I’ve played a lot of baseball in my life and probably watched as much as I played. One of the funniest things I ever saw was a game between Paraloma, the village where I grew up, and Graves Chapel. Graves Chapel wasn’t even a village, just an area where enough people lived to have a baseball team.
Not a very good baseball team, mind you, but a team nonetheless.
This particular day Paraloma was putting a whipping on them that even Mr. Clean couldn’t wash off (excuse me for getting a bit over the top). Late in the game Graves Chapel substituted a young guy for their third baseman. The replacement evidently hadn’t played much.
Not long afterwards a Paraloma player on second base took off trying to steal third. The catcher whipped it down to the third baseman who planted himself on the bag and waited for the runner to come so he could tag him out.
The baserunner saw that he was going to be out by a mile so he slowed and walked submissively towards where the green third baseman waited. The defender stretched out his glove to make the tag when suddenly the docile baserunner came alive and slid under his tag.
The crowd exploded in laughter. I think even the sheepish young man’s own team was laughing. His coach took him out after that.
Safe! If you’re on the base, you’re safe. They can’t get you out.
Are You Safe?
Listen to this:
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.” (Philippians 3:1, NKJV) The NIV and several other versions say it’s a “safeguard.”
It’s amazing, isn’t it? Rejoicing in the Lord makes us “safe!” It’s a safeguard.
A safeguard against what? Against believing those profiteers who try to make us think that we will be saved by circumcision or other works (Phil. 3:2). It’s a safe place of joy, which protects us from sour religion. It’s a powerful place of peace which helps us to live with confidence in the Lord, even when a category 5 hurricane of problems blows outside our window.
Safe from the schemes of the devil against you.
So, how do I rejoice in the Lord?
I mean, you can’t exactly turn joy on, like a water faucet, can you? No, you can’t fake it, but you can open your eyes and if you see God’s reality you’re going to howl for joy as if your favorite football team just won the Super Bowl. (Or your husband just brought you three dozen roses when he hadn’t done anything that he was trying to get forgiveness for).
Here’s some suggestions if you want to crank up your joy machine:
–be intentional. Make up your mind that you’re going to push through that sour-pickle attitude or that “blah!” feeling into God’s joy.
–Meditate on God’s goodness. We always say, “If God is good then why?” Why not say, “I don’t understand everything, but God has given me a life worth living, forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a thousand daily blessings. Why? Because He’s good.
–Quit eating spiritual junk food. Fill your mind with vitamin-packed groceries. Criticism (chips), anger (cheese puffs), desire for revenge (ice cream with whipped cream, nuts, caramel, chocolate, etc)–when that’s all we eat we have no right to whine, “I can’t understand why I can’t feel the presence of God like I used to.” (“This extra weight comes from a thyroid condition.”)
–Believe Him. No wonder your joy has gone for a hike … without you. You’re tip-toeing through life hoping the sky doesn’t crash on your noggin. Read His Word. Believe what He said. My friend Didier Biava says, “Nourris ta foi et tes doutes mourront de faim.” In case you’re wondering that’s, ‘’ Nourish your faith and you doubts will starve to death.’’
–Quit focusing on what you don’t have, what is not going right. Look at what you do have!
–Serve others like Jesus served. It’s actually fun.
–Desire the “new wine” of the Spirit fill and let Him refill your soul. Sing! Even if you sound like a crow, sing!
–Look at God, who and what He is—Praise Him!
–Be thankful. Who is going to give you something else if you aren’t thankful for what he’s already given?
Trials, fatigue, unrequited desires, or goals that are moving away faster than we are moving towards them, all these are joy robbers.
Legalism, which trying to earn our salvation, steals all the joy from our relationship with God. Worship, obedience and faith lead us into an intimate relationship with Him.
Joy is our inheritance from the Lord. Make up your mind you’re going to live in it. Do what it takes to grow joy in your heart. Do it! Do it! Do it!
And you’ll be, “SAFE!”
“All these curses are going to come on you. They’re going to hunt you down and get you until there’s nothing left of you because you didn’t obediently listen to the Voice of God, your God, and diligently keep his commandments and guidelines that I commanded you. The curses will serve as signposts, warnings to your children ever after.
Because you didn’t serve God, your God, out of the joy and goodness of your heart in the great abundance, you’ll have to serve your enemies whom God will send against you. Life will be famine and drought, rags and wretchedness; then he’ll put an iron yoke on your neck until he’s destroyed you.
Deuteronomy 28:46-48, The Message
“A girl should get so lost in God, that a guy has to seek Him to find her.” John Piper