December 30, 2011

The source of Joy

A mild sinus infection is giving me a dull headache. After a few days, I’m feeling grouchy and impatient. Nothing like a slight nagging pain to reveal what I rely on for my joy.

I’ve tried extra sleep, pain killers, salt water sprays (which will eventually fix the infection), and as a distraction, writing, sketching, sewing, television, reading, and music. Instead of helping, none of these have made me feel any better.

This morning, the Lord directed me to a short verse that identifies the source of Christian joy and reminds me that even in this, my comfort and joy is not found in pills, medications, using my skills, or even in music.

Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.” (Psalm 87:7)
Here, the Word of God points to those involved in worship. They sing and dance, but they know that the source of their ability is God, not themselves.

With this verse, Oswald Chambers reminds me that all natural talent has no value when it comes to serving Christ. That is, any abilities that I have apart from Christ cannot produce eternal fruit. I must rely on Him and the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in me to effectively serve God.

This principle is also true regarding my own spiritual condition. That is, to be joyful I cannot rely on my own resources. They may not be wrong in themselves, but my “solutions” cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit in me. Joy is never the result of things I can do apart from Christ.

Isaiah said, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3), echoing the praises of the singers and dancers in the psalms. That is, he knew that their music was lovely and gave them much delight, but it was God who supplied the very life within them.

In that same vein, God supplies my life too. Because of that, He is the joy of my life, the very source of it. Before I was saved, I did many things to give me peace and a sense of well-being. However, those are nothing compared to the joy of salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit to produce joy, even when life is upside-down.

I’m convicted by this. Instead of going deeper into self-pity over present discomfort, God wants me to go deeper into Him, to find the joy that He gives, the joy that overcomes the world.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” (John 7:37–38)
This living water, this joy, is in Him. It is not in anything else, not my abilities nor the pleasures and “fixers” of life. They might work for others, but He shows me that if I want true joy, even when my head aches, I need to run to Him. He also reminds me that this living water is to flow outward; it is for others as much as it is for me.

Jesus, it is easy to trust You and enjoy life when all goes well. You have undergirded me in the past with the power of Your Spirit to produce peace and joy in my heart, even in tough times. Today, this fruit of joy can be mine also. While I need to take care of the physical needs, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I need to be filled with Your Spirit that I might praise You and be a blessing to those around me.

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