Wednesday, August 22, 2012

{joy-filled and disciplined}

"Being joy filled does not mean that your life is perfect. 
It means that you emphatically trust God and believe he has great plans for your life, 
regardless of what is happening right now. 
Joy is an outward sign of inward faith in the promises of God."
{Tommy Newberry, The 4:8 Principle}

I have been in sort of a rut lately--feeling this yearning to have a joy-filled heart, yet feeling like I am constantly falling short.  What I love about God, though, is that He is always watching over each of us--he knows exactly what we're struggling with and what's going on in our hearts.  He has been providing me with multiple sources of inspiration with regard to this very topic.  One of those sources is a book called "The 4:8 Principle" by Tommy Newberry.  Its premise is that the essential foundation to experiencing joy in Christ comes from filling our minds with things from above--the thoughts that focus on God and his character--the things that Paul describes in Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brethren, 
whatsoever things are true, 
whatsoever things are honest, 
whatsoever things are just, 
whatsoever things are pure, 
whatsoever things are lovely, 
whatsoever things are of good report, 
if there be any virtue, 
if there be any praise, 
think on these things.
{Philippians 4:8}

It seems so easy in today's society to be distracted by all of the things flying at us--news, celebrities, television shows, movies, magazines, spicy books, facebook, twitter, instagram, blogs, phones, work, and radio.  Those things may make us happy for a moment, but they do not give us joy.  Joy--real, true, heartfelt joy--can come only from God.  But if we never take the time to develop, as Tommy Newberry says, our "inward faith in the promises of God" then how could we possibly expect to experience joy?  

There is so much coming at us all day long that sometimes it gets very difficult to make a conscious effort to filter what we see, hear, do, say and ultimately, retain in our minds.  Everyone expects us to react quickly, to stay up to date on all the news and latest music and movies, to arrive faster than the time that our GPS tells us it will take to get there {the never-ending fight against time, right? In my business, the motto is "time is money"} get the idea.  But what God wants from us is stillness, peace, focus and discipline--time focused on Him--those are the practices that will allow us to experience joy that can only come from getting to know Him as our father, savior and friend.  

In our Bible class newsletter each week, we have a little section called "Family Minute" where we get a short devotional to think on.  This week, it was centered around a quote by Tim Kizziar.  

“Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church 
should not be of failure 
but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.”  

Mark Merrill {the writer of this little devotional} said this:  "Is there anything worse than giving something all you’ve got when, in the end, it amounts to nothing?  Determining where to invest your time and energy can be tough.  Be sure to limit the time you spend on things in life that don’t really matter in the end."

I believe this includes our thought life too.  Investing our time thinking on things that are not glorifying to God ultimately results in us wasting precious time that God wants us to be using for the building of his kingdom.  And wasting time is a surefire way to strip joy {true, lasting, from-the-heart joy} from our lives.  

I know for a fact that there are a lot of things I spend my allotted 24 hours each day on that really could be sacrificed so that I can learn more about God and achieve a more joy-filled heart.  So I think this week I'll be focusing on assessing my daily life in a really practical way--what are the things I spend my time on that I can choose to lay down so that I can gain something far greater?  What about you?  What are some things that, while they make you happy, you can choose to sacrifice in order to attain a closer relationship with God and a more joy-filled life?

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