Monday, March 2, 2009

JOY!

You know it when you see it. I saw it this morning, and in sort of an interesting place. There was this man and he was walking his bike across the street. He he was older, and he had his helmet on, and he had a grin that literally reached from ear to ear. And his countenance - was full of joy. As I drove past him, he caught my eye. He was just a lone man walking along on a relatively busy street. He wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary, but his joy was unusual, and it drew my attention straight to him.

Joy is different than happiness. I've heard it said, "happiness is based on happenings." And it's true. You can be having a great day, and a flat tire, or a rude person in customer service or the like can make your happiness dissipate or even disappear. But joy, joy is different, joy remains.

Joy is something resident, deep down within one's soul. It comes bubbling up from within, instead of being created by what is from the outside.


You've seen joy too. Perhaps you've seen it in children, they often seem to have a corner on that market. Their peals of laughter are often evidence of it. Think of the littlest ones, and a good game of peek-a-boo sends them into absolutely joyous giggles. Perhaps like me, you've even been guilty of trying to squash it in your own kids with a few too many "settle down's" or "not now" responses. But even when we manage to subside it, it still faithfully rises back up.

I've experienced that too, joy rising up, at interesting times. I can think of more than one occasion when I have gone to the Lord in prayer with my list of complaints and my pity party hat in place. I'm praying and I'll get to my griping and grousing about what I don't have, or what I don't think is fair or just (come on, I'm not the only one...) and then I will feel on my face this irrepressible smile. The corners of my mouth turning up in their own will. I know what it is, it's joy, bubbling to the surface. A lot of times I end up laughing at myself, right before I get over myself.

Joy abides.

Actually, joy comes from abiding. It's a fruit, a fruit of the Spirit that is. See...

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

So, how do you get joy? Why by bearing fruit! So how do you bear fruit, you ask?

Jesus answered that question in John 15:5 when He said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

Aha! Kingdom math! I LOVE Kingdom Math! The blessed if/then principle!

ME + Abiding in Christ = MUCH fruit... and fruit = joy!

I want to be like that guy on the street today. I want my joy to be so evident people see it from across the street.

We live in a time where happiness is hard to find, but joy is ours to be had.

Circumstances look dire. The economy is in BIG trouble. Jobs are being lost, taxes are going up (especially here in Southern California) they want you to pay more while you earn less... (I could go on and on, but why should I? This can't possibly be news to you.) It's hard to be happy about or in the midst of what's going on.

But really, if you had the choice between happiness and joy, which would you choose?

I went to a prayer meeting Friday night, and I was there with a group of ladies that I know at are intimately familiar with the joy of the Lord. We prayed for a lot of things, including the state or our nation and the world.

I have to confess that a lot of my attitude had written off these things as deserved judgment on us as a nation and a world. It's had me very focused on the happenings, and my own happiness in it. I hadn't slipped completely down the slippery slope of self-pity or anything, but I had sort of labeled the whole process as left to be ridden out, somewhat hopeless.

As I listened to some of these ladies pray I suddenly saw it from another viewpoint. What about the opportunity it will bring to share true riches with others who are hurting. I was talking to Neal yesterday, and I just told him (and he agreed) even if the worst possible scenario played out and we lost our jobs/business and home, but we still had the Lord and each other, that would be enough. The Lord is enough. And when I am right minded and abiding in Him, I know that, and I have great joy. I might not be happy about the circumstances, but nothing can steal my joy if I don't let it.

As we suffer through these hard times as a nation, those of us who are Christians should be abiding in Christ like never before. We need to have our hearts firmly where the true treasure is, and when those around us are suffering too, and they see our joy, it will draw to us and we can share the Lord with them. How awesome is that?

Psalm 16:11 says this, "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

The joy that is so desperately needed is in the presence of God, and we as Christians have not only the opportunity but also the commission to bring as many people there into His presence as the Lord presents. We have the answer... we have the stimulus package that will not rust and cannot be stolen, and not only that but will last an eternity. It is the investment of all investments!

Do you believe that? If you are a Christian, you should. When Moses spent time in the presence of the Lord it caused his face to shine (Exodus 34). I think likewise if we are abiding in Christ, and spending time in His presence, joy will radiate from us. Hurting people will be drawn to us, and we will be able to share the Light of the world in the midst of these dark and dire circumstances.

There's this song that we sing at church called Break Through. The bridge (I think, non-musical gal here) sings like this, "You are brighter than my darkest night -Stronger than my toughest fight -Just one touch from You my King my Friend -And I'll never be the same again."

It's truth, the Lord is the answer, He is the Light bright enough to lead us through these dark days. He is the one strong enough to give us the strength we need to face whatever we may face these days. It is in Him, that we not only find light and life and hope and joy, but it's where we bring others to find the same eternal wealth. It's the right thing to do.

Be encouraged today. Take your eyes off of your circumstances, and let happiness go by the wayside, plug in and abide in your Savior who loves you and let your joy grow... not to mention love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It's Kingdom Math! You can count on it!

Finally I leave you with the words of Paul from Romans 15:13-16

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 16to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit."


Get out there and share the wealth! Stimulate! Be blessed in Jesus' holy name!

1 comment:

SUSAN said...

I am going to be first in line to buy the book you are going to have published of your gifted insights and writings! And I'm going to get it autographed too!
I love you, friend!
Thank you for the always needed and welcome encouragement and insight!