READ: Psalm 86, Joel 1, Luke 14, 2 Corinthians 5

JOYLESS 

No one is as miserable as the half-hearted disciple. Missionaries, ministers, and Christians can be the most miserable of the joyless. Joy is linked to a united heart, and when the heart is divided, joy withers away (Joel 1:12). When God is worshiped poorly, “joy and gladness are cut off from the house of God” (v. 16). Life is worship, and when ministry is half-hearted, there is no joy in the labor and no joy in the times of corporate worship–for God or man. Joy comes from strange, full commitments, not ordinary half measures. Joy comes from hating your own life, carrying your own cross, and forsaking all you have (Luke 14:26-27, 33). Joy comes from a full, whole, united heart.

Joy comes from a united heart that fears God’s name (Psalm 86:11). Reverence has long been confused with sobriety. The reverent heart gives Jesus everything and is rewarded with bliss. Phillip Doddrige put it this way: “Now rest my long divided heart, fixed on this blissful center, rest. Here have I found, a nobler part. Here heavenly pleasures fill my heart….Happy Day! Happy Day.” Any energy spent on exalting self or enjoying sin (trying to make ourselves happy) is wasted energy, for it steadily saddens us. A heart devoted to making God happy constantly rejoices us.

Joy comes when we praise with all our heart (Psalm 86:12). A divided heart and a legalistic heart bear the same fruit: joylessness. Praise is the antidote to legalism. The joyous in the Bible are always full of praise for God and His works. Praise with singing, psalms, dancing, clapping, shouting, drums, cymbals, organs. It is hard to be dour, sour, and legalistic when all your heart is devoted to praise.

Joy comes from seeking God with a whole heart (Psalm 119:10). It is the pursuit of God that enriches us. Spiritual adrenaline kicks in when we are following the trail of Him who is the fountain of all joy. As we trace His steps we inhale His fragrance and it intoxicates our spirits and makes us giddy at the soul level. It is the smell of Him, joy inexpressible and full of glory, which both rejoices us and makes us hungry for more.

Joy comes from obedience, and obedience from the Word hidden in our heart (Psalm 119:11). The devil twists obedience into a discipline performed for obscure reasons to little advantage. What a tragedy when we view obedience to God’s Word as anything other than a means to joy. A warm rush of pleasure surges through our being when we obey God’s Word. The more difficult the obedience, the more our soul rejoices. Obedience is joy, but in order for our “joy to be full” (John 15:11), we must completely, full heartedly, wholeheartedly, united heartedly, all heartedly enter into reverence, praise, seeking, and obeying our precious Jesus.

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