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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Joy (05/18/06)

TITLE: The Secret of Joy
By
05/18/06


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Have you ever thought about what being joyful truly means? I confess until now, I’d not really given it much thought. Our lives get busy. We believe real joy is elusive. Unconsciously, we tend to seek it in wrong ways. God wants us to be joyful. Did you know the words joy and joyful appear over a thousand times in the Bible? It makes sense then, that to really understand true joy we take a look there.

In Leviticus 9:24 the people saw fire consume the burnt offering. They shouted for joy and fell face down. What do you think evoked this emotion? It was because God had accepted their offering. Their sins were forgiven. Fellowship was restored. They knew they would see His blessings anew. Have you ever offered something of value to God and felt blessed? The offering was a sacrifice of an animal that had value to the people. It acknowledged they wanted their sins forgiven. And God accepted it, showing he welcomed them back.

In Ezra 3:12 older people who’d seen the former temple, wept aloud. Many others shouted for joy. What evoked this emotion? They’d just laid the foundation of the new temple. I believe they were starved for fellowship with God, for real worship. They’d gone so long without a temple. Now they were given hope, a glimpse of restoration. Have you ever felt separated from someone and then seen that fellowship restored? How did you feel? Was it hope and joy? I’ve been there.

There is joy in singing and making music to God too. “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” (Ps. 33:1, NIV). As a singer and musician, I relate to that. There is no greater joy than giving God your best music and seeing God’s children worship with you. There is joy when the Spirit moves, the band is in sync, and everyone’s hearts are lifted. “...all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.” (Ps. 96:12b, NIV). Imagine that! So much joy even the trees sing!

But what is it in our life that prevents us from experiencing ultimate joy? What is it that steals our happiness? It seems to me it must have something to do with separation from God. The Bible calls this sin. As people deride us, as the burdens of life wear down, we begin to lose our hope and joy. Our focus shifts inward instead of outward. We become self absorbed and protective. We hurt and the tendency is to take consolance in self pity. We understand this is wrong but the stress of the moment hinders us from pulling out of it. What is the solution?

In my life I have experienced this problem enough I don’t want to be there. The solution I’ve found is to get on my knees in prayer. That must happen as soon as possible. In prayer we can lift the other person up, confess our own shortcomings, and praise God for past blessings. Daily morning devotions help too, but sometimes things can get in the way of doing that consistently. It’s still important to find time daily for prayer and Bible reading. Then the Holy Spirit can refresh us anew. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Rom. 12:12, NIV).

We know joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and the above verse commands us to be joyful. The apostle Paul experienced joy in those he led to Christ and discipled. This is seen throughout all his writings in the New Testament (e.g. Philippians, Colossians). I have experienced the most joy in being used to help others come to Christ. And like Paul, I also experience joy in teaching them more about Christ. This was Paul’s secret! Now matter how often he was beaten and thrown in prison, he rejoiced. We cannot experience this same level of joy when we focus inward. We must focus outward on Jesus and others instead. Then we can have true joy!

Prayer: Father, thank you so much for the riches in Christ. Thank you for the joy of being able to worship in your house, to sing your praises. Please forgive us the sin of self centeredness and help us reach out and help another experience the joy of Christ today. Amen.


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Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 05/25/06
Lots of food for thought here. Good job.
Rita Garcia05/25/06
Thanks for sharing the joy of the Lord. Good job!
Jessica Schmit05/26/06
What a fabulous devotion. Great truths are weaved in this story. Great job writing. You can express yourself very clearly and with passion. great.
Birdie Courtright05/30/06
Precious advice, thanks for sharing that wonderful prayer as well.