Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When Your Joy Is Clouded Over

I recently bought a book by Kay Arthur called (For Every Need, for Every Moment...) Speak to My Heart, God. It is a fantastic book with 65 chapters, each dedicated to a "When"... ie: When You Feel Out Of Focus, When Joy Is Shattered, When Intimacy With God Seems Impossible, etc, etc. I think that every single chapter in here is something that every person will deal with at one time or another.
I typed out a few different chapters as I've read them and want to share them on here over the next few days. I hope and pray that if or when you find yourself faced with these "When"s, that you will find encouragement from these writings. :)

When Your Joy Is Clouded Over

Have things ever robbed you of your joy?

Has something of temporal value ever become so important to you that your joy in the Lord does a vanishing act? Your preoccupation with that “thing” casts a cloud that obliterates the warmth of a concentrated devotion to the Lord?
Maybe it is something tangible… or maybe it is some “thing” in your past that you cannot seem to shake.
Can you say, “Yes, I can relate! I have been there”?
How do you handle situations like this that can drive you up the wall and keep your focus off the things that really matter – like the joy of the Lord and our need for Christlikeness?
Well, let’s look at Philippians 3 and see what we can learn and then live by when “things” start to rob us of our joy. Let’s begin by reading several verses from this wonderful chapter and underlining every use of the word “things.”
Paul writes:

“Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ… Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:7-8, 13-14).

Paul’s past associations and achievements had been important to him. If you will read Philippians 3:4-6 you will find that Paul wasn’t into “pretty things,” but he was into achievements of the flesh. We each have our own set of “things” that mean something to us, and when they are lost or disturbed, we can be robbed of our joy.
Paul knew this. Yet he also knew that only one thing could or should be central or important to him, and that thing was Christ-likeness! So, he determined, he would develop a single mind by making Christ his goal!
To do this, Paul literally had to count all things as loss for the excellence of knowing Jesus Christ. In comparison to knowing Christ, everything else was rubbish.
Instead of focusing on things as they might have been or might be, Paul set his eyes on the goal. Forgetting the things that were past, he reached forward to what lay ahead – Jesus Christ.
When I stand before Him, one second in eternity will erase all care or thought of anything except whether or not I allowed the situations of life to make me more like Him. Christlikeness is all that will matter.
And so I say to you: Let that thing – whatever it is – go. It will only hinder you from getting on with what God has for you. And when “things,” even those that are cause for celebration or expectation, begin to rob you of your joy, try the following:
  • Take a careful look at the “thing” in the light of eternity. What does it have to do with the eternal? If it has no value, release it.
  • Ask yourself if the “thing” is worthy of the energy you are expending on it. Are you fretting over something you cannot change? Is it distracting you from the things of God? Then, in an act of discipline, put it out of your mind. Every time the thought of “it” returns, knocking at the door of your mind, begging refuge, refuse it.
  • Can you change the “thing,” turn it around, rectify it, live without it? If there is nothing you can do to change it, then be obedient, walk in faith, and forget those things which are behind and press on toward the prize of your high calling in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). Believe Romans 8:28-30.

God looks upon the heart. And if your heart’s attitude is to please God, then you have the promise:

“Let us therefore, as many as are perfect [mature], have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained” (Philippians 3:15-16).

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