I had just begun praying today when I really started to think about the goodness of God. I thought to myself how often I hear people repeat the phrase “God is good all the time” and “all the time God is good” I couldn’t help but wonder if we actually realize how very true these words really are. As I continued praying I began thanking God for the many blessings He gives me every moment of every day, things I could never earn, things money can’t buy, and the world can’t provide. There are many people today living their lives in a constant state of stress and turmoil. But as Christians, although we reside in a world full of never-ending chaos while being constantly surrounded by people who seem to be at their best operating comfortable in the very state of the world confusion, as God’s children we don’t have to live that way. While we are certainly in the world, we are not of the world.
To be “not of the world” requires us to be physically present—but free of worldly influence, we do not have to accept or adopt the world’s views or values. This does not mean that we do not participate in our government or typical laws and social processes. It means that we do not act as the unsaved world does. As believers, we should be set apart from the world. We are no longer slaves to our sinful natures but act in accordance with righteousness – Romans 6:6, 11. We are not to engage in the sinful activities the world willingly provides and promotes, nor are we to retain the insipid, corrupt mind the world cultivates. Rather, we are to conform ourselves, and our minds, to that of Jesus Christ – Romans 12:1-2. We are told to put to death things that are of our sinful natures and to flee from immorality – Colossians 3:5-10; 1 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 5:16-24; Ephesians 5:3-11. We “train for godliness” – 1 Timothy 4:7; we are “imitators of God” as in Ephesians 5:1; this is a daily activity and commitment for believers.
It doesn’t seem like that long ago I was spending most of my time uptight and upset about almost any and everything, there always seemed to be something. I felt as if life had me circling about as if I were a plane in a holding pattern. I often found myself murmuring, complaining, and grumbling about whatever my situation was at the moment. Sometimes it seemed as though I would never get beyond where I was and it was always very frustrating.
As my relationship with God matured, I grew tired of being happy only if and when things were going my way. I was weary and worn out from the constant mood swings, I just wanted to be happy to have some form of peace. As my relationship with Him continued to evolve I begin to understand the reason for my frequent irritation, it was because my happiness was based entirely on circumstances in my life. If things were going my way, well, I was happy. If there was money in the bank, bills paid, a job promotion, etc. I was happy. When the weekend rolled around, a holiday, or if I were on vacation, I had joy. But these things really accounted for only a small part of my life, therefore in reality the majority of the time I was down and dissatisfied although it may not have appeared to be that way.
By continuously building my relationship with God I began to understand as a Christian I didn’t have to live that way. I simply had to learn how to receive the blessings He has for me because of His Grace. Through unmerited favor God gives us good things that we do not deserve and could never earn. We have been rescued from judgment by God’s mercy, grace is anything and everything we receive above and beyond that mercy. We deserve judgment, but if we receive Jesus Christ as Savior, we receive mercy from God and we are delivered from judgment. Instead of judgment, we receive by grace salvation, forgiveness of sin, and an abundant life. God’s Spirit then lives in us, so that He may work through us, providing full access to the fruit of His Spirit one being “Joy”. This joy is not just a “happy feeling” based on our circumstances or on the things we possess—it is an unshakable stability in our inner being, deep down in our spirit. Joy can range anywhere from a calm delight to extreme hilarity. In the later portion of the book of Nehemiah 8:10 the writer says “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Don’t allow circumstances, situations, or what may seem to be a holding pattern in your life to steal your joy. I am reminded of what Jesus said to His Disciples in John 14:27 He says “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Instead, of allowing life to determine our joy we should desire to continue serving God with a good attitude in all of our circumstances. Your future is in God’s hands and He is aware of every detail of your life. Trust Him and know that whatever season you find yourself in, it is only temporary. Allow Jesus’ words to minister to you, to your heart as you patiently wait for His next instruction. Remember there are a lot of ways to wait, therefore the next time life places you on hold, sit back, relax and enjoy the break from it all, knowing you are strong in the Lord, because you have been filled with unspeakable Joy and the Peace of God to sustain you through all that life will throw at you.