Sunday, September 2, 2012

Joy down deep. .. way deep!

Homemade bread makes me happy. Flowers make me smile. Jokes cause me to giggle (especially when they come from the mouth of my cousin Jon!)

Hardships bring me joy. Testing brings me contentment. Struggles produce fulfillment.
WHAT? You might be thinking, "I think she lost a few brain cells on all those long flights back to New Zealand!"
learning about 'joy overflowing' at kids club!
The truth is, there is a profound difference between joy and mere situational happiness.

Joy is like a mysterious little treasure hidden deep within the recesses of our heart; one which the pirates of circumstance can’t steal away. In order to get to your joy, they'd have to penetrate down deep through the Holy Spirit who resides within you to get to it. Well, that ain't happening unless you decide to hand over the goods.

Joy in its truest form is entirely independent of what is going in your life, but rather finds it source in Jesus Christ. That’s why it is possible to say,“The Joy of the Lord is my strength” when everything outside has '"turned to custard" (as the Kiwis say).

This is why, like James, you can say, “Consider it pure joy brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that you can be complete and mature, not lacking anything.”(James 1:2)

 This does not mean that I like the 'trials of many kinds' have occurred or that I'm secretly enjoying suffering. It does mean that I can rejoice in the blessings, growth, and spiritual (and maybe even physical) muscles that will result from these trials when I conquer them with Jesus. Then, when the journey has ended, I will be complete and mature, not lacking anything. (I can't wait for the day when I don't lack anything; it's definitely not now! :-)

So, is anyone in need of some joy today? Are you desperate to shed the grave clothes of depression or self-absorption? Do you need a lift? No need to wait. Here's the recipe for joy:

John 15:4-11 (NLT(Jesus speaking)
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.
7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.
10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!
Read that again.

What can be better than being eternally connected to your life source (remaining in Christ), finding fulfillment, purpose and satisfaction in your work (bearing much fruit), knowing your prayers will be answered on earth. .. and then eventually stepping right into eternity with Christ, where no more tears will be shed, and no more struggles and obstacles remain overcome.
This is joy!



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