Joyless Faith

"Ask, using My name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy......No one can rob you of that joy." John 16:24 and 22...."In every difficult circumstance, we decide if that situation is significant enough to steal our joy.....If you want to know if Christians are experiencing all God has provided for them in Christ, examine their joy." Richard Blackaby

I think one of the greatest tragedies of the Christian witness is the joyless faith so many of us walk in. We, who have been given abundant and overflowing joy from the Author of all joy, receive and live in so little of it. His joy is not real because He is not real enough in the midst of life's happenings. I say this without any condemnation of those who struggle in the midst of joyless lives. I've too often lived there myself to do that. I know what it is to "wake up" in the light of day yet still feeling I'm in the heavy darkness. I know what it is to feel so overwhelmed by my circumstances and burdens that taking even one more step seems like the very height of foolishness. I know the captivity of despair, as well as that of just wishing He would "take me out of all this" so that the pain would end. But even more than all that, I did come to know what it is to come forth out of all that and really live in the joy of the Lord.

For so many years I focused on things or relationships that I felt I lacked in my life. I focused on comparisons; my ministry with others, my life situation with that of another. I saw what I didn't have, and in that missed the One that I did. I was held in captivity by what I thought others had and I didn't. I looked for fulfillment in that which is passing away. And I missed Him who never does....who never will. I looked for love and acceptance in the temporal and didn't realize or know the love, acceptance, and approval that is found in Him alone. All of this steals joy. My joy and yours. How can we get it back if we've lost it? How can we have it if we've never experienced it? I can only answer for myself.

I'm not an advocate for promoting the syrupy love of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. He is a God of love, but not as defined by us, but Himself. Yet He is love personified. To know and experience that love, we have to let go of all of our ideas about it, as well as our constant efforts to earn it. We must empty ourselves of all the blockages to it in us, and simply receive it. Not because it's owed us, but because He willingly, longingly gives it. He doesn't look at me or you and play the comparison game. What we've achieved doesn't impress Him. What He calls success is rarely, if ever what He defines it as. What He wants is for us to not only know and experience Him, but to know how much He longs for that to be real to us. He wants us to know the infinite thoughts of love and good He has towards us. He wants us to realize the infinite care He extends to us. He wants us to lead a life of constant ongoing and ever deepening experience of Him. When we do know this, joy becomes the natural outflow. When we know this, all the addictions we have to the false idols and sources of life we've slavishly sought are broken. We experience what being one with Him really is. And joy is our lifestyle. The earning of His favor game is over. The comparison with others game is as well. The joy of the Lord has become our strength in fact and experience.

What steals your joy today? As Blackaby says, we decide what that is and will be. No one can steal our joy, but we can choose not live in it. Jesus invites His to "enter in His joy." That invite stands before us every moment of every day. He bids us to enter in. Do we answer His bidding?

Pastor O

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   July 2019   
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