I Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
How is your December so far? Stressed out. Worried. Overloaded. Fully scheduled. Christmas parties. Church plays. Endless demands. Ready for it to over. Longing for the New Year. Not for new beginnings but for the madness to finally end. Our family is blessed to have two Christmas babies. Our youngest daughter and our nephew were born just a couple weeks before so we try to make sure that they have their day in the midst of chaos.
When we learned of our little gift who was coming, “Joy” seemed like an appropriate middle name. After all, she would be born surrounded by Christmas trees, manager scenes, and festivities. It is a bit ironic to me that though her name implied elation, she was less than happy to arrive. Seemingly offended at the bright lights, cold hands and violation of her space, the nurse laughed acknowledging she was the maddest infant that she had encountered. After four easy babies, I had met my match. Though her name implied otherwise, I finally understood the definition of colic. The madness of the moment and overwhelming need for just a minute of peace. It took much practice before her so God put her last in birth order. Our littlest had to find her joy. How about you? Are you looking for joy today? Do you long for happiness that permeates the heart and embraces one’s soul?
His Name is Jesus. I know it sounds so cliché. Truly without Jesus there is no joy in life just painful heartache, endless problems and meaningless motion. Just to know Him, even though we cannot see Him to love Him just the same, and believe in Him completely that is the secret to inexpressible and glorious joy. This is salvation to our souls. He is the Source of Hope that will never lead to disappointment. Finding joy in our life is all about finding Jesus.
I Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
As the Lord encourages, He also instructs. Joy exists and is naturally occurring in the Kingdom of God. We do not make ourselves happy. It is our connection to Christ that produces joy in our life along with love, peace and the other fruits of His Spirit that lead to a satisfied life. (Galatians 5:22-23) If we are not happy, it is not God’s Fault. He is always good. He is faithful. His Love for us unconditional. It pursues us always. His Hand of Blessing rests on our head. This is all Biblical. God’s Word for our life will never return to Him void. It circulates around us just waiting for us to believe and receive it.
Many times, people know what God’s Word says but do not believe it. We must believe to receive. This goes back to the part called faith and “though you have not seen him, you love him” part. I cannot trust someone who I am not in relationship with. As I learn to love Jesus, I begin to trust Him. It is the knowledge of Him that overtakes my mind, calms my heart and renews my spirit. The world will never be able to fill me with joy just produces momentary bursts of happiness here and there. The trials of life burn away the superficial substitutions and empty philosophies so that we evaluate what we believe and who we will trust. Everything is hunky dory until you go through something, then you wonder where your friends are. It’s like that commercial for the local cable company. The young man is looking for friends to help him move. They all have excuses. Overloaded with burdens, worries, cares and responsibilities of their own – the world has become all men (and women) for themselves.
God uses all things to work together for the good of those who have been called according to His Purpose. (Romans 8:28) We must answer the call of purpose with faith. We must believe that God is good and is working His Goodness through our life in all situations thanks to Jesus! He is the reason we can have joy even in the trials of life as the authenticity of faith is revealed in our life. So put down the list for a moment, turn off the calculator, flip over the menu, drop the keys, and just find a place to get away. No I am not talking about a vacation or running away, but your prayer closet or clothes closet will do if it is the only place of peace in your home. I have even hidden in the bathroom although the closing of the door seems to summon child and dog alike. Joy is found in the Presence of Jesus. Busyness robs us of the precious time we need to be filled with His Presence and Glory again. It sucks the joy right out of us. We have been given fullness of inexpressible joy just knowing Him. It belongs to you today. Don’t you want it?
Psalm 16:9-11 (NIV)
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
The Lord wants to fill us with joy today. He whispers to us, “Come closer.” We are too tired, busy, overwhelmed, distracted and overcome. So we forget the reason for the season in vain attempts to honor Him with religious events trying to please our family with things outdoing our friends making lasting memories that look more like tradition forsaking the One who just want to make us happy and fill us with joy. Can everyone just stop for a minute? Stop the music. Turn off the twinkling lights. Put down the cookie sheet. Just stop… and listen. The Lord wants you. He wants to spend time with you. He longs to show you how to live in peace. He wants to restore the joy of your salvation and relieve your holiday stress.
Psalm 30:10-12 (NIV)
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.
I have found my joy again. It took a while and did not come as easily as I thought it would or the way that I expected. He turned my wailing into dancing. He removed the “sackcloth” of our ordeal. The Lord tried to clothe me with joy for more than a year. I was depressed. I was downtrodden. I was tired. I was empty. I had left all my faith on the battlefield and when the trial was over crawled away. I thought I would run and shout with victory – jumping, leaping and praising God. We made it. Our son was alive and now we could get on with a normal life. I was a wounded warrior. What about you? Everyone has been through something. People get tired even godly men and women fighting the good fight of faith. Feeling guilty because He has saved, blessed, healed and delivered us setting us free, but we do not have joy. Could it be that we tried to produce it rather than allowing Jesus to be our Source?
The game changer for me came in a little church on the outskirts of town. I limped into a worship service the day our son had his port removed marking the end. I was drawn to the place. I had to be there. I barely made it back in time but the Lord works in mysterious ways. I was so empty walking in that I don’t even know what was on my mind. All I felt was the pressing and overwhelming need for an encounter with Jesus. He met me right there. I have felt chains fall off in the spirit before but this time they melted away. Like a tiny seedling rising in my heart and opening into a beautiful flower instantly, He came to me and filled me with joy again. It was like the first breath after holding my breath for four years straight. What will it be for you? Is the Lord pressing your heart today? I know that He is. He loves us. Jesus didn’t die for us to live disappointed, depressed and defeated lives. The holidays mass produce such emotions. Jesus is the answer to every need you have today. He is the solution to every problem He is ready to produce in you exactly what will satisfy your heart and fill you with inexpressible joy. Do you believe? Do you love Him though you have never seen Him? Will you trust Him with your heart yet again?
Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Nothing in this world is as precious to me as the joy and peace that I have found in Jesus. Let’s face it, the tragedies in the world today do not make any sense. I hate to read the news. Entertainment desensitizes the world to violence and corrupts the mind into thinking sin is glamourous and gratifying. People do not love people anymore. Depression and anxiety are big business as pharmaceutical companies prosper. There is no peace. There is no joy. Only in Jesus. He is our hope. Rejoice in the Lord always is not something we do it is who we are when we place our life – mind, will and emotions securely in God’s Hands by faith refusing to take it back until salvation comes.
The Peace of God cures depression and anxiety. It alleviates stress. It changes the way we think about “things” as we begin to focus on people and relationships again. The Peace of God is the guardian of our heart and mind that allows joy to grow in us again. We cannot experience it outside of His Presence. When we come to Jesus in prayer, and petition the Lord how to live and what comes next, suddenly those chains that kept joy and peace from filling us fall off sometimes melting off. It doesn’t take a day, week or a month to have joy. Nothing in our life even needs to change. We just need to find to connect with the Source of Love, Joy and Peace to have it. His Name is Jesus. This is where we find true joy!
Jude 24-25 (NIV)
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.