How do I think culture has influenced my definition of JOY? Ha! What a loaded question (p. 23). This is a fantastic question, actually, for us as Christians. Culture would have us believe that joy comes from fame, riches, and the accumulation of the latest and greatest everything. Do you ever notice how the tabloids are replete with celebrities who are back in rehab, divorced, have tons of plastic surgery to perfect their outward appearance, etc? They are forlorn and lonely, trying to fill a void with outward perfection and, well, just stuff! They buy seven $150K cars ~ one for each day of the week ~ they live in multi~million dollar mansions and rub shoulders with Hollywood's A~listers, yet they are despondent to the point of suicide. Why? They get to the top and there is nothing there but stuff... "things" that they idolize. The fact of the matter is "stuff" never showed anyone love and you cannot trust it to carry you through; it cannot impart wisdom, discernment or understanding, nor can it give you hope. Money cannot buy eternity in Heaven and it cannot buy your way out of hell. Isaiah 44:9~20 is a wonderful passage about idols... verse 20 says, "The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He trusts something that can't help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, 'Is this idol that I'm holding in my hand a lie?'" Huh. That is so drastic, is it not? No idol ever created anybody like our Creator can, and no idol can redeem us from our sins like our Redeemer can. "Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers," the psalmists write in 1:1. As we continue in this study, we are becoming increasingly aware that true joy comes from knowing our Father and being obedient to His commands. He dances and sings over us... I adore Zephaniah 3:17; God rejoices over ME!! That is enough. If everything else in my world withers, I am learning that God and His love are enough, and that gives me joy! My joy truly emanates out of the abiding sense that God fiercely loves me. We need to boldly profess this truth to our despairing Hollywood friends; it deeply saddens me to think they place all of their hope in "stuff" and are missing out on life's greatest love story ~ and ~ the opportunity to celebrate genuine joy.
I also took extra time to contemplate where I've said "no" to joy in my life (p. 27). I love this study because it compels me to search where my deficiencies are. Personally, I tend to pray for God to fix them, him or her. If I have been wronged, I become so hurt, angry, and frustrated because of the injustices done that, sometimes, the only thing that would make me happy is to literally see God judge them. How self~centered and wrong is that? See Proverbs 24:17~20. Rather than pray for God to change THEM, I must pray for God to change ME; I must stay in my own lane, fight my own fight, run my own race, and trust that God will be faithful to His promises (I Thessalonians 4:11). That way, no matter what has been done to destroy me, I can rest in and celebrate JOY knowing that God will be faithful to his promises to take care of me (Romans 12:19~20).
Did anything grab you from today's study?
TODAY'S POWER JABS:
Deuteronomy 4:29, 10:12, 11:13, 30:2