Talk 2:

From the Book of Psalms Chapter 30, verse 5, let’s read together:

This is a pattern that God established from the very

beginning. I want you to know that once upon a time, in the universe, there was chaos, and there was darkness.

And the first morning, God created light. And then night came. And the second morning God created the atmosphere and the firmament. And then night came. And God created the land, God created the plants. And then night came. And then the fourth morning, God created the sun, the stars, the moon. And then night came.

And on the sixth morning, God created animals and humans. And then night came.

Do you see the pattern?

And then on the seventh day, God created rest. And relationship.

I want you to know that you may be in nighttime right now but every morning God creates something new. Because joy comes in the morning.

The Israelites, they came from Egypt and they were traveling in the desert, they were hungry. And they would enter their tents hungry. But there was this one morning when there were shouts in the camp because when they went out of their tents, they saw manna, provision scattered in the desert stands.

I want you to know that there are times in our life when we enter our tents, we are hungry. We are hungry because our needs are not met. But God is telling you today that joy comes in the morning.

Because you will get out of those tents and you will see manna, you will see provision.

Once upon a time, centuries later, the Israelites, they had an enemy. And the enemy was a giant. And he taunted and he insulted and he ridiculed. And he threatened day in and day out— 40 days. And on the 40th day, when they woke up, one morning, God sent a champion. And the champion, with a stone, a smooth stone, he shot to the forehead of that enemy— and the giant fell.

I want you to know that right now, you may be facing an enemy. And that could be poverty, that could be depression, that could be addiction, that could be frustration. But whatever enemy that you are facing right now, you are in the nighttime. And weeping may endure for the night. But please understand this:

joy comes in the morning. And you will see your enemy fall to the ground.

And Jesus, He was beaten, and Jesus, He was spat on, and Jesus, He was scourged, and Jesus, He was whipped, and Jesus, He was crucified. But then, when He was buried in that tomb on Saturday night, do you know what happened on Sunday morning? Joy came in the morning!

Because the angels, they began to sing, “O, death, where is thy sting?

O, death, where is thy victory?”

Everybody, say, “Because joy comes in the morning!” Everybody, say that again:

“Because joy comes in the morning!”

And, although guys, you’ve been hearing this message all day: 2022 may be a year that you remember. Because this year was the year when you had heartache. And this was the year when your dreams were not fulfilled. And this was the year when you did not get that job promotion. And this was the year when you had a failed business.

And this was the year when you faced so many enemies.

But there’s going to be a new morning.

I want you to believe…

Everybody, sing with me again: Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet And a Light unto my path…

Four Questions

  1. Who in the past seven days experienced even at least one moment of happiness?
  2. How many of you experienced at least one moment of happiness yesterday— in the past 24 hours?
  3. How many of you are happy today? I’ll ask the fourth one later… I asked those questions because there is a mental disorder— a physical condition — it’s called anhedonia. Because of the malfunctioning of the wiring of the brain, the person loses his capacity for joy. And it’s similar to the malfunctioning of the wiring of the brain that causes schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. Anhedonia gives you this condition where you cannot be happy. So, if you raised your hand even once when I asked those three questions, you are blessed. You can feel joy. You do.Here’s my fourth question:
  4. On your typical day, what do you do that makes you feel happy?

Think. Think for a while: On your typical day, what do you do that actually gives you joy?

What I usually do— and I think a lot of you do this— is after Christmas and before New Year, in that little segment where some of us are not working— we take a mini-retreat— whether that would be two hours, four hours, or half a day. This is what I do: kind of like reviewing the whole year — 2022.

You kind of think about what were the blessings, what were the lessons, and you write them all down, wiping your tears, you move to the next section, and you start making goals for 2023.

Write Down Your Blessings

Now, after reviewing your year, looking at the blessings and the lessons, before you start writing your goals for 2023, I suggest — for your own mental health— the following:

To actually write down things that you do on a typical day that make you happy.

So, you write whether:   I play with my dog.

I talk to my child. Make coffee. Whatever.

The key is this: to be able to design your day so that you are happy — write not an extraordinary event but as something that you do on a daily basis.

I asked myself that question: What are the things I do on a typical day that make me happy?

And I realized something— and this is a secret I want to share with you, in terms of having more joy: Stack your morning with a lot of joyful things.

In my typical day, for example, I’m happy when I bike in the morning.

And when I go around the village under the beautiful sun, I’m happy.

And then what I do is I bike to a coffee shop and then I read my book under a tree — there’s a tree beside the coffee shop, I sit under the tree, and I read, and I am happy.

