Restoring Joy

hands holding the sun at dawn

Psalm 51:8-12 (NLT) Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you.

Have you lost your joy today? Does it seem like serving the Lord is tedious? Are you broken hearted and losing your faith? Sin got you down. Shame overwhelming. Life is a struggle. Darkness constantly trying to overtake the Light of God’s Love for us. We battle for happiness. Going through life like we rummage through our dresser looking for something to wear that makes us feel confident and good. Our salvation promotes freedom that allows us to be joyfully satisfied in all areas of life. Repentance and obedience should provide a refuge that gives us a place to run to rather than wrestling with the enemy and ourselves to maintain our peace and joy in Jesus Christ. As a born again believer, each new day is filled with destiny as God continues to breathe life into me and give my opportunities to do His Will. To some that may not sound appealing, but for those who take one step by faith to do the Will of God, well you know its potential.

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” (Buddha) How ironic that Buddha would be quoted with such insight. I agree with him believe it or not. I do believe that human beings are shaped by their thoughts due to their higher intelligence and dominance in this world. We do become what we think. I think that I am a Child of God, therefore; I choose to live like it. I think about Him all the time. When our mind is focused on the Love and Grace poured out by Jesus, it makes us cognizant of our sin-filled and sinful condition. This will cause guilt and shame. To some it is overwhelming, eroding what they know about the Living God and contaminating one’s ability to hold true to the knowledge and understanding of God’s Compassion and Unconditional Love for us all. Maybe just maybe if we could change the way that we think, it might produce a life change that will release a wellspring of overflowing joy in our life.

“Restore the joy of my salvation and make me willing to obey you.” Is it possible that our joy left when obedience ended? The joy of the Lord is our strength. But to take advantage of another’s strength requires dependency. For example, a chair may seem to be sturdy and of a sound structure, but it is not until I actually sit on it that I can determine if my trust is valid or misplaced. The joy of salvation is found in repentance or turning from our sin to follow Jesus. It is achieved in each step we take from this world into the Kingdom of God. After all, isn’t that what freedom is all about? Stepping out of sin, shedding chains of bondage and celebrating our freedom by serving Jesus Christ.

Psalm 119:1-8 (NLT) Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!

“As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should.” Are you thankful for Jesus today? How do you honor His Sacrifice to obtain your life and give you back your freedom? Staying free? During our weekly youth service, I was praying for our kids. I had a vivid image of them standing in a row across the front of the church. The angel of the Lord was walking by each one. Though their bodies stood poised with their arms by their side, as the angel approached most would raise their hands in the shadows not in the natural and the angel would mark their forehead with the oil dripping from its hands. But there were some who did not life up their hands in the spirit, so the angel passed them by. God’s Prosperity in our life is a soul condition that begins to impact our life as it grows from our heart and manifests around us. We must find a way to get there from here. Are you reaching out to Jesus today? Or just going through the motions? It matters! Do not let Him pass you by! God is doing everything in His Power bound by His Word to bless you and make you succeed. But He can only give you as much as you are willing to take. That is called freedom.

Joy comes from integrity. Honesty with God doesn’t mean you are always right, faithful or true. It is not about living a sinless life. Integrity is being genuine. Joy comes from obedience. Trusting God’s Word and doing what it says in plain and simple terms. Joy comes from living in full pursuit of Jesus Christ rather than having divided interests. Joy does not compromise for temporary happiness or comfortable relief. Joy is found in consistency.

Mother Teresa believed that “joy is prayer; joy is strength; joy is love; joy is the net of love by which you can catch souls.” I do not believe that anyone can be an effective witness for Jesus Christ and not be filled with the joy that comes from His Spirit living inside of us. Where is your joy today? Peace with God allows us to live according to the Word of God and not our feelings. What an awesome relief?

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

Do you delight in the Word of God? Do you read it, study it or meditate on it each day? If not, why? The word “follow” occurs a lot when it comes to Jesus. We are to “follow” Him. Follow implies that we are going somewhere. Follow me, Jesus tells us. Why? For joy sake, we must learn to live a life of repentance in full pursuit of God’s Will through His Son, Jesus Christ. But why? Because those who do will prosper. God has given us the Holy Spirit who cultivates spiritual fruit. The Kingdom of God is internal working its way externally. Too many times, people are reliant on the five senses or how something makes them feel so they avoid inconvenience or discomfort to live their life in freedom.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”  (Galatians 5:22-23) The Holy Spirit is put inside of us to clean out and cultivate our heart to do the Father’s Will. Joy is the second fruit of the Holy Spirit. Understanding that the enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy anything and everything that God is doing in us and for us, he will offer us compromises such as happiness for joy. Lust for love. The list goes on. How will we ever know the difference if we don’t know the Lord and His Will for us? We will fall for the enemy’s tricks every single time.

Psalm 16:9-11 (NLT) No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

“Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in the spirit of joy.” (Mahatma Gandhi) The Word of God shows us how to serve the Lord and follow in Jesus’ footsteps and the Holy Spirit feeds us the fruit of our labor including love, joy, peace and so on. To attempt to serve Jesus only from our flesh always leads to failure. You cannot go where you have not been without a map and/or guide. We have been given both.

Our life has a place in Jesus Christ. He wants to be our refuge and strength. The Word of God says clearly through Nehemiah that the “joy of the Lord is your strength.” He was the one who facilitated the rebuilding. We are building a kingdom. We must learn to seek the Kingdom of God and live for it today from the wellspring surging from our heart rather than serving the Lord with our head. He doesn’t care what you think. It matters what who we know. Services to God offered from any other motive but love and thankfulness will be rejected. “As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!”

Psalm 30:11-12 (NLT) You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

The Lord will turn our mourning into joyful dancing. He will take over the clothes of mourning and replaces them with a robe of righteousness identifying us as a Child of God and the Bride of Jesus Christ. I know that somewhere along the way from sickness to healing with our son, I had to stop looking for happiness in the natural and take hold of joy by faith. I couldn’t rely on what I saw, heard or felt anymore because it all was hopeless.

God has promised me a hope that never leads to disappointment. I must invest my life in trusting and depending on my God allowing Him the opportunity to make good on His Promise that He will cause “everything to work together for the good of those who love” Him. Loving God leads to joy. It is the second fruit that is offered by His Spirit. If you do not have joy today, I have good news. It can still be found. Jesus has not left you and never forsakes us. My God has given me a future and hope that I must have faith to lay claim to. Faith that does not just sit in one place. I need follower’s faith that intends to lay claim to everything that the Lord has promised and will not stop until the wedding day comes. “I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

Psalm 19:7-8 (NLT) The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.

The psalmist admits “My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?” Are you unhappy today? Is your heart breaking because it has lost its joy? Do you remember how it felt to praise God and worship Him but now something is missing? What is the solution?

“I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” Joy is a choice. It is a conscious decision to put all faith and trust in the Lord and keep it there. It is making time to open the Word of God – to read, study and meditate on it. Communing with His Spirit and making more room for Him in our heart and giving Him access to our mind freely and lovingly. Following Jesus is the only way to achieve the love, joy and peace that is promised otherwise we are living in contradiction that will not produce the Fruit we desire that can only come from the Lord like joy! Will you rejoice today? I hope so. Give the Lord your burdens. Choose to serve Him because you love Him. Live each moment of today praising God even if it means stifling some complaints. Maintain your freedom even if it means turning the other cheek or biting your tongue. Let the joy of the Lord overtake you as He revives your soul and renews your hope today!

Psalm 118:24 (NLT) This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!

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