Friday, November 3, 2017

When the Joy Button Isn't Working

Ministry has its challenges. Don’t we know it?

The work itself, the hardness of hearts, the awfulness of sin, evil influences and oppression, the frustrations of daily living (and water, electricity, and other shortages), driving on a road along with 60,000 crazy people (or driving on a “road” that shouldn’t even be called one), trying to wrap your tongue around a foreign language (we all have off days), counselling, mentoring, pouring ourselves into people who later turn on us, personality clashes, doing jobs outside of our comfort zones…. Sometimes, we lose our joy. It gets buried under the mountain of tasks.

It would be easy to cite the normal platitudes: find your joy in the Lord, focus on Him, abide. (They’re right, you know!) But, we so often need practical help for how to find our joy again and keep it. Are you interested?

First, you find a trashcan. Ball up and throw in:
  • That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts (Who, me? Yes, you. Quit acting like you did before you were saved. Quit lusting after things you don’t have.) Wherefore putting away lying. (That’s clear enough!) Let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more. (Have you ever been angry at night? Have you ever succumbed to temptation? Have you ever taken anything that wasn’t yours—even something very small? Throw these actions into that trashcan!) Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. (Oh my, our speech! Lots to throw away. Are we speaking grace and edifying? Throw away all bitterness, anger, and gossip.) Ephesians 4:22, 25a, 26-28a, 29-31. 

What else to pitch?
  • But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds (Colossians 3:8-9).
  • The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness (Romans 13:12a).

Then, having gotten rid of all this junk—it’s a constant process—we put on some wonderful things. I am so glad God doesn’t ever leave us at zero. When He asks us to get rid of something, he always gives us something else much better in replacement. We’re to:
  • Put on the armour of light. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Romans 13:13b-14).
  • Be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not … but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:23b-26, 32).
  • Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11).
  • Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Colossians 3:12-17).

I especially love this Colossians passage (above)! It has so much practical advice for the missionary woman. Let’s take it apart.

Put on:
  • Christ-like, heartfelt love
  • kindness
  • humility
  • meekness (strength under control)
  • putting up with others
  • forgiving others, just like the Lord does
  • love—above all else
  • Then, it says something curious: let the peace of God rule in your hearts. How many times do we not let peace reign? How many times do we hang on to the junk and forget to let God’s peace take over—and actually rule? Look at the next phrase: we’re actually called to let God’s peace dwell in our hearts.
  • Be thankful.
  • Let God’s Word dwell in us—and give us wisdom. Teach it.
  • When’s the last time you enriched another Christian by speaking or singing grace to them? Admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. I know I have a long way to go in this regard. The heart determines what comes out of our mouths, so when our hearts are full of God’s goodness and full of praise, we’ll actually speak to each other songs of grace.
  • Do everything in God’s name.
  • Have Thanksgiving in our hearts every day of the year.

God bless you!

1 comment:

Olivia said...

Amen! Praise the Lord that He can fill us with joy :)