Friday, March 27, 2009

The Joy of the Lord!

Have you ever experienced the joy of the Lord? No, I'm not talking about happiness. Happiness is not the same at all. Happiness relies solely on the external. Things like pleasure, personal experience and circumstance. The joy of the Lord is wholly different. Let me give you a few examples. Chocolate-peanut-butter ice cream makes me very happy. Blue jeans that fit make me very happy. Children who don't argue in the car make me very happy. But, smiling while I'm grieving, being able to hug someone who has hurt me, and having indescribable peace when my world is falling apart, now that is the joy of the Lord.

The joy of the Lord is what separates Christians from the rest of the world. It is where the rubber meets the road, if you will. Being a regular Sunday pew warmer will not build your spiritual muscles. Sure, it's a great start, but having peace through a storm, a song in your heart through a fiery trial, or the strength to get up the very next day when your heart is breaking, that my friend is what people are watching for. What they are seeing is the joy of the Lord.

I witnessed the joy of the Lord last night.

Friends of ours pastor a small church. Their congregation has run them out. They built their little church from the ground up over twenty-five years ago. Slanderous words, hurtful accusations and unbearable gossip have been the arrows that have pierced their hearts. It has been so sad to watch. And for now, I must refrain from going down a bunny trail about power hungry, prideful sheep.

Instead of putting their congregation through this ugliness, they have decided to step down. In return, the Lord has blessed them and opened up a path for these precious saints to walk through, close to their children and grandchildren. But sadly for us, out of state.

It was an honor to be a part of their going-away potluck last night. What many would expect to be an evening of tears and sadness, was instead filled with many stories of God's faithfulness these past few months. And of course good food, wonderful fellowship, and much laughter. They are full of smiles and hugs, waiting with joyful anticipation for what God has planned next for their lives. I had tears in my eyes when this sweet pastor and his wife encouraged us and sang the precious hymn "In The Garden."

Friends, there is an indescribable, irresistable and unexplainable joy of the Lord. I was blessed to witness it last night.

Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10 NIV


journey of faith said...

A song in their hearts!! What a blessing to witness such joy under such a trial!! God is amazing! One door closes, another opens.... God is always saying, "yes" to His best!

a portland granny said...

What a sad, but triumphant story!! Isn't God good to give them His joy in the midst of what must have been terrible heartbreak for them?? Thanks for sharing such an uplifting story!! We all need these kinds of encouragement!

Michele Williams said...

Such an encouraging story! Thank you so much for sharing! Blessings to you... Have a wonderful weekend!

LisaShaw said...

I'm so saddened by all they must have gone through but I rejoice in the fact that they have counted it all joy as they've endured the trials and tribulations and are moving on in Jesus Name to the next phase of their lives that the Lord has for them.

True joy is when we can face down the enemy and still stand unshakeable, immovable in Christ and still love, give, encourage and honor the Lord. Your friends have that!! Praise God!

LisaShaw said...

I also met to say I LOVE THAT PHOTO OF THE CROSS!!!

English Cottage in Georgia said...

Such a wonderful reflection...I had never thought about joy in the Lord vs. happiness. How right you are :-)

Barbara said...

What a blessing to see the joy of the Lord in its the midst of their heartbreak to see the hand of God opening doors and keeping them close to His heart. Great post..thanks for sharing

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

I just love this post. Yes, there is a big difference between happiness and joy and you did super job here!

I will be praying for your pastor friend and his wife. As a Pastor's wife myself, I know how tough it can be sometimes to be in the ministry.

I always enjoy coming here!


Sit A Spell said...

What an amazing post...thanks so much for sharing! I sing that little song often in my head..."the joy of the Lord is my strength." I am in MI where the economy has been awful for at least 3 yrs now and getting worse by the day! Despite all...I want HIS joy in my heart and on my face.

Elizabeth M Thompson said...

Thanks for the reminder. Joyful. I need to remember that there is nothing for me to lose my joy over. It is secure in Jesus' love for me. My circumstances can't touch that. I wish they didn't influence my moods so much though.

Tea with Tiffany said...

Great example of real JOY!

Anonymous said...

Yesterday as I traveled to yet another appointment , I reviewed my relationship with God. I admitted I have been a disappointment to my Heavenly Father. Still He is faithful to bless me , which he did . IN the middle of my museings He opened my eyes to the difference between happiness and the Joy in the Lord , I had thought I had lost my Joy ,but He showed me that I had only took my eyes off Him. I was so blessed and the blessing continues. For some reason this morning I typed in the words that brought me here, I am so amazed that He sent me here to confirm the lesson learnt. Thank You Jesus!


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