Joy!

I am not a very emotional person.  I am not always in-tune with my feelings (which is super frustrating to John Bower) and sometimes it is difficult for me to look introspectively into the “Why’s”, “What’s” and “How’s” of my emotions.  My wife tends to describe me as “whelmed”; never over-whelmed or underwhelmed…just whelmed.  My baseline of emotion is pretty consistent and my highs and lows rarely deviate very far in either direction.  People who are always SUPER excited about stuff seem strange to me.  I also cannot relate very well to people who turn into Eeyore any time something negative happens.  I don’t discredit their feelings, but I often cannot understand them.

That being said, it seems a little ironic that I am writing not just one blog about “joy”, but two! “Joy” is is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart that reveals a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope. It is something or someone that provides a source of happiness, and a reason to rejoice. And while keeping that definition in mind, it makes since why the word “joy” is used so often during the advent season.  We are filled with joy to receive presents, to be reunited with family and friends, and to drink eggnog.  But more importantly, we are filled with joy because of the remembrance of our Savior, Jesus coming to earth in the form of a baby and dwelling among His people.

For some of us, finding joy is easy…it comes very naturally.  Others of us, like myself, do not find ourselves in the emotional state of “joyful” very often.  But if the bible says that “joy” is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), then we must know that joyfulness is fully attainable for all of us.  So how do we awaken the joy that lives inside of us, not just during the holiday season but throughout our lives?  I believe that the answer is found in “thankfulness.”

Thankfulness.  I believe that thankfulness might be one of the most important and yet, least practiced disciplines of the Christian faith.  Without thankfulness, I believe that our faith deteriorates and our thoughts/actions become numb.  The apostle Paul, when writing to the Roman church said, 

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified His as God, nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of God for idols…”

Paul is exhorting the Christians in Roman to remember to ALWAYS practice two things:

  1. Glorying God
  2. Giving Thanks

As Christians, we must continue to practice these two disciples in order to keep our hearts from growing numb and cold.  We can accomplish this by constantly reminding ourselves of two things:

  1. Who God is
  2. What God has done for us

So during this advent season and as we go into the New Year, let us remember these two things and practice them each and every day.  Then as our hearts fill with thankfulness, God will focus our hearts more and more on Him and He will protect our faith from growing numb and futile.  And as we spend more time walking with God and less time in our own futility, our joy will inevitably increase and our hope and anticipation for Jesus to return will continue to grow.  And one day, all the Christians will gather and sing together, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come…again!”

Who God is…

  • He is the first and last. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Revelation 22.13).
  • He is love. "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1John 4:8)
  • He is the creator of all things. "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him." (Colossians 1:16)
  • He is merciful. "For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them." (Deuteronomy 4:31)
  • He is righteous. "For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face." (Psalm 11:7).
  • He is constant. "For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed." (Malachi 3:6)

What He has done…

  • He adopted us as children. "But to all who have received him--those who believe in his name--he has given the right to become God's children …" (John 1:12).
  • He has justified and redeemed us. "But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:24)
  • He has crucified our sin. "We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin." (Romans 6:6)
  • He made us co-heirs with Christ. "And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ)--if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him." (Romans 8:17)
  • He made us new.  "So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away--look, what is new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • He set us free. "For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)
  • He chose us.  "For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love."  (Ephesians 1:4)
  • He forgives us. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace." (Ephesians 1:7)

 

Mark Heger and his wife, Emily, live in Lake Highlands.  He enjoys learning about his feelings with Pastor John. He can be reached at Mark@WakeWell.org.  You can also check out his national ministry at www.wakewell.org.