Thursday, June 19, 2014

Want to Grow in Joy?

By Julie Gernand
I consider myself to be a generally joyful person.
Unless I feel stressed.

Then I feel like a big vacuum has sucked all of my joy away, creating a big, black void!

In every stage of life, there are different "stress-ers" as change happens. Jobs change, marriage happens, babies are born, new houses are bought, people suffer from illnesses, and loved ones pass away. In dealing with the stresses of life, I often forget to be joyful. I forget to praise God no matter what. I only look at the tiny, zoomed-in fraction of life in the moment, and I forget to aim to see the bigger picture.

I forget to praise God for the ways in which he allows us to grow during transitional times.

James 1:2-4 says:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Let us dwell on the last verse for a moment.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

That we may be mature and complete. Those are really strong, juicy terms.

In my ESV study Bible, the word “perseverance” is replaced with “steadfastness.” The additional study text reads: “Steadfastness leads ultimately to perfection. Believers grow in holiness but are not perfected in it; such perfection will be realized only when Jesus returns" (p. 2391).

God wants to develop us and to mold us into new creations in Him. We were made into a new creation the moment we accepted Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Amen and Hallelujah!

Jesus justifies us in Him at the moment we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. We shall be justified once! After we have accepted Jesus, we are His forever.

 ...know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified
(Galations 2: 16-17).

Jesus then sanctifies us in Him throughout the rest of our lives. This is a constant, developing, molding, and growing that helps us to become more like Jesus. We will never be perfectly sanctified while living on this earth filled with sin. Only Jesus’ return will make us pure, whole, full creations in Him. 

He is our missing piece.

I had a leader in college who gave us a helpful metaphor for these terms:

Think of a chair. You are chained to the chair. Tied at the hands and feet. Justification is the act of cutting those chains, and standing up. Justification is the release from the bondage of the chair of sin and the ways of the world.

You then decide to live life outside of the chair. Sanctification is the refusal to sit back down. It is the growing, molding, life experience that Jesus allows us to have that changes us to become more like Him.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:21).

As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified (John 17: 18-19).

Each new life experience has the potential to sanctify us further in Christ Jesus. Our attitudes and awareness of each situation will affect if we move closer to or farther away from Jesus. You may be called upon to speak in front of a large group at work, or to take a on new job. You may find yourself with more responsibility than you had planned for in your job or family. You may find yourself talking about Jesus with a friend, co-worker, or stranger. 

No experience is ever wasted!

We rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus is coming soon, He loves us so dearly, and he will never leave us, nor forsake us as we move forward in sanctification.

May we grow in that joy today!

Dear Jesus, we face so many new circumstances in life that often take us by surprise! Help us to know that you do not waste one situation in our walks with you. You work for the good of those who love you, and may that knowledge bring us true joy as we press on through life.


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