Choosing joy, sometimes it seems unreachable, doesn’t it?
Earlier this week we glanced at Paul’s challenge, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord….and it is a safe guard for you.” Philippians 3:1
Jumping deeper into joy:
I’m sharing insights from Philippians 3 that God has pressed into my heart lately. I’m not covering every detail of the amazing chapter, but over a couple of posts, I’m working through the places God has shone the light of His attention. (On a technical note, I have linked scriptures throughout the post.)
Learning to live lightly, Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and we can choose joy over any number of other options. We can choose joy or we can choose thoughts that steal joy.
Can you find the joy stealer lurking in verse 2?
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;
Joy Stealer 1: Following the wrong crowd.
Watch out for those that pressure you into a false gospel of earning your way into the graces of God. Here Paul is referring to those who wanted folks to go back to the old ways, stressing, Jesus is okay, but you got to keep the real faith–the laws and circumsision.
This might not seem like a big threat to your joy in today’s world.
Have you considered that any time we fall into the trap of trying to please God through our behavior or rule-keeping we are veering into joy-stealing territory? Our religious behavior is not the reason God loves us.
Ever worried that you weren’t attending church enough, reading your Bible enough, holding your temper enough, performing ______ enough to truly please God? Yep–we’ve all lost a little joy with these concerns at one time or another.
Choose Joy: Remember who you are.
…for we are the true circumcision.
Simply put, remember that you come to Christ by way of faith–the circumcision of the heart. Take joy in your identity as a child of God–loved, accepted, forgiven, saved, set apart, made holy.
Choose Joy: Worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus… v.3
When all our attention is riveted on ourselves or on others, joy leaks away as self reigns.
Paul tells us to worship in the Spirit of God. Where there is Spirit-led worship, there is joy. When we take our attention off ourselves and our issues, we live free to worship in the Spirit of God.
Where’s your glory?
When life is going well, it is all too easy to glory in myself, my work, my progress. On the flip side, when life is hard and all I can see is what I lack, joy seems unreachable. Sound familiar?
Choosing to rejoice in the Lord is a willful decision to take my focus off my own abilities and situations and worship Christ.
So, worship in the Spirit of God + glory in Christ
opens the way for true joy.
Joy Stealer: Relying on confidence in myself (the flesh).
…and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: (v. 3-4).
When our confidence (trust) is in ourselves and our own ability to meet needs, pressure to succeed robs us of joy. It’s hard to enjoy God when we’re consumed with trying to make ourselves OK. Joy is hard to come by when we’re overloaded with failures and problems.
Choose Joy: Let your lack bring you to God.
Put no confidence in abilities, position, appearance, opportunities, education, or strength. When we come face to face with our inabilities and weaknesses, let it bring us to humility and dependence on Christ. The Message puts it this way, “We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts—and we know it.”
Deep inside we know.
We can’t do it on our own. The longer we try, the deeper we dig ourselves into the futile ground of self-reliance and joy lasts only as long as our success holds out.
Learning to truly bank our confidence in Christ is key to knowing him more intimately. Confidence and joy are inseparably linked together for we can only find joy where there is trust.
Trusting God makes it easier to access our power of choice. Oh Friend, lets live lightly and choose joy.
Joy+Trust: 6 Verses to help you Choose Joy today.
But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You.–Psalm 5:11
Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy;–Psalm 43:4
But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, For You have been my stronghold And a refuge in the day of my distress. Psalm 59:16
For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.–Psalm 63:7
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.–Romans 15:13
…so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.–Colossians 1:10-12