First Things First

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ– Philippians 1:2. In all the Church Epistles, grace and peace are always mentioned in each salutation. The lesson in the salutation of grace and peace is that we need God’s grace daily, and that we can come to enjoy our lives immersed in the peace that God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ gives. Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ!” ~LMJ~

A Merry Heart (The Longer Version)

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

Often we hear it said that it is best to not talk about religion, however, I do not agree with that statement, for when God lives in our hearts and we talk about the truth that is in our hearts and in our thinking, then “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). The outpouring of our inner joy composes a merry heart that becomes personally inspiring from within, and harmonizes our lives to God’s very nature (II Peter 1:4). When we Christians allow “the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” into our minds and hearts, we cannot help but share the treasures of God’s lovingkindness towards us, and of His “grace and peace,” which has been “multiplied” in our lives, as this tenders a merry heart in believers.

II Peter 1:2:
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.

This knowledge compels us to thoroughly enjoy a merry heart as we speak of the graces of God. Another wonderful verse of Scripture is, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). When God comes into our lives and we begin thinking His Word, we literally become what His Word says we are, “Keep {or guard} thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). The issues of life are those thoughts that define you as a person: for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he (and you and me).

Nevertheless, if we cannot talk about the inner joy we have experienced in God’s Word, then we might unintentionally begin to suppress what we have received and felt in our hearts from knowing our Savior’s love for us. “He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15). The continual feast is the enjoyment of life to its fullest, walking hand in hand with God, with our Savior, and with fellow believers, so, on with the festivities!

Proverbs 27:19:
As in water face answereth to face {gives a reflection}, so the heart of man {reflects what is in the heart} to man.

Paul said of Jesus “he cannot deny himself” (II Timothy 2:13); Jesus never denied who he was to anyone or what he believed, rather he lived with confidence in who he was, and he is our example (Philippians 2:5). We have the God-given privilege to believe and to conduct ourselves as those who have allowed Jesus Christ and God along with their joy into our hearts.

II Corinthians 5:20:
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech {call} you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

We are ambassadors for Christ, regardless of whether or not we ever share God’s Word with anyone. It is true that at certain times it may be inappropriate to share God’s Word, for instance, when we are being paid to work; however, there are times when it is appropriate to talk about God’s wonderful Word with our families, friends, and acquaintances. Besides, everyone else is speaking up to tell us what they think and believe, while what we Christians think and believe is in regard to the salvation of our souls and our being reconciled to God and that we are in Christ’s stead ─ these are certainly things worthy to speak up about while we fulfill our calling.

King David in Psalms 16:9 wrote: “my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth” as he spoke of his coming Savior. Knowing and speaking of Christ causes our hearts to greatly rejoice, and a glad heart comes to us by speaking about the accomplishments of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Witnessing to others that Jesus died for our sins (and theirs also), that he was resurrected and seated at the right hand of God, that he is returning for us at some future moment to take us home, surely causes one to experience and enjoy a merry heart.

Today, so many believers feel hesitant to even acknowledge that they are Christians when an appropriate time to speak the Word presents itself. Often believers feel guilty by association because they see other Christians behaving incorrectly or hear unbelievers make fun of religion or of God’s people and so many Christians do not speak up. We are not in God’s secret service wherein we hide the joy of our hearts from the world around us until we arrive in church on Sunday morning, but we are in God’s family, with God-given permission to speak and conduct our lives as the ambassadors of Christ. This is our heavenly commission!

When Christians suppress godly issues of the heart, Christianity becomes more of a subculture rather than mainstream. God’s wholesome Word shines in our hearts and this we can speak about with God-given authority (Philippians 2:16).

Life’s spiritual principles and gifts are evidenced by receiving and giving, but if a Christian believer begins to suppress the free course of God’s Word, the receiving end of his or her life can become limited ─ stifled even. Nothing on this earth can quench a believer’s merry heart more than inaction to the truths he has learned and believed from within the Scriptures to be true. Jesus Christ has made us free (Galatians 5:1), and has given us many reasons to enjoy a merry heart, including eternal life (I John 5:10-11).

Proverbs 15:13:
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance {makes one glow with excitement}: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

Proverbs 17:22:
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

To genuinely experience God and our Savior’s presence, let us seek to enjoy the benefits of having and maintaining a merry heart. Presently in grace, we have and enjoy a union with our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, giving us every reason to experience the heavenly panacea that comes into our inner souls from the Physician of the human heart ─ Jesus Christ.

We can invite God’s healing Word into our homes and fellowship with Him around the accomplishments of Jesus Christ for us, as we bask in the love of God. We may then reach out to other people who come across our paths with the words of life that have been so graciously given to us. In Isaiah 55:11, we read “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” You see, when we speak of God’s Word, of His love, of His grace, and of our salvation, He will prosper and watch over those words that we have placed into our hearts to speak so that we may be assured of speaking words that will reach out with prosperous blessings to others who then also receive a merry heart.

True, some may shoot the breeze just to kill time, but we Christians can share the Word of life from our merry hearts and actually lead someone into eternal life, because when we speak the words of God, we are never alone, for Christ the Lord works within us to confirm the Word we speak.

Mark 16:20:
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.

Just in knowing that Christ the Lord works with us gives us every reason to radiate a merry heart, especially when we realize that he confirms the Word we speak. Now, what are the signs that follow? This can be something different for every believer; it is a personal blessing for talking in Christ’s stead, and God will become your “sufficiency” in this life as II Corinthians 9:8 promises, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, {so that you} may abound to every good work.”

Acts 14:3:
Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

Philippians 2:16 reads, “Holding forth the word of life” for it is God’s Words that give us purpose, reason, and vitality (and also offers these benefits to those to whom we speak), and provides us with all the spiritual treasures needed to enjoy our lives with a merry heart.

“There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.” ~Celia Thaxter~

“If we have the opportunity to be generous with our hearts, ourselves, we have no idea of the depth and breadth of love’s reach.” ~Margaret Cho~

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart.” ~Helen Keller~

“A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.” ~Washington Irving~

“God has two dwellings: one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart.” ~Izaak Walton~