Foundational Joy

This past week has been a particularly encouraging one for me. Not that God hasn’t been faithful on a daily basis to reveal His kindness to me, this week was filled with situations, conversations, and unexpected blessings that seemed to go beyond the norm.

Just to illustrate the point…

Yesterday prior to the start of worship an older gentleman approached me with tears in his eyes thanking me for the way God used the preaching of the Word to encourage him and he expressed his thankfulness to God that He brought me to River Community Fellowship.

Twice in the last week in the middle of conversations at the sporting goods counter where I work at Walmart guys have mentioned they could see the Lord in me and how that encouraged them.

Obviously, those interactions were tremendously encouraging and I am so very thankful to the Lord that He is using me. It was both humbling and uplifting in ways I cannot express and the joy I felt in those moments was powerful indeed.

But what if God has not led those men to share those thoughts with me? Would I still be joyful? Would I still be thankful to the Lord for His work in me or is my joy dependent upon the positive response from people? What REALLY matters most, my standing with God or my statistics in ministry?

I was struck in a very distinctive way in that regard this morning as I was preparing for our Wednesday night study. The passage we will be discussing this week is Luke 9:51-10:24 and this point was captured in the exchange between Jesus and His disciples in 10:17-20…

“The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them…’Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.'”

It wasn’t wrong for the disciples to experience joy for God accomplishing His work through them. The issue was, what was their foundational joy? What was to be their joy…no matter what?

Jesus wanted to make it clear to His disciples that while fruit in ministry is something to be joyful about, thankful for, and expected, it is to be secondary to the simple fact their names were written in heaven, that is, they were reconciled to God, their sins were forgiven, and their eternity in heaven was set.

God assures us that in this world we will have trials and distress, people will reject the Gospel, the enemy will oppose us at every turn. The one thing we have for certain is a place in the Kingdom in relationship with the King.

Foundational joy protects us from despair, soothes our hurts and disappointments, and should temper our emotions. It keeps our minds and hearts firmly rooted to what is truly important.

In response to being born again Peter writes, “In this you greatly rejoice…” and thus, no matter the circumstance, no matter the response of people, no matter the immediately visible blessings in my life, may my joy be firmly rooted not in what I see and experience but in what the Word tells me about my place with the Father through Jesus my savior.

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