Devotional - God’s Chain Reaction Of Joy For Our Lives

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. – Psalm 16: 8-9 (ESV)

    Abraham Lincoln once said; “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Oh that it would be that simple. That we could just magically think ourselves into happiness. The truth is that happiness in this country remains elusive as we are burdened with more hours to work, less security, and more things to make us anxious. The website did a study that found America is not even in the top ten of happiness countries! Possibly because this country places such an emphasis on material prosperity and that does not equal happiness. Or simply perhaps because happiness will always remain elusive in a fallen and sinful world.

    While that sounds grim, Christians pursuing happiness have reason to rejoice. It just requires a shift in thinking from the temporal to the eternal. Happiness is a temporal concept that is based on acquiring some state of being or some material objective. If I only had my own home I would be happy. If I only could find my spouse I would be happy. If I only hit lotto I would be happy. The “if” is different for most of us, but generally this is how we view happiness. As an achievable goal dependent upon something else. There are two problems with this that lead to so much depression and disappointment. The first is that we are basing our state of being satisfied upon something or someone else. Something that we cannot control directly. We set ourselves up for disappointment because so often that “if” simply does not come through. The second reason this strategy doesn’t work is that we continually move the goalposts. If we happen to achieve what we thought would make us happy we set a new goal or we find that what we thought would be so fulfilling really wasn’t. We want to make “X” amount of money and when we achieve it we simply adjust our style of living to match it and suddenly we are not as happy anymore. How many rich and successful people have died recently that were clearly not happy?

    Joy however, is an eternal concept. Joy is not rooted in the things of this world but in the God that we serve because while this world will continue to erode and change without warning, God never changes. His promises are always yes and amen. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. In a world of inconsistency – Jesus is the rock! The Apostle Paul had seen it all. Plenty of things that would make most of us fairly unhappy. Receiving the 39 lashes. Shipwrecked and stoned. Chained and beaten. Yet here was his exhortation of joy:

    Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. – Philippians 4: 11-13 (NLT)

    Philippians 4: 13 is often misused as a reason to do things we probably should not try to do. What Paul is saying is that the circumstances he is faced with does not dictate his level of joy; his Savior does! Remember when the disciples thought the storm they were in was going to swamp their boat and kill them? Where was Jesus? Sleeping at the back of the boat!

    Christianity is not an exercise in the denial of feelings – it is about making those feelings obedient to Christ. You can be going through the worst storm of your life and still have the peace to sleep in the back of the boat. You can be shipwrecked in your storm and still have the joy of the Lord. The key verses show us how. Verse eight is one of my favorite Bible verses because there is so much in this world that tries to shake us. Shake our confidence in God. Shake our security for our future. Shake our faith in Christ. David says here however that he will not be shaken because the Lord is at his right hand. Let’s be honest with ourselves – sometimes we forget that Jesus is in the boat with us! But look at the qualifier from David. How does he always remember God is at his right hand? Because he has set the Lord always before him. Not sometimes. Not when he is in trouble. Not when the problems get really big – always. Throughout David’s stories we see him reflecting to God before he makes a decision. We tend to go to God after our decisions have landed us in hot water. God wants to be the God of our decisions, not just our problems! Well, what does that mean to set the Lord always before us? I think it means that for David, the things of God always came before the things of David. For us, the things of God have to come before the things of self.

    Verse nine shows the results for us. When we place God first in our lives – not just with lip service – then we can expect a chain reaction of joy that starts with our heart being glad. The Bible says that the heart is the wellspring of life. We need to guard it more carefully than we do. When we base our joy upon anything in this world then we are exposing our heart to the aching disappointments and discouragements of this world. Our heart is glad because we are now grounded in the Creator of the universe – who will never change. The next link in the chain reaction is that our whole being will rejoice! There is nothing more joyful than knowing you are walking in the will of God. When your whole being rejoices – it doesn’t matter what the world throws at you! The devil can try but your joy is no longer based on things he can manipulate. It is based on God. The final link in the chain reaction is that even our flesh will dwell secure! That doesn’t mean that we conquer the flesh, which is bent toward sin, but rather that we remain joyful in knowing that repentance will bring forgiveness. That is why there is no condemnation for those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ! When we place God first, we still will fall but the flesh rests secure in the grace and mercy we walk under. Not that we would seek to sin more but rather that we would seek repentance quicker.

    Do not seek your happiness within the confines of this world. We are pilgrims and sojourners through it, not residents. Remember Lot! The Bible says that he “pitched his tent toward Sodom” and the next time we see him he is living there! He placed Sodom before him and that is what ended up at his right hand. We are of the light now and the Bible says we have no fellowship with darkness anymore. What does the Bible teach us?

    Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12: 2 (NLT)

    God’s will is not found while chasing temporal happiness. It is found within the embracing of eternal joy. By letting God change the way we think. By putting Him first in every area of our lives. Is there any area we can not have God lead in our lives? Sure – the ones you do not want joy or happiness in! The rich young ruler went away sad from Jesus because he refused to let God lead regarding his money. He based his happiness on his riches but to God they meant nothing. They were a stumbling block to Him. What is our stumbling block today beloved? What area of our lives have we not quite turned over to God? What area are we still pursuing worldly happiness in and thus have not experienced eternal joy in. Place God ahead of your own desires in that area and watch Him be at your right hand. Watch that lead you to being unshaken in an area that used to give you so many problems. Watch as your heart becomes glad, your whole being rejoices, and your flesh rests secure. Unspeakable and matchless joy – that is what God wants for you today!

    Rev. Anthony

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