Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for…Joy

By Shelly Burke, Editor, Nebraska Family Times and Author, Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide

I was trying to define “joy” (it’s one of those words that is hard to describe—to me at least) and finally decided to go to my Bible dictionary, which defines joy as the “State of delight and well being that results from knowing and serving God…the fruit of a right relation with God…not something people can create by their own efforts.”

The first thing that hit me was that I don’t have to—in fact, I cannot—create joy by my own efforts. This is good, because it would be pretty hard for me to create my own joy in the context of some of the events in my life and some of the Bible verses I found for this devotion.

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5b

I have wept during many nights, and I’ve been with friends who have wept during dark times of their lives. I could not have found joy in the morning in those situations and I think they would have said the same. Yet all of us, at some point, had a sense of well being or at least peace in the situation, and that could have only come from God. When we know God and are right with Him, we know that He has a purpose for everything that happens—even in terrible circumstances. We might not know or understand for many years, or we may not know until we get to heaven, but we have faith that there is a reason.

Jesus said, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:22

In many cases the word “joy” is at the end of a verse that talks about sadness. How can we so quickly move from sorrow to joy? Again, this is something that we cannot do by our own efforts. In the verse above Jesus is talking about His death and resurrection.  I think God is reminding us that  even though we don’t always have “happy endings” here on earth, we can be sure that in heaven we will be with the Lord and all of the other believers we knew on earth.

Another part of this verse that I like is the end; “no one will take your joy from you.” Just as no human can create joy, no human can take it away. I can claim—and keep—my joy no matter what. This is part of the gift of a “right relation” with God. When I know Him through the Bible, church, and Bible class, when I communicate with Him through prayer, and seek to do His will, I will have a right relationship with Him and the joy that is a result of that relationship.

Thankfully we do not have to be perfect in our relationship with God; He forgives us through His grace—and He takes joy in doing so! “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor the fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

Here, Habakkuk is warning readers that Judah’s faith would be tested—but he is convinced that they can rejoice despite circumstances. I think we could all make this verse our own, substituting the negative events in our lives for what Judah would face. Though we face broken relationships, troubled children, financial problems, illness and disease, vehicle breakdowns, and more, we can still “take joy in the God of {our} salvation.”

Thank You so much, Lord, for the joy you give me in spite of circumstances. Amen.

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"Stepping Out: To a life on the edge" Book Signing Event

I'm so happy to announce the publication of my good friend Deb Burma's new book, "Stepping Out: To a life on the edge"! I was blessed to read it as she was editing it this fall and it is a wonderful, encouraging book! She shares so well how we can "step out", with God's strength, to serve Him in whatever He has in mind for us. 

Please join us: 

This coming Sunday, April 14th, at
Peace Lutheran Church, 2720 28th Street, Columbus, NE

2:00-2:30 PM, special "Stepping Out" message from Deb
2:30-4:00 (or later!) refreshments and book signing!
Bring a friend! 

Books will be available for the special price of only $12 for this event only.

Deb's other books, "Treasured," "Beautiful Feet," and "Chocolate Life" 
will also be available. 
For more information, call Shelly at (402) 750-3496

(if you are unable to attend, you can check out the books at