Where does your joy abide? Does it come from shopping? Watching movies? Going to the spa? While all these things are a lot of fun and sometimes relaxing they only provide a temporary sense of happiness. Joy is something deeper and more consistent. The dictionary defines joy as: 1. a deep feeling or condition of happiness or contentment, 2. something causing such a feeling; a source of happiness.
Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
What is the source of your joy? On day 4 of the Living Beyond Yourself study by Beth Moore we looked at how to abide in joy.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
Jesus gives us the answer right here! We must abide in him. The word abide means to remain, dwell, or live. We must do this so that our joy will be full. We know that Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy our joy but in reality he can never really destroy the source of our joy. The source of our joy must be found in Christ and what He has done for us on the cross. This can never be undone or stolen. It remains steadfast in our all powerful saviour! He has overcome death and given us hope for eternal life!
As I have been meditating on joy for the past few weeks it hasn’t resulted in laughing all the time or a temporary pep in my step like hanging out with friends or getting a new outfit does. It’s deeper and solid. When I feel down or discouraged I stop and think about my Saviour about what He has done. I stop and “rediscover” His goodness and grace in my life. It makes the troubles of this life fade away and the corners of my lips to do curl up a little as I think about my Saviour’s HUGE LOVE for me! In the past I would let my mind circle around and around on things that bother me but I am trying to train my mind to stop and focus on this teaching. I remember being told by my mom to make sure that my joy is in Christ and not in my husband, children or life circumstance. I have always thought about it but never took hold of it until now…almost 8 years after she told me that. But now it’s sinking in. The joy of the Lord is my strength and I hope that it becomes yours as well!
Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. -Philippians 4:8.
I’ve read this verse several times in the bible and it always seems easier said than done. To keep your mind focused on these things versus the evil that you hear about every day in the news. The battle is surely in the mind. For me at least. I’ve struggled with chronic pain for over 20 years and lately I’ve started having these horrible flare ups that makes the pain worse. I’ve been through a lot of testing and have not found out what is wrong. But that aside I do know that the more I’m worried or stressed the worse the pain is. I know that what I think about and focus on has a direct effect on my body. I wish it wasn’t that way sometimes. I wish that I could hear a sad story or read a horrific news account and then just let it go. But my mind begins to think about the victim, what the victim suffered, the families involved, etc. I could find myself going on and on getting angrier or depressed by the minute-and as a result in a lot of pain. But I have to realize that my worry will not help the situation. So instead I’ve begun to take a moment to pray for those that suffer on a more regular basis. And ask God for an opportunity to use my gifts, talents and experience to help someone. Then I try to let it go. But it’s a fight for me. For some reason guilt threatens my mind. I actually feel guilty for not spending my time worrying. But that’s ridiculous! If I give my children a gift I want to hear them say thank you and be grateful and happy with their gift not turn around and say why didn’t you give this gift to someone else’s child? I think in essence it is not my place to worry like this. I am not God. I cannot know why things happen as they do. In my study last year of Kay Arthur’s “Lord I Want to Know You”, I studied the names of God. God is sovereign (El Elyon) , God sees all things (El Roi) and God can heal (Jehovah Rapha). So who am I to worry like this? We cannot add any days to our lives by worrying. It is obvious that God did not create us to worry or be stressed since it ALWAYS has negative physiological effects on our bodies. I feel like this pain is my “thorn”. I used to pray that God would take it away. I mean FERVENT prayer! But I see now that it is a good reminder to me to stay humble and remember Who is really in charge of our lives. And now I am working on the lesson of being content and joyful in my present situation.
I am making an effort to follow the words of this scripture. I hope that you will too.
A few weeks ago my tire blew out for the first time, on the highway, with my kids in the car, during rush hour. In the spirit of learning to stay calm and look to God for the lesson of the day I tried desperately to find something to learn from this potentially frustrating experience. After much thought, I couldn’t find the lesson in all of this…until a few days went by. Isn’t that how it goes sometimes? The lesson of a life experience doesn’t come to you until a few days or even years after the event? Well here’s what I learned. I hope that you are encouraged!