Joyful Living

This started as a simple entry in my own personal journal for Sunday October 13, 2013. They are questions from the sermon notes from my local church. They are questions that I would typically glance at and brush off with a “those are easy to answer” and move on with my day.Something called me in deeper this morning, to reflect on these, to honestly asses where I am, and I’m so glad I listened.

For the past hour I have been drawn in to a deeper awareness of the importance of Christ in my life, in being aware of the shallowness or depth of the thoughts in my mind, the desires of my heart, and my walk in the flesh.

Am I truly living out what God calls for me or just playing lip service?

This exercise was powerful for me so I felt it appropriate to share in this forum. I can’t recommend enough you trying out the questions for yourself.

October 12/13, 2013
Seacoast Grace Church
Pastor Doyle Surratt

Step Up to the Good Life – Joyful Living

Life Group Questions

1. What do you treasure in your life right now?

2. What is the difference between happiness and joy?

3. How do we maintain spiritually healthy joy when facing suffering and unhappy circumstances?

4. What makes it possible for Christians to have hope?

5. How would you be different if you were able to overflow with joy and peace?

My Reflections

1. What do you treasure in your life right now?

Because my biggest internal battle is to authentically love Christ Jesus through my body, mind and spirit, I treasure mental and physical sobriety, purity in thought and action. It is an area that I fall far short in, but God knows my heart and in that I cherish His grace and mercy, that He loves me in spite of my rebellious and selfish actions that reaveal my disdain for His laws which He places in my path for my growth and His glory alone.

I am incredibly grateful that God is working out in me what I never could, that He has given me new eyes for authentic holy living. Sadly when push comes to shove those new desires seem powerless against my habitual journey into the realm of fantasy and escape, but I believe we can claim success in Him through our growth, progressive victory over our addictions and selfishness and not in the achievement of perfection.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

I am grateful for a faith that although tested through the lies of Satan remains on top each week, a constant renewal each day that although I may fall short of the bar both God and I set for myself, that The Cross remains real and my vision on what is in store and a strong desire to recognize what is already mine wins out in the end. It is not how often I fall short in faith and works but how often I get up and press on.

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

I am grateful for the necessities of life that God is providing in abundance; food, shelter, water, clothing, transportation, money, employment… luxuries such as comfort, fast-food, deserts, technology, coffee/creamer, hygiene products, hot shower, a choice of clean clothes and comfortable bedding, 8 hrs sleep.

I am grateful for the relationships that are God honoring, fellowship in church, brothers and sisters in recovery, mentors in recovery and in the Church, standing shoulder to shoulder with volunteers in outreach ministries. These are people who desire to be the men and women God is calling us to be, destined us to be and are working out their faith. All of them as myself have good days and bad, but they remain plugged in through an awareness of their own brokenness and desperate need for a Savior, a healer, a hope giver, a friend, a protector, a confidant, our God.

I am grateful for the ability to live out my faith openly without fear of physical persecution, for God’s word that is available in so many forms, written, online, cell phone, audio. For the many Christian authors throughout history whose works are discernibly accurate and readily available for consumption at whim.

I am grateful for the talents God has given me, critical thinking and creativity, healthy desires and carnal. It is all gifts from God and the desires of the flesh that are broken only speak to my incredible need for pure and perfect reliance on my Healer Jesus. The ability to feel lonely for it becomes a longing for connection, the ability to feel unneeded for it nurtures a desire to go where I’m needed, the ability to feel loneliness for it draws me into deeper relationships, the ability to feel unworthy for it calls me to worthy pursuits, the ability to hate my sin as God does for it calls me to holiness and purity, to live a saintly life as best I can. The ability to feel emptiness for I now know that is a God hole and it reminds me that I need refueling in His word and through His community of believers.

I am grateful for my health, for the ability to serve God with hands and heart where He calls. For the ability to move furniture or haul computers around, to garden and paint, to play hard and work hard.

I am grateful for my son, whom I long to be a father of value to, not just by blood and circumstance. A man who raises a man. So far I have fallen very short in this area, seeking to be his friend and not having the courage to risk that friendship on the surface to speak and model a deeper meaning into his heart. God I know you are working that out in me, for I have never been that sort of man in my own life. Fear driven desires for comfort, fun and pleasure have left me shallow, living only in the flesh. God you are changing my heart, my desires, my will and for that I am incredibly grateful above all else. Without your sight and guidance I would remain dead as I was.
2. What is the difference between happiness and joy?

I believe happiness is in the moment but joy is everlasting. Happiness is what you experience when eating ice cream or listening to the laughter of small children, happiness is in a hug and a heart-felt hello. Happiness is clean sheets and hot water, in light traffic on the freeways and watching an eagle in flight. Happiness is a feeling, an emotion a fleeting thing that is circumstantially dependent upon things of  sight, sound, touch and thought being pleasurable in the moment.

