Gateway Gazette

Faith Forum: Joy

 

FF - JoyThe world just isn’t getting any better. Places in the world have brutal wars, starvation, extreme weather events, mass shootings, and peoples striving for democracy, economic disasters, extreme immoral religious behavior and major environmental issues.

It is increasingly difficult to feel peaceful living in the world with all of these issues around you, as well as dealing with matters in one’s own world.

Is it possible to live life at an ‘even keel’, let alone have peace of mind and heart or even joy? In short, yes it is.

We’re not talking about happiness, which is a wonderful emotion, but it is dependent on our circumstances and state of mind that we are able to choose at times. We’re talking about a joy that penetrates and lives in our very soul, not because it is conjured up, or because we have perfect Zen or New Age even though these philosophies have some good ideas and advice; but because the basis comes from a very real God whose Spirit, when inside of me, is my joy.

The path to having that joy has already been provided for each one of us to have:

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
 and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
 and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
 and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
 I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3: 17,18 NLT)

The way that has been provided to joy is termed ‘salvation.’ Salvation is ‘the act of saving, or the state of being saved or protected from harm, risk, etc.’ according to dictionary.com. What is it we need salvation from? From me – my selfishness and being prone to always do what satisfies ‘me’, resulting in a self centered existence instead of living for the One who made me that results in my perspective and actions not always being for me. I cannot do this by myself. I may be able to change my behavior on the outside and show happiness, but that is not true change. The change that God brings is an overhaul and a regeneration of my heart that becomes united with His heart – something only He can do.

The salvation that God has available to you has fulfilled both of those things mentioned in the definition above. He has provided the act of saving you by Jesus’ death on the cross and his rising from the dead; and if one accepts that as a gift from God which he invites each one of us to do – then you will live your life every day in the state of being saved. Joy will be yours as you learn to yield or give your life daily to God (goals, plans, dreams, etc.), and live in dependence on Him and not yourself. That can seem scary, but even that part you don’t have to do by yourself; God will help you and give you strength to do that as you ask him. This results in my being fulfilled and at peace as I yearn to be. In the beginning of time God created that yearning to feel fulfilled and at peace inside of myself, so God, through his Spirit in me, is the only one who can accomplish that in me. This is joy. He is my joy.

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:11 NLT)

Because God’s salvation provides this deliverance from the “power of sin,” it also frees you from the penalties of those wrongdoings (sins), and so you can bask in “the joy of your presence (God’s)
and the pleasures of living with you forever” as it states in the piece above. You will have the joy and pleasures of God’s presence with eternal life as a result of accepting His salvation. There is no greater joy than that!

“I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
 For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
 and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding
 or a bride with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10 NLT)

Would you like that joy in your life? You can, and joy is available to you, no matter who you are, how old you are, or what you have done. You simply need to talk to God and agree with him about your life’s condition right now that it is not right (full of self and wrongdoings called ‘sin’), and then accept his gift of salvation with gratitude. Your thankfulness will result in you wanting to live with and for him daily as you grow in your life with him through reading God’s word, talking to him in prayer (talking to him as you would a friend) and fellowshipping in community with like-minded believers in God. There will be a definite change from the way you were living; to the way you live when you truly accept God’s gift of life and salvation. It doesn’t mean I’m perfect, as I am a sinful person who’s life has been changed by God, but ongoing peace and joy are some of the outward characteristics that others see as a result of that heart change and as you grow in your journey in your relationship with God. You know that without a doubt you are loved and were worth dying for.

Readers are welcome to write Gloria at gloriawes@hotmail.com.

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