Hello, welcome to Joy City, a weekly blog and podcast, hosted by yours truly, Stuart Welch the Lead Pastor of Life Connection Church, Modesto, CA. I want to invite you in, to join with an amazing community of friends that are quickly becoming an intimate part of my daily life. I am your host and excited to deliver great content that can change your life and truly transform as we celebrate the greatness of God and His presence in the every day moments of our lives. Knowing the Creator, the Grand Weaver of our lives is present with us and then leaning into that Presence can be revolutionary for many of us, so lets enter in to the City – Joy City.
Have you ever heard the phrase, challenge is necessary for mature functioning or change is a must for change equals self-improvement? Well that is how Joy City came about, it came about due to the challenging circumstances in the lives of men and women who faced the threat of death daily at the hands of Christian persecutors. This risk, forced many people to flee and scatter all over – but guess what, they didn’t run and hide, they fled and began to teach and minister the principles of Jesus Christ wherever they found themselves. In one particular instance, one man named Philip found himself in a city called Samaria. While there, Philip preached and ministered the word of God and the people were saved, healed, delivered and we read there was great joy in that city. So in the midst of the threat of death, torture and all manner of evil directed at them, the people not only flourished but they found Joy City, a place where the people celebrated what they had to offer.
In Joy City, faith is all important. For without faith it is impossible to please God. In Joy City, we understand that by faith we can receive anything and it can take us anywhere in the kingdom of God. But without it, I can’t even approach God, cannot receive forgiveness, deliverance, salvation, communion or any spiritual life at all. No, in Joy City, faith is the key that unlocks the door. In this self-centered world that we occupy – MONEY is the commodity everyone seeks. In the upside-down kingdom of Joy City, money is merely a resource not the source, that is God. So here in this earth, we follow hard after the dollar-dollar bill, use slogans like he with the most toys wins, where in the City of Joy, we follow hard after God and that faith has a reward that is more valuable than anything money can buy – God Himself. Like he told Levi, after occupying Canaan land and dividing the land among his siblings. You get no land Levi, what you get is ME! I am your portion and your inheritance – that right there made Levi richer than all his brothers.
Now I’m not saying Joy City is free of hardships or suffering. Not at all, oh we cry a lot and feel the anguish at the plight and despair of family, friends and loved ones. However, in the midst of that we experience the true nature of our life in Christ. The Apostle Paul taught us that to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and be a partaker of his sufferings is to join with others in the midst of their suffering and then we become one of solidarity with human suffering. To connect our own vulnerability with those we live with, that is true joy. The joy of belonging, of being part of, of not being different.
The sorrow is still there, but God is breaking through, something has changed. This happens when we are no longer standing in front of others, but sitting with them and sharing that moment of togetherness.
The cup of life beloved is the cup of joy as much as it is the cup of sorrow. In that cup is sorrows and joys, sadness and gladness, and mourning and dancing – they are never separated.
I’ve enjoyed being your host and you can comment below, or email me at email@example.com or call me at (209) 522-3583.