Saturday, July 27, 2013

Joy in Faith

 Joy in Faith

by Peggy K. Mack

January 27, 2013

The word joy is often found throughout the Bible in direct contrast to fear, worry and long suffering.  While it is true that our journey in faith requires dedication to a scheduled time of silent meditation and prayer and a calling to worship and service, we must not lose focus on the sheer joy and excitement that comes in our walk with Christ.

I spoke with my friend and inspiration who shared with me her joy in waking each morning and looking forward to her time in prayer and meditation.  Through her commitment to the importance of finding time daily to speak with God and to study His word, she has found joy in looking forward to the sense of peace you receive when you feel God's love and His listening to your prayers.   There is an amazing feeling of anticipation in the next opportunity to tune out the world and tune our thoughts and hearts into God and His word.

In my decision to walk away from worship, twenty years ago, I gave little thought to the fact that other than not wanting to worship with others, I was depriving myself of the feeling that came after church of forgiveness, peace, comfort and yes, joy.  I hurt myself by letting go of my commitment to worship with others.

Now that I have returned, not only to worship, but to devotional time, I sense the anticipation of what the morning will bring and the gift of joy.   We associate joy with special occasions like weddings, new babies, graduations, birthdays, family reunions and picnics,etc. but we rarely think of the fact that attending church, singing praise to God and surrendering our sins over to Him for forgiveness each Sunday will leave us with a calm elation and a positive outlook on our world.  My dad used to refer to church as a time to go get "recharged".  I can see him so easily in my memories on Sunday mornings.  He was dressed from suit to shoes in a matching outfit and had a smile on his face a mile wide.  He got to church early to make certain the air conditioning was running well and that doors were unlocked for others to prepare the church for service, and all the while, he was beaming with joy.  He had a joke and twinkle in his eye for anyone who shook his hand. 

How could I have forgotten that joy and not wanted it for myself?  I believe it was because of his suffering and death after three years of battling cancer and the fact that the church he loved seemed so empty without him.   Everyone continued on with their praise, singing and worship. All I felt was deep loss, endless pain and lonely sorrow.  After numerous weeks of making the effort to go to church and needing to run out when I heard a verse in a song that re-opened the wound, I gave in to the sadness and let go of the search for healing and joy.  

This morning two Bible verses were there on the page of my devotional book and they struck me.  While we focus on our commitment which includes daily devotions and prayers, worship and service, we must not forget the wonderful gift of joy.

Maybe the reason sinners go to church, is not as the skeptics would say "to be hypocrites"  but instead, to worship God with fellow Christians and to gain so many blessings.  For the time we take in preparing and participating in worship, we receive fellowship with other Christians. We hear God's word and receive his message through our pastor.  We sing with all our hearts in praise.  We listen to the choir's special music and our hearts and minds are stirred with emotion.  We are forgiven of all our sins and we are blessed with God's words of hope.  Finally and best of all, we receive joy.
For the time we dedicate to worship, we in turn, receive "one blessing after another."  In your walk in faith, be certain you acknowledge all the joy.

Psalm 100:1
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

Psalm 95:1
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.

Dear Lord,
Let us remember one of the sweetest gifts in knowing, loving and serving you is deep joy. 
In Jesus' Name,

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