Day 22: Why joy matters
A LoveSingapore 40.Day prayer and fast devotional, following 2022's theme of To Live Is Christ: A Journey Through the Book of Philippians.
LoveSingapore // July 22, 2022, 12:01 am
Bible reading for 40.DAY 2022 | Philippians 3:1
Joy matters for the same reason that blood count matters. It’s a matter of health. This article is a must read. It is adapted from Jim Johnston’s “Joyless Christianity is Dangerous” (Desiring God). Read slowly and prayerfully. Listen deeply. Respond humbly in prayer and confession.
Are you in spiritual danger? How do you find out? Check your joy level. Joy is a vital sign of spiritual health. If you lose your joy, you are in spiritual danger. If you want to stay safe, pay attention to your joy.
How does this work? Here’s an illustration.
Coal miners know that dangerous gases can gather silently and secretly in the tunnels. Methane explodes. Carbon monoxide asphyxiates.
In the early days of coal mining, they found an effective, low-tech solution: They brought canaries into the mines.
A canary’s metabolism is very sensitive to air quality. As long as the bright yellow birds chirp and sing, miners know the air is safe. But if gas levels rise, the canaries stop singing. They wobble on their perch and eventually fall to the floor of the cage.
The loss of joy is one of the first effects of sin or doctrinal error.
Have you stopped singing?
The heart of a joyful Christian sings like that yellow bird. So if your heart stops singing, be warned. The loss of joy is one of the first effects of sin or doctrinal error.
Guard your heart and check your doctrine. Are you abiding in Christ? Are you keeping His Word? If so, you will share His joy: If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love … These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:10-11).
A soul satisfied in Christ never stops rejoicing.
Joy is a barometer of our spiritual health. But don’t confuse this unique joy with upbeat feelings. Genuine Christian joy is not the power of positive thinking. Nor is it a bubbly, optimistic personality.
Joy is not being happy because life is going my way. It’s not walking through life with a naïve, glass-half-full attitude.
Jesus says it is “My joy … in you”. And Paul says: “Rejoice in the Lord.” That’s the secret. Heavenly joy is found only in the Lord.
Joy is the emotion of salvation. It is the joy of seeing, knowing, loving, and trusting Jesus Christ. No one can work up this joy. The Holy Spirit produces it in our soul (Galatians 5:22).
Joy is the emotion of salvation. It is the joy of seeing, knowing, loving, and trusting Jesus Christ.
This joy is a glorious gladness and a deep delight in the person of Jesus Christ. It cannot be extinguished by any circumstance in life. It is greater and stronger than any trouble that comes my way:
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV).
As a spiritual barometer, joy is not a slave to circumstances. The light of Jesus’ face shines in the darkest night. Jesus said: “No one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).
How does Christ-gazing, Spirit-given joy keep us safe? Here are two ways.
First, joy keeps you safe as you serve.
If you lose your joy, that could be a sign that your work for the Lord is no longer an offering of worship. Joy protects you from serving God for the wrong reasons.
Joy protects you from serving God for the wrong reasons.
George Müller was an evangelist and orphanage director in Bristol, England. He is famous for his tremendous faith and amazingly effective ministry. He cared for over 10,000 orphans during the course of his life.
And joy was Müller’s first priority each day: “The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how the inner life might be nourished.”
Working hard for Jesus — even caring for thousands of orphans — is a cold and empty duty if we have lost the warmth of our love for Christ. Joy keeps you safe from serving as a religious duty.
Second, joy helps you resist temptation.
“Joy in the Lord will guard you from the empty pleasures the tempter uses to bait his hooks” (Matthew Henry). A heart satisfied with the joy of Jesus will not crave Satan’s bait.
Joy keeps you safe and strong in your fight against sin.
When I get up from the table after a banquet, the last thing I want is more food. You can’t tempt me with another bite. In the same way, it’s hard for Satan to tempt a joyful believer with the empty pleasures of this world.
Joy keeps you safe and strong in your fight against sin.
“The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied” (Jonathan Edwards). A joyful believer is more than satisfied in Christ – what more could you possibly want?
Determine now to live the rest of your life satisfied in Christ. Take joy in the Lord! And let your heart sing like a canary: “It is well with my soul.”
Joy, a fruit of the Spirit, cannot co-exist with deception and unconfessed sin. Return to God.
1 What is the state of your soul? Are you in spiritual danger? Has following and serving Jesus become a dread and a drag rather than a delight? Joy, a fruit of the Spirit, cannot co-exist with deception and unconfessed sin. Return to God: Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt. Fighting and fears within without. Oh, Lamb of God, I come, I come.
2 Pray: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit (Psalm 51:10-12).
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