September 27, 2011

Beyond happy . . .

A person dear to me argues against the Christian faith with, “Lots of people are very happy without that sort of stuff.” Today’s devotional reading answers that, beginning with this verse . . . 
Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs. (Deuteronomy 33:29)
This verse asks who are like those who have been saved by the Lord? While some of us struggle with all sorts of things, we have one thing in common. We all know the joy of the Lord. This goes beyond happiness because it does not depend on circumstances. Even in great trial and sorrow, that amazing joy often bubbles up from inside us, a gift of God that goes far beyond “very happy.”

Besides joy, no one but the people of God can enjoy triumph over sin and death. No one has the total assurance of forgiveness of sin and eternal life as we do. No one else can say that they belong to the Lord Jesus Christ and daily live in His presence unless they have put their faith in Him. There is no comparison between the delights of ordinary life and the delights of living in the kingdom of our King.

Spurgeon says those who think Christians are not as happy as other people, or that Christianity makes people miserable, are strangers to our faith. They have no idea of the joy that comes with our exalted position in Christ. He has seated us with Him in heavenly places. We know Him, walk with Him, spend our days and nights with the Creator of the universe. He is our Savior and Friend.

Jesus Christ made us the children of God. It is ridiculous to think that our Father would give all happiness to His enemies and reserve all sorrow for His own family. God surely does not allow His foes the mirth and joy leaving His children with pain and wretchedness. He sustains us through our lives with His peace and deep joy.

The Bible says we can rejoice in the Lord always. If that were not enough, we also can glory in our inheritance, for we “have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but we have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). Whatever belongs to Jesus also belongs to us.

While God does use trials to develop our character, the outcome is just that. We are made better as He uses all things to produce in us the fruits of righteousness. We are “people saved of the Lord” and find great joy in the God of our salvation, even in discomfort. Our joy does not depend on circumstances.

Not only that, we are united to Christ, members of His Body and together blessed with His comfort and assurance. We offer each other incredible support and fellowship that goes beyond being mere friends. We have a firm foundation and stand on a solid rock. Again, our joy and delight in Christ go far beyond merely being happy.

Jesus, I am so thankful that I belong to You and that You love me with an everlasting love. You give me purpose for this life and solid hope for the next. I’m also thankful that I don’t have to settle for “happy” but instead can have Your deep joy. You offer so much more meaning to life than the transitory stuff of here and now, good and bad. 

However, I have one dire burden and it is this: that those who do not know You are not able to see or desire the glory of being a child of God. This is my prayer again today, that You will open blind eyes and change hard hearts. May Your love draw even the “happy” people into Your kingdom.

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