Posted by: glorifyhim1 | November 15, 2011

Finding Joy in the Lord

Last week in church I smiled, and even teared up a little, as I watched a video for Operation Christmas Child. Seeing those sweet faces, big smiles, and uncontainable excitement was so touching. It was hard to think that a simple shoebox filled with small surprises could bring so much joy and excitement. Yet I was reminded that for many of these children, this was the first gift they had ever received. No wonder they received their gifts with such joy!

I thought about many of these children and others around the world who live in poverty and struggle just to survive. Even here in the United States, sometimes the next meal is not taken for granted. Yet it never ceases to amaze me that even when hungry, perhaps living in deplorable conditions, and with little hope for tomorrow, children, more often than not, exhibit such remarkable joy.

Where does such joy come from? How can one person facing difficulty exhibit joy while another becomes bitter and depressed?  What makes the difference? I think the key to this question can be found in the familiar story of Jesus blessing the little children. “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Mark 10:14-15). Jesus points out that His disciples should come to Him as children, in sincerity and complete trust. Children look to their parents to take care of their needs and problems. They can be joyful even in the midst of need as they trust their situation to a parent or care giver. In a similar fashion, believers should relinquish all their needs and concerns to Jesus, totally trusting and depending on Him. And therein we can find joy, not in our circumstances, but we joy in our Lord.  As Nehemiah told the Jews returning to Jerusalem, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (see Nehemiah 8:10).

Finding our joy in the Lord makes all the difference in the way we face circumstances in our lives. As we surrender our situations to Him and trust Him to work things out, we can find peace and contentment even in difficult times. But as long as we attempt to find our joy in bank accounts, shopping trips, fancy vacations, or even in our families, relationships, and abilities, we will never be able to experience a lasting joy. While things, people, and accomplishments may provide temporary joy, true lasting joy can only be found in the Lord. The prophet Habakkuk expressed this when he wrote: “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there by no herd in the stalls – yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18). When we look to anything or anyone other than the Lord to satisfy us, we will not discover true joy. We may find a measure of happiness, pleasure in the moment, but not real and lasting joy.

I’m finding that I must constantly look at my life and question where I am truly finding my joy? God gives us things to enjoy, but am I trusting in those things or in the One who gave them to me. Following are some questions that can help us recognize if we are truly finding our joy in the Lord.

  1. Do I enjoy spending time alone with God and worshiping Him? Do I find joy in God’s presence?   “…in your presence is fullness of joy…” (Psalm 16:11).
  2. Do I find joy in reading and studying God’s Word?  “…and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart…” (Jeremiah 15:16).
  3. Do I become bitter when I go through difficult times or can I rejoice that I can glorify God?   “but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:13).
  4. Do I find joy in the things of God?  “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
  5. Do I rejoice and look forward to Christ’s coming?   “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).
  6. Do I find joy when others come to know Jesus?  “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4)

Our answers to the above questions can help us evaluate where we find true joy.

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
(John 15:9-11).

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