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.
The greatest tragedy that can befall someone is to think he’s saved, only to discover after death that he isn’t. We’d all like to believe the claims of those who say they’re Christians, but Jesus gives a harsh warning because He knows many will be deceived. They will sit in churches week after week, professing that Jesus is the Son of God, but won’t ever really enter into a personal relationship with Him.
Intellectual faith isn’t the same as saving faith. It’s not enough to know facts about Jesus or to believe He died and rose again. Even demons believe that (James 2:19). Salvation involves more than mere knowing. It requires trusting that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sin, receiving His forgiveness, turning away from old sinful ways, and entering into a relationship with Him. What matters is not what we say with our mouth, but what we believe in our heart.
Although you probably won’t understand all that happens at the moment of salvation, when Christ becomes your Savior, He also becomes your Lord. As the Master of your life, He then has the right to govern what you do. His Holy Spirit takes up residence within you when you are saved, and that means you will change – God’s Spirit continually works to remove sinful attitudes and behaviors, replacing them with His spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).
We recognize a person’s salvation not by his profession but by fruit. If you are truly saved, your character will become more Christlike over time, and your desire will be to obey the Lord. This does not mean you’ll never sin or stumble, but overall, your life will be characterized by obedience.
Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, December 18, 2017.
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.
If you answer yes to every question, you can be sure that you are in God’s family and destined for an eternity in His presence. If you answer no, you’ll know exactly which issue(s) to talk over with your pastor or spiritual mentor.
Do I trust Scripture? Salvation is a one-step process: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Either we trust that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world (including ours), or we don’t (John 3:16).
Do I accept the witness of the Holy Spirit? Anyone who believes in Jesus has the Spirit dwelling within his or her being. That is, the Holy Spirit testifies with regard to our identity as God’s children (Romans 8:16). It’s not about whether we feel saved; God’s Spirit offers an abiding conviction that we are.
Do I walk like a follower of Jesus? Those who are in Christ are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). If we have been transformed, then there are going to be changes in our life. Simply put, true believers are creatures who seek the things of God – they desire to read and understand His Word, they want to gather with His people, etc.
Confirmed Christ-followers still sin. Some even backslide for a time. No matter how meandering our walk of faith may be, the Holy Spirit continues to convict. He won’t allow us to be satisfied with wrongdoing. That tug of guilt over sin is yet another assurance that you’ve placed yourself in God’s grip.
Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, November 19, 2017.
Jesus rescues His people from sin-“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
The master theme of the Christian gospel is salvation. Salvation is a picture-word of wide application that expresses the idea of rescue from jeopardy and misery into a state of safety. The gospel proclaims that the God who saved Israel from Egypt, Jonah from the fish’s belly, the psalmist from death, and the soldiers from drowning (Exod. 15:2; Jon 2:9; Ps. 116:6; Acts 27:31), saves all who trust Christ from sin and sin’s consequences.
As these earthly deliverances were wholly God’s work, and not instances of people saving themselves with God’s help, so it is with salvation from sin and death. Our salvation involves, first, Christ dying for us and, second, Christ living in us (John 15:4; 17:26; Col. 1:27) and we living in Christ, united with him in his death and risen life (Rom. 6:3-10; Col. 2:12, 20: 3:1).
We do have a part to play in this. This vital union, which is sustained by the Spirit from the divine side and by faith from our side, and which is formed in and through our new birth, presupposes covenantal union in the sense of our eternal election in Christ (Eph. 1:4-6).
Commentary from Concise Theology by J. I. Packer, part of the chapter on Salvation, pages 146, 147.
Every day we are recipients of one blessing after another. Every morning we see new mercies and rediscover God’s great faithfulness. David Jeremiah’s Pathways Devotional, November 11.
“For these blessings we owe Almighty God, from whom we derive them, and with profound reverence, our most grateful and unceasing acknowledgements.” James Monroe