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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Joy Is My Source Of Strength

“…for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10b

 The garden is a lovely place to walk. I love the way the pathways wind in and out of the tall shade trees. The paths are lined with hundreds of lush green hosta and feathery ferns. Hellebore's nod their blooming heads under the canopy of this cool umbrella of shade. My path leads past fragrant lilac bushes all wearing cone shaped blossoms of lavender and deep purple. Ahead the yellow forsythia and the pink and white dogwoods provide a feast for my eyes. As I take the fork in the pathway, I find that I am headed towards a mixture of beautiful perennials. The tall phlox, day lilies, and daisies dance with joy in the warm breeze. The pathway now twists past the rose garden and the aroma is sweet. There are many pathways that I will not follow today because there is never enough time. In the distance a see the azalea and rhododendron garden and I long to visit that pathway but instead I stay on the path and enjoy looking at a striking display of aromatic herbs. The last turn today allows me to walk among a breathtaking display of iris that ends at the edge of the reflection pond. It is here I will linger because I am in a reflective mood. The tranquil water lilies rest in perfect peace as they float on the water in simple faith. My spirit longs to float alongside of these beauties, always trusting that God will hold me up in all of the circumstances of life I will encounter.
I will sit awhile and allow Jesus, the Master Gardner to sit with me as well. The word strength comes to mind and I begin to pray. “Lord, I admit I am not feeling very strong these days. I seem to have more to do than I have energy to accomplish. I do not feel that I am on overload and I do not feel stressed, but I do feel uneasiness in my spirit that makes me feel a bit anxious and concerned. I am definitely feeling a little deficient in my spirit. I am aware that I need to have a surge of energy that comes only from deep within my spirit.” I bow my head in contemplative silence. Then the Master Gardner whispers one simple word in my ear, “Joy”.
I begin to mentally list all of my possessions that I am thankful for but realize that these things do not bring me joy. I think about all of the activities that I enjoy, these activities make me happy, but still that is not joy. I begin to consider the upcoming events in my future that I am looking forward to; I anticipate having a blast but previous experience tells me that these events will not make me feel joyful. I am deeply blessed with a loving family which, in this life, means more to me than life itself! They give my life happiness on so many levels, still, even though they love me more than I could even dream to be possible, my family is not the source of my joy.
For sure, joy is not happiness. No, joy is an emotion of the soul. This joy is found only in Jesus Christ. I remember that God’s Word says, “…for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  That’s it! More joy equals more strength and my source of joy is the Lord. I must change my thinking. I must think about the Lord, NOT me. Oh how easy it is for me to slip into the all consuming “me” mode.
Even though things are less than perfect and there is much to do I know that the joy of Jesus will strengthen me. I sometimes think that the more I have the more I have to care for and the more I do the busier I become. Seeking happiness and pleasure often makes me bone weary and exhausted as I prepare for the next wave of pleasure. Often my busy schedule robs me of time with Jesus and that in turns robs me of the joy that Jesus so wants to share with me everyday. I must never forget that the joy of the Lord is my source of strength. Perhaps my energy level today has fallen to a new low because I am feeling a hint of discontentment and discouragement. God’s Word tells me not to worry because the Lord and his joy will be my antidote! I will receive my strength from the joy inside my spirit when I turn my focus from myself and instead focus on God and his amazing attributes.
So here at the refection pond I began to count the ways that Jesus is my joy! First of all, I am so thankful for this beautiful garden where I am privileged to meet with Jesus. This personal relationship is awesome. The garden gate is always open and my Lord is always waiting for me in the garden. Then I begin to think about the fact that Jesus paid for my sin by dying for me on the cross. I am free to sing and dance because he has freed me from my sin that separated me from God. How joyful is that? That is total joy! Then I begin to think about the fact that Jesus is my Shepherd, he cares for me in ways that no one else has ever cared. He goes before me and shows me the way. Jesus walks along beside me because he is the best friend I have ever had. Jesus walks behind me to give me encouragement every step of my earthly journey. Jesus’ presence is above me as my protector and he is my provider. Jesus lives inside of me and gives me his peace in a world where peace is a stranger. The most joyous thought of all, Jesus is my hope of eternal glory.
Right now I am little tearful but I assure you they are tears of joy. I must leave the garden and go back to my daily responsibilities, but for sure my heart will not walk. My heart will skip, run, dance and leap for joy because I have just spent a joyful time in the garden. Without a doubt, Jesus My Lord and Savior is my joy and that wonderful knowledge gives me strength. Jesus has promised me that he will never leave me or forsake me. When circumstances of life cast a shadow on my happiness, I want to remember that Jesus is my source of inner joy and that joy is my strength at all times and in every situation. Even though my circumstance may be hard and life may deliver a blow that knocks me off my feet, still there is a silver lining that covers my heart and protects my Spirit. I rejoice in the knowledge that there is more to life than this life. Joy today and eternal joy for all my tomorrows! This is my strength.

  1. Have you ever experienced the joy of the Lord?
  2. Do you relate to sometimes feeling a little deficient in the joy department?
  3. Have you tried to make yourself, your possessions, and your activities and accomplishments the source of your joy?
  4. Is Satan a “joy buster” in your life as he tries to make you feel discontent, discouraged, or depressed?
  5. Do you feel a need to reflect on the joy you have in Jesus?
  6. Do you know that if you are not in a personal relationship with Jesus you will never experience the joy of Jesus because joy is reserved only for those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ?
Dear Jesus,
Forgive me when I depend upon myself and others for my source of joy. Forgive me for believing that financial gain, possessions and accomplishments will satisfy me and provide joy. Father, I know that eventually all of these things will pass away and what I believe to be my cup of joy will indeed be empty. Jesus you are the joy of living. Regardless of my circumstance I am ecstatic that you totally encompass all that is necessary for me to experience joy that is unspeakable. Only your joy inside of me will last forever. Today I want to meet with you in the garden of my heart. I want to stay in your presence until my joy cup runs over. I do not ask for strength today but rather I ask for your joy because your joy is the source of my strength. Thank you for your precious gift of joy.
In your name I pray. Amen.
If you are not a believer, I encourage you to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior today. Simply pray and ask God to forgive your sin and to bring His joy into your life.