Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! ~ Philippians 4:4 NLT
As a new Christian, I tried to do it all right. I studied the Bible, worked hard to serve in the church but, although I was growing in many areas, I remember crying out to the Lord, “Where’s the joy?!” I wanted joy.
You might relate to that desire. It took years before I began to realize that the Lord had been answering me. Our pastor taught us, “Joy is not happiness.” Happiness is dependent on our circumstances. While studying the book of Nehemiah I was challenged by his declaration to his people at the completion of the wall, “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Neh.8:10)
Gradually it began to dawn on me, joy is not dependent on me, it is the Lord’s gift to me as I pursue a relationship with him and learn to rely more and more on him alone in every area of my life. In the grace-filled relationship with Jesus, the roots of my heart gradually grow deeper into the Father’s love, his heart. I become anchored, unshakable by mere daily events.
And as a proud Father, God’s delight, his joy in me, begins to bubble up. I begin to trust that I am the new creation he promised in Christ his Son. I am completely accepted for who God created me to be. I am loved and never will be rejected nor abandoned. I belong, not only to our amazing King Jesus, but my very being is rooted in an unchanging purpose and completely satisfying, fulfilling eternity. I matter. I am seen and heard by God.
So, life will bring its challenges. A flood may wash away my cherished possessions. My earthly relationships may become failures and my earthly life become insecure, but I remain safe, loved, secure and my future destiny unchanged, because I belong to Jesus my Savior, am loved by my heavenly Father and daily I am being renewed and empowered by the Holy Spirit who is one with my spirit and lives in me.
The good gifts God gives us cannot be taken from us. Therefore, we are filled daily with God’s gift of joy, a gift manifest in our spirit. God wants you to receive and enjoy it. Just ask, believe, receive and trust.
Dear friends, be blessed with supernatural endurance and strength as you seek and receive more of the Lord and his joy. You were designed to be thankful and to rejoice. Your entire body, soul and spirit will rejoice as you receive more of God, his love, peace and joy. Smile. Joy is real and is anchored in your relationship with Jesus. Amen.
Mary Sumner ~ June 9, 2021