Hello Church Devotion Aug.10, 2013
J is for Joy
J is for Joy
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV)
Ah, yes, that very strange word, JOY. Strange, because we use it in such different ways. Maybe that needs a bit of explanation. Most people think of “joy” or “joyous” or “joyful” as an emotion, very closely allied with the word “happy”. And there are times that fits. But Scripture does something else with joy - it treats it as a state of mind, as a solid bedrock attitude for the soul. In a recent sermon, I defined “joy” (referring to the fruits of the Spirit, where it is listed second only to “love”) as: Having a deep inner assurance that leads to a cheerful heart. That kind of joy doesn’t depend on events to find its motivation. In fact, it can lead to some rather strange statements:
Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior... (Luke 1:46-47 ESV) This is after she finds out that she is going to be the mother of the Savior, but BEFORE she has to deal with telling Joseph, with what the community will think, and even before she knows that there’s a trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem (and then to Egypt) in the offing. OR ...
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV) Ever wonder what the Son of God thought when the Father explained what the plan of salvation was going to involve?
Maybe that’s why St. James can urge us:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)
And, even in the middle of confessing his sin and seeking God’s forgiveness, St. David can ask:
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:12 ESV)
You begin to see where this is going? If you look at the fruits of the Spirit - they do NOT include faith - that is a gift from God to us that puts us into a living relationship with him. But the fruits of the Spirit come as we live out the faith which we have. That’s the “deep inner assurance” in the definition of joy above. Knowing that God loves us enough to send Jesus to be our Savior; knowing that God loves us and that nothing can separate us from his love; knowing that God loves us enough to implant his Holy Spirit in us - that is the “Blessed Assurance” which can “lead to a cheerful heart” for us each day - no matter what’s going on around us.
This joy enables us to face what comes to us in our lives with the same assurance St. Paul had when he wrote: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:37-39 ESV)
Our prayer was written by Fanny J. Crosby - who, though born blind, wrote over 8,000 hymns during her lifetime - hymns filled with a deep inner assurance which led to a cheerful heart:
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste Of glory divine.
Heir of salvation, Purchase of God - Born of his spirit, Washed in his blood.
This is my story, This is my song: Praising my savior All the day long.
This is my story, This is my song: Praising my savior All the day long. Amen.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT:
In the devotion, I quoted from Peter, Luke, Apollos (I think he wrote Hebrews), James, David and Paul. I did this intentionally, wanting you to see how many Scripture-writers were caught up in the idea of joy (even under pressure).
Can you think of others?
If not, you might want to check out a few folks like: Isaiah (he’s the guy noted in Hebrews 11 as being sawn in two)
Jonah (even in the belly of the great fish)
Joseph (even in slavery and in prison)
John (who writes to people so that their joy can be “filled up”)
Paul and Barnabas (when they get kicked out of Iconium)
And the list goes on and on and ...
Now - can you remember someone you knew (or know still) who was/is an example of biblical JOY? If so, you are truly blessed.
And then comes the hard part - how can you be an example of biblical JOY to those around you?
Karl J. Dunker, Pastor Emeritus
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