August 31, 2014

His joy — my joy

This last day of August seems to have arrived too soon (August is my favorite month). I didn’t get outside enough, didn’t ride my bike enough, didn’t travel enough. Nevertheless, my heart is filled with joy; not my joy, but the joy of Jesus.

Oswald Chambers asks, “What was the joy that Jesus had?” His answer is that we insult truth when we use the word happiness in connection with Jesus Christ. Jesus does not merely make us happy; He fills us with joy.

Chambers says His joy was absolute self-surrender, the self-sacrifice of Himself to His Father. He was filled with joy by doing what the Father sent Him to do. He said, “I delight to do Thy will.”

Have I allowed Jesus Christ to introduce this kind of joy to me?

That question makes joy a matter of choosing obedience, choosing to give up my I-wants and yield to His will. Even in the simple things, that kind of obedience may not look like it will produce joy, at least not up front, but it does.

He teaches me this is so in the smallest of things. For instance, I dislike talking on the phone, but He nudged me to call two people this week. I resisted for a couple days, then obeyed and was surprised by two long and delightful conversations. His joy.

I’m uncomfortable talking with people I barely know, but He nudged me to follow my hubby’s lead and invite some neighbors over for tea and pie. I mildly didn’t want to, but agreed and was blessed by more delightful conversation. His joy.

Jesus prayed that our joy might go on fulfilling itself until it was the same joy as His. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)

He also said, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24)

This joy floods in when I move toward God in obedience without concern about external happenings, physical circumstances and discomforts, or even my emotional state. As Chambers says, “the first thing that will hinder this joy is the captious irritation of thinking out circumstances.”

He is right. Jesus said the cares of this world will choke God’s word. Before we know what we are doing, we so easily get caught up in whatever is in our face, rather than remembering the wonderful promises of God, including the promise of His joy. It is there for the taking; it goes hand in hand with totally trusting Him and simply doing what He says.

Chambers adds this bonus: “Be rightly related to God, find your joy there, and out of you will flow rivers of living water. Be a center for Jesus Christ to pour living water through. Stop being self-conscious, stop being a sanctified prig, and live the life hid with Christ. The life that is rightly related to God is as natural as breathing wherever it goes.”

Then he reminds me that the lives that bless others the most are those who are unconscious of what they are doing. I know this is true because I’ve dear friends who are like that to me. Their godly and delightful lack of self-focus makes me want to be just like that to others, focusing on Jesus, doing what He says, blessing others because of Him, and being full of His joy.

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