we receive upper division Joy in spite of momentary pain, even death.
Some are unwilling to register and show up for classes because the homework can be crushing. I haven’t taken all the classes, but I can tell you, the few I have taken have been challenging, but so worth it. Hope to see you in class!
Steven C Johnson
Landing Strip Enterprises
SHARE A STORY OF HOW YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ADVANCED TO UPPER DIVISION JOY.
MORE ON FOOD SHORTAGES
If your doctor discovered you had a life-threatening condition would you want him to tell you? If there was danger to our food supply would you want to know?
Recently I have written on this subject. I encourage you to research, pray and be lead by wisdom. Our church is having a meeting on this matter to see how we may care for one another and minister to others in challenging times. Remember fear is against the rules. We are overcomes. We are not ultimately preparing for challenges but for the appearance of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ!
The Famine of 2022 and 2023 by Steven C Johnson, starting at 38:30.
How Bad with the Food Shortage Get? by Joseph Mercola
Is Food being used as a Weapon? by Dutch Sheets