And I realized, I’m happy in all those activities because I’m outdoors. Outdoors make me happy. And I bet, that. A huge portion of this audience will be happy when you go outdoors.

This will be no surprise because the Book of Genesis says that when God created the world, He created a good world imbued with beauty. There is goodness in this world. And, you know, psychologists will tell you that if you are depressed, one of the practical things you can do is this: every single day, get out of your room, go outdoors, get the sun, let it be absorbed in your body, be in the good world that God has created. And there— it raises your serotonin levels and you’ll have a fighting chance against whatever mental disorder (you might go through).

You know, the Pandemic was exacerbated by emotional challenges, financial challenges, and medical challenges. We were trapped in our home and we did not go out.

What am I saying? I’m saying that if you go to the Bible, you’ll note there are such things as natural joys.

When you look at the mountains, if you look at the sunset, if you look at the ocean— all these, you look, and you say, “Wow! These will actually make me happy.”

When I had COVID, during those 30 days, my little backyard saved my life— literally.

Because every day, I would go there, and I would be healed by the joy that I felt outdoors.

Let me state the obvious: Joy is a feeling. And it is God’s gift. Natural joys are actually God’s gifts.

There are other sources of joy.

Psalms 65:11 talks about harvests that are really reasons for joy:

You crown the year with your bounty and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness overflow.

The hills are closed with gladness.

Are you somebody who… you know, you get happy when you get a salary increase— when you get a bonus?

Or are you one of those strange people who are like, “Ay, may bonus, nakakainis. How annoying…”

We’re not like that. There’s a natural joy, there’s a feeling of joy when that happens.

I’ll give you another one Proverbs 23:24-25:

Children make you happy.

How many of you can say that?

Parents, if you have children with you right now, look at them and tell them, “You are my joy— and my heartache. But mostly my joy.”

Children give us joy. How many of you your parents— even one of them— are still alive? Yes? You are so blessed.

I lost both of my parents. And I cannot do what I am going to tell you to do right now: Give them joy while they’re there.

Because a time will come when you cannot do that. Grab a date with them.

Spend time with them. Visit them. Talk with them. Listen to them. Ask them questions. Because this is the only time you have with them. Give them joy.

The World Worships Emotions

The Bible talks about the joy that we get when we have food in front of us. Especially— and the joy multiplies— when you’ve got loved ones around the table.

Psalms 104:14-15 says:

You know, I’m a semi-vegetarian. And so when my friends come, and we gather and we eat, and there’s Lechon on the table, they don’t feel very comfortable — because of me.

They tell me, “Bro Bo, I feel guilty.” I ask, “Why?”

They answer, “There’s Lechon.” “So?”

“You cannot eat. We’re the only ones who could eat.”

I tell them, “Do you know that in the Bible, Jesus uses the picture of a banquet overflowing with food as a picture of the Kingdom? So, please, God wants you to enjoy. And God wants you to eat. And God wants you to have a feast. That’s joy!”

But not too much. Because the picture of the Kingdom is both in Heaven and on Earth. So, be sure that you eat in a way that it’s reasonable enough so that the Kingdom you will experience is on Earth— not the Kingdom in Heaven right away.

Joy is God’s gift.

The reason I am spending a few minutes laboring to stress this point is that there are segments of Christianity— certain preachers, authors, writers, spiritual leaders — who look at the emotion of joy with suspicion.

What they do is they demonize emotions in general and they say, “If you are really holy, you shouldn’t be very happy most of the time. Because loving God is about commitment, discipline, sacrifice, suffering.”

Now, I want you to know that that’s a half-truth. There is truth in that. But if you go through Scripture, you’ll see that there’s a lot of joy in it. But I understand where that brand of spirituality is coming from.

It’s an overreaction to how the world worships emotions, puts emotions on the altar as gods, and says that “Oh, you are your feelings— and therefore emotions decide on everything.”

Feelings Are Not Gods

I was listening to a relationship guru,

and she said this —- it was a 15-second clip— “Why remain in a relationship if your partner does not make you happy?”

I understand— it’s 15 seconds— I do not know the whole context of the talk. But some people, they just get the 15-second quote, and say, “Ah, I will leave my partner because he does not make me happy.”

Yes, this is an overreaction to this —

how the world worships God. If you go to my wife right now, and ask her, “Does your husband make you always happy?”

What do you think will her answer be?

Let me tell you a story to prove my point.

Last week, my wife looked at my bicycle — it was parked outside the kitchen— and she saw there was this big dent on the fender. So, with worry written on her face, she came up to me, and she said, “Bo, why is there a big dent on the fender of your bike?”

