Joy: The birthright of those who know and love Jesus.

This week's devotional is from Pastor Art Greco.

ENCOUNTER:

The concept of “joy” is mentioned so often in the Bible that it can seem normal for it to be automatic – a birthright of sorts – as though only a “dancing” Christian is an authentic Christian.  If that’s the case, then I’d have to admit that I’m only truly Christian about 10% of the time.  But if the joy that angels announced to shepherds in the field on the occasion of Christ’s birth had primarily to do with a newly launched hope for a different future and relatively little to do with an easier, more prosperous life now, then joy is an option for all who are servants of Jesus.  

In other words, even a melancholy personality like mine can be bathed in joy if the Bible speaks of something other than the fleeting, unstable, unssustainable version of it offered by a world that is so “apart” from Christ and unresponsive to his teachings.

BE REFLECTIVE:

Reflect on the following texts and consider how they might be lived out with a more biblical understanding of joy – one that is linked to hope instead of more instantly pleasurable, and measurable accomplishments.

Matthew 13:44 (note: joy is linked to a potential treasure)

Matthew 28:8 (note: fear and joy are linked here)

Luke 6:22-23 (note: challenge to be joyful when persecuted and ridiculed)

Romans 15:13 (note: joy and hope are linked here)

II Cor. 7:4, 8:2, I Thess.1:6  (note: how in the world could joy be partnered with affliction?)

Hebrews 12:2  (note:  Jesus had joy as he went to the cross?)

How do some of these verses inform your understanding and experience of joy?

BE A BLESSING:

If hope and true, biblical joy are linked, whom do you know or regularly encounter who seems to be lacking in the kind of hope that leads to joy?  How might you make a deposit in their “hope bank”?  What encouragement might this person need in order to see for him/herself a different future?  Ask God what part he might want you to play in leading or directing them to that hope?

BE TOGETHER:

The next time we’re together as a church for worship or you’re gathered at a smaller group of Christians, find someone who’s strengthened your hope and, therefore, stoked your joy.  Tell them how and thank them for doing that.

“Lord, if you are for us (and we know for certain that you are) then who or what could possibly have long term success by being against us?  Let that truth always serve to remind us of the good future that is in store and the rich lives we are priviledged to live while moving toward it.”

Amen