A MESSAGE BY PASTOR KENT MUNSEY
All throughout the New Testament it is commanded that we be joyful. (1 Thessalonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4) This is because when we accept Jesus by faith, righteousness, peace, and joy with God is deposited in our lives (Romans 14:17). We are each given a measure of joy through the Holy Spirit that we are commanded to develop and steward.
The problem is that the enemy of our soul also knows that we have been given the gift of joy, and that this joy of the Lord is the source of our strength. So, he works double time to steal our joy and leave us weakened. (John 10:10)
If you want to cultivate joy in your life there are 3 things that will you will need to look out for:
We often hear people say they are doing well, “under the circumstances”. But God doesn't want us to be “under our circumstances”. During Jesus’s darkest hour, one of his followers betrayed him, another denied him, and the rest fell asleep during his time of need. In spite of this, Hebrews 12:2 says, “For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus showed us that we can choose joy in the most painful and challenging circumstances because we know our situations are temporal and our faith is in a God that is eternal. God will never leave us or forsake us. Our circumstances will lie to us and tell us that we have to bow down and live underneath them, but with Jesus, we can live over them no matter what they are.
Before Jesus went to the cross he prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). Although Jesus struggled about what He was about to endure, He prayed that the Father’s will would ultimately be done. Our wills are often our greatest source of misery. Disobedience and sin might seem fun for a season, but they can't produce joy. Just ask the Old Testament prophet Jonah what happens when we try to dismiss God’s will and do things our way. God’s ways are higher and better. The greatest joy we’ll have is doing what the Father has asked us to do. It may appear painful and hard, but there is joy on the other side of obedience. What is the Lord asking you to do that you're not doing?
Sin, life decisions, serving God and doing His will — all of these things contribute to a heaviness in life. Oftentimes, we give ourselves permission to carry and focus on these big burdens, and we neglect God’s burdens. We become so weighed down with fear, depression, anxiety, and insecurity that we lay down the burdens that God has put on our hearts to carry out His work in this world. These burdens become dead weight, stealing our joy and causing a slow and painful spiritual death. If we are to choose the joy of the Lord, we have to lay these burdens down, and refocus our attention on what the Lord has called us to do.
There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is based on a happenstance — it’s a fickle and fleeting feeling. Joy is bigger than our circumstances. It is faith in the supernatural character, in nature and essence, of God, which allows us to face any problem that we experience.
If there is no joy in your journey there might be a leak in your faith. The Lord has given us righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, but we each have to do the hard work of believing God and choosing joy in every situation.
God, thank you for giving us righteousness, peace and joy in your Holy Spirit. In the tough seasons of life, remind us that we can have joy knowing that you are always with us and for us. Give us faith to choose to live in your joy each day. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen