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Monday, January 31, 2011

Joy, joy, joy

It’s been awhile since I blogged. I’m so sorry! Lately as I have been reprioritizing my life and spending more quiet time with my Lord, I have noticed a recurring theme in my readings. I have currently been bombarded with the theme of joy, joy joy. I know we all know what that word means, but lately it has gone deeper than just having joy during awful circumstances. There is much more to joy than that. I am beginning to learn that my all-compassing joy should be in Christ. The other day, I was given a link, from one of my dear friends, to a magazine by Leslie Ludy, and I was struck by her article about watching television and movies. She spoke about her long struggle to just sit down on the couch, relax, and unwind with the television turned on. Yet this is what struck me, she used this verse

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psa 16:11 ESV)

That hit me. Here Leslie was, and I do the same, finding more pleasure in Hollywood than in sitting down with a quiet time with God. I was shocked. When I go to relax and take a break, I do something I enjoy, that being, anything but spending time with God. I find more pleasure in material things than in God. Yet the verse clearly tells us that in His presence we experience joy? It’s very true, but it’s so hard to follow, something I’ve been trying to work on lately. My focus has been totally messed up by the world’s viewpoint that rest and enjoyment come from material things, that I have had to readjust my thinking to “God is my rest and my joy.” That’s a tough one to swallow.

Not only should God encompass our joy over every material form of entertainment, but furthermore He should become our all-consuming joy in life. John Piper had much to say about this in his book called, In Our Joy. Piper talked about what it means for Christ to be our joy. Here is the verse he used

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
(Mat 13:44 ESV)

Notice that the man who has found eternal life sees it as more wonderful and incomparable to anything that this world has to offer. Because of the joy that the man has found in Christ, he sells everything he has just to gain that joy he has found within Christ. Did you catch that? Everything. It’s hard for me to swallow too. Do I truly feel the same way about my Lord? No, I cannot say I do. There are things I know I am still attached too, as my actions speak loud, and I would deem them more joyful than the hope I have found in Christ. Awful, isn’t it? It’s been something I’ve realized needs to be reprioritized, that is, finding joy alone in my Christ. He should be the only source I looked to for my joy. I should be willing and ready to give up whatever He wants me to give up because the joy in Him is far greater than any joy I could ever experience here on earth. I know it’s true, but my flesh wars against the spirit and leads me to believe that the things on this earth are more desirable than He. That is not true and that is a mindset we must all battle to conquer each day.

Pivotal to understanding the meaning of finding all-consuming joy in Him alone is realizing that He had joy for us, knowing that we would cause Him pain

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Heb 12:2 ESV)

Notice the word joy and who it belongs to? Yes. Christ saw us as His joy, so he endured the pain because of what lay ahead. We who are unworthy to be called God’s children, we who cause our Lord pain each day as we sin, we who do not see Him as our only source of true joy, we are the ones Christ calls “Joy.”

Today I have been putting these words into practice. As I wake up each morning, I say to myself, “There is nothing like waking up to You. Today You will be my joy. You will be the one I spend my day with because you are more important than anything.” As I set my mind to focus on Christ, I find out that I try to shape my day around that saying. As my day begins to mold around that saying, I realize how truly joyful it is to know Christ. I desire to make Him my all-consuming joy, will you do the same as well?