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How to Get Your Joy Back

October 25, 2009
Caught two sermons today…one from the second-to-last pew at Highland United Methodist Church in Raleigh, the other from via my PC.

Very different services. Same message from the Book of Philippians. Upshot: Our joy doesn’t depend on our circumstances.

The Rev. David Goehring said our contentment depends on how close we are to God. When we let broken relationships, materialism, habits – really anything – increase the distance between us and God, then discontentment sets in.

He challenged us to simplify, have gratitude and do whatever it takes to draw closer to God. He quoted Paul, the author of Philippians:  “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Elevation’s Pastor Steven Furtick described Philippians as the happiest book in the bible – and noted that it had been written by a man in a prison cell.If anybody deserved to be depressed, it was Paul. There he was, behind bars. Hated by many, including some of his own followers. Disfigured by torture. A death sentence almost certain. 

But in Philippians, Paul writes to his followers of his deep joy. “What has happened to me,”  he said, “has really served to advance the gospel.”

It’s counter-intuitive to think of circumstances being independent of your ability to feel joy. But my own experiences bear it out. I have never been more content than when I have aligned my priorities with God’s.

A decade ago, ravaged by a self-destructive habit, I was about as far from God as you can get. Getting out of that pit required nothing less than complete surrender to God and accepting that fixing this problem was beyond my human capabilities.

Joy was an unexpected result of this painful process. Who knew?

“My joy,” Pastor Steven said, “is not determined by what happens to me, but by what Christ is doing in me and through me.”

Well said.

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