Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Joy of the Lord IS My Strength

The Joy of the Lord IS My Strength!
Fruit of the Spirit Series - part 2
 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…” Galatians 5:22
I love oranges.  I especially love peeling the thick aromatic coat off an extra-large juicy one…smack dab in the middle of a dreary, bitterly cold winter’s day.  What an amazing pop of color and flavor that orange brings into the gloomy atmosphere!   What a bright spot in the midst of a dark time!  And that’s EXACTLY what I think of when I think of JOY! 
Habakkuk 3:18 boldly proclaims, “Yet I will REJOICE in the LORD, I will JOY in the God of my salvation.”  In Psalm 30, verse 5, we read that “…weeping may endure for a night, but JOY cometh in the morning.”  What a blessed reminder and promise that verse is!
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life,” the Psalmist again states. “In thy presence is fullness of JOY; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11). 
“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for JOY, all ye that are upright in heart” (Psalm 32:11).
And we cannot forget this very familiar verse: “For the JOY of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). defines JOY as follows:
1.       The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.
2.       A deep feeling or condition of happiness or contentment.
My favorite definition has to be number two.  Wouldn’t you agree?  I believe that one succinctly describes the joy referred to in the above Scriptures.  I believe that’s the very kind of joy meant in the Fruits of the Spirit list.  It’s the kind that’s above and beyond any circumstances.  It’s the kind that is NOT affected by a lack of “something exceptionally good or satisfying.”  It’s a deep down belief that is God really is Who He says He is.  We have nothing to fear – nothing to worry about! 
It is also sometimes a tad bit difficult to maintain.  Especially for those of us who are “Eeyores” by nature.
On the days when housework becomes drudgery, can we sing (and mean it!) “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart”?
When our husband loses his job, can we sing with gusto and a smile, “Real joy is mine no matter if the teardrops start”?
When we desperately need some “me” time and our youngest munchkin decides to…well, regurgitate all over our new couch, do the words of “J-O-Y, J-O-Y, this is what it means:  Jesus first and yourself last and others in between” come flooding into our minds?
What about when a close loved one receives the kind of news we all secretly dread – “you have cancer” – is joy the first emotion we feel? 

Nope.  At least not for me.  We are human, aren’t we?  But we are ALSO commanded to be joyful.  IN SPITE of the circumstances.  My personal belief is that being a grown up is highly overrated, but at this point I guess I have no choice.  My choices are limited to how I deal with being that grown up. 

And the most important one of those choices is deciding to trust in my all-knowing, ever faithful, MOST capable Heavenly Father…and that trust brings with it a deep, all encompassing, JOY!!!  Joy that brings that brightness of trust in our Father’s goodness!  Joy that gives us the strength to face another day, another hour, another minute.  Joy that puts a smile on our faces when things look gloomy to those around us…that gives us that Pollyanna-like ability to look for the best in EVERY situation. 

Even if that “best” is simply the fact that God knows and is fully on our side. 

Don’t get me wrong.  This JOY that the Scripture speaks of does not refer to hilarity.  It doesn’t even always mean there’s a smile on your face. 

But what it does mean is this: “A deep feeling or condition of happiness or contentment.” 

It’s a peaceful confidence that if THIS is where God wants me, He WILL be with me and I will NOT be happy anywhere other than right here in the center of God’s will!  I WILL rejoice in the Lord and in the knowledge that He loves me!  I WILL rest in the peace only God gives! 
Then, with HIS help, I can sincerely exhibit that “…joy, real joy, wonderful joy!"

Learning that true joy brings strength,

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