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Broken Joy? How to Get It Fixed

6 Oct

Pinterest has inspired many great crafts. 

But in at least a few cases, it has also inspired broken dishes!

I recently read about “12 Creative Crafts that Take Broken China from Trash to Treasure!”

Some of the new creations suggested were a watering can, a birdhouse, a birdbath and an end table. (I’ve pictured some in this article.)

A friend of mine actually broke some perfectly fine old—I would call them beautiful antique—dishes so she could make some “broken dishes” crafts with the pieces!

It’s not a Pinterest thing, but when I saw the picture of  the broken joy pottery (above), it inspired me to piece together a piece about “broken joy.”

Joy is such a beautiful thing. It’s extremely sad when it gets broken.

Pastor Jim Johnston wrote, “One key sign of spiritual danger is losing your joy. … Joy is one of the vital gauges on the dashboard of the Christian life.”

Here are 10 thoughts about fixing or rebuilding broken joy.

1. Joy wanes when we neglect time with God and His Word.

When I came to the Lord in faith, receiving what He did for me on the cross as the sacrifice for my sin, He made me a new creation and He fills my hearts with joy. He delights in His beloved children.

But many things can rob me of His joy—distractions and “joy-killers.”

That’s why David, after committing horrendous sins, prayed to the Lord, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation…” (Psalm 51:12).

After I confess my sin, I need the Word of God to water my soul and continually restore me to spiritual health. 

Joy is a byproduct of a relationship with the Lord through the Spirit of God. As a praise song says, “Joy is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart when the King is in residence there.”

In the Lord’s presence is “fullness of joy,” and if we want joy full to overflowing, we must remember what Jesus has spoken to us in the Word of God.

2. Joy abounds when we are safe and satisfied in the Lord.

Being “safe” in my salvation, with my name written in heaven, helps me rejoice. Abundant joy comes when my heart is fully satisfied in Christ and not tempted by lesser things.

Whenever I am tempted to trust in something or someone other than God for my ultimate satisfaction, I quickly find these chosen idols can’t help me.

The Lord is the only One who can make known to His children the “path of life that leads to satisfaction. We are wise to take refuge in Him. When we rejoice in the Lord and share our heart and requests with Him, He floods our hearts with protective peace.  Kingdom Life is filled with God’s goodness, peace and joy in the Spirit. But to experience this kind of joy, we must shift our focus to Jesus and His work in and through us.

3. Scripture connects joy to spiritual obedience and ministry.

Believers are twice commanded to “rejoice” in one verse: Philippians 4:4. It’s a powerful command! I will abide in God’s love and experience His joy when I keep His commandments. It’s not a feeling. It’s a response of love.

The Psalmist says we will “come home with shouts of joy” when we minister to and invest in people. This is especially true when we bear the “seed” of the Word of God. We are to help others walk in the truth to experience the Lord’s love and joy. Be a disciple-maker.

4. To be more joyful, choose holiness.

Simply put, when I am “pure in heart,” I will see God; and dwelling in His holy presence, there is “fullness of joy.”

Pastor John Starke explained why holy people are happy people: “Not surprisingly, God’s designs for our sanctification are most satisfying. In contrast, a life in sin is tiring, placing joy just outside our reach.”

Our reason for choosing holiness is a key factor, however. “We aren’t pursuing holiness in order to be happy with ourselves. No, our holiness focuses our vision on Christ….” We want to put aside anything that obscures our view of and satisfaction in Him.

5. Life-building within God’s will brings us greater joy.

The Apostle Paul says joy comes when we “finish our course,” the ministry given to us by the Lord (Acts 20:24). God wants us to grow, and we need a plan for the process to cooperate with Him.

As I am intentional to build within God’s will, I can become more like Jesus, “increasing” in every area of life: spiritually, socially, mentally and physically.

6. For more joy, squelch conflicts with humility and forgiveness.

Paul encouraged Christ-followers to interact with unity and pursue peace. This takes humility and love for others that grows from the love of God within us. We are to bear with one another, but also forgive each other’s offenses.

Sometimes we come across tough situations. When we have done all we can, it may be necessary to follow the biblical process for confrontation with the goal of reconciliation.