And me, very cooly said, “Oh, two months ago, a car hit me from behind.” That’s when she turned ballistic, and she said, “Whaaat? When? Two months?”

And she said this: “I almost lost my husband two months ago and I get to know this only now? Why didn’t you tell me?”

I said, “It was just a bump.”

Believe you me, I spent the next 28 minutes apologizing about 300 times for her to be able to forgive me.

The point I am driving at is that I do not always make my wife happy. But it’s okay. Why?

Because feelings are not gods we worship— but teachers that who guide us during our desperate need for God. That’s what feelings are.

God Wants Us To Be Happy

Now, let me go back to my first premise: hat Joy is God’s gift. That God wants us to be happy.

Why? Because God is a father. I’m a father.

I want my boys to be happy. I have yet to meet a mom and a dad who will tell me, “My one ambition in my life is to make my children depressed.”

All parents want their kids to be happy. And yet, at the same time, all parents know that you need short-term pain as necessary for long-term joy.

Parents know that— by heart. They understand. They want their children to be happy but they know you’ve got to allow for short-term pain.

How many of you, parents, when your kids were sick, the thought entered your mind, “Lord, ako na

lang and magkasakit, huwag na ang anak ko. Let it be me to get sick, instead of my child.”

It’s there actually in your mind.

My boys— aged 22, 17— they would get sick, an average of maybe 2.5 times a year— flu, abdominal whatever, measles, COVID… My youngest son, aged 17, got sick 42 times in his lifetime. My eldest son, aged 22— 55 times in his lifetime.

Can you imagine all those sufferings? Not only that.

My eldest son, when he was seven years old— a dog bit him. We had to bring him to the hospital for those multiple anti-rabies injections. Not fun. Torture.

When my youngest son, Francis, was two years old, we rushed him to the hospital because of dengue.

It was so scary for me because weeks before, I visited the wake of a 12-year-old boy who died of dengue. I was there. I saw him. I grieved with the father who’s a friend of mine.

And so, then, I was in the hospital, I was seated on the hospital bed, I saw my two-year-old boy… dengue… dextrose needle stuck into his arm…

And I was saying, “What kind of God would allow these things to happen— when a helpless child can suffer like this?”

Two Kinds of Joy

In my mind, I said, “Is there a way for me as a father to protect my sons, to prevent these things to happen? From kids getting sick, from kids being bitten by a dog. Is there a way for me to protect my kids?”

I thought of two solutions:

1) Let them live in a bubble— to actually live in a bubble 24/7 — no more germs. But then I asked the question, “Is it a life?”

I had another solution— very radical, but very effective: 2) I will replace all their human tissues— all their cells, all their bones, all their internal organs— with titanium. Bacteria would not have a stand against steel— no effect.

And you know what? Let all the dogs try to bite them. The dogs will lose their teeth. And if a dengue-carrying mosquito will try to land on their metal skin, the mosquito will just slide off. I would have solved the problem. My children will be protected from pain, from suffering, from sickness. Yes?

No. Because by doing that, I would have turned them into monsters.

And I would have destroyed my children.

My point is: Parents, do not over-parent. Your children will have to go through frustration, and pain, and suffering. Because that is the only way for them to grow, for them to mature.

And God, He will allow weeping that will last for a night. But He promises that joy will come in the morning. He will allow short-term pain for your long-term joy.

So, in the Bible, there are two kinds of joy: Natural joy and—for lack of a better term— supernatural joy.

Natural joy is a feeling. Supernatural joy is an attitude— and it comes from a profound trust in God. And because of that, this deeper kind of joy is not dependent on good circumstances. What happens is this: this supernatural joy, this deeper joy, it is actually connected with sorrow— they are deeply connected.

You find that all over the Bible.

Night and Morning

I experienced it last month. My father-in-law passed away. And for five days, —in the wake, in that room, with that coffin, with the loved ones, the family, the friends visiting— love overflowed. But so did two other things: tears and laughter. It’s funny. Why?

In Psalms 30:5, I repeat:

And then Romans 5:3 says:

I am going to end with this verse— I won’t even explain it.

I’m going to ask the last speaker to explain this because he will do a far better job than I can.

Let’s read together 2 Corinthians 8:1-2:

I want you to underline those three phrases:

1) Severe trial; 2) Extreme poverty; 3) Overflowing joy.

How? Please explain to me. How in the world can you have overflowing joy when there is a severe trial and extreme poverty?

Alvin Barcelona, please explain it.


In the midst of severe trial, overwhelming joy?

Bro. Bo explained it already. He said joy and sorrow are deeply connected.

Which is very true.

