Devotional

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” – Psalm 16:11

People come from all across the country and the world to see the sugar sand beaches of the Emerald Coast. One of my guilty pleasures is going to the beach. I go to the beach to relax. It is the best place to chill and to feel the most joy and peace. It never gets old, looking out at the vastness of the Gulf. It reminds me of how little I am and how big and powerful God is. On the beach, the pressures of life that are wearing on my heart don’t feel as heavy. The beach is where I go to find joy and reconnect with God.

There are so many things coming at us these days that we spend a lot of time and emotional energy feeling guilty, sad, or confused about our lives. We have lost our joy in the midst of trying to figure it all out. We have all had to make difficult choices for our families and careers. We worry about the circumstances we have no control over. Our joy is in jail.

This is not the life we wanted.  We wanted something more. Something different. Something better. But there are things that keep my joy in jail and I have a hard time passing go. We worry we are not getting things right and as a result we hold our happiness hostage. Living this way gets tiring, and it is not what God intends for us. It’s the enemy’s plan, according to Jesus: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10).

God wants you to live in His grace. He wants you to reset your expectations to let go of guilt and reclaim your joy out of jail. The Apostle Paul mentions joy or rejoicing sixteen times in the four chapters of Philippians, even when he was in jail. Paul actually wrote this book from jail. No matter what life threw at him, Paul kept discovering joy. Philippians 1:1-2. says, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul mentions Jesus 3 times in these 2 verses. I heard a preacher say that joy is your present possession when Christ is your constant obsession.

Jesus is our purpose and our source of joy. So what can we do to keep Jesus on our mind constantly? Paul was obsessed with pursing the One who had pursued him. We can do the same thing. Joy comes from knowing that when we are weak, Jesus is strong. Or when we are confused and unsure, Jesus provides wisdom. Joy comes from knowing that in Christ I have a relationship that will last and even when I fail Him, His mercy endures forever.

Find that joy this week. You don’t have to wait for the next major event in life. You can rejoice that you woke up this morning. You can rejoice that God has plans for you that are good.  You can rejoice that He is always with you.  There is nothing conditional about the joy from Jesus Christ, and nothing better to rejoice about.    

Discussion Questions:

  1. I Thessalonians 5: 16 says, “Always be joyful.” Is that realistic? How do we turn sorrow into joy?
  2. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” What is the difference between hope and joy? Pray that God would make joy a realistic, constant and overflowing part of your life.