In your presence is fullness of joy and at your right hand are pleasures evermore. -- Psalm 16:11
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. -- Psalm 37:4
Though you do not see him you love him and you believe in him and you are filled with inexpressible joy. -- 1 Peter 1:8Observation
The Christian life involves a fight. We've been looking at that concept together now for several weeks. We are told to stand against the devil and his demons and to not be unaware of the Enemy's schemes against us. We can't pretend like we're living during peacetime, we're not.
As a Christian I believe God wants me to be happy and, since he wants for me to be happy, I have a responsibility to fight for my joy and contentment. Consider the scriptures we've just read. God is happy, overflowing with and possessing joy evermore, pleasures in abundance. We as Christians share in his joy. Peter describes the experience of Christians everywhere when he says 'although you haven't seen him face to face, in the flesh, you love him and... are filled with inexpressible joy.'
Let's consider a few facts about God and joy:
- FACT: God is happy. 'Whatever the Lord pleases, he does,' Psalm 135:6
- FACT: Jesus is happy, 'God has anointed you with the all of gladness above your companions.' Hebrews 1:9
- FACT: We are made to know God. 'All can know you from the least, to the greatest.' Hebrews 8:11
- FACT: Knowing God makes us happy '...filled with inexpressible joy.' (see above)
- FACT: Sin offers the pleasure and happiness we were made to find in God. Deuteronomy 28 for example.
With that in place the question becomes 'how do I seek my happiness in God, who is the eternal and ongoing source of joy, rather than in the fleeting and shallow pleasures of sin?' Now, that's a good question.
We've shared before as elders about ways that we seek joy in God. Andrew calls it 'joy fuel' (or #joyfuel if you prefer).
Some of the things Andrew's got on his list of 'how to fight for joy in God' are:
- Put Jesus before church/ministry. Make bread & wine a regular activity in your life.
- Use electronic media wisely. Avoid the sites and places that rob you of joy and instead find blogs and video clips that lift your spirits rather than drain them.
- Get the relationship between body and soul the right way round. As the body behaves, the soul often feels. We dance our way into delight rather than waiting to delight in God before we dance. God deserves our noise, our kneeling, our clapping and our cheering. We give it to him, and our soul is reminded and responds with joy.
- Read the scriptures. Don't be intimidated by the size of the Bible as a book. 'Bite off' small chunks if it helps and spend time reflecting on them until the light of revelation floods you with joy.
- Fast sometimes. To fast means 'to fasten ourself to God' and clinging fast to him gives us more of him; and he is happy.
- Speak positively. Words have the power to create or to destroy. As the mouth speaks, the heart believes.
- Get baptised in the Spirit again and again. Wait on God's Spirit, until he fills you. Being baptised means to be 'plunged into'. When you were baptised in water, you knew about it. When you're baptised in the Spirit, you know about it.
Which one's can you identify with, pick up and apply to your life as they are? Go for it. Fight for joy. Don't settle for drinking from puddles when God has promised rivers of living water to flow out from your inmost being.
This week, your challenge is to come up with you own list of what you could do and where you could go to get happy in God. Is it a regular meeting with a close friend? If so, schedule it in. Is it a private Bible study? If so, schedule it in.
We do not get to know God accidentally, we do not get happy in God without meaning to.
Find out what makes you happy in God and make a habit out of it.
Try starting with a list of 5 things, five pieces of #joyfuel if you will. Then, if you're really serious about joy, think of some activities that correspond to particular 'rhythms' or 'seasons' in your life. Try thinking of 2 weekly, 2 monthly and 2 annual activities you could do. For me, that would look like:
1. At least 3 mornings of Bible journalling and prayer
2. Praying with Amy at least 3 times a week
1. Spend time with a good friend who makes me laugh and encourages me
2. Go on a prayer walk in the countryside
1. Fast from food for a day or two (usually during the Hunger rhythms at Kings)
2. Have a holiday where a switch off all phones and computers
What would it look like for you?
Have fun. Seriously, have fun!