7. Joy is enhanced by gratitude and diminished by comparisons.

A God-ward focus will tend to make us more grateful; but I’ve noticed in my own life how much “comparisons” with others diminish my ability to be grateful. It’s foolish to measure others by my own measuring stick in order to commend myself. A grateful-to-God heart has no time for silly comparisons.

When we cannot find anything else to be thankful for, we can always thank God for our salvation! But we need to cultivate thankfulness, because it is God’s will for us. Make a list of God’s blessings. Watch your joy increase.

8. Practice contentment to experience real-time joy.

Whenever I have a lot of “what ifs” in my life, I struggle with joy. Don’t you? It’s the silly “grass is greener” syndrome; we want what others have and fail to see our own blessings.

The Lord wants us to practice contentment. He knows our many expectations for things and entitlements. “Hope deferred,” not getting what we hope for, can make our heart “sick.” Contentment has to be learned, and the greatest source of contentment is to remember “The Lord is my portion.” He is all I need!

Some of my favorite ways to let go of my attachment to “stuff” and practice contentment are: to give away what I think I need; to stop self-focusing, and to think of ways to invest in others’ lives.

9. Walking in wisdom can set you up for joy no matter what you face.

Walking in wisdom, making the best use of time and seeking the Lord’s will, is a set-up for more joy! When I listen to God’s counsel and hear His voice, I can walk confidently in Him.

Circumstances change and can even be painful, but joy comes in embracing godly wisdom in the midst of struggles (Psalm 30:5; Romans 8:28).

10. Guard against the joy-robber himself: Satan. 

Just as the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10b), broken joy from our enemy saps our strength!

I’m learning to be alert to the schemes of the devil as I watch and pray. Also, focusing on the Lord helps me not be shaken when tough times come. I don’t want to neglect the body of Christ either, because it’s a source of encouragement and instruction in joyful living.

If your joy is broken, don’t lose heart. Follow these suggestions and search the Word of God, speak to Him daily and seek to know His heart. In due season, you will reap a heap of joy!

Graphic adapted, courtesy of MissCaraReads, Pixabay

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Climbing Stairs to Nowhere

30 Dec

One of the funniest things I pass on a regular basis is a set of stairs that leads nowhere. It’s near my husband’s office at the seminary where he works. There likely was a door there once, or plans for one, but the stairs just look odd there now. I smile every time I pass them.

thestairstonowhere_lolwithgodAs I approach a new year, I’m thinking back over my life and ministry and trying to figure out what has been the most productive things I’ve accomplished over the past year.

There were some great things, but in at least one case, I was “climbing,” but ending up nowhere. I wasn’t lazy, but there was no “fruit” for my labors in that area—nothing I can point to and say, “That was worth my time.” 

I don’t want that to happen next year.

I’m sitting down to consider where I want to end up so I can make wise strategies to get there.

Ephesians 2:10 says,

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

God not only created me, He gave me new life in Christ; and with that new life He also created work projects for me. It’s my responsibility to pray and listen so I can discover those good works He has prepared for me to accomplish.

Life is too short to miss what God has planned for me to do. 

The older I get, the more I am struck by the brevity of life. The Bible makes this so clear:

“… our days on earth are like a shadow…” (1 Chronicles 29:15).

“…my days are swifter than a runner; they flee away…” (Job 9:25).

I am like “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14).

I found myself praying today:

Lord, teach me to consider my days so I can grow in wisdom. Remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered and fleeting. Help me make the best use of the time You have given me. (Psalm 90:12; 39:4; Ephesians 5:16)

I don’t want to end up on a stairway to nowhere.

Do you?

What are you doing to evaluate your life before you head into a new year?

~ Dawn

Be Like Wise Men, Not ‘Wise Guys’

12 Dec

3GuysFromTheEastSide_LOLwithGodI’m LOL-ing at this child’s version of the Wise Men visiting Jesus:

“When the three wise guys from the east side arrived, they found Jesus in the manager.”

This was probably the same child who said Mary, the mother of Jesus, sang the Magna Carta!

All I know is, I’d rather be a Wise Man from anywhere than a “Wise Guy” when it comes to the story of Christmas.

