Be a Joy-Giver

Today is my daddy’s birthday! If you are new around here, my daddy passed away five years ago. He was the epitome of being joyful in all circumstances. I could write a book about my dad’s life and everything he went through, but here’s a shorter version:

My daddy was a pastor. If you know a pastor, you know that’s not an easy calling. I could go on and on about that, but today I want to tell you about the final 10 years of his life. In 2006, dad ended up in the ER with stomach pain. This ER visit forever changed his life because it was then that he not only had appendicitis, but they discovered his diabetes was out of control and his kidneys were barely functioning.

This began a long journey for dad. Dialysis for years, but eventually did receive a new kidney that allowed him to live a more normal life for a little while. He actually almost died during that surgery….so crazy. But that surgery allowed him to go visit his family in Mexico. Something he had not been able to do in years! During those 10 years, he developed vascular disease. He basically had no circulation in his legs. After multiple tries to try to help this, he had his first leg amputated. And then a year or so later, he had his other leg amputated, too. He then was diagnosed with prostate cancer a couple of years later. It was stage four and had spread throughout his body. He passed away almost a year after his diagnosis.

During the last 10 years of his life, dad was in and out of the hospital. He had good days, but he also had terrible days. My mother, a legit angel, was by his side through it all. She lived out her vows until dad’s very last breath and still continues to live them out today.

But even through all of dad’s hardships, he didn’t lose sight of Jesus. He fully trusted in God’s plan for his life even when it seemed that God had turned from him. When he had his leg amputated, he could no longer drive on his own so he depended on my mom or one of us kids to take him anywhere he needed to go. That’s when dad began to use his resources to love people and continue to spread God’s word. He would skype his sermons to churches in Mexico and he wrote devotionals and recorded videos for his Facebook friends. He also never missed your birthday! He personally called all of his church members on their birthdays.

Dad was an encourager. He loved people no matter who they were or what they had or didn’t have and he didn’t miss an opportunity to share Jesus. When he passed away, the funeral home was very gracious and gave us special pricing because they said dad was always there when they needed him. If they had a hispanic family without a pastor, they called him and he always showed up.

He woke up every morning at 4:00 AM to spend time in prayer. I still remember hearing him from my room. I’m so thankful for that example. But I’m also thankful for the time he spent in prayer. He showed me the power of prayer.

I share all of this with you today because I want to encourage you to to be a joy-giver. In our advent study it describes a joy-giver as “ one who is confident in the Lord, content, likes being around positive people, seeks to be obedient to the Lord, enjoys celebrations, and rests in the Lord’s plan for their life.”

My dad was not perfect by any means. But that’s the beauty of the Gospel, right? Even in our faults, mistakes and terrible choices, God still uses us to fulfill His purposes. He uses us just as we are to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Today, I don’t remember my dad’s faults or mistakes. I remember how God used him in the lives of all of those he came in contact with.

Stop worrying about your mess ups and failures and choose to live a life for Jesus. Choose to love God and love those around you. Be confident in the Lord. Be content. For goodness sakes, be happy with where God has you. See the positive and choose to rejoice.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:16-18

This verse tells us how to do it. We rejoice always by praying continually and giving thanks to God no matter the circumstances. True joy is about trusting God, not our emotions or circumstances.

My daddy prayed continually and he always, always found something to be thankful for. And I believe that is why he lived a life that was full of joy no matter what he went through.

So today, in memory of my dad, find a way to give joy to those around you. Choose to fully trust in Jesus.

And if you have never chosen Jesus to be your Savior, then please let me talk to you. I would love to tell you about my Jesus.

Happy Birthday, dad. Thank you for the example and the legacy that you’ve left us. Thank you for choosing to love God with all your heart, mind and soul and teaching us how to live a life of joy no matter what we are going through. I can only imagine what heaven is like and how much joy you have being in the presence of your Savior.

I hope this encourages you this morning. Rejoice, pray and give thanks always my friends.