Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Spirit of Joy and Thanksgiving!

Jesus was the happiest, most joyful, man that ever lived, He even endured the cross for the 'joy set before Him' (Hebrews 12:2)! We have the Spirit of Christ living inside of us, greater is He that is within us than he that is within the world (1 John 4:4).  Mr. Joy is inside of us! We are instructed to 'rejoice at all times' (Philippians 4:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:16), and that the 'joy of the Lord is our strength' (Nehemiah 8:10).  This joy is unspeakable and full of Glory (1 Peter 1:8)!  Paul was so fulfilled with Jesus' work that He was content no matter the circumstances (Philippians 4:11) to the extent that he even learned to rejoice midst suffering (Romans 5:5)! Is this a possible experiential reality that we can step into? Is it fathomable to you? What about worry, anxiety, bitterness or complaining? Did you know that these are 'anti-Christ' attitudes.  "Do all things without grumbling or disputing (Philippians 2:14)."  

Is this sort of lifestyle even possible!? Some people can't even fathom having a conversation where there is no complaining or bitterness involved! Yet scripture tells us to 'let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29). I am going to step out on a limb and say that the bible is true (sarcasm), and that this should be the 'normal Christian experience'. Our lives should be ones that are full of praise, thanksgiving, and divine contentment; while at the same time empty of worry, bitterness, and complaining! A normal Christian has nothing to complain about, but is completely 'whacked' over how good God is and can do nothing but be thankful!

I rarely see a normal Christian, we seem to have gotten a lot of things backwards.  Christians aren't known for their joy and bliss, but by their anger, resentment, hypocrisy, and shallowness. This should shock us! There are a few things that prevent us from living and experiencing life in the fullness of Joy. One of those is the demonic attitude of entitlement. Entitlement is the thought that we 'deserve' or have 'the right' to do, have, or experience one thing over another. Its a demand we make on the world around us, rooted in a unhealthy view of who we are.  This mentality of entitlement has permeated Christian thinking and teaching. 

 We have this strange expectation that God's will for our lives is to make them smooth and comfortable; that He is continually working towards making our lives match our perfect expectations. We want a perfect job with perfect co-workers, a perfect schedule that allows us to have a lot of free time. We think we have a right to not have to work hard, and yet be financially secure.  We run into relational problems and we think that we are no longer walking in the will of God. Our circumstances toss us to and fro, making our emotions run wild, and we don't know which way is up and down.  We then come to God and treat Him like a vending machine, wanting everything we want, right now.  Well let me tell you something, that is not how God works. He has never been interested in putting us in comfortable, safe, and 'perfect' circumstances.  The joy of the Lord isn't a powerful testimony when everything is going well, but when everything is going horribly!  God actually puts us in crummy situations so that we can shine His light in the darkness! 

The vast majority, if not all, of our grumbling, complaining, worry, and anxiety, stem from a wrong and unhealthy perspective on life. If we don't have many expectations then we won't be disappointed with what happens, seems easy right!? "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.' But as it is you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil (James 4:13-16)."

Lesson #1: "Your life is not your own, you have been purchased at a price, therefore Glorify God in your bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)."  We do not have a right to have a sense of entitlement, for we have died and our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). You don't get to plan your life; in fact you don't even have the privilege of deciding who you are! Everything is rooted in God Himself. This is not bad news, but good news! You lose sight of yourself in light of the Gospel, and you become detached from the cares of the world yet united to everything around you. 

Lesson #2: My bible says that if we love the world or the things in the world, then the love of the Father is not in us. "Do not love the world nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful prid of life, i snot from the Father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:15-17)."  That is a tough word.  How do you know if you love the world? Simple, your emotions, expectations, and fulfillment are tied up in something that has the propensity to fail. If you aren't tied up in them, if the world or something in the world fails, no big deal. 

Lesson #3: Having a sense of entitlement in worldly things, reveals lack of faith in the Gospel, it is rooted in many lies. It produces great disappointment in us, and is such a joy kill. We need to re-align our minds with the truth of the Gospel.  To have our joy and satisfaction sourced in something that is doesn't change as much as our emotions or circumstances. Here is the Gospel truth: What do we deserve? Plain and simple, we deserve hell, but Jesus took what we deserve so that we could have what He deserved! Our salvation hands down, is the source of all our joy and bliss.  

We are saved!!! Hahahahahah!! We get to go to heaven, and be with God for eternity! We have been melded into one with our heavenly father, and have been set free from a body of sin and death.  How can we not be satisfied with this and this alone? The fact that our salvation joy doesn't permeate every facet of our lives, reveals that we don't believe in it very much.  That is just the cold hard truth. As we grow in our belief, and experience of our salvation, everything else ceases to matter.  Praises pour from our mouths because God is amazing!!

