Galatians 5:22-23, NIV
23 gentleness and self-control.
Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
In observance of the 3rd week of Advent, today we turn our attention towards the topic of Joy. Some may ask the question, “How can we discuss being joyful in the midst of all of this pain?” The CDC has warned that we could see more than 3,000 deaths per day if the COVID-19 pandemic is not controlled. Many are losing or have lost their jobs and do not know how they can make it. Parents and teachers are struggling with online learning. The list goes on and on. How and the world can we discuss joy???
This joy that Nehemiah spoke of had to be deliberate. It had to be a decision to embrace the forgiveness, love and opportunities that God was offering them at that moment. This understanding of Joy transcends feel good emotions. It is larger and more intent than happiness. Happiness is based upon what is “happening.” But “Joy” is based upon our faith, hope and trust in Almighty God, no matter what is happening. This Joy produces strength, faith, hope, endurance and the blessed assurance that the God we serve loves us unconditionally and wants us to move forward, no matter how sordid or corrupt our pasts may have been. This joy reminds us that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in the time of trouble.
The New Testament Book of Galatians reminds us that Joy is one of the “fruits of theSpirit.” In other words, the child of God has a depth level peace, contentment and assurance that no matter what life may bring, God is with us! Feelings will rise and fall. True joy, however is a daily decision to remain focused upon the God who is able to “keep us from falling and to present us faultless before His presence with exceeding joy!” (Jude vs.24)
True joy is sustained within us when we purposefully, deliberately, intentionally make the choice to see God in the midst of our every situation and circumstance. It is the decision to trust God in all things, to praise God in all things and to believe that God is with us and is available to help us not to slip back into ungodly and destructive ways.
Depression, oppression, perpetual sorrow, sadness and worry do not befit, suit or look good on the child of God. The oppression of the enemy does not suit, befit or look good on the child of God because our God is bigger than any trial, situation or circumstance that the enemy can throw at us. Emotional bondage, constant complaining, constant drama in the life of the child of God is not befitting, does not suit, does not look good on the child of God. It does not suit you!
That does not mean that we won’t experience sorrow or worry, or struggle or trials or problems. But what is means is that the child of God walks in the conviction that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning!” The child of God walks in the blessed assurance that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning – great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”
The child of God walks in the favor of God, knowing that everything is somehow going to work together for our good. Therefore, the child of God “puts on” the garment of praise, and makes the bold declaration, “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth… and praises God in advance for His blessings and His deliverance.” The child of God lifts up holy hands, bows down his or her head, shouts in triumph, plucks the strings of their hear and declares, “be exalted, O God above my situation and circumstances – I will let your glory be all over me!”
The child of God understands that God is mighty to save, that His compassions fail not, that He is a provider, a keeper, a sustainer, a deliverer. The child of God also understands that we are the hands and the feet of Jesus. God wants to use us to help relieve pain, to help feed the hungry, to help clothe the naked – Our joy in the Lord is obvious to all by the love and the care and the compassion that we show.
True Joy gives more than just lip service, true joy produces “life service.” The way we walk, the way we talk the way we treat people, the songs we sing, the love we show, the compassion we give, the prayers we pray, the gifts and talents we share all are examples of our joy!
Be intentional about keeping your joy. Resist the temptation to wallow in the past,depression, in self-pity, in anything that drains you of the strength and vitality available to you through the love of God our Father, the grace of our elder brother, Jesus Christ, and the sweet communion of the blessed Holy Spirit. Be intentional about keeping your joy! Put on the garments of Joy and Praise! Be intentional about keeping your joy! Determine to keep your spirit filled with the joy of the Lord and praise each day. May you walk by faith, continually give God praise, live in peace and remain determined to keep your joy!
In Faith, Hope and Joy,