Some “Wise Guys” today are out and out scoffers; they mock the birth of Christ (as well as His “atoning” death and resurrection).

But other “Wise Guys” are believers who don’t want to be bothered with the Savior.

Both need to pay attention and learn from the biblical Wise Men!

While the “Wise Guys” (the religious “professionals” of Jesus’ day) wouldn’t even travel a few miles to greet their Messiah, the Wise Men traveled “from the east” (some say, several hundred miles!) to see Him. They were eager to get to Bethlehem and prepared to respond when they got there.

The Wise Men’s intention was to follow a strange “star” that caused them to rejoice—some Bible scholars describe this as God’s shekinah light—and to find and worship the newborn king (Matthew 2:2). Perhaps they’d read about Him in prophetic scriptures. These men were not Jews, but somehow they recognized the significance of Jesus’ birth.

The Wise Men prepared and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). These treasures were practical and sweetly TheThreeWiseMen_pixabaygenerous for the family of a newborn, but biblical scholars today believe they were also highly symbolic.

Gold was a gift sometimes given to a family with a newborn baby to help with expenses. Valuable in biblical days as it is today, it is said to symbolize Jesus’ divinity. Our Savior was born as God in the flesh (John 1:1-4; John 14:9-10; Philippians 2:6-7; and see “Is Jesus God in the Flesh?”)

I wonder if, in offering the gold, the Wise Men were acknowledging Jesus’ right to rule—His sovereignty.

Frankincense, a white resin from Boswellia trees, was used for incense or perfumed oil, and in some cultures as a medicine. Used in worship offerings in ancient times (Exodus 30:34), it is said to symbolize Jesus’ holiness and righteousness. Some scholars believe this incense symbolizes the sacrifice Jesus would offer up to the Father and the blood that would flow to atone for our sins. *

I wonder. In offering frankincense, did the Wise Men point to Jesus’ sinless nature, making Him the only possible Savior?

Myrrh, considered a spice, is also a perfume. It was obtained by making cuts in the bark of a tree from the Arabian Commiphora family.  The cuts allowed a white resin to flow. Myrrh (or “gall”) was sometimes mingled with water to form a comforting drink, similar to what was offered to Jesus  (Mark 15:23; Matthew 27:34). It also used in embalming.  Myrrh is said to symbolize the bitterness and suffering of the cross. *

I wonder if the Wise Men knew Jesus would be “stricken, smitten by God … and afflicted … pierced … crushed” (Isaiah 53:3-5) so that we might be healed?

[Some people believe the Wise Men might have read that passage in Isaiah as well as Isaiah 60:3 and Daniel 9:24-27—where “an anointed one shall be cut off”—and other prophetic verses, giving them insight not only into who the Messiah might be, but that He would be killed. Perhaps this is why they brought the myrrh.]

But my point is this:

The “Wise Guys” (the Jewish leaders schooled in the scriptures), knew where the Messiah would be born (Matthew 2:3-5), but didn’t want to be bothered with checking out for themselves whether this was indeed their Messiah. They just didn’t have time for Jesus.

On the other hand, the Wise Men not only want to check the baby out for themselves, they responded correctly when they encountered Jesus in the manger (Matthew 2:11). They not only had time for the Christ Child, they heartily and reverently worshiped Him, offering their gifts. It’s been said the Wise Men’s gifts were prophetic—fit for a king (gold), a priest (frankincense) and a Savior (myrrh).

Later, understanding that to return to King Herod with their report might endanger the baby, they made the wise choice to disobey Herod (Matthew 2:12). Their decision indicated wisdom, and perhaps faith. The Spirit of God had likely moved in their hearts.

The Wise Men are examples for Christians today too.

And, Christians,  let’s be wise and do all we can to help today’s “Wise Guys” wise up and recognize who that baby in the manger really was! (Daniel 12:3)

Are you “wise” regarding Jesus? If not, here is how you can “wise up.”

References about gold, frankincense and myrrh: http://www.compellingtruth.org/gold-frankincense-myrrh.html; http://www.gotquestions.org/gold-frankincense-myrrh.html

– Dawn

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