Archive for the ‘what I really want…joy’ Category

Overflowing Joy

This week, our devotions have touched on several of the challenges that our desire for joy comes against in our daily lives. From anxious circumstances to death, from self-focus in our human relationships to self-focus in our relationship with God, there are many temptations that tempt us into settling for second best…pursuing our own personal happiness and forgetting the depth of what God wants for us in true joy. 

What is so amazing about God is that He doesn’t want us to have just a little helping of joy, he wants to fill us to overflowing. Romans 15:13 says this:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

What an incredible gift!  But did you catch that important word in the middle of verse on which joy hinges?  Trust!  God wants us to have joy to the overflowing, but we need to entrust our circumstances, our ego’s, our relationiships, our challenges, our very lives to His capable care. 

Re-word this prayer and make it personal to you.

“May the God of hope fill [me] with all joy and peace as [I] trust in Him, so that [I] may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Is there someone you know who is struggling, is under a heavy load at work or in their home? Put their name in the prayer:

“May the God of hope fill [_____] with all joy and peace as [she/he] trust in Him, so that [she/he] may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Dear Lord, Help us to trust in You.  Thank you for bringing us joy despite the circumstances surrounding us. Thank you for bringing joy to our hearts until it overflows, blessings others in positive ways. Thank you for the gift of joy!


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In the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness,” Chris Garner, a struggling salesman with no job, very little money in the bank and a wife who had left him with a son to support, could not catch a break. Momentum shifted after he shared a deep heart to heart moment with his young son. Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something.  If you want something, go get it…period.” His words echoed his philosophy: If you want something, go get it. Though his accomplishments were admirable, is it what God would desire from us? Is it the way to pursue lasting joy?

The world agrees with Chris’ belief system. It encourages such acts even though it fails to acknowledge God’s truth.  This self-gratification mind-set leads us astray, keeps us empty, tired, lonely and distressed.  We may experience success, yet we are left with wanting more.

What then can we do to please God and gain lasting joy?

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  These things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15:10, 11.

Joy is abiding in God; Following after his ways, abiding in his love for us. Our Delight is in Knowing God and the love that he has poured into our lives. Joy is made complete in Him when we acknowledge that God through Jesus Christ is our path.

Like Chris Garner, many of us seek our own happiness.  I’ll be honest, I too forget to invite God to lead the way and find myself wandering astray.  When that happens the results are less than joyful. Stress, worry and the fear of defeat set in.  Realizing the error of my way, I set my focus back on God.  He is trustworthy, brings me peace in the struggles and sets me on the right path.  That’s true Joy!

How about you… are you ready to pursue “happiness” or please God and experience his promise of true Joy?

For further insight Read Psalms 112: 1

Praise the LORD!  How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His commandments.

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Dr. Joe Stowell stated in his book Perilous Pursuits, “The Westminster Catechism is correct when it concludes that “man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” “Why then, are we so consumed with glorifying ourselves apart from Him? Perhaps this is the reason we often find life so disappointing, disruptive, and ultimately, full of regret.”

Could it be that the “American pursuit of happiness” viewed by many as a “right” or entitlement causes more discontentment than joy? I am reminded of the song years ago that asked repeatedly “What have you done for me lately?” Get that stuck in your head and it’s no wonder we find fault and dissatisfaction.  Truth is, nothing on earth can “give” or “do” all that is needed continuously to keep anyone happy.

If we are seeking or even taking that from others they will run dry. Chances are they too are seeking just as the people of Israel did back in the days of Nehemiah 8:5-12 – which tell of a time they became filled with joy and responded in a way that you and I can emulate.

Ezra opened the book of the Law and read to the people of Israel. When they heard God’s laws they wept when they realized how far they were from obeying them. They were then told “not to grieve that the joy of the Lord is your strength.” “Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food to others, to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.”

Their sorrow turned to overflowing joy that generously blessed others. “God would have us understand that when He blesses us, it is not to simply make us happy, but so that we would further communicate His blessing. Please do not keep for yourself what the Lord gives to you for others. Offer yourself to the Lord to be used by Him for others. That is the way to be blessed “over flowingly” yourself.” ~Andrew Murray

I picture a cascading fountain–the kind you see at elegant events where glasses are stacked into the shape of a pyramid. As the top glass fills to the brim, the excess pours over and fills the ones beneath until the entire display is overflowing like a great waterfall.

