Tuesday, November 10, 2015

When Joy is Elusive

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Philippians 3:1

We live in a world of convenience.  We have been spoiled by technology and industry.  Our lives are much easier than our ancestors had it before us.  I get in the car and turn on the heater/air conditioner and it is only a few minutes before I am comfortable.  Our washing machine wash clothes for us and our dishwashers wash the dishes for us.  We get most everything pretty fast and easy.  Sometimes we want our emotions satisfied as quickly as we get everything else taken care of.  But there are seasons when we lose our joy and it doesn’t come back as fast as we want it to. It eludes us and hides behind every corner. 
There are times in life when joy does not come instantly, or even at all.  Sometimes it is truly a choice to be joyful in life.  We may have to fight for it.  We may have to pursue it so our own emotions will not drown it out. Those times may be the times that we don’t want to fight for it.  Those are the times we just want to crawl under the covers and tell everyone to leave us alone.  Sometimes we don’t want our joy back enough to fight for it. This is a vulnerable place for a Christian to be. 
A hope deferred makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12).
Dangerous gases can gather silently in coal mines and cause deadly explosions. In the early days coal miners used to use canaries in the coal mines to know whether or not the air is safe.  If the birds were singing and chirping, the miners knew their air was safe.  If the gas levels rose, the birds would stop singing and eventually fall to the bottom of their cages.  The miners knew that the air was unsafe and they would get out. 
Joy is like the singing birds.  Sin can make us lose our joy and that is a warning for us that something is very wrong.  When we take our eyes off Christ, our joy fades.  We try to find joy in other places but nothing else can take the place of Christ in our lives.  And just as nothing else can take its place, the circumstances of life cannot snuff out authentic, God-given joy. 
So, when joy eludes you, look to Christ and nowhere else to fill that spot. In Philippians 3:1 above, Paul says to rejoice in the Lord because it is safe for us.  Why would he say that?  What does that mean?  John Piper says it means two things:
  • Joy Protects us from Religion - It keeps us safe as we serve because if we lose our joy, it could be a sign that we are serving for the wrong reasons.  Working hard for Jesus — even caring for thousands of orphans — is a cold and empty duty if we have lost the warmth of our love for Christ. Joy keeps you safe from serving as a religious duty.
  • Joy Protects us from Temptation - Matthew Henry said, Joy in the Lord will guard you from the empty pleasures the tempter uses to bait his hooks. Joy protects you because joy in Christ results in being satisfied in Christ.  A joyful believer is already satisfied in Christ.  What more could he want? 
Make it a point to be satisfied in Christ so that you rejoice in the Lord, and you will find safety and strength in your fight against sin.

Scripture to Claim: 
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds… James 1:2

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