LIFE IS MEANT TO BE JOYFUL

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.Psalms 32:1

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Isaiah 52:7

“We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” 2 Corinthians 6:10

Until Christ cures this world, our happiness in Christ will be punctuated by sorrow. Yet somehow an abiding joy is possible even in suffering. Jesus tells us in one of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.Luke 6:21b

“There is nothing dreary and doubtful about [life]. It is meant to be continually joyful. . . . We are called to a settled happiness in the Lord whose joy is our strength” (Frank Houghton, Amy Carmichael).

Morning Prayer: Pick me up Lord, and hold me in your loving arms. Protect me from the pressures of the day …

Spoken by the missionary Amy Carmichael (1867–1951), who brought the gospel to countless children she rescued from temple prostitution in India. She experienced much physical suffering and didn’t have a furlough in fifty-five years and yet she could say life is meant to be continually joyful.

Happy people look beyond their difficult circumstances to the One whose grace brings light to the darkness and smiles to our faces in the most unlikely moments A.W. Tozer in his book Who Put Jesus on the Cross?

“The people of God ought to be the happiest people in all the wide world! People should be coming to us constantly and asking the source of our joy and delight”

Blessed are those who mourn; [for] God will comfort them!” (Matthew 5:4) Present happiness is derived from the promise of future comfort. The eternal perspective of God’s children informs them of true and ultimate happiness they can anticipate now (see Psalm 16:11; 21:6; 36:7–10; 37:16, 43:4; 73:28; John 10:10).

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalms 51:10-12

DO NOT FEAR SUFFERING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE

Let Peter reassure you, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled…” 1 Peter 3:14 

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.” 1 Peter 4:13-14

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”  1 Peter 5:10.

Most of us don’t know the kind of death we face but there are many in our generation who are losing their lives because they follow Jesus. How are they are received in heaven?

“These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:14-17

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”  Revelation 12:11.

IRAN CRACKS DOWN ON CHRISTIAN CONVERTS; SENTENCES BELIEVERS TO TEN YEARS PRISON

But know this , that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves…” 2 Timothy 3:1

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12 

Yes and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12

Blessed are those that are persecuted for righteousness sake , for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10

 

Authorities in Iran are increasingly targeting Christian converts with arrests and imprisonments, according to the New York-based Centre for Human Rights In Iran.

“In less than two months, since June 2017, Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh of Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran has issued long prison sentences to at least 11 Christian converts and the former leader of the Assyrian Pentecostal Church in Iran,” CHRI said in a report.

On July 6, the judge sentenced four Protestant Christian converts to 10 years in prison each “in a trial completely lacking due process,” the group said, quoting Mansour Borji, the advocacy director of a London-based group, Article 18, which defends Christians in Iran.

The four converts — Yusif Farhadov, Eldar Gurbanov and Bahram Nasibov from Baku in the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Iranian national Nasser Navard Goltapeh — were arrested at a reception hosted by their Christian friends in Andisheh last June.

Prosecutors couldn’t produce any evidence to show the converts had acted against national security, Borji said. Yet they were convicted of being “Zionist Christians” who “acted against national security with the intention of overthrowing the state in a soft war.”

Two weeks earlier, the same judge had given Christian converts Yousef Nadarkhani, Mohammadreza Omidi, Yasser Mossayebzadeh and Saheb Fadaie 10-year prison sentences for propagating house churches and promoting “Zionist Christianity.”

A ruling is still overdue for a decision on an appeal by Omidi, Mossayebzadeh and Fadaie against a sentence of 80 lashes each for drinking wine during a communion service. The Christians were arrested May 13 during a series of raids by security service agents on Christian homes in Rasht.

The U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide has also criticised the government of Iran for persecuting converts.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a statement.”We reiterate that the national security charges levelled in all of these cases amount to the criminalisation of the Christian community for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief, and that this is occurring despite the fact that the Iranian constitution recognises Christianity. We urge members of the international community to extend the sanctions still in place against Iranian individuals to include members of the judiciary who are implicated in ongoing and severe harassment and persecution of religious minority communities.”

Perhaps this crackdown is occurring due to the reported large number of Iranians converting to Christianity.