Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
The Benefits of Being a Disciple—Rewards You Can Reap Today—Part Thirteen
Jesus said, “So you have sorrow now, I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:22
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
Today’s Scripture quote is from the Last Supper, when Jesus spoke to His Disciples only a few hours before His crucifixion. He knew at this point that they would have sorrow very shortly. They would have doubt and confusion as well. But He wanted to reassure them at this very important moment that they would have joy again and then when He rises from the dead, no one will be able to take away that joy from them.
One of the benefits of being a disciple is this same joy that Jesus promised to His Disciples, He promises also to us. When we know Christ, no one can take that joy away from us. No circumstance, no sickness, nothing can take away that joy. The “joy of the Lord” cannot be taken away by a bad driver, a bad health diagnosis, being fired from a job, or by any failure or shortcoming.
As Jesus concluded His lengthy discourse following the Last Supper, He offered a prayer for His Disciples, offering to God the Father, “But now I am coming to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they (the disciples) may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.” (John 17:13) Imagine having the joy of the Lord in us! Imagine how great this joy is, if Jesus could speak of this joy immediately before His time of greatest sorrow. There is certainly something joyful about belonging to God, something that no one and no circumstance can take away.
The first aspect of Christian joy is having the joy of Christ in ourselves. However, there is a second aspect of having Christian joy and that is to spread this joy. The Evangelist John also wrote three Epistles and the Book of Revelation. In I John 1:1-4, he shares his motive in writing, which is to share his joy at having Christ in him:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—the Life was made manifest and we saw It, and testify to It, and proclaim to you the Eternal Life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with His son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete. I John 1:1-4
As we read over John’s motive for sharing the Good news, we must ask ourselves what is our motive to share (or not share) the Gospel. The primary motive should be joy. Good news travels fast. We know this. When we have good news, we can’t wait to share it. And we share it with joy to everyone we meet. Think of good news that you have run to share with other people. Joy should be our motive in running to others with the good news of Jesus Christ. The Gospel was written in order to be spread and shared. Sharing any news in a joyful way makes news attractive. Sharing news without joy keeps people away. As Christians, we are encouraged to be joyful messengers of joyful news.
Security is something that we crave, specifically financial security. We spend a great deal of our lives saving and planning and securing our futures. Of course, security is an illusion. Our home can be wiped out by a hurricane. Our finances can be wiped out by a stock market collapse. And our health can be wiped out in a car accident.
Our joy, however, is something that is very secure. Nothing can wreck our joy. This is why we should crave joy and build joy, over craving and building security, because it is the joy of Christ that will allow us to dwell securely and with confidence.
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; from deceitful and unjust men deliver me! For Thou art the God in whom I take refuge; why hast Thou cast me off? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Oh send out Thy light and Thy truth; let them lead me, let them bring me to Thy holy hill and to Thy dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and I will praise Thee with the lyre, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my help and my God. Psalm 43
Live in the joy of Christ today! Look for opportunities to share the joy of Christ today!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: Campus Ministry Today
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