Tuesday, May 5, 2009


This morning as I came into work, I looked at my daily devotional calendar and it said "Our joy can be stable as the sunrise, even when circumstances put us through enormous stress." Wow! The sun rises every day doesn't it?

The subject of joy has been one of my favorites for the last 15 years of so. One reason is that it is so often misunderstood by God's people but once we understand it, it truly is our source of strength. I remember sitting in Bro. Kilgore's church many years ago and listening to a man teach a Bible Study. He was talking and he said, "God never promised us happiness because happiness is an emotion. But..He did promise us joy because it is the strength that will carry us through life." At the time, I really had to ponder what he was saying and it stuck with me. However, the next year we moved to Albuquerque to start a home missions church and were faced with several extremely hard years of loneliness, financial despair, and ongoing illness of our child, Jake. Jake was sick and hospitalized repeatedly for over eight years (maybe I'll blog about that soon). I've learned some of my greatest lessons from Jake. One vivid time is when he was confined to a wheelchair and couldn't walk. It was just he and I in a hospital room for a couple of months. He asked me one Sunday morning to help him get into his wheelchair so we could go to the hospital chapel and have morning service together. I felt so convicted because I didn't want to pray because I was so upset at life's circumstances. But, oh what a time of joy we found in prayer together in that hospital chapel even though I was still wheeling him back to a hospital room.

It was in life's stresses that I learned to live in joy and it has been the greatest journey of my life and one that I would not trade. A favorite passage about joy is Nehemiah 8. In this scripture, God's people had rediscovered the law of Moses. They asked for Ezra to read aloud God's law and stood for over three hours listening to the law of God. As they heard the law, the recognized how far apart from God they had grown as a people. Conviction began to sweep the crowd and they began to pray, repent, and weep. The leaders began to redirect the people after their repentenance. "This day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep..Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:9-10). Then all the people...began to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them" (8:12).

After the time of repentance, the people spent an additional three hours worshipping and rejoicing. Many times we feel conviction and weep before God but do we take the time to rejoice and live in a victorious state? Knowing God, trusting God and obeying God brings great joy. Our enemy attempts to steal our joy by promising joy through self-indulgence. Life is hard so I'll have a pity party and a temper tantrum. Nope...life is hard, God is my strength. Yet Jesus taught us that obeying God's commandments brings the greatest joy possible: "If you obey my commands you will remain in my love..I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:10-11). Instead of letting our circumstances dictate our state of mind, why don't we let our state of mind dictate our circumstances? Why do we go down in defeat before an already defeated foe? We crave happiness every day instead of the joy of the Lord. Life is coming at us each and every day and we won't have happiness but we do have a promise of joy that will take us through all of life's circumstances.

In the Book of Acts, the people were filled with joy in the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:52 says, "And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." In Acts 2:28, we read, "You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence." The Greek word of joy is, euphrosyne, meaning gladness, joy that fills you with rejoicing. It is exuberant joy! Joy produces strength, and in His strength, we can face anything. Instead of looking for strength from our daily lives so we can worship the King, why don't we worship the King and then have the strength we need for our daily lives. It really is quite simple and hear it from someone who has lived it through hard circumstances....joy drives circumstances...circumstances do not drive joy.

One of my favorite songs is Chris Tomlin's Holy is the Lord. Notice what the lyrics say about joy:

We stand and lift up our hands
For the joy of the Lord is our strength
We bow down and worship Him now
How great, how awesome is He
And together we sing

Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory
The earth is filled with His glory


  1. I needed this this morning. Thank you for writing from your heart. You are in prayers today and I love you.

    Sis. Kim

  2. It always amazes me how God knows just what to put into our lives at just the right moment. I needed to read this today...I need to take it to heart and follow it today. Thank you.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers today, and have been most of the night. Love you much.

  3. What a great way to start the morning!
    Love the song.

  4. Awesome blog. I needed to hear this tonight. I'm praying for you. I was so sorry to hear about your friend in Albuquerque.

    Love you,