Keys to Joyful Living
We all find joy in different parts of our lives - relationships, family, ministry, work, and other things. Some joy is temporary because things of this world are temporary. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon indulged in the temporal nature of possessions and worldly success and called it all meaningless.
You and I both know that joy in earthly things won't last, so let's remind ourselves of Christ's formula for joyful living.
Remain in Him
Jesus said in John 15:11, "I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete" (HCSB).
You may have heard or even taught about this verse before, but what exactly was Jesus talking about? The joy we find by remaining in Him. Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
By remaining in Christ, we can have constant joy that's not dependent upon circumstances. Yes, you can have joy in circumstances or events, but the deep, lasting joy comes from abiding in Christ.
That means you have Christ's joy in the middle of a crazy week of shuttling yourself and your family all over town for various errands, meetings, and other things. It means you have joy when you get a flat on the way to an appointment. It means you still have joy when you're sifting through paperwork at church. And it certainly means you have joy when you see how Christ is working among the ladies in your community.
Change your focus
The other night, I was having a pity party because things weren't going my way. (Sound familiar?) I wanted to crawl into bed and wait for the day to end, but I realized that I had not opened the Word of God that day.
I was drawn to Psalm 61: "God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer. I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that is high above me, for You have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy."
The words jumped off the page. Could I make it through any day – much less this day – without my Lord? Could I be my own rock? Could I make myself joyful with my own efforts? Absolutely not. But I sure had tried that day. As I prayed through that Scripture, God's joy replaced my pity party, reminding me of Who He is.
Had my circumstances changed? No, but my focus did. I received joy from the Lord - not the kind that says, "Yay, life is so great! You need to be happy!" But I sensed God's presence in my life - that was joy. I needed to make sure I was remaining in Him and receiving my "nutrients" from Him, my Vine, instead of trying to fashion my own joy from circumstances, possessions, other people, or labor.
The joy you may have in circumstances and events is real, but a complete joy comes when those things fade, and you know you can live joyfully in any situation. So amid your busy personal and ministry schedule, make time to examine where your joy is coming from. Remain in Jesus Christ. Let Him have your focus, and watch your joy become complete.