Devotional by Jen Sargent | Song by Luke Hundeby & Chelsea Kimball
Being joyful isn’t a consistent expression for me. Usually when I wake up in the morning, I am resistant to even roll out of bed and get going. The description of a “morning person” is not how I would describe myself. Once I have cognitively woken up, which usually takes me a good half hour to an hour, then I can consider what the day holds for me and what my attitude will be. Though I am naturally an upbeat person who is driven by being with people and being active, I wonder why it is sometimes difficult for me to be joyful. But what exactly is joy?
Rick Warren, in his Daily Hope online devotionals, defines joy as “the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”[i] Many people might associate joy as an emotion that is quite the same as the expression of happiness. According to Rick Warren’s definition, joy is not an emotion, but a choice. It is a determined choice. Life, as we know, is full of ups and downs; it has its great moments and its difficult moments. If we base our emotions and expressions off of our life’s situations, then we will be like the foolish man who built his house on the sand in Matthew 7:24-27. We will be washed away when the waves of difficulties come and touch our lives. Rather, Warren claims that a biblical joy is a “determined choice to praise God in every situation” whether good or bad. Our joy should be built upon the truths of God; then we will stand strong through the waves, like the man who built his house upon the rock.
Sometimes, though, it is not that easy to choose joy. I am not going to ignore the fact of that reality. Life can be mundane or a great struggle at times. So then where can we find our joy? How do we even get our heart to tag along in a conscience decision to be joyful? Personally, I think the best way is to remind myself of the great love of God that He lavished on us through the great sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 3:1). If you have been involved the Church for any extensive amount of time, you have probably heard this message too many times to count. I, myself, am in that category; thus, I need to find a way to remind myself of God’s love that speaks directly to my soul and breaks past the barrier that has been built up from hearing the same message again and again.
Reading Ephesians 2:1-10 has become one of those ways that I find joy. This Scripture is such a powerful passage; I like to call it a “truth bomb.” Paul, in this passage, writes about the great grace of our loving God. It says:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Now I’m not sure about you, but this Scripture gets my blood pumping and my heart pounding. Think about it. We are a sinful people, and no matter how much we do to try and be righteous, we are still like “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6; 52:5; Romans 3:10). But God, I love how Paul says these words – “but God.” God, who is so rich in love and mercy, chose us. He chose to love us, even while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). Through the greatest act of sacrifice, God sent His Son to redeem us from our filthiness. Does this amaze you yet? Just wait, because it gets even better! More amazingly, God gives us His gift of salvation freely. It is a gift! We do not have to earn it. This is grace. Grace is giving us something that we don’t deserve. We don’t deserve salvation. We don’t deserve God’s love. We don’t deserve His blessings and provisions. We don’t deserve to sit with Him forever in His presence and experience His immeasurable riches. We just don’t. But God, out of His great love, has chosen to fixate His love on us. That is something to rejoice about.
In this truth, we can find our joy. No matter what life may be like, we can be confident and have joy because God’s love for us is steadfast and freely given to us. He has saved us from what we do deserve and given us what we don’t. If we have understanding and faith in this grace, then nothing can shake our joy. Therefore, as Rick Warren said, choose to “praise God in every situation.” Choose to have joy.
Sources: Warren, Rick. “The Definition Of Joy.” The Definition Of Joy. Rick Warren, 21 May 2014. Web. Jan. 2015.
(Verse1) You have brought me back | We have found our way | We’re under love’s attack | And we are here to stay | We will give all we have | To see Your kingdom come | We will give all we are | For You have shown us love
(Chorus) Your love is amazing | It’s got my heart racing | Now we’ve come undone | In the streets of Your love forever we are dancing | Your love is bringing freedom | Alive now within us | Now we’ve come undone | In the streets of Your love forever we are dancing
(Verse2) We’re made alive in You | We’ll leave the world behind | In everything we do | Your love is shining bright | Oh we will give all we have | To see your kingdom come | We will give all we are | For you have shown us love