Thursday, August 20, 2009

Devotional - The Joy of the Lord

Good morning my friends. I pray you have awoken to the joy of the Lord this morning and are eager to start on your day. We are considering 2 Corinthians 7 again today.

So many people pursue a false sense of happiness when they should be desiring true joy and happiness. If people place their trust in the wrong things happiness can prove itself to be a fickle thing. This false sense of happiness is often dependent on so many things that we have very little control over. We are happy if it is sunny, if our children are obedient, if our favorite TV show is on, if we have money. I am sure you can fill in the blank with many different things that can give you that sense of happiness. But in that same way that happiness can be stripped from you in an instant with the taking away of that thing that brought you happiness. Most of us would agree that it does not take much to rob us of our happiness. But joy and happiness from the Lord is different.

Joy comes from a different source. It comes from the deeper things in life; the things that are often provided by the Lord. When the source of our joy is the Lord and everything connected to him then it is something that cannot be taken away from us. It often has to do with relationships we have in the Lord. Consider this from a spiritual teacher to his students:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. vs. 1-2

For some of us there is no greater joy than seeing our students growing and discovering the greater things of God. We thrill at the news that the love of the Lord is so great in them that they are growing with each other. This may seem to have no direct impact on our life as happiness requires, but it is something that goes deeper than having any direct benefit to a person. It has to do with the fulfillment of purpose. The direct circumstances of our life may be severe but when we know that we are being used by Jesus our joy is tremendous. Consider Paul:

For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. (2 Corinthians 7:5)

As was often the case for Paul, the circumstances of his life were pretty bleak. He needed some encouragement, a reminder of God's love, perhaps a renewed sense of purpose. I wonder how often we find ourselves in the same place? We often think and perhaps pray that if the Lord would just pay our bills or heal our illness or doing anything that would have a direct impact on us we would feel encouraged. That is okay at the beginning of our walk but a sustained joy must come from a place of maturity. Then we find that our Lord comforts us in our purpose:

But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever. vs. 6-7

Notice Paul said "so that my joy was GREATER than ever". It is not that our joy ever disappears when we are serving the Lord, it is just that there are times when it is greater than at other times. Having people you love love you back is one of those things that increases our joy, especially when you have invested the time that Paul had invested in them. But notice that it was not just that they were showing concern for Paul, it was the fact that they were also a great source of happiness to Titus who they had looked after and received with great love:

In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling. I am glad I can have complete confidence in you. vs. 13-16

Is there a greater compliment a teacher could give to his pupils or a father to his children? This was the reminder that Paul received that there was purpose in his circumstances, that it was all worth the cost he was paying. Paul's joy was increasing despite the circumstances. Nothing had changed in his situation except for this reminder he received from the Lord.

Needing some encouragement today, some comfort? We all could use some. The Lord offers it but we need to be looking in the right places. Look to your purpose, your service in the Lord. Look at what he is doing through you. Leave off the past and get your eyes off your circumstances. Look to Jesus and his people to see where you belong and how he is using you. If you can't see it then perhaps you need to do some more seeking to find if you are in the right place, doing the right things. One of the great joy robbers is disobedience, when we are not fulfilling our calling because we decided differently from God's will.

Let us rejoice in this day, in the purpose we find in our service and in the fact that each day is a new day so it is never too late to start over.

1 comment:

koala4christ said...

AMEN!!! I am so glad you have encouraged me, especially in this past week! We need one another so much in the body! I am so glad that the Lord has given me brothers and sisters to love and who love me back and especially for the Holy Spirit who never abandons us to wallow in our fears and doubt! You are a blessing dear brother and I love and respect you dearly!