The Joy of the Lord is My Strength

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Pastor Blake Williams 

Missions & Outreach Pastor, Shiloh Community Church 

Last night I was meeting with my community group as we talked through Philippians 1 and this Sunday’s sermon. My wife was sharing about something impactful that Jason shared that he titled “if/then” thinking. Some examples that he used were “if I get this job, then I’ll be happy,” or “if I make this much money, then I’ll be happy.” We also talked about things that are guaranteed to steal our joy, such as: comparing yourself to others, holding yourself and others to a standard of perfection, base your attitude on circumstance, put your needs above others, don’t be generous, and not giving yourself wholeheartedly to anything or anyone.

I asked our group if they struggle with any single or multiple things on this list and
everyone in my group said that they did. When Brit and I had talked about it on Sunday
night she had said that she struggled with every one of those at some point in her life and wanted to know how to address them. It was an eye-opening thing for me because for the most part nothing steals my joy for any sustained amount of time. I joke with our
congregation about being a proton because that way I’m always positive; but that really is an intentional choice I try to make every day.

One thing I remember from growing up was my dad driving me to school and talking about how the only choice we could make that day was our attitude, and to choose a positive one. Part of what my dad did when he was alive was coaching owners and managers of companies how to positively influence their people and model the type of joyful life you desired for your people and company. Something he shared with them was a poem he had on his desk, that I now have in my office that says this:

Count Your Blessings

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, Name them one by one;
Count your blessings, See what God hath done;
Count your blessings, Name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, See what God hath done;
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by,

Count your blessings, Name them one by one;
Count your blessings, See what God hath done;
Count your blessings, Name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, See what God hath done;
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy,
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high
Count your blessings, Name them one by one;
Count your blessings, See what God hath done;
Count your blessings, Name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, See what God hath done;
So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
Count your blessings, Name them one by one;
Count your blessings, See what God hath done;
Count your blessings, Name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, See what God hath done.

This poem is a great reminder to me that when life’s troubles seem big, the best way to put them in perspective is to set them next to God. When I read the Word, I see a very big God, who has been surpassing expectations since the beginning of time and has no plan of stopping. He has promised us that he will replace our anxiety with peace, our hopelessness with hope, and our sorrow with joy.

What I shared with my group was essentially this, no one can steal your joy unless you give them permission to. If you truly look at the promises of God in Scripture it’s easy to have pervasive hope and joy in your life that covers over all of life’s circumstances and struggles. We are told that this earth is not our home, that we will face trials of many kinds, that we will be rejected for our faith, and that many who have gone before us have died because of their faith in Jesus. But, we are also told that when the new heavens and new earth arrive, every tear will be wiped away, death will be no more, and that sin will be eradicated. We were not made for this place but for something far greater.

Keeping that in perspective is one of the surest ways to renew your sense of joy when you find yourself getting down. Remember that Christ has conquered death, that He is
preparing a place for you, and that those who trust in Him have an inheritance in a place far greater than we can imagine. That will give you strength to face the day and I can say with Nehemiah, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

 

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