The joy of the Lord…our strength

A slight diversion from the goings-on in El Salvador for a devotional minute or two.  This past weekend we were part of a missionary conference organized by our friend Mike & Brittany to encourage, connect and refresh families and individuals who serve here from various organizations and parts of the country.

Family+Pic

Peter Desoto was our key speaker for the weekend, and he spoke on joy: finding joy in Jesus, in relationships, in trials and in ministry.  Having served for five years in El Salvador with ENLACE, he was able to speak into our lives and situation.  However, Pete was uniquely qualified to share about finding joy in trials; he was shot in the neck about a year into his service in El Salvador, and miraculously survived a wound that should have been fatal and eventually took his voice.  (see a video here)  Peter is from southern California, Seal Beach, just up the road from our home church, and has continued his outreach to the poor with Three Angels ministry in Haiti.  It was a message that really impacted me.  If we loose our joy, we loose our strength.

And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!  (Nehemiah 8:10 NLT)

This week I want to look at “Joy Killers” and next week we will take a look at “Joy Fillers.”  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but is a good snapshot of areas that people who genuinely love God, and desire to serve Him can easily get off track in a joyless existence.

Joy Killers:

  1. Competition and Comparison
  2. Legalism – living outside of grace
  3. Substitutes for God
  4. Sins – anger, greed, lust, pride, jealousy, etc.
  5. Strife and Contention
  6. Worry and Concern

Joy comes from partnership with God.  And each one of these “Joy Killers” could, at the core be based on self; when we desire to shift our confidence (faith) in God to a self-promotion, self-pity or self-centeredness.  Faith in God keeps us safe, trusting He is in control, keeps our need to control people, relationships and the future to a minimum.  True joy is found in the person of Jesus and in what He says, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”  (John 15:11)

A couple of thoughts on the importance of living the fullness of joy through faith/partnership with God:

Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies…  (Deuteronomy 28:47-48)

And without faith it is imposible to please Him, (God) for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.  And you will say in that day, “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the peoples, proclaim that His name is exalted.”  (Isaiah 12:3)

Let’s do everything that we can to keep these thieves of the joy and presence of God out of our lives.  Next week, I want to look at some practical ways that we can truly live in the empowering joy of the Lord.

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