You’re no stronger than your joy.
September seems to be our busiest time of the year. Besides it being our Anniversary and my Birthday month, it’s when Owen starts school, Russ has a few major church events, and I’m coaching soccer. Throw in one of my best friend’s getting married this month and you have a full schedule! I’m sure you can relate. Even though there is a plethora of good things, there is a whole lot of planning, babysitting, money spending and driving behind it all.
I’ve been at this place before; overwhelmed with the thought of all that’s ahead. But I’ve never been so adamant about quiet time with the Lord because now I understand how much I need it. Like exercise builds physical strength and endurance, quiet time with God trains our trust muscles, builds perseverance, and creates an emotional resilience in our soul. Another great result of meditation with God is that it yields to the fullness of Joy.
“Our connection to the spirit of God is our access point to the full expression of what joy looks like.” -Bill Johnson
“…in your presence there is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11
Joy is being in a state of gladness and celebration without caving to circumstance and doubt. I think it’s no coincidence that God had me marry into the Joy family, what a name to marry into! Most of my life I was never a morning person, until I was forced into being an early-bird in becoming a Mom. My sister will be the first to tell you that I wasn’t always a joy to be around. She would often get growled at and things thrown at her if she was being too loud and happy in the morning. Maybe it’s just me, but have you ever found yourself irritated by someone that is seemingly happy and overjoyed when you are not in that same place? Happiness is a natural emotion that comes with satisfaction and pleasure. Joy on the other hand, is not natural. It’s not easily obtained until you begin to understand the reason for it. The discipline of Joy is a practice, it’s a mark on the calendar, and its a daily choice.
Joy that seems impossible, is joy that will yield strength.
“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
When the Israelites had finally started to settle in Jerusalem after being held captive by the King of Babylon, their leaders Nehemiah and Ezra gathered them all and spoke out the law of Moses. Having never heard the laws before, the Israelites began to weep. As the words were spoken to them they grieved because they knew that keeping the law would be impossible. Can you imagine tens, of thousands of people weeping?? What the didn’t understand was that “with God all things are possible”. Nehemiah looked around and said to them all,
“This is day is holy to the Lord, do not mourn or weep. Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve,for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:9-11
Joy comes when we see impossibility or when we are faced with discouragement but then understand the faithfulness of the Lord. Joy comes when we understand that even though the struggle may be clear as day, God is with us and has already gone before us through those trials. Joy is knowing that God takes the ugly and turns it into something beautiful and valuable. Some of us have been shaped to believe that we are worthless, we’ve been lied to, or maybe we’ve been hurt. Some of us inflict those things on ourselves. Joy comes when we take our eyes off ourselves and our shortcomings, and focus our gaze on what great work God has done, is doing and will do in us.
Joy is a discipline that is nudged by understanding.
“The point at which you celebrate is the point at which you understand.” -Bill Johnson, on the Discipline of Joy.
“Then the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made know to them.” Nehemiah 8: 12
The Israelites had no connection of joy and the law before they understood that God’s grace would enable them to live holy lives. God’s grace enables us to be joyful in impossible situations. Joy is possible in our pain. It is possible to trade sorrow for laughter, because with God all things are possible.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
Joy is one of the keys God has handed us to the treasure box of strength, health, fullness, and freedom. Imagine the agony that came as Jesus prepared for torture, as the Romans and his own people, set out to crucify Him. Looking at scriptures, Jesus was in such turmoil that he sweat drops of blood. What was it that held his focus so that he persevered through it all? It was the joy that came in knowing that his actions would provide freedom for us. That’s how deep his love for us went, he didn’t just muscle through sacrifice. He endured by the joy set before him. He intentionally put himself in the path of death in order to for his joy (us) to receive eternal life. Like Jesus’ eyes were fixed on us through his trial, let’s fix our eyes on the redemption and fullness found in him.
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the JOY set before him he endured the cross.” Hebrews 12:2
This understanding of joy in the impossible, changes everything. Goodness, I know for some of us simply cutting out sugar or losing excess weight seems impossible. Maybe it’s a relationship that has two opposing views on faith. Or maybe it’s a loss of identity and purpose. Maybe our eyes are so fixed on our trial that it leads us into deep, dark, depression that seems impossible to come out of. Let me tell you friends, this is not the end. It’s time to stop waking up to another day of just getting by. Jesus has made a way for us to come out of this not only just getting by, but with GREAT JOY. Joy is possible in EVERYTHING you do. Schedule joy into your day, plan to celebrate what God has done, is doing and will do through you. There is great reason for joy if you begin to understand the reason. The discipline is yours to take on, will you choose joy today?
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Note: It’s amazing how God strings together themes that eventually are so difficult to ignore that I end up writing about them here. Through sermons, podcasts, friends, prayer and song, God uses any and every source to speak to my heart! Now I don’t share everything that he shows me but what I do share, I hope that it reaches out to you in a way that is life changing, joy producing and inspires you to understand who you are by knowing whose you are. The fullness that comes with knowing who God says we are changes the way we see not only ourselves, but the world around us. Turn this into a conversation by liking, commenting and sharing on our Facebook page: The Joyfully Fit Tribe.