Life has its ups and downs – truth of life! To say your 100% happy 100% of the time, would be your lying to yourself 100% as well – seasons of sadness, pain, hurt, fear, worry, etc. they happen just like seasons of excitement, peace, love, joy, but if you decide to let the downside of things hold you down, hold you back – thats where you’ll stay – you have a choice!
I had a lovely weekend getting to celebrate with my niece her 12th birthday, she has grown up so quickly, and to think she’s 12! Oi! I remember her arrival back in 2000, and since she has been a source of joy for me! But I am getting off track lol, sorry for gushing on my niece 🙂 My Brother and his family live on the California Central Coast – so a trip away from Central California in Summer months is quite handy, but this weekend as I set out on a walk to pray, and just really focus upon ministry options I feel the Lord has placed upon my heart, and walking along the coastline a great place to do it, there I got a picture in my mind of the flow of water by watching waves.
Water – its a powerful substance and yet peaceful. It can dig its way thru a mountain, it can break up things in its path, and yet its gentle and safe enough to simply use for a bath or shower, it washes away dirt and grime from our bodies, and too for drinking – so where does water fit in to joy? Well the classic illustration in pastor speak would be “The eb and flow of the waves are like life, you have good times come in and go out, same with the bad” and while that example works, I felt I got a different view from God on this classic illustration as to how Joy continues forward:
11 So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.
Encouraging & Building Up, its what were called to do, but how often do we truly do it? Waves build each other up sometimes, as I watched and eventually felt the waves building up I watched as the coastline had wave after wave coming in, and from the wet of the sand you could see how far out the wave could make it, but there was one instance where I was walking along just outside of the wet area thinking I was safe, but one big wave came, and still didn’t reach me, but then the 2nd wave came quickly behind it giving the wave more energy to make it further, thus soaking my legs up to just below my knee – on its own the first wave couldn’t of reached me, but with the help and additional energy from a 2nd, it was able to go even further. We need to be like this.
I am not saying or singling out people here, I see this more and more, and even in talks this past week before and after my message on Heavenly Perspective, its one thing I’ve had people telling me about, that joy stealing sometimes comes from other believers. Sad, but true. My grandfather once said the old saying “Hurting people, hurt people.” but sometimes I think with this Facebook Generation that has grown, its easy to voice your frustrations, voice your bad day – as I mentioned to my friends last night while talking the one I saw once was “I stubbed my *$*@# toe!” as a status on Facebook! It is a choice to have joy, even in the midst of trial, pain, hurt – even after stubbing your $*@#& toe! lol It is not easy by ANY means, but it is a choice.
19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
Going to throw in this video too of a song which hopefully gets stuck in your head, its an oldie but a goodie from a group called Big Tent Revival (BTR):
Our lives are an example, they are a witness, they effect those around us – and I don’t think folks always think that – “I’m having a bad day” and yet, that bad day spills over as I read about it, see it, and can effect me by bringing me down, stealing my joy or changing my perspective on a day – one bad thing can start things rolling – just like the smallest stream can forge a path thru dirt and rock, a little bit of negativity, can sometimes taint another’s joy.
So ask yourself “When did I loose it?” maybe you came away from Sunday Service all pumped up and excited on Sunday, and it went on till Tuesday then whammo – slump city. Joy is gone, your bummed and wondering why? Where did your Joy go? or Maybe you had a great family visit, all giggles, smiles and warm fuzzy feelings were abudnant! Then the day after, whammo – drama. Joy is gone – ask yourself, when did the joy disappear, was it after the HIGH? Because the big JOY and EXCITEMENT from something can fade – like Moses coming away from his experience with God, he was GLOWING! But in time that faded, it didn’t mean the experience was any less exciting or joyful for Moses, but it simply had faded to not be seen so outwardly as in the moment.
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
The outwardly example of joy being always radiant and glowing like Moses’s face isn’t honestly something I can say I expect day to day in this life – we are surrounded by things which seek to disable us, tear us down – some by design, others by the weak and hurting pulling you down – but this verse talks about that the “joy of the Lord is your strength.” but that joy isn’t always something we can see, we can’t peer into the heavenly realm and glance and God’s face and see him giving that iconic “Buddy Jesus” look and know that God is Joyful, yet it says God’s Joy is our Strength! So how do you know? How do you keep that Joy? How do you get it? How do you hold on and not let go?
Be in Him.
It’s easy to get distracted in this world, by others problems, our problems, family problems, work problems – you can re-read those few areas and add “drama” to them too, there is so much that tries to take us from the path to follow the Lord and have His Joy be Our Strength.
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
My grandfather years ago had a sermon where he described how to walk that path as keeping on your blinders so that things going on all sides of you would be out of your view, that you could focus on Christ and walk that narrow road and not fear falling off – but we are now even more so than when my grandfather used that illustration a much more SOCIAL generation, we have Facebook, Texting, Twitter, MySpace, Path, Bebo, Instant Messaging, Google Plus, etc. etc. etc. we have the ability to be so distracted, so so distracted (Hi I’m Chuck, I used to play farmville) – we sometimes get more involved with others on-going problems than dealing with our own lives:
41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
It is easier though isn’t it? To ignore your own problems and take on something that doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with you? I mean sometimes with your view of another’s life you can easily say “Well if you just did XYZ, then ABC would work fine!” yet, sometimes that too where your joy gets broken down, you focus on others and once your done, the sad reality is your own ABC failed because you didn’t do your own XYZ – sure this verse is really trying to focus as the handy title in my bible says “Judging Others” but too when reality of your own life, your own sins, your own plank comes into light after fixing another’s problem – imagine that wave going out after having come in SOOOO far to land – the energy runs out the water is absorbed into the sand and the amount that can’t get in goes back towards the sea, you spend all that energy dealing with another’s speck, your too weak to deal with your plank – you can’t accomplish what would of given you more freedom and better vision by removing that plank.
So the question I pose today and leave you with is how is your joy being stolen from you? Are you letting the weight and burdens of others become your own? If so – cast them off, give that burden of theirs to God by lifting them up in prayer, don’t hang on to it because by YOUR strength not a chance you can repair that person, but too ENCOURAGE the other person, lift them up, don’t try to fix them – you can’t! That speck is their responsiblity, not yours, but encourage them in life, to get past their speck, and from that encouragement they may encourage you to deal with your plank, and from both of that your joy increases, it doesn’t go away and will leave an effect on the world around you – heck by encouragement you may help restore joy! But when those days come when your joy feels like its gone, that high is over, get those blinders back on, open up your bible, and make a CHOICE for Life, for Joy, for the Grace of God to be in your life Daily.
21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Let your Joy be renewed every morning, let the new day start you fresh with God, even have a good song about mornings and the promises they contain:
Head into this fresh week encourage others, let your joy help re-enforce someone else’s joy! and know that you have a choice! Take Care and be aware of what’s stealing your joy and choose to keep it!