Lasting Joy part 2
In our blog last week, we talked about what the Scriptures say about recovering our joy. We said the first step is to admit that we have lost it in the first place, and we talked quite a bit about that. Today we are going to continue our discussion and provide more information about recovering our joy. Let’s look at the next step.
The second step in recovering joy is to OBEY GOD’S COMMANDS.
Let me ask you — are you doing everything God wants you to do? Well, if you are honest you would probably say no. And you would have lots of company, because nobody does — after all we are all human beings with sin natures.
In John 16:33 Jesus told us that we are going to have trouble in this world.
“….. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Notice Jesus said He overcame the world. Jesus probably had more trouble than anybody who ever lived, but He dealt successfully with all of it. That puts Him in the best position to tell us how to deal with our troubles, and He does that through His commands. Jesus told us when we follow His commands, we will have joy.
Take a look at John 15:10-11.
“When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”
So, following Jesus’ commands will not only help us deal with our troubles, but they will produce joy as well. Let me give you some examples.
The Lord commands that we tithe. Why? God certainly doesn’t need the money. So why does He tell us to do that? God says when we give to Him, He will give back in abundance. That builds our faith in God. We begin to see that He is faithful and reliable. And that produces lasting joy.
Here’s another command. God says,
“I want you to save sex for marriage”. God says “I have designed you for intimacy, but I don’t want you to be indiscriminately intimate. I want you to be intimate with the person I have picked for you. That will keep you safe. It will keep you from having a broken heart, and it will produce great joy.”
Now I don’t exactly know how it works, but obedience to God always produces joy. God says,
“I created you, and I know you better than you do. I know what causes heartaches, problems, disease, sickness. I know what causes emotional instability and stress. So, if you’ll just follow my commands, you will have success and joy and peace and abundance in your life. And you will avoid all those problems. But the choice is yours.”
God is not going to force His will on us. What it really comes down to is we get to choose how much joy and how much success we will have in our lives. We can choose to obey God, or we can choose to do it our way. God’s way leads to peace and happiness and joy while our way leads to loss and uncertainty at best.
Alright, let’s talk about a third step to recovering joy.
A third step in recovering our joy is change our PERSPECTIVE ABOUT TROUBLES.
James 1:2-4 says,
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4
We just saw that Jesus told us that we will have troubles, and now James is “piggybacking “on that and is talking about how to regard them. He says WHEN troubles come — not IF they come. He says WHEN they come, we must look at them as opportunities for joy.
Wow! That’s a pretty revolutionary idea. How in the world is that possible? Well, James tells in the rest of the passage. He says troubles test our faith. When we act in faith — God shows Himself to us, and He becomes real.
OK, so what happens when we do that? James tells us that too. He says our endurance grows. We need endurance, because trials often last for a while, so we have to hang in there while God does His work. James says the result is we become mature and complete — not lacking anything – AND THAT PRODUCES LASTING JOY.
Alright, so how can we use this in our lives? Well, let’s say we are going through some kind of a trial. The first thing we need to do is find out what the Scriptures say about our trial. Let me give you several general ones that we can use in any situation.
First there’s Jeremiah 29:11-12, which says,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”
Next Romans 8:28.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
And of course, there’s the James passage that we just talked about.
So, we can take all these passages, and we can pray through them. I have put an example of this kind a prayer in your notes, so let’s take a look.
Lord, right now I am going through a difficult time. Here’s what’s going on _________________________
Lord, you tell me in James 1:2 that you are using these troubles to test my faith, and that it will produce endurance which will help me to become mature and complete. Lord, I don’t think I can endure this trial, so please strengthen me so that I can. Lord, You tell me that I should be joyful about the transforming work You are doing. Well, Lord, I have to be honest — I am not. Right now I am hurting. I am not joyful. Please help me.
Lord, You tell me in Romans 8:28 that You are working everything out for good. In Jeremiah 29:11 You tell me that You have good plans for me, which will prosper and help me. Lord, I believe all these promises, and I expect You to do all that You say You will do. In Jesus name I pray. Amen
God will answer that prayer. And when He does our joy will abound!
OK, that’s it for now. Next week we will continue our discussion. Have a great week!