Last weekend’s point is a challenge for me. I have tripped over its truths many times and needed to relearn them and sink them deeper. From a young age I have always been driven to work at getting better, doing better, being better. There is part of that which is good, but the problem is that it tends to make our joy leak even faster than normal. It can take us from a holy discontent with ourselves to an unholy discontent with life in general. It an push Jesus to the fringe of life while we run without Him trying to make life work.
How do we recognize & avoid the most common joy killer?
In Philippians 3, Paul calls believers to REJOICE IN JESUS while resisting the temptation to trust their status or accomplishment for being right with God because that comes only through genuine exclusive in Jesus.
Resist Trusting Status, Accomplishment or Religion Make You Right with God. See Philippians 3:2-6
PROBLEM: Legalism is a natural but dangerous temptation.
Some of us work to collect evidence of our worthiness. Certificates, affirming notes, pictures of something important we are part of. No problem taking encouragement or gaining perspective, even having reminders. The problem is how we look at them and why we use them. Do they point us to Christ or self centered pride. Is it a response of gratitude based in faith or is it driven by insecurity and fear of rejection. Does our sense of worth rest on those fragile works or do those works spring from our settled worth in Jesus?
TRUTH: Human effort or status can never make us right with God. It becomes a treadmill you cant’ easily escape from. Like Brett Favre once said, “You are only as good as your last pass.”
Keep your Faith Anchored in Jesus for Your Ultimate Standing with God. Phil. 3:7-11
2Cor 5:21 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Cf. Rom 8:9 & 14
PROBLEM: Legalism is a natural but dangerous temptation! (I know I said that already, but it is really important to understand)
TRUTHS: True salvation comes only through Jesus sacrifice AND Genuine faith in Jesus transfers his righteousness to us.
The gospel is not good instructions, not a good idea, and not good advice. The gospel is an announcement of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. —Michael Horton, Professor of Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. That means we don’t have to do anything to get on God’s good side except respond to His gift.
- Reprioritize or releasing anything you are tempted to trust more than Jesus. Let go of anything that gets in the way of deepening your ongoing relationship with Jesus.
- Enjoy God’s blessings without making them the foundation of your confidence in life. Good things are not bad unless we fail to remember where they really came from.
- Live out a faith based obedience to Jesus. Of course we should still do the good God desires. The joy grows however, when we do good out of gratitude and confidence rather than a nagging sense of fear and insecurity.
BOTTOM LINE: Find Lasting Joy through a Deepening Faith Relationship with Jesus.
Phil 3:1-11 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
CS Lewis wrote about joy: “God destined the human machine to run on Himself. He is the fuel our spirits are designed to burn. He is the food our souls are designed to feed on. There is not other. That is why it is not good asking God to make us happy in our own way. God cannot give us joy and peace apart from Himself, because it doesn’t exist. There is no such thing.”
How has your joy been lately? This week, month year? Scale of 1-10? Has a misplaced trust in accomplishment, status or even religious activity slowly killed your joy? The answer is not trying harder, it is trusting Jesus.
Prayer: Father, I know you want us to experience real joy. Help us resist seeking it in the wrong places. Help us prioritize knowing and trusting Jesus. Help us live out of faith and gratitude not fear and selfish striving.
If you don’t have a church home this weekend, increase your joy by joining us for Easter worship at 8:30 or 10:30 on Sunday and Good Friday worship at 7:00 pm.