By Tom Acey (Guest Blogger)
As Christians, we are expected to reflect joy in our daily lives, including our personal relationships. But what is joy exactly? Webster’s dictionary defines joy as
Author and pastor John Piper writes,
“Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul (not the body), provided by the Holy Spirit, as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world.”
Sadly, most people, including Christians, live their entire lives knowing or experiencing only a fraction of the joy available to them. Once their early childhood has elapsed, people unconsciously tend to “write” scripts that block or limit their ability to see and experience joy in their lives. Furthermore, it is scientific fact that our brains have been “hardwired” to focus more on negative rather than positive thoughts.
The absence or limitation of joy adversely impacts our relationships, such as family, work, friends and community. Also affected are facets of our own personal character, such as the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical aspects of our well-being. The lifestyle of modern industrialized cultures has given rise to lives filled with stress, overburdened by time demands, and overwhelmed with information. We are being driven further into system overload which increasingly isolates us from experiencing the joy we were meant to perceive.
But joy is not just a feeling experienced deep within our soul. Joy is a state of being! Further, joy is not synonymous with happiness. Being joyful is the foremost manifestation of the power of Christ’s love working within our lives.
Oswald Chambers puts it this way:
“What was the joy that Jesus had? Joy should not be confused with happiness. In fact, it is an insult to Jesus Christ to use the word happiness in connection with Him. The joy of Jesus was His absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice to his Father – the joy of doing that which the Father sent him to do. . . . Jesus prayed that our joy might continue fulfilling itself until it becomes the same joy as his.“
Hebrews 12:1-2 says,
“… Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
And James 1:2-4 encourages us to
“…count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
Do you feel that joy has eluded you? Have you searched for joy but been unable to capture that deep-seated feeling within your soul? The good news is that joy is within your grasp!
Pastor and author Max Lucado, in his book The Applause of Heaven, gives us some steps to understanding and moving forward in the process of creating a joyful life:
“But this joy is not cheap. What Jesus promises is not a gimmick to give you goose bumps nor a mental attitude that has to be pumped up at pep rallies. No [it’s] God’s radical reconstruction of the heart.”
Then Lucado describes the following steps to joyful living:
- First, recognize we’re in need of a “reconstruction.”
- Second, repent of our self-sufficiency.
- Third, be so grateful of God’s presence that we yearn for more of Him in our life.
- Fourth, forgive others.
- Fifth, change our outlook.
- Sixth, love others unconditionally.
- Seventh, endure injustice.
- Finally, Lucado writes, this is “no casual shift of attitude. It is a demolition of the old structure and a creation of the new. The more radical the change, the greater the joy. And it’s worth every effort, for this is the joy of God.”
This is not an overnight process, as you can imagine. But it works, absolutely. And as Lucado says, it’s worth every bit of the effort. I suggest you start the process by doing some honest soul searching. Spend time in prayer and write down the things in your life that are causing you difficulty: spiritual, mental and physical. They may be such things as resentments, financial difficulties, relationship problems, job dissatisfaction, feeling a spiritual disconnect from church or God or both, procrastination, health issues, loneliness, depression or anxiety.
The list should include anything that is keeping you from living joyfully. Then admit to yourself, to God and to another person that you need a reconstruction in your life. Don’t do this alone. Get some help from a spiritually mature friend or your pastor. Once you’ve made this admission, you will begin to feel a sense of freedom.
(This week’s 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.
Tom Acey, the founder of Joy Now, Inc., is an experienced creator and facilitator of transformational workshops and trainings. He ventured into faith-based workshops with his Awakening the Joy Within© program, which focuses on freeing believers from limiting beliefs and habits that prevent them from experiencing true joy and living joyfully to the glory of God. Through the programs of Joy Now, Inc, Tom’s mission in life is to carry the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ to Christians and non-Christians alike to awaken the joy within them so that they may reflect that joy to the world around them.