Marked by Joy - First15 - September 5, 2017

Marked by Joy

Weekly Overview:

As children of God, we have been given a new home and a new hope. May your heart be set aflame by the joy and purpose of living out God’s command to live for heaven this week: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” >Colossians 3:1-4

Scripture:“The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.” Proverbs 10:28

Devotional:

C.S. Lewis said, “All joy emphasizes our pilgrim status; always reminds, beckons, awakens desire. Our best havings are wantings.” As pilgrims on the journey to boundless communion with our heavenly Father, we are called to be marked by a sustaining and transcendent joy. Our God is a God of joy. He is the creator of fun and the giver of abundant life. He longs for his children to taste and see his goodness (Psalm 34:8). He longs for us to open our hearts, cast off the cares of this world, and receive the joy that comes from living for heaven.

Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Proverbs 10:28 says,“The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.” We serve a joyful King. There is no greater joy than living in the fullness of relationship available to us in Christ. To live for heaven is to throw off whatever weight would entangle us to the depravity of this world and seek sustaining joy that comes down from heaven to fill our hearts.

Our Father cares deeply about the concerns of this world. He weeps over the lost. He becomes angry over the works of the enemy. He is deeply saddened when we choose the fleeting and unsatisfying ways of the world over his fulfilling and perfect plans. But in the midst of all his emotions, he is joyfully expectant for the age that is to come. He sees the depravity and wounds and celebrates that one day soon it will all be redeemed. He is elated over the day that “he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). And there is sustaining joy available to us this side of heaven if we will allow him to fill us with his perspective.

James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” If we will allow the Lord to redeem the trials and testing we endure in this life, we will begin to bear the fruit of joy in the midst of any circumstance. Unshakable joy is our portion. The heart of our Father is to make us a people marked by the joy of heaven. Take time today in guided prayer to throw off whatever is keeping you from experiencing the joy of the Lord. Rest in his presence and search out his heart. May you be a child marked by the joy of your heavenly Father today.           

Guided Prayer:

1. Meditate on the importance and availability of joy to you. Allow Scripture to fill your heart with a longing to pursue continual joy.

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” >Isaiah 55:12

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” >Romans 14:17

2. What is keeping you from experiencing joy? What is weighing you down today? Ask for the Lord’s help in throwing off that which is robbing you of his joy. Ask him to guide you to a path of unshakable joy today.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” >James 1:2-4

“For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.” Psalm 33:21

3. Take time to rest in the presence of your Father and search out his heart. Ask him to share with you his perspective for your life. Ask him to help you care about only the things he cares about.

“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

“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Psalm 4:7

C.S Lewis is also quoted as saying, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” We are not to be flippant about our joy. To be marked by joy is to allow the Holy Spirit to bear fruit in our lives. When we have genuine joy in the midst of trials and troubles, we declare to the world the unchanging and tangible goodness of our heavenly Father. When we meet challenges head-on with joy, we declare with our attitudes the hope we have for the age that is to come. Pursue joy wholeheartedly today and declare with your life the principles of God’s kingdom so that others might come to restored relationship with their Creator.

Extended Reading: Psalm 16

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