From Afar (6/19 random verse)

My parents got me a Bible in 1995.  It’s this big, bulky, New King James Version that sadly I rarely (if ever) cracked open during most of my life.  Over the past few years as I finally got serious about my pursuit of God and my study of His word, the old NKJV Bible somehow never made it into my rotation of Bibles that I read from.  But, it does hold a special place in my heart and in my life, as I have it sitting on my desk at work.  Maybe it’s silly to some people, but I am nothing without the word of God, and so I like to have it prominently displayed so people can see that this book is central to who I am, all that I believe, and how I am going to treat my job, my co-workers, and generally go about my entire life.  
Today at work, I decided to open the old Bible here at work and read a single verse at random.
Nehemiah 12:43 (NKJV) Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off. 
This morning I had a conversation with a friend about the joy of the Lord, and how I love it when believers in Jesus are quick to laugh. Most of the really serious, really sold out for Jesus people that I know are quick to laugh, and I think that’s just a natural thing that comes from knowing God, knowing his goodness, and having that lightness of spirit that comes from knowing He’s with us and has our backs, that our future is secure in Him. And I think it’s so funny that of the 31,000 or so verses in the Bible, the one I randomly turned to was about a joy that could be heard from afar.
I know that even as believers we go through seasons of pain and struggle, that laughter isn’t always spilling out of us. I’ve been through my fair share of those seasons, and I have no doubt that they’ll come again. But as a default position, as a core trait of who we are, wouldn’t it be amazing if we were known for the people whose rejoicing and joy could be heard from afar off? If you really know God, if you’ve really experienced His goodness, then you know there’s always a reason to rejoice.
Modern Christians are known for a lot of things, most of them bad.  We’ve got a reputation for being hypocrites, for being hateful, for being stuffy and unfun, for being ungenerous.  Some of these impressions of us that society holds are unfair, and sadly some we’ve rightfully earned.   You know what I want the society and culture around me to know?  That those who truly know Jesus are quick to laugh.  Maybe we’re even a bit too loud, sometimes, but you know what?  That’s okay.  Joyful should be one of THE primary traits that define us.  Let our rejoicing be heard from afar, let the sound of our laughter and our praises echo off the walls and spread throughout the City.  Let that be our reputation.
Father God, today I just ask that each person who knows you will know a new level of true joy today.  Laughter is one of the greatest gifts you gave to us.  Jesus, when I picture your time here on earth, I always picture you laughing.  I believe with all my heart that you and the disciples shared many moments of laughter together, that you were known everywhere you went as a joyful man.  I ask that you give us an easygoing spirit, an ability to smile despite the challenges we face in the everyday.  You tell us to be light in this world, and what is laughter if not light in the form of sound?  Let our rejoicing be heard from afar, and let it always be pure and originated in your goodness.  Thank you for the joy that comes simply from knowing you.  Thank you that in the darkest times, you are still a source of joy for us.  Let our laughter and rejoicing act as a beacon that draws people to us, let us be always prepared to explain to others why we’re so quick to laugh.  Thank you for all that you do in my life, Lord.  You are my source of continued joy.  In Jesus’ precious name I pray, amen.

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