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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual battle’

Joy and happiness are not the same.  Happiness is the light-hearted feeling we get when something goes our way.  An unexpected gift, our sports team winning, loved ones gathering together are all events that can produce happiness.  However happiness is transient.  When the positive stimuli is removed happiness drains away like water from a tub when the stopper is removed.  Happiness is based upon circumstances.  Therefore it ebbs and flows as our circumstances change.  Happiness is nice, but joy is so much better.

Joy is the uplifted feeling we have based upon the knowledge of spiritual truth.  Joy is first cousin to Peace.  They both emanate from a relationship with the living Lord and are responses to His promises and activity in our life.  Let’s follow the progression.  In John 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed in Him Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  In John 20:19 – 22 Jesus returned to the disciples immediately after His resurrection. He twice blessed them with His Peace and then breathed upon them imparting the Holy Spirit to them.  They were prepared to experience the Joy of the Lord in an on-going manner.  We have only to look at what happened a few weeks later at Pentecost (Acts 2) to see how the Lord poured out His Holy Spirit in a mighty, joy-filled torrent that stirred the city of Jerusalem and brought thousands into the church with one inspired teaching.

One way Joy is distinctly different from happiness is that it is independent of our circumstances.  Corrie Ten Boom was a believer imprisoned by the Nazi’s for aiding Jews.  In the midst of the horrid conditions of a Nazi concentration camp Corrie experienced the Joy of the Lord.  I think of the Stephen in His defense of the faith in Acts chapter 7.  The Word describes his beautiful countenance just prior to being martyred and I believe the Joy of the Lord was upon him.

Scripture tells us numerous times that the Joy of the Lord is our strength.  In a war it is vitally important to fight from a position of strength.  In military parlance that means things like holding the high ground, possessing detailed information about the enemy and their strategy, building superior forces through weaponry, training, and numbers.  In the spiritual realm it is just as important to fight from a position of strength.  Lest anyone fail to recognize that as a believer we are in a war, I simply point out that the world, the flesh, and the devil are all active antagonists against the church and those who follow the Lord Jesus.  So one crucial element of our position of strength is the Joy the Lord.  The parallel with physical warfare is that Joy is spiritual high ground.

Sadly many who profess the name of Jesus as Lord fail to walk in the Joy of the Lord.  All of us will have times when we struggle with our relationships.  Our relationship with the Lord is the foundation from which the Joy wells up.  Let me be clear, we are not to seek joy for the sake of having a constant happy feeling.  We are to seek the Lord and one by-product of that intimacy is the Joy of the Lord.  If your life does not reflect an over-riding, exuberant Joy at times, let me encourage you not to give up believing that it exists and is available to you.  The Lord’s desire is that we walk in intimacy with Him and experience His Joy is abundance.  Here are some practical steps to that end.

  1. Enter into a relationship with the Jesus.  We do this by recognizing we are separated from Him due to sin.  He has made a way though.  We simply turn away from our sin, believing that He died in our place, ask Him to come into our life, and then confess the truth that Jesus is Lord to others.
  2. Seek to grow in that grace by constantly looking for and taking your next step of faith.  If you just came to faith then find a bible-believing church and be baptized.  Another next step is to get involved in serving others through a local church.
  3. Read the Word of God consistently and prayerfully and do what it says.  I suggest a focus upon the teachings of Jesus, but include some from the old testament and the other books of the new testament as well.  When you read ask the Lord to make it come alive.
  4. Pray often.  Prayer is a dialogue with God.  He wants to speak to us.  One important balance that I have found is that when the Lord speaks to me it is often through His Word.  The times it is not specifically words from the bible it is always aligned with what the bible teaches.
  5. Ask the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit that you may understand more and more of what He is calling you to do and how to live.  As I look back over my life I see that Joy was present when I was obedient to what the Lord asked me to do.  And conversely, a lack of Joy describes the times when I was not actively seeking to know and please the Lord.

Don’t settle for less than God’s best.  Don’t substitute the world’s happiness for God’s joy.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His (our heavenly Father’s) kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” As we pour ourselves into knowing, growing, and pleasing God, He will fill our cup with everything we need… including a joy that will run out and over the cup touching lives around us in dramatic, life-changing ways.

Have a most blessed day today my friend.  An don’t forget to let your light so shine before men that they see and recognize your Father in Heaven.

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