Making Way For Joy

Steve Arterburn

Most men tend to stuff.  Often, we trade our grief or sorrow for anger.  But in order to release the past into God’s hands, you must fully encounter your grief, and you must be willing to forgive yourself and others for the pain that’s occurred.  

This isn’t easy. But we can learn from some people who went before us.  Many of the Jewish exiles who returned to Jerusalem after captivity in Babylon had forgotten the laws of God.  During the exile, they hadn’t been taught his laws, so, naturally, they hadn’t practiced them.  After rebuilding the city wall and the Temple, the priests gathered the people together to read the Book of the Law.  The people were overwhelmed with grief and began sobbing because their lives in no way measured up.  But the priests said to them:

‘Today is a sacred day before the Lord your God’Go and celebrate with a feast of choice foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared.  This is a sacred day before our Lord.  Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:9-10).

The process of releasing the past requires grief and forgiveness.  Then you are given the ‘joy of the Lord’ as your strength.  This joy comes from recognizing, even celebrating, God’s ability to set you free from the past, and in doing so, a new way of life.

A Glimpse of Glory

Steve Arterburn

Praise is the outward expression of your deep joy! We praise God in worship on Sunday morning. We praise our team when they do well at sporting events. We praise our kids when they achieve a goal or do something special.

Isn’t cheering someone’s success and accomplishments an invigorating experience? You’ll find the same energy within your spiritual life when you consider how God has moved in history, as well as in your own life. We don’t think about that enough.

Few things will strengthen your faith more than when you cultivate a rich understanding of God through worship. Praise him by remembering his faithfulness to you throughout your years and by looking forward to his promises. When you worship him, your faith will be strengthened, your heart encouraged, and your vision of who God is and how he works will grow.

Thoughts on Joy in Recovery

Mark Verkler

“Short is the joy that guilty pleasure brings.”
‘ Euripides (484 BC – 406 BC)

“Joy is not a substitute for sex, sex is very often a substitute for joy.”
‘ C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)

ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!
We find in Galations 5:22, that Joy is the second fruit of the spirit. It is high on the list of ‘fruit’ that clearly comes from heaven, through the Holy Spirit and to us.

Let’s look at the definition of Joy:

The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; pleasurable feelings or emotions caused by success, good fortune, and the like, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exhilaration of spirits; delight.

Joy is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good.” ‘ John Locke (1632 – 1704)

Look at a significant part of joy’meditation, consideration, and expectation of future good. This is at the heart of Joy. Not simply a delight that is happening now’though I may rejoice about the present’but, significantly, the prospect and expectation of future good. To overcome the temptation of today, and to enjoy today, I must focus on: the joy that will come tomorrow by saying no to that sin; the joy that will come from all the good that God has for me today and in the future.

We find in Hebrews the power and need for joy for endurance and overcoming. Of Jesus we read ‘Who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame.’ Hebrews 12:2

What are some of the good things that will ‘come tomorrow’ if I say no to sin today? Some things we find from scripture are: reward in heaven, good reputation, clear conscience, peace that comes from not having the fear of being caught.

Another vital part of Joy in Recovery is about coming to the end of my own strength and coming to the beginning of God’s strength. As long as I focus only on what I can do, arrange or manipulate, I can have no lasting joy. When I come to the end of my strength I am at the beginning of God’s.

In 1 Corinthians 12:9 the Lord told Paul that ‘My grace (God’s) is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore I (Paul) will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may overshadow me.’

I think it seems strange on the surface to consider that I would ‘glory’ in my weakness. However, as I look closer at this I realize that the ‘glory’ is not about me, but about my absolute need for the Lord’s strength and power. As I embrace and acknowledge my weakness I naturally begin to look for strength and power from another source. As the power of Christ ‘overshadows’ me, I begin to find the joy that I could not find while looking to my own strength or my own prospects for the future.

And in James 1:2 we find that James exhorts us to ‘count it joy’ when we fall into temptations. He tells us the trying of our faith works patience. This prospect of giving thanks or rejoicing with temptations seems difficult if not impossible. We must do this by faith and not according to our emotions. The joy seems to be about the good that it will bring to me as I overcome in the strength of the Lord and about the God who is sovereign over all my life and circumstances. I can count that joy.

In Nehemiah 8:10 we find the exhortation that ‘the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ I pray that the Joy of the Lord will be your strength and my strength today and from this day on.

“The joy of a spirit is the measure of its power.” ‘ Ninon de Lenclos (1620 – 1705)