They happen at the same time.

You have something to be joyful for, and you also have burdens to bear.

Last week, we talked about peace. And Jesus Himself said it:

While you are alive, you will have trouble.

For example, you are sick. Yet when you get well, you don’t have money. Then, when you already have money, your sweetheart leaves you. Then, your sweetheart comes back to you. Yet, again, you don’t have money.

There are always problems while we are alive. So, what is the secret?

Even when you have problems, when Jesus is with you, you are able to bear your problems. You will have peace. Why? Because

No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace. No Jesus, No Real Joy. But Know Jesus,

Know Real Joy.

That’s the secret. There’s sorrow, there’s trouble. But see Jesus in the trouble. See Jesus in the sorrow. And that sorrow will turn into joy.

Sadness and Happiness—At the Same Time

One last story:

I want you to look at this photo. Look at the face of this woman. She’s smiling. She has joy. She has peace. She’s my Mom. And she has terminal cancer. I went to her— I flew to Sydney right after the three- day Feast Conference.

Because a few months. ago, she called me up to tell me, “Alvin, I have cancer.”

Of course, that devastated me. But I prayed. You know, she’s in Sydney— maybe the doctors, the hospital can do something… But the cancer got worse. My wife went to the hospital, saw her there. But the hospital discharged her already — because they said there was nothing more they could do to cure her. So, she was transferred to a hospice, to a nursing home— just palliative care, just to manage the pain.

When I got there, she was already in that nursing home. You know what I did there? Nothing. There was nothing anymore I could do.

This is what’s interesting. Here, in the Philippines, I was very busy. I had to fly to Cebu for the Feast Conference— which I missed. Then to Davao. Then lots of parties and meetings, year-enders… But I left and flew to be with my Mom— just to do nothing.

Actually, I did something. I watched her. I sat with her during her meals. I pushed her wheelchair. I sang to her: There could never be a portrait of my love…Moon river, wider than a mile… just songs of her time… Because if songs of my time, she might become jittery…

So, I sang, It’s now or never… She was very happy. She applauded. She laughed…

Wait, you might have forgotten: she has cancer. Sadness and happiness— at the same time. And I was also happy and sad— at the same time.

Being Like Jesus

My last question to her when she was at the nursing home: “Ma, what do you want me to do?”

Her quick answer: “Bring me home, Alvin.”

Quickly, we arranged everything. We moved Heaven and Earth to get her home.

It was no joke. She was getting weaker and weaker. She endured an eight-hour trip from Sydney to Manila. And we got her home. She’s now home.

In the house, her room is not very beautiful. At the nursing home, you press just one button and the nurses of various nationalities take turns in attending to her. And the place is clean, and well in order, the food is okay.

At home, her room is simple, there were even cracks in the ceiling. Yet she is very happy— because she is with her loved ones— her children, her grandchildren.

For me, my world changed. I got back to being busy— talks, Advent rituals, meetings, Christmas parties. But one thing changed. In the last weeks that she’s home, I gave time for her. Just the same — just feed her, read the Bible to her, sing to her, or just hold her until she gets to sleep.

That’s what she wants: “Hold my hand until I sleep.”

But that was not easy. Day after day, I see my mother getting weaker and weaker. But there is joy. Why?

Because I see in her Jesus. And she sees Jesus in me. I even made it literal. During our Feast Bay Area Christmas party, I put on a costume that made me look like Jesus.

And my Mommy said, “Come to me.”

But I warned her: Mommy, this me. Not Jesus taking you already.

But just practice.”

She laughed. Ha-ha-ha! My Mom laughed and she has cancer. At the same time.

What do you bear now? Are you sad? Going through hardship? But are you also able to be joyful? At the same time.

Weeping may endure for the night but joy will come in the morning.

But why wait for the morning and endure the night— if you can make every moment morning? Let morning be every part of your day! How?

See Jesus every moment. And there will be joy. This Christmas, let me give you the secret to true joy:

Joy is Jesus-others-then you.

Jesus first, bring him to others, and the joy will come to you.

Let me pray for you and with you:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Father in Heaven, this Christmas, may I receive the best present:

Your Presence. And may I give the best Present to others— Your Presence through my Presence. That is Your joy. And that will be my overwhelming joy.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Let’s come before the Lord and experience overwhelming joy.

Editor’s Note: On January 3, 2023, Bro. Alvin posted on his Facebook page:

“We thank you for all your prayers for our Mom. She is now peacefully with the Lord. Join us

in celebrating and remembering the fullness of the life of Aida Perez-Barcelona Aguilos Wilson.” Our deepest sympathies.


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