Thought- As Christians living in the power of the Holy Spirit, our joy must not be circumstantial.
Scriptures: “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10
Insight: In day 38 of learning to apply biblical principles to our daily life, what we are referring to as Practical Christianity, let’s consider what it means to have unspeakable joy because of our relationship with Jesus Christ. As Christians we are not unaware of and we are certainly not immune to the hardships this life can offer. Let’s face it, this life can be seem unbearably difficult at times. But we can chose to change our focus from our problems to God’s promises to find the joy in our life that is unequivocal and is beyond our circumstances. As Martin Luther King Jr. said “we can never let our finite disappointments rob us of our infinite hope.” So therein lies the key to finding unspeakable joy: It requires a change in focus from us and our problems, to Him and His promises. When we focus on us, our problems seem insurmountable and joy is hard to come by. But when we focus on our infinite God and His promises, our problems become quite small. Before I became a Christian, I used to wonder how it was possible for Christians to be joyful in very difficult circumstances. It made no sense that someone could be joyful while in the midst of deep physical, emotional, financial or spiritual pain. Then after my salvation, I experienced firsthand the power and the influence of the Holy Spirit to keep us joyful even in the midst of pain. A lifelong relational struggle rife with pain and disappointment, heartache and anger was suddenly and miraculously lifted. Joy had replaced despair! Then I knew in an instant, that as we draw closer to the Holy Spirit in prayer and proximity, one of the fruits that develops as a result of this abiding is a deep and unshakable joy. It wasn’t some textbook theory! I had experienced it for myself.
A great joy springs forth from our soul when we realize how much God loves us and then we experience it. The joy produced is because we have such a great hope in Him because of how much He loves us. He takes away our pain, and replaces it with the peace we crave. As Psalm 37:4 says, as “we take delight in the Lord, He gives us the desire of our hearts.” In Nehemiah 8:10 above we see benefits in that “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” That is a powerful testimony that the joy that is produced as a fruit of our abiding relationship with the Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can be a great source of our strength. That is an unmistakable characteristic of someone who is walking in close proximity with the Lord. Through the storms and trials of life, and also through the Mountain Top experiences the joy they exude remains constant and continuous. It is not threatened by the world’s perceptions of what makes people joyful, for it is much deeper than that. It is a forward looking hope that dwells deep within us that the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb (Revelations 19:9) will be here soon and the feast will make any troubles we have experienced on earth seem like a tiny blip on the radar screen. Scripture reveals this to us throughout the pages of the Bible but none more so than in Ephesians 1:18 which says “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” Did we catch that? We are called God’s glorious inheritance! We look at inheritance in a material way, but God looks at us as His inheritance. That thought should blow us away. No matter the circumstances in our life at any time, we have the hope of being God’s glorious inheritance. That is why we can have unspeakable joy, even in the midst of very trying circumstances.
Prayer: Father God, thank you that because you are so big, and you love us so much, we can focus on you and not our problems and thus we can find unspeakable joy even during extreme difficulties in our life. Help us to change our focus always from us to You and to hold onto the promises of your love for us which is so great, that you call us your inheritance. We pray this in Jesus mighty name. Amen!