WHAT IS YOUR JOY LEVEL?

He was a new convert. As a newbie to anything Christian, the handbook for him might as well have been written in Swahili.

Image of rulebook

Ahh, the delights of the Student Handbook. It was a freshman’s first required reading years ago when I began Bible College.  Contained within were all the rules which would ensure a “happy” college existence.  The list of prohibitions was long and infractions were harsh. Included in possible “crimes” were attending movie theaters, guys’ hair extending over their shirt collars and girls’ skirts to not touching the floor (if the girl was kneeling). For many of us (including me) it was a culture shock. 

I met Carmen, a new convert. As a newbie to anything Christian, the handbook for him might as well have been written in Swahili. Carmen was recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and clearly not prepared for the rulebook. What he desperately needed to learn was what fellowship with the Savior was all about. Carmen was unable to find the joy of the Lord.

TO LOSE JOY IS A GREAT LOSS

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “If any of you have lost the joy of the Lord, I pray you do not think it a small loss.” Spurgeon believed Jesus’ promises regarding joy. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11) But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves (John 17:13) If joy is not found in a college rulebook, where can it be found?

JOY IS IN A PERSON

Joy is in a Person. In I John 1:1-4, the Apostle John makes sure every reader vividly knows exactly Who Jesus is. Jesus is not some vague historical figure, but Someone who John and hundreds of others heard, saw, touched, testified about, and knew. The believers formed a holy family circle with the Savior. Even 2,000 years later, this circle is open to all believers. The individuals in the circle do not have all the same skirt length, haircut, or even choice in entertainment.  What we gather around is the very Word of God, Jesus Christ.

WE LONG FOR CONNECTION

As believers, we long for connection. Jesus offers fellowship with God Himself. Christians tend to loosely throw around the word “fellowship”. God’s usage is not a church’s potluck. a high school lock-in, or a good old fashion hymn sing.  This is a deep connection with God which aims to flood our being to its very core.  We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 

JESUS’ HAIRCUT WAS NEVER AN ISSUE

How does one gain fellowship with Jesus Christ? By agreeing with Him. Christ functioned on this earth always in deep fellowship with God, agreeing with the Father. They never disagreed.  Jesus’ haircut was never an issue; the will of the Father was.

HE LONGS FOR YOU

Agreeing with God and taking action on what He actually says in His Word brings joy. There is a place setting for you at God’s table and He longs for you to dine with Him.  Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Sadly, Carmen was unable to follow the college handbook and was kicked out in the Spring of his first year.  He never learned that fellowship with God is not created via manmade rules. If only someone would have drawn him into the circle of fellowship with Christ and what His Word actually said.

THE LITMUS TEST

Maybe this week, take some time and begin making a list of what is keeping you from having deep fellowship with God.  The litmus test may be the questions: “What is your joy level? What is preventing your joy in the Father from being full?” God longs for you. Do you long for Him?

For further reading on vital fellowship, clickhttps://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/1-john/life-with-father

Author: Jacquelin Stoner

I have had years of walking alongside of individuals, encouraging those who want to change, but need help navigating to the better place God has envisioned for their lives. I believe Christ is central to genuine lasting life change.

Delight in helping women to discover wholeness in their "New Normal".