Monday, August 18, 2014

When Joy Fades

You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit.  1 Thessalonians 1:6 

Sometimes in life it seems the joy has faded a bit.  There are hills and valleys in everyone’s life, lots of ups and downs along the path.  Families that began with exuberant joy and hope are now ending in the pain of divorce-why?  There is no more joy in the relationship.  There are many who are passing through the days with a dryness of spirit and soul. They are not living life, they are just enduring life. They drift from one day to the next.

Much of our life pressure is the same.  Too many people and too much responsibility.  Only so much you can get rid of.  Things that steal our joy may not be things we don’t like.  What is our greatest joy can become our greatest disappointment. 

When you feel the joy is gone from your heart, hold fast to the hope that it will return!!  Psalm 30:5 tells us Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.  Believe that though you feel like you are in a valley right now, joy will come again and Jesus is the one to restore it. 

Joy in the midst of Tribulation
Have you ever experienced laughter through tears?  It is that time when you are heartbroken; crying your eyes out and someone says something funny or silly to cheer you up and you start laughing in spite of the tears streaming down your cheeks.  Then you cry more! 

Of course there are those times of tribulation when there is no one present to make you laugh.  And the joy you once felt is eluding you.  If fact, you can’t find any reason to rejoice…period.  God knows what you are going through and He cares about you more than anyone.  He wants to heal your pain and restore joy to you again. 

Hebrews 13:15 tells us Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. Praise helps you focus on what God is going to do in your life rather than you keeping your focus on what is happening around you.

Are you struggling through life? Are you facing eminent death? Are your finances in crisis? Do you need guidance and direction for your life right now? Whatever situation you are going through, I know of a God whose specialty happens to be whatever your problem is.

The truth for us is this-Jesus is not going to just doctor up our lives a little bit. Just put a Band-Aid on our needs. No, He wants to transform your life.  Our lives will take on a new nature.  Jesus is all about transforming power. Changing people-that's what it’s all about.  Restoring joy and Hope.

Finding our joy in temporal things is dangerous. 
The things of this earth are fleeting.  Wealth and prosperity may only last for a season.  But the joy that the love of our family brings can last a lifetime.  We have to be careful however not to make other people responsible for our happiness.  People will let you down because they are human!  God will never leave you or forsake you.  His love is the only love that is permanent. 

So I encourage you to look back over your life, remember, and give thanks to God for what He has done for you – for truly He has done great things ... and He is worthy of your praise. You and I have no resources available within us to replace the joy. Only Jesus can replace the joy!  Trust Him with your heart.  Allow yourself to experience His transforming power in your life and restore the joy once again.

Scripture to Claim:

"My brethren, consider it all joy… when you encounter various trials." James 1:2

The Jewish Wedding Feast

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13

During His time on earth Jesus performed many miracles.  The first miracle of our Lord took place in a town called, Cana of Galilee; an inconspicuous little town that lay outside of Nazareth.
Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus and his disciples had all been invited to the wedding.  It's interesting to note: Jesus' ministry, like his birth, began in a small, unimportant town, to common every day folks. 

Weddings were a big deal in the Jewish culture of that day that lasted for days.  There was a certain protocol that was to be followed.  The wedding actually took place in the front door of the groom's house. It was no short ceremony and the festivities lasted for days.  It was a time of great celebration.  After the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom walked through the streets accompanied by flaming torches.  Their attendants walked with them keeping a canopy over their heads.  The wedding party always took the longest route. 

There was no such thing as a honeymoon either.  The couple kept an open house for a week and they were treated like royalty.  Their word was law!  The groom’s family was expected to provide all the refreshments for this week of festivities.

While they were at this particular wedding, the host discovers that they are running out of wine.  They had more guests than they anticipated and it would have been improper for the culture of this time to not have wine.   Evidently the wedding host did not have the money to go and purchase more wine. We can assume that Jesus' mother was a close friend of the groom's mother and she heard about the problem. 

Jesus' mother realizes the seriousness of the issue and goes to Jesus and says, "Son, we've got a problem here, and we need your help. The groom's family is running out of wine."  Jesus answered his mother in what seems like a harsh way: And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come."  He was not being harsh; he was simply already focusing on his life and ministry and had begun to detach himself from his family. He more likely was responding that He wasn’t sure if this was the time to expose His earthy ministry. The hint was that it was not proper for him to work miracles as yet, lest it should provoke his enemies to seek his life before His time.  Mary may well have been aware of His power and was calling on it to take care of a social issue.  Jesus seems to question whether this is the time.

No Wine – No Joy
To the Jewish people wine symbolized joy. The Jewish rabbis had a saying, “'Without wine there is no joy."  This statement by the mother of Jesus goes beyond liquid refreshment at a wedding. It is symbolic of our lives. It is a scary thing when the "wine runs out." 

There are times in life when the wine runs out. The joy is gone and emptiness is left and we are down to the last drop. We have all felt it.  The bottom of the barrel where there is nothing left.  It is a desolate, parched existence.  This is when the very beating of our heart grinds out in gritty friction.  We have nothing left to give to another human being.  We are dry, drained of every last ounce of hope and joy. There are many who are passing through the days with a dryness of spirit and soul. They are not living life, they are just enduring life. They drift from one day to the next.  This week the focus is going to be on JOY.  How can you find joy again when it is lost?  Joy is God’s gift to every believer. It is the fruit that His Spirit produces within you.  With His guidance you can find joy again!

Scripture to Claim:
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.   Psalm 5:11

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