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Pray for a life marked by joy

This past week, we were able to attend a conference at our college alma mater. The worship leader for the week posed this question, "Do you think it was your alarm clock that woke you up this morning?" This is such a simple question that honestly stirred within my heart such joy and thankfulness. My answer was, "No!" The alarm clock normally does annoyingly blare each morning and we hit snooze a million times, but that's not the reason we open our eyes, that we breathe the breaths that fill our lungs, the reason for anything really. The Lord gives us life. This realization and truth is the reason to mark our lives with true joy!

In fact, the word joy is mentioned 165 times in the Bible. That should tell us that it's a pretty significant subject to God.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,

that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

During my teenage years, I would journal a lot! I would journal about silly things like the outfit I wore that day to wondering what would happen next with Zach and Kelly on the then popular TV show, "Saved by the Bell." During my junior year of high school, my Youth Pastor encouraged us to journal in our spiritual lives as well. I remember a series he taught on the fruits of the spirit, and journaling through what each of those fruits looks like when you put them to action. Joy is one of the fruits of the spirit that simply fascinates me because it is so much more than a feeling. Joy is a fruit of the spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Now, as a wife, mom, friend, co-worker, and all the other roles that we as women play - joy can seem beyond our grasp. Sometimes, we feel like we don't know how to get it or how to find it.

Could it be that a lack of joy in our lives is connected to a lack of abiding in the source of true joy? Instead of pursuing Christ as our joy, do we often end up pursing joy in our circumstances, or in search of personal desires, or maybe even in our relationships? I want to encourage you today, dear friends that we can only experience the power and character of Christ through moment-by-moment reliance on Him. That is where we can find true and lasting joy.

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

1 John 1:4

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you,

and that your joy may be full.

John 15:11

Joy is not like happiness. It’s not temperamental. Joy is the ability to have expectant hope no matter what ups and downs this world brings us. The humbling truth is that if we are not experiencing joy, we are not abiding in the One who provides it. That's a harsh truth, but there it is! Am I abiding in Christ in order to experience joy?

We gain all-access to joy by abiding hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute with our Savior, Jesus. He is the One who produces joy that cannot be lost or extinguished.

Timothy Keller says, “There is a joy available that the deepest grief cannot put out. No circumstance or person can take away the joy God gives.”

Joy is the characteristic that will mark us as changed and renewed Christians who are undaunted because of the never changing, all powerful presence of Christ.

I'm not saying that our joy will always be perfectly portrayed in this life, because we will always experience strains and struggles. We are, after all, flesh and bones. We experience the ebbs and flows of life. But as Christians abiding in Christ minute-by-minute and day-by-day, joy is available to us. We granted access to this joy, especially in the midst of life's strains and struggles:

Though now you do not see Him, yet believing,

you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.

1 Peter 1:8