Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand”
In Galatians 4:15, Paul asks the church “What happened to your joy?” and I think today more than ever the church needs to consider the answer to this question. Many of us are living joyless lives and I don’t think it’s because we want. I think we are not on the journey to joy because we have forgotten the path to praise. In Psalm 16 David reveals the steps to a journey of joy:
- Pick the path to life
David reminds us that Joy is found on the path to life not death and that only the author of life can reveal its path. The gift of God’s grace is that He has not hidden the road to rejoicing but has revealed and made it known. God gave His greatest gift, His Son Jesus Christ who come and died for our sins on the cross so that we could have life. It is here that we have a choice, continue in the chaos or come to the cross. God does not force us to follow His path He gives us a choice, He has provided the path to life but we have to pick it. What choice have you made, you may feel like you are saved because you grew up in a Christian family but remember we are born sinners not saved. We have a choice to make, will we confess and choose Christ and when we do will we choose to follow Him? In Deuteronomy 30:15-19 God told His people “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments…I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life.” Salvation starts us on the journey to joy but surrender to His ways are the steps of continued praise. So often we choose Christ and then fail to follow Him, instead of living in the Lord we linger in the lies. If you have chosen Christ then live for Christ, so that your walk reflects His word not your way and wants. Jesus said in John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Joy comes when we choose to journey with Jesus, to live for the Lord in obedience to His Word. Jesus reminds us in John 10:10 that there is another path one of pain whose destination is destruction, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Satan’s plan is simple to deceive, derail and destroy. Today many believers have been side swiped by Satan, side tracked by the system of this world, and swamped by sin. What are you choosing? Jesus came to save Satan came to steal, Jesus came to bring life Satan came to kill, Jesus came to build Satan came to destroy. Satan can’t steal your salvation so he tries to rob you of rejoicing by stealing your joy. One of the most effective ways he has in stealing our joy is through sin, willful disobedience to God’s way. In Psalm 32:3-4, David said, “When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long.” Because of the unconfessed sin in his life, David lost his joy and so do we, but when he came clean in verse 5, “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” his joy returned, verse 1-2 “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty.” Are you living in the destruction of disobedience are you choosing His commands or catering to your cares? Do you need to come clean and confess, stop serving the sin and surrender to the Savior. Repentance restores but it also redirects our lives back to rejoicing in our Redeemer. Second Satan sneak attack involves stealing our joy through unresolved conflict. Hebrews 12:14-15 says “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” When we get hurt we often choose to hang onto the offence, unforgiveness steals our joy. Pursuing peace involves a focus on praise not the pain and that means fighting the urge to hold onto the hurt and instead choosing to forgive. If you have a relationship where there’s unresolved conflict, where you’ve been hanging onto the hurt then my question is this, is it worth losing your joy over? Are you putting your energy into feeding the fight or forgiving? Are you growing the grudge or giving grace? I’m not talking about minimizing the hurt I’m talking about choosing to not give it control. Pain wants to take the place of praise in your life and you can put your energy into petting the hurt or a heart of praise, it’s your choice. Conflict is going to happen, offences will occur, we can’t stop people from hurting us, but we can choose what we’re going to do with the hurt. Are you hung up on a hurt that’s hindering your joy? Will you forgive and choose the path to life or keep living in the lies?
- Pursue His presence
If you want to pursue joy then you have to find and live in the place where it is found. Davis tells us that the place of joy is in the presence of God, so how do we get there? Psalm 22:3 says “You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” The path to God’s presence is found through praise, Psalm 100:4 says “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.” Worship walks us into God’s presence where we can live in the light of His joy. The journey of joy is one of worship not worry, today many are allowing some dark doorway to bar their way to worship. Today we pursue pleasure, possession and prestige we are more desperate for darkness than we are for God. We line up for the latest technology but not for truth, we are more tempted by the temporary than we are enamored by the eternal. Instead of living like we believe the bible we live like we are bored by it. What are you pursuing? Romans 8:15 says “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” We are no longer slaves but sons forgiven by our Father, but how desperate are we for our Daddy? Today I fear I have been more desperate over my problems than His presence. We want to pop into His presence when the next problem arises, present our request and then leave. We are consumed with a desire for a change in circumstances not a desire to chase Christ. Are you picking the path to life, do you long to linger with the lord living in His presence?