Monday, March 4, 2013

The Joy of the Lord

The Joy of the Lord

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,   through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” – Romans 5:1-5

It’s Monday…the dreaded Monday that ends the weekend fun and begins the work week again.  Many of us have jobs we dread going back to, long days ahead of us, struggles with people who are trouble, and expectations on us that seem impossible.  But imagine if today you would be faced with a job where you had been beaten with rods.  Imagine if you were facing a day in which you just might end up being stoned nearly to death, thrown in prison, or even thrown out of the city with nothing but the clothes on your back.  How much would you dread your job each day if this was how you were treated in your workplace?
By the time Paul got to Corinth, he had been hunted by the Jews, beaten with rods, stoned nearly to death, and thrown into prison.  He had threats against his very life.  But Paul never left his job as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He persevered.  Speaking of his daily life in 1 Corinthians 15:30-31, he said And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. Each day he understood could be his last, but he continued so that others could receive the same salvation that he had been given. His joy was in seeing others around him come to know Christ.  It fueled his ministry.

In Romans 5:1-5 Paul says that he had been “justified by faith” and had been given “peace with God”.  While at war with the Jews, the peace of God overcame his daily struggles.  He stood in the grace of God, able to stand up to those who hated him.  He says “we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” He was able to get up each day with hope overruling his fear of a bad day at work.  Within him was the power to overcome each struggle, and to even receive it with contentment.  He goes on to say that “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us”.
When we are close enough to God to feel the love, to know His Spirit lives in us, we have the power to say in truth that the Joy of the Lord is my strength.  That strength allows us to face each day head on with hope.  It’s a passion inside that creates a foundation like a trampoline that everything else just bounces off.  Have you ever heard someone say “but you can’t steal my joy!”?  This is that joy!

Happiness isn’t the same as joy.  Happiness pops like a soap bubble when someone gossips about you.  Happiness crumbles when you have a bad hair day.  One word of discouragement, and your happiness vanishes!  But the joy of the Lord is different.  It’s an eternal flame that burns in your heart.  Joy allows you to refute the gossip, to laugh at the bad hair day, and to cancel out the discouragement without feeling like you are somehow “less” because of the words that were said.  Joy overcomes. Joy perseveres.  Joy gets back up again…and again…and again.
So get back up!  Go at this day with joy, and expectations of hope in what God can do.  His grace is a strong net to catch you.  His love is warmth that will surround you.  His peace is enough to overcome the stress.

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