Though some people use the terms happiness and joy interchangeably, there is a vast difference in their meaning. Both cause a pleasant emotional response, but the former relies entirely upon circumstances. As soon as difficulty arises and pain intrudes, a person ceases to be happy. On the other hand, joy is a gift from God that enables believers to find hope and peace – even when life seemingly falls apart.
At times, however, even Christians live joylessly. Sinful behavior, of course, is one reason. But there can be other causes, too, including regret about past failures, fear of future mishaps, or a pattern of discontentment that’s ingrained in one’s personality.
If you’re a follower of Jesus but lack gladness, take a moment to remember who Christ is and who you are in Him. To begin with, you are saved eternally, and your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The love of almighty God is unconditional, and His indwelling Spirit will never abandon you. He understands everything you face and promises to provide for your needs.
When you stop to consider the blessings that are yours in Christ, gratitude will likely overwhelm you. Sadness concerning circumstances may still endure, but the joy of the Lord will carry you through even the deepest pain.
Amid the ups and downs of life, does God’s joy sustain you? Or do trials leave you hopeless and discontented? Our Father offers a higher way of living – not without pain but with strength to endure. Continually remember the vast treasure you have in Him and His promises.
Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, January 20, 2018.
Jesus: Our Source of Peace
Before we knew Jesus Christ, our life was full of godlessness and wickedness – we had self-seeking ways and stubborn, unrepentant hearts (Romans 1:18; 2:5, 8). Like our strife-filled world, we clamored for peace and tried to find it, but our efforts failed.
When we came to faith in the Savior, all of that changed. We were rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into Christ’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13). Every one of our sins – past, present, and future – was forgiven. Divine justice was satisfied by Christ’s sacrifice, and God’s wrath upon us (because of sin) was removed. We became a new creation, washed clean by Jesus’ blood (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Now that sin’s power over us has been broken, we can become members of God’s family rather than His enemies (Romans 5:10). He sent His Holy Spirit to be our personal guide in this new life, helping each of us experience Christ’s peace (8:6). We also can look forward to an eternity spent in heaven, where righteousness, tranquility, and joy abound (14:17).
The story of the Prodigal Son’s return is a picture of our reconciliation with the Lord (Luke 15:11-32). The young man had chosen to leave his father, living instead to please himself. Repentant, the son eventually returned home; his father joyfully greeted and forgave him, and there was harmony between them. God has done all this for us.
Our unity with the heavenly Father came at a great price – the sacrifice of His only Son.
Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, November 30, 2017.
Our life is to be based on the atoning work of Jesus Christ, who died to redeem us from bondage to sin. His precious blood paid in full the cost of all our transgressions – past, present, and future (Ephesians 1:7). Upon acceptance of the Lord’s sacrificial death on our behalf, we experience a second birth and become spiritually alive (John 3:3).
At that moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. His presence is proof of our new position in Christ, as well as a guarantee of our future inheritance and our place in heaven. As God’s children, we’re commanded to live a life of holiness, marked by a deep reverence for the Lord.
Our desire for holy living comes from knowing our Father’s character and understanding what it cost for us to be saved.
Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, November 18, 2017.
We will know fullness of joy by spending time in God’s presence (Psalm 16:11), aligning with His will, and sharing Him with those around us.
See more about my vision for these images.
It has been said that “God prefers reluctant obedience rather than joyful disobedience.” But this statement is misleading. When we first learn to obey God, we sometimes do so reluctantly because we leave the familiar territory of doing as we please to discover the uncharted waters of yielding our will to His. But once we understand that obedience to the Lord produces joy in our life, we also begin to realize that there is no such thing as “joyful disobedience.” For, in fact, ignoring God’s directives is a joy stealer.
Alan Redpath states it this way: “When there’s disobedience in the Christian life, the fullness ceases. And you soon know when you’ve lost the fullness because the joy is gone.”
If you find that you are resisting obedience to God in some area of your life, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” because no matter how vigorously you try to justify disobedience in your life, you can never replace the joy that is lost when you say “No” to God.
Dear Christian, run to do His will, and lay hold of the resulting joy that God has provided for those who obey Him. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain, for a joyful heart stems from an obedient heart.
“Obedient submission is the only way to joy.” Charles Stanley
Commentary from the Pathways devotional by David Jeremiah, June 9.
I hope the remainder of your week is spectacular!
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness,
faith, gentleness and self-control.
Against such things there is no law.
Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, God’s spirit, not man’s effort. We all decide who will rule our lives, either by actively surrendering to Christ, or deliberately going our own way. The fullness of the Spirit and godly character await those who choose God over self.
Photo credit: T. Link
In taking the Developing Your Eye course that WordPress offers, I am looking for new techniques or tips that I can learn, since I’m still learning about photography. The assignment for today is Bliss. I can say that the bliss that I have in life is based on the joy and peace that Jesus gives. I couldn’t quite figure out how to capture that in a photo 🙂 So, the other subject I thought about was how peaceful babies and pets look when they sleep deeply, peacefully. I actually don’t have a baby that lives here with me, so I wasn’t going to get that particular shot, but I do have pets. This is Muffin, sleeping soundly. I think this is the most prized part of each day for Muffin and also for my two dogs. The fact that they can sleep so soundly, as active as they all are, amazes me. I’m sure it is bliss!