Joy on the other hand is found at a much deeper level. It is the hope of things to come, the confidence in the promises of God. It is the assurance of salvation and the unnatural comfort in pain. It is an awareness of God’s presence regardless of outward circumstances. It is the peace that comes from knowing that the cross covers my sin and the grace we are afforded then are called to extend to others. It comes through the patience and long-suffering of one who knows Christ personally, has experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and can feed deeply simply by picking up the word of God. It is found in the fellowship of true Christian friends, it is seen in the eyes of a believer who is faced with great hardship but exudes a peace that can only be described as supernatural. Hope is eternal joy because it is spiritually based on the finished work of the cross and not on anything one will ever experience in the flesh.

3. How do we maintain spiritually healthy joy when facing suffering and unhappy circumstances?

I believe it can only come from the promises of God. If we BELIEVE what God’s word tells us, then we can have great joy in Him, in what He is doing. When we die to our own needs and instead seek to participate in Kingdom causes we will begin to see God’s hand at work in the midst of our valleys or mountain tops. Prayer, worship, fellowship, service, sacrifice, love… these are the traits of a disciple.

John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands.

4. What makes it possible for Christians to have hope?

The Promises of God found in His perfect Word. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit who reveals himself in and through us in times when left to our own understandings or strivings we would be powerless. The finished work of the Cross which says God’s love for us is not based on what we have done, are doing, or will do but instead on what He has done for us, given to us, given up for us. Jesus Christ came as a sacrifice of pure love, a life poured out to show us how to live, then to die as the final sacrifice for all sins and give us the ability to rise from the ashes of our old self as He conquered the grave. We only have to believe in Him and follow. It is a heart change that He provides, but it is up to us to walk in His footsteps. For the Christian who truly seeks to follow the Master, there is eternal hope, an unnatural hope that defies worldly understanding, supernatural in nature because it is spiritual, beyond sight and touch but incredibly real to the one experiencing it. And in community there is no need to explain, for you can see it in the eyes of those who know Christ that what we experience is real at the heart level and shared among all believers, followers, sacrificers for Christ.

1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

5. How would you be different if you were able to overflow with joy and peace?

Freedom. To live, love and laugh in the deepest and most sincere level of experience. To walk and talk in pure truth, filled with a love and compassion for everyone, moving not through this life in pursuit of anything but instead being poured out in the moment, moving from divine appointment to divine appointment. Whether in a moment of solitude being refueled in the Word of God or in the one-on-one connection with a person in need and seeking only to fuel that person with an experience of Christ that they can carry with them for their own nourishment. Or in community, surrounded by seekers and sowers and reaching in to the lives of all who are in reach, seeing each relationship whether for a moment in a check-out line or a lifetime friendhsip, as an opportunity to reflect the light, love, hope, peace and joy that we are so freely given by God in His great mercy on us. To be a light in a darkened world, to spread the word of salvation that is available to all who will simply surrender their lives to the rightful owner, our Creator God who predestined our paths before time, if only we will cooperate with grace. To be more deeply involved in intercessory prayer,using the times of solitude not to find my own pleasure but to seek the growth and well-being of not only those I know and love, but those I don’t know and should love just as deeply. To pray for our leaders, our communities, our world. To seek justice and righteousness with an anticipation the coming of Christ, for the day when every knee will bow and the suffering of a fallen world is behind all of creation and Jesus’ rule is made complete. 

Lord God You alone know my heart, even better than I. And you know my shortcomings, even better than I. I truly believe that You see me as an infant and when I fall you loving stand me back up and encourage me to press on. There is no condemnation for the child who is striving to learn, but only sadness and pain when you see a child of yours give up. Lord never let me give me up, continue to fill my heart with a desire that is never comfortable in complacency but is also balanced in grace. Let me never become destroyed in spirit by the law as I have in the past but be restored by the joy that comes from knowing You, trusting You, believing in Your promises. Give me hands and heart that seeks nothing else but to follow You, and eyes that can see where You alone are leading and courage and boldness to answer that call, wherever it leads. Thank you Lord for my life, a reborn life that was dead in trespasses but now lives under the vail of grace and mercy. Let me be filled with peace knowing that my life is truly in pursuit of You and let that joy drown out the lies of Satan that continually tells me I’ll never change, I’ll never have value, I’ll never measure up. It is true Father that I alone never can, but in You, through You, with You I am whole and complete, saved by grace. Thank you, in Jesus’ precious name I pray…

About George Crone

Life is hard and changes are inevitable. Sometimes it is welcomed, and other times it is overwhelming. The great part is, we are never alone if we choose to let others in. Find a like-minded community and get plugged in, it will change your life!
This entry was posted in conviction, encouragement, faith, hope, Jesus, love, Salvation, The Cross, trials and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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