Monday, December 22, 2014

JOY -- what are the myths we believe about it?

It's been awhile friends. Like over a year since my last blog! (oops). Lots has happened... so I thought I'd start with a Christmas article on JOY I wrote for the 2014 Advent Devotionals, for my friends at North Run Baptist Church in Virginia.

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." - Psalm 16:11

Let's look at a few myths about where joy comes from and let God refresh us today in His presence.

Joy is a Possession.
Especially at this time of year, we concentrate a whole bunch on gifts. Will I give the right ones? What type of wrapping paper and ribbon should I use? We anticipate that special present we'll receive from a loved one. I recall one Christmas when I was a young teenager (or a kid? Hopefully just a kid!). I cried after all the gifts were given, because I did not the gift I thought my parents had been hinting at. No, joy is definitely not found in a possession. Even the elation we experience in getting a big gift eventually wears off. What about if we wean ourselves away from the "getting -addiction" right now and give away even more, particularly to missions and getting the Gospel to other nations?

Joy is a Position.
It's crazy how much we might say, "It's not important if I get this and such a title..." However, if I get passed over for a promotion and someone else gets a particular role at work, I get mad. Or I sulk when a position at my volunteer organization or at my church, that I've been vying for, is given to another person. I let others know somehow that it was rightfully mine. This is not the source of joy God offers.

Joy is a Place.
You'd think that living in Europe, perhaps I'd get joy from the enchanting cobblestone streets, or a 300- year old splashing fountain or the view of a breathtaking harbour. Yes-- beauty does speak to a place in my soul; it's how I'm somehow wired. But joy is not found in a place. Negative attitudes are not determined by our environment. You can be ungrateful, or angry or have a pity- party anywhere. In northern Germany, it's cold and rainy. The Germans in the West are different than the Germans in the East, where I used to live. Thankfully, Jesus never changes so I carry joy within me, when I have Him.

Ok, let's get away from the myths. What does Psalm 16 say? God provides us joy -- fullness of joy -- in His Presence. 

Actually, joy IS a Person. The Person of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Prayer: If I can't rejoice in anything else today, let me rejoice in you, Lord. 
Your presence and your face are what I seek. 
Thank you for constant in a world of changing possessions, positions and places. 

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice." - Philippians 4:4