Lesson #4: We are concerned with all the wrong things.  You can tell you are in idolatry when a change in circumstances really throws you off.  If having to change your schedule during the day makes your emotions go wild, or if a little 'bad news' makes you have a 'bad day', then you are not focusing enough on Jesus (and these are very minor events in our lives that are scarcely mentioned in scripture).  Remember, look to Jesus, and you lose sight of everything else! Jesus is so good, and a revelation of His grace is so powerful, that we could even be tortured for our faith and still be overflowing with Joy (Romans 5:5).

Lesson #5: Things we are not entitled to include, an easy life, a perfect job, smooth situations, no problems, everything we have always wanted.  Things we are not entitled to but get anyway include salvation, the presence of God, the fruit of the Spirit, a destiny, a powerful identity, victory, and purpose in every moment. Things we are entitled to as believers but haven't taken hold of include, freedom from sin, ability to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, capacity to hear God's voice in the moment, and to have a worry, anxiety, and depression free life where we see everything through Christ's sacrifice. We should be concerned about these things, promises from God that we obviously don't believe to be true.  When He becomes everything, we find we have nothing to complain about and yet everything to be thankful for! This 'glorying' in Christ Jesus is actually what has the power to change the world around us.  If we are subject to our circumstances we will always be controlled by them.  "If we live for the praises of man we will die by their criticism (Bill Johnson)."  It is illegal to complain, we never have a good reason to do it, never. 

Lesson #6: Ask yourself if you actually believe you are going to heaven? Do you understand what that means? If it doesn't bring you joy then you need a grace enema, go get one. Life with Jesus is so wonderful!! Everything becomes a conduit of joy! We can look at each day with a sense of adventure, not caring what happens but trusting that there is glory in everything! 

Lesson #7: Life with God will certainly not fit our 'perfect circumstances' attitude, it is way better than that! Our lives as Christians aren't set apart because of how easy they are, but because of how our joy, passion, and stability, are sourced in a completely different reality than the rest of the worlds. From a nominal worldly level, to an extreme supernatural one, our lives ought to me marked with steadfastness, since the Spirit of God dwells within us and He is the same yesterday today and forever. 

Lesson #8: Don't take yourself, your call, or even life to seriously.  Learn to look and see the Glory in everything.  Take what lies in front of you and enjoy it.  Life is full of challenges, successes, failures, and learning opportunities; we miss out on the complex beauty of this life when all we want is comfort and ease. Most of the time we are running away from experiencing the fullness of life, rather than embracing the adventure of it! Remember, reshape your expectations, don't undermine your own satisfaction in life by expecting impossibilities.  Expect that God is in the present moment, no matter what is happening, and look to that.  Only then will you be able to enjoy and intentionally live in whatever comes your way. 

 You learn you can't read a book you wanted to because someone needs help with homework. . .awesome! You get a flat tire on the way to an important meeting. . . haha what an adventure! You realize you wronged somebody and need to apologize. . what an opportunity to learn and relate! Its raining. . who hoo water is falling from the sky!! Don't take life so seriously, enjoy every moment of everyday, soak in the present moment or you will miss it entirely. Take what comes and own it, don't let it own you.

Allow God to change you so that you see Him in everything! His attitude is one of surrender, willingness, gleeful expectation, and blissful joy! You never have to have a 'bad day' again in your life. You never have to feel like 'things aren't going your way'. Who ever said they would? Let go of your selfish expectations and grab hold of the moment. There is so much glory, even in the mundane things of life, in fact we are being transformed from Glory to Glory into ever increasing glory (2 Cor. 3). Washing dishes, GLORY!! Raking a yard, GLORY!! Driving for 7 hrs, GLORY!! Learning to overcome insecurity, GLORY!! Repenting. . . GLORY!!! Getting a bad grade on a paper that pushes you to be more diligent. . . GLORY!!! Having to get up early. . . GLORY!! Skipping a meal. . . GLORY! Did you forget that your life is not you own? You have been bought at a price, therefore Glorify Christ in you body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)!

We are stranger on this earth, here for a short time only, detached from the world, yet completely unified with it! Hahahahah! We deserve nothing and yet are given everything! You can't kill a joy that stems from someone who never changes, Mr. Joy Himself (Jesus)!!

Lesson #9: The things I have been addressing have mostly been natural things that come up in our lives that we just have a wrong perspective on.   However there are other things that we are not supposed to be detached or unaffected by.  We cannot turn a blind eye to the things that come from the devil such as death, sickness, injustice, and so on.  Although our fulfillment is always sourced in Jesus, the devil seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.  Those suffering under his attacks need support, prayer, and encouragement. Yet remember, that God lays a feast for us even in the presence of our enemies (Psalm 23).  The devil hates it when we are unaffected by his attacks, but remain rooted and grounded to the King of Glory. 

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