Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Joy

My goal for this blog is to edify others the way God uses others to edify me.  After all, that is part of what we are meant to do, all for his glory.  Today I read an article that God used to spur some thinking, and I wanted to continue the discussion.  You can find the article here - http://www.truewoman.com/?id=1996. .

The article is titled "Dear Grumpy Church Ladies."  That's the sort of title that just makes you grin.  That's right.. I admit that when I first read the title, a smirk crept into the corner of my mouth.  My first thought was, "Heh, she's gonna stick it to 'em.. those folks that just aren't very welcoming at church."  What an embarrassing confession!  Especially when I realized a few moments later that it wasn't the topic at all.  The topic was ME.  Well, not directly, of course, but the Holy Spirit may as well have been pointing his finger in my face as I read it... it sure felt like it.  But as scripture points out, he shines the light on my darkness because he can do something about it, not just to leave me to wallow in it.

I do all too often wear a frown, my outlook often sour and jaded, my hope just kind of stuffed in a corner so it's out of the way while I throw a pity party.  Thinking of those truths hurts because of the affect it has on those I love, not to mention the damage it does to me spiritually.  But the realization that I am not allowing the joy of the Lord to fill me, and that that's a big part of my frequent frowning, hit pretty hard as well.  So how do we get this joy?  As the author pointed out, our joy springs from our salvation.  What could bring us more joy than the knowledge that we have been spared from the wrath of God for his glory!

So, really what we're talking about here is a change of framework, a change of FOCUS.  After all, as the song says, this world is NOT my home.  This is not the end of my story.  This life, and all the ups and downs it offers, is NOT the best I'll ever have.  What we focus on does matter.  So, we start by focusing on what our Father has done for us through his Son!  It was pretty amazing.. as I was pondering this earlier, the song How Great Thou Art randomly popped in my head.  It was what you call a God thing.  (Don't you love those moments?)  There is a verse in that song that says, "And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in.  That on the cross, my burden gladly baring, He bled and died to take away my sin."  Wow.  How can that not open up a well-spring of joy!

From that moment to this, my heart has felt different - joy.  Focusing on that truth, and praising God for it, re-framed my mind and my morning.  What a blessing!  So, where does this come from?  Why does this work?  Why is it that pondering on the truths of scripture, on the character of my God, on what he does and provides, on the beauty of the cross... why do those things work joy in us?  Galatians chapter 5 tells us that it is all the work of the Spirit.  He asks us to feast and meditate on his Word, on his truths, and the Spirit then works and cultivates the fruits in our hearts.

Stop and take stock of what Christ has done for you.  Pray and ask God to quiet your mind and fill your thoughts with truths about him.  If you need a little spurring, read the first three chapters of Ephesians, or revisit the account of the crucifixion in any of the gospels, or search the prayer of Jesus in John 17 as he prayed for all of us just before He was betrayed and crucified.  And pray.  Pray.  Pray.  Pray.  Ask God to use his Holy Spirit to sear these truths on your heart and open that well-spring of joy!

And when you find tomorrow that your joy has dwindled, do it all over again, and ask God to renew it. (Psalm 16:11; 20:5; 51:12; 90:14; 92:4; 119:111; 143:8)

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