devotional

18AUG
2013

The Joy of the Lord

 

If I ever lose my joy in the Lord I’m done for. Ultimately, since my joy is rooted in a life to come that’s been attained for me in Christ (1 Peter 1:4) I cannot actually lose it at all; all I can do is lose a proper perspective on it. In this life joy is fleeting; in heaven joy is not fleeting. The certainty of what’s to come is where my hopes must fully rest. This is a perfect sub-example of building on the rock. My joy is inextricably linked to the life to come. Developing a life in proper alignment with such spiritual realities does not at all come naturally. Through all of the struggles and trials of this life, through all of the tests that leave me feeling wholly inadequate and in need of divine grace it is the joy of the Lord that I keep coming back to. It is my strength. 

     On a day of great rejoicing and remembrance in Israel under Ezra and Nehemiah Scripture says that the people were told to, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength,” Nehemiah 8:10. God delighted in them and had brought them home. God’s joy in doing so was to give them strength. It would be little different for us today if we believe that God delights in us and is at work in and through us. Example: we have not had an earthly temple built for us but we do have a New Jerusalem awaiting us which is far greater. Knowledge of God’s delight for His people, His promises and His works is the fount of joy and strength for believers in every generation. We should have joy when we look behind us and when we look in front of us if we know what God is up to in the world. 

     Strength is needed for endurance. If we think of our need for strength in Christ in life as that strength which is needed for a long race then it’s not only natural ability, but a steady conditioning that’s required. Spiritual conditioning of this sort comes from a God-appropriated understanding of His promises made in the Bible…and that those promises are for you if you’re truly in Christ. 

     There’s not a disciple on earth who doesn’t wish to be steadfast and immovable. Well, how is it that we think God prepares us to be so? James writes, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience,” James 1:2-3. If we truly get a hold of this it’s only because we’ve been built up in Christ to some level we’re aware of. If we do indeed count trials as joy it’s because we’ve already seen the benefits of them. Trials cause us to lift our eyes to the skies. Seeing beyond them to the realities of God’s eternal work is crucial if we’re to have strength and joy to endure them well. This is the heart of 2 Corinthians 4:8-18. 

     Joy in the Lord is a joy that comes from the Lord. Let your joy be fully rooted in the certainties of the kingdom to come of a joyous Creator. Christ is risen so let your joy be stored underneath His throne. Talk to yourself about why it’s there and not really here. If it’s laid up there then like any treasure it truly cannot be corrupted or stolen. If your joy is treasured up for you in heaven and in service to such a God then nothing can ultimately take it from you. This knowledge of the certainty of joy produces joy even in the here and now. Joy in trials produces patience. Patience produces strength and fosters joy. That makes us joyous. Such a joy makes us strong in a strength that can only come from God.  

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