Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pure Joy

A few weekends back we had our Louisiana Women's Seminar and my eyes were opened. Not because of the words the Speaker (Connie Dietrich) spoke during the sessions, but from our one on one time together. When she seemed to just read me like an open book and gave me some insight into my own life. I had already heard these particular sessions that she did and had requested for her to do them again for this seminar and I loved them just as much as the first time I heard them, if not a little more. But I still went away feeling like I had missed something that was vital for my life and while taking her to the home she was staying in, after the seminar, she asked me how she could encourage me. She noticed I had a heaviness about me and wanted to help me lift it. In just that short time together, she revealed what I had been searching for years to find. What it was that was holding me back, keeping me from experiencing the true joy in Christ that I have been longing for. I have been, for a very long time, putting myself down, not liking this or that about myself, convincing myself that I couldn't do so many things, that I wasn't as good as so and so...and the list goes on an on. I wondered why I was getting frustrated so easily with my children when I knew they didn't deserve that kind of behavior from me. She reminded me of a verse that I know by heart but hadn't applied to my life, Luke 6:45 -
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."

Evil? I'm not evil so this verse must not apply to me. That's what I thought anyway. When I think of evil, I think of the grim reaper, anything to do with murder and plotting horrible things against other people. But as you study the word evil in the Bible it takes on a whole new meaning. Gen. 8:21 says
"The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done."
Nobody thinks of a child as evil but here it says, from childhood every inclination of his heart is evil. Duet. 17:4 -
"If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death."
This man and woman were worshiping other idols. How many times in our own lives do we put other things before God, those are our idols!! Duet. 17:8 -
"If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults—.....12The man who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the LORD your God must be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel."
This evil is bloodshed, lawsuits, assaults, showing contempt for those in authority, and I could go on with many verses showing that evil isn't what I imagined it to be. Rather I've come to the conclusion that anything that goes against what God teaches and keeps you from having a close personal relationship with Christ is evil! Gossiping, fighting among ourselves, jealousy, envy, selfishness, etc. is all evil! Connie told me that all the things I was thinking about myself were flowing over and were coming out directed at my children. So I realized what I need to do is to focus on being joyful, to put good thoughts inside my head, to think positively about myself and not always degrade myself. There are more verses in the Bible talking about joy than anything else and now I see why. If you don't have joy, you're robbed of a wonderful relationship with Christ. Satan is very clever in that he looks for the things that aren't always obvious to trip us up and make us fall. Not being joyful is not something that you look at and say, "oh no, I'm sinning." It's so easy to slip into the rut of, "woe is me," and not even realize it.
As I started looking up verses on joy I came upon this one: Psalm 19:8 -
"The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes."

That's what I want to experience. I want people to be able to look at me and see that I am joyful. How do we come about this joy? 1 Chronicles 16:27 says,
"Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place. "
Psalm 45:7 -
"You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."
Psalm 90:14 -
"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."
Psalm 97:11 -
"Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart."
From just this small sampling of Joy verses we can see that if we rest in God, in his dwelling place, we will have joy. If we love righteousness & hate wickedness He will give us Joy, and if we come to Him every morning to be reminded of all He's done for us, we will have Joy. I think what helped me most though was to come to the realization that I've been living for myself. Everything is about me, all the advertisements are things to make my life better. It's all about me. How will this affect me? Will this make me happy? Why did this have to happen to me? We could go on an on with me questions but I think you get the point. Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote a book called "Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free" and it has a very good chapter on this very subject. It's about how we've taken God out of the center of the universe and have put ourselves in His place. The apostle Paul tells us that God does not exist for us but that we exist for Him. Col. 1:16-1816
"For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy."

Paul had discovered the secret to true happiness and was able to "rejoice always', even in jail and in many of the other trials he went through. He was not living for himself or to get his needs fulfilled. His passion was to live for the glory and pleasure of God.
Acts 20:24 24
"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."


me said...

Great thoughts, Michelle. Connie sounds like such a neat lady.

Do you know the song "Desert Song" (Hillsongs)? I love it! It reminds us to bring praise in every season because He is still God. When we're praising Him through the storms, we can pray "refine me, Lord," rather than pitying ourselves.

We cannot believe satan when he tries to tell us we're something other than what God has already labeled us. It says that even when triumph is still on its way, we are conquerors and co-heirs with Christ, and that's the promise we stand on. We have a reason to worship!!

I will stop preaching now. :) You are lovely.

In The Potter's Hands said...

Thank you for your encouraging words Betsy! I'm not sure I've heard that song but if it plays on K-LOVE I probably have and will pay attention to it next time it plays. You are so right about the lies that Satan feeds us! I read the book "Lies Women Believe and The Truth That Sets Them Free" and it really opened my eyes to many things, not to mention, set me free! I'm going to do a class at church on that book soon, I think everybody should read it!

Abbi said...

Great post Michelle! Thanks so much for sharing. Joy is something I have been working on as well. I hope your journey to a joy filled life goes very well!

Also I am very excited that you have joined in on the blogging! Welcome.