By Tom Acey (Guest Blogger — an occasional, supplemental blog on living a life of joy)
This blog is the sixth in my series entitled “The Road to Joy,” in which I have examined the nature of true joy, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit; in the series we have been looking closely at the steps we required to experience this true joy in our lives. These steps were outlined in the book The Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado, and they provide the perfect framework for what I call “awakening the joy within.” Each of these blogs delves into one of these seven steps.
Change Our Outlook
We come today to the fifth step on the Road to Joy. The limiting beliefs and behavior patterns we have previously identified can and should be looked at as sins that God has already forgiven. Nevertheless, we can actively work to reorient these individual beliefs and patterns to by bringing the Holy Spirit to the forefront of our daily lives. The goal of all the work we have done is to change our outlook on ourselves, our lives and, most importantly, our relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
To start with, we need to understand that in Genesis 1:27 we read that God created us in His image and with His nature. Thus, the first man and woman were divine and had a personal relationship with God, which is the main reason He created them. However, he also gave Adam dominion over the earth with the command that Adam should both name the creatures of God’s creation and be the steward of all these things.
God also gave humans free will, knowing full well as He looked down the corridors of time, that the divine relationship would be broken by humanity’s sin of disobedience. Thus, when Satan deceived them in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve believed that God’s command – that they not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge – was keeping something essential from them. However, when they sinned God did not take away man’s divinity, but sin blocked us from living in that state. That was His punishment of man, and it’s our inheritance.
In the same passage of Genesis, God makes it clear that in time Satan would be defeated and the divine relationship of man and God would be restored through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. (See Genesis 3:15)
This reality of Scripture has not been taught to us as it should have been. Rather, we have been told that we are broken beings who live, in reality, in a world that is broken by sin. The latter is true, but the former is not, for God’s love is unbounded, and he has adopted us as his children through the sacrifice of his Son. Thus, our attitude, belief and outlook must change so that we can fulfill God’s command that we exercise dominion over his earthly creation.
Our new (reclaimed) outlook, that we are children of God, as we already know, is that we have been adopted by God because we acknowledged His son as our personal savior.
“We couldn’t complain if God had merely loved us enough to send his Son that we might ‘not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16) It would be enough for us. But not for God. He ‘sent his Son… to redeem’ us, not as an end in itself, but ‘that we might receive adoption to sonship.’ (Galatians 4:4 -5)”
“God does not merely want to save you. He wants you. He has adopted you into his family, given you his name (Revelation 3:12), and proudly called you His child. You could not possibly be loved more, or by anyone more important. You aren’t merely blessed by God. You are the child of God. Your father loves you.” (quoted from Our Daily Bread, January 31, 2019.)
You have been chosen to receive sanctification – to grow in holiness, to become more like the Savior. You are chosen and destined! Live like it!
So how do we accomplish that? Look at the following example. In her book Leading A Joy-Filled Life, Sarah Young offers this story:
“Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist who endured the Nazi death camps in World War II. After his release, he pondered why some people survived the horrible conditions while others succumbed. He wrote about this in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Author, Stephen Covey summarizes Frankl’s conclusions:
‘He looked at several factors – health, vitality, family structure, intelligence, survival skills. Finally, he concluded that none of these factors was primarily responsible. The single most significant factor, he realized, was the sense of future vision – the impelling conviction of those who were to survive that they had a mission to perform, so important work left to do.’
Faith in Jesus offers this kind of strong, future-oriented version. They can see those who believe in him through the worst of circumstances, reminding them that they have things to do in this life and the wondrous future beyond death.”
Today, I recommend that you spend time contemplating and reflecting on all that is good about you. Make a written list of how you are good, and what things you have done and are doing that are pleasing to and glorify God. Then, in prayer, commit to God to live as His adopted child, declaring that you will be all He has created you to be.
(This bonus guest blog was brought to you by Tom Acey of the Awakening the Joy Within© program. You can read Tom’s bio below. If you would like to read more of his compelling story, receive Tom’s weekly blog, and/or get more information about the Awakening the Joy Within© program and other programs from Joy Now, Inc, please visit www.livejoynow.com.