What is pouring out of you today? Whatever it is, likely it is trickling onto others. Let’s pray for God to allow us to better understand that, which He has given us so that we too can pour out a blessing generously on others, and in doing so, receive joy worth celebrating!

For further insight see:

Ps 112:5,9;Prov 11: 24,25; Matt 25:40; 1 Cor 15:58; 2 Cor 8:2, 9:6; Heb 6:10

1- Andrew Murray: The New Life


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Glorious Joy

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of you faith, the salvation of your souls.” I Peter 1:8,9

Several weeks ago when we planned out this week devoted to joy, God knew that on this very day I would be out of town attending the funeral of a friend. She is survived by her parents, a loving husband, her dear young daughter, and many friends who look at this situation and don’t have all the answers. But her death is a reminder of the truth from Scripture…there is much more to life then just the here and now, the things we see, taste, hear, and can physically touch.

Happiness is one of those things we enjoy in the here and now, in the things we are surrounded by, the possessions we have, the circumstances affecting our lives. But joy is a much more complicated trait. Joy can be found not just in the here and now, but also in a hope for our future. And the joy we experience here on earth is a glorious foretaste of what eternity in the presence of God will be like. Why do we settle for pursuing happiness when God wants to give us joy?

Through her cancer, through her fear, through her sadness, my friend loved Jesus. She believed in Him, her hope of joy was in Him, and she is now experiencing the fullness of joy in His presence. It inspires me that while there is nothing wrong with being happy here on earth, it is wise for me to pursue joy. It is right for me to celebrate the “inexpressible and glorious joy” found in salvation through Jesus Christ. It is wise to focus on Him instead of on the circumstances of this life.

Do you remember the definition of joy in yesterday’s devotional? Joy: a deep, abiding sense of hope; certainty that God can be trusted; delight in God’s love for me.

Take a few moments and think through these words that describe joy. Are these words also true of your life? If not, tell God you desire this kind of joy that is based on a glorious hope for the future!

Have you placed your trust in Him for salvation? If not, now is a great time to believe in Him for salvation!

Have you already trusted in Him, but forgotten the joy of your salvation? Now is a great time to remember! And begin living your life focused on Who He is and what He has done for you eternally through His Son’s death on the cross for your sins.

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Our personal happiness is often dependant upon circumstances. Unfortunately, our circumstances don’t always cooperate with our desire for happiness.

What anxiety producing circumstances are you facing–the possibility of losing your job, a difficult relationship, a health scare, some other situation that is out of your control? If we focus on our circumstances, we will never experience the joy God desires for us.

Psalm 94:19 says, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”

Anxiety: fear, doubt, apprehensive uneasiness, worry.

Some of us are more prone than others to feelings of anxiety. I am one of those people and must constantly fight feeling anxious and worrying about myself, other people and situations that MIGHT occur. I rationalize that I am just trying to be prepared by thinking through different scenarios, but it is really worry. I have had plenty of opportunities when “anxiety was great within me.” One middle-of-the-night phone call was particularly troubling. Our son was visiting friends in another state and called to say he was in the emergency of a hospital there. Not receiving much information, my mind starting racing as to what the situation and the outcome could be. I prayed and asked God to help me trust Him and calm my fears, but it was nearly impossible to focus my mind. Anxiety was great within me!

Consolation: to console, alleviate the grief of, comfort.

God was gracious to console me with a reminder of His love for me and our son, His knowledge and control of the situation, and assurance that He promised to walk with me through any trial I faced.

Joy: a deep, abiding sense of hope; certainty that God can be trusted; delight in God’s love for me.

I wish I could say I experienced this joy right away BEFORE the details were revealed. But the joy did come when we learned our son had an appendicitis attack requiring surgery and was well taken care of. A further provision from God was that health insurance was provided for our son just a few months before this surgery was required. How great is our God!

I continue to pray that I can keep my focus on God instead of the circumstances. Peter walked on water when he kept his eyes on Christ, but sank when he focused on the wind and waves (Matt. 14:22-33). And even when we sink, God is right there to pull us up.

So do you want happiness (fleeting, temporary, unsatisfying) that is dependant on circumstances or the joy of the Lord (constant, permanent, satisfying) that He longs to give you?

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