[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] L [/dropcap]ast night, as I was driving home from teaching the class on missions, I was floating on cloud 9. Feeling such joy at being allowed to do something that so fits me. As I’ve taught on missions, I’ve had so much fun. I’ve seen my giftings, my passion, and my heart flow out, and it’s had a tremendous effect on me. Rarely do I get to do something that feels like I’m so completely in my element, and I was just riding high on the joy of that feeling. So I was thanking God, delighting in Him, conversing with Him, and then I started thinking about how much joy our Heavenly Father has to feel when He sees His children in their element . . . in their element of doing something for His glory. And I then started to think on this scripture that has been hidden in my heart for several years and is one that I think on quite often –

Hebrews 1:8-9 AMP

But as to the Son, He says to Him, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever (to the ages of the ages), and the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of absolute righteousness (of justice and straightforwardness). You have loved righteousness [You have delighted in integrity, virtue, and uprightness in purpose, thought, and action] and You have hated lawlessness (injustice and iniquity). Therefore God, [even] Your God (Godhead), has anointed You with the oil of exultant joy and gladness above and beyond Your companions.

I always think about the fact that Jesus had more joy than anyone around. Do you ever think about that? He was JOYFUL!!! I think that was probably a lot of the reason that people were drawn to Him. I think that God the Father anointed Him with so much joy so that He could carry out His purpose on this earth. Yet something hit me last night as I drove home. If we look back up to the scripture, it says “You (Jesus) have loved righteousness [You have delighted in integrity, virtue, and uprightness in purpose, thought, and action] and You have hated lawlessness (injustice and iniquity). Therefore God has anointed you . . . ” Because Jesus chose righteousness above wickedness – in fact, it says He LOVED righteousness and HATED wickedness – because of that God anointed Him with joy (more joy than any of His companions). The path that Jesus chose to follow resulted in being gifted with joy. Not a little joy but a whole lot of joy; more so than anyone else around. Just think on that . . .

As I drove and thought on that, I started rehashing the topics that my class and I covered and how as were discussing missions, discussing the need around the world, discussing other religions, etc., we got onto the topic of leaving our culture, our comfort zone, our comfortable life and choosing something that most likely will be, at the very least, different, less comfortable, completely out of our culture, and out of our comfort zone. It’s a process of death to self, and it’s not an easy decision to leave comfort for a higher purpose. It’s easy to say that we should do that, but it’s much harder to actually do it. I know this as a fact as I’ve experienced it in many different ways and in different cultures. When I moved to England, I was very surprised at how different another first world country is compared to my American home and what I was used to. When I was in Papua New Guinea for 7 weeks, there was very little that was comfortable or anything like what I was used to. In Thailand, we didn’t even get a shower. We got a hose and a bucket. And we won’t even talk about comfort in India, as that was probably the least comfortable 3 weeks of my life. Yet we survived. And we did more than survive, we grew and became better people because of the choice to lay down our comfort and instead go and serve someone else. There is so much fruit in choosing to be obedient, in choosing righteousness over self.

I’m realizing more and more that as we lay down our lives for Him, as we choose to pick up love over self, as we choose to just let God and His heart flow through and overtake us, so much more joy, peace, and life come to us. Christianity should never be thought of as this joyless experience of trying to attain to all these rules that we can’t possibly keep. Nor should it ever be this experience of just living our lives for ourselves, our comfort, our happiness, and forgetting that God called us to higher standard. He called us to live as Jesus did. He called us to be laid down lovers. That phrase just keeps coming back to me over and over. We are to be laid down lovers of Jesus. People who give our all for His name sake, to see His kingdom expanded, to love on the unlovely, to help the hurting, to feed the hungry. And our reward is more of Him. And in Him is fullness of joy. It’s so good, and I’m just getting started on this journey. But I can already say that it is so good.

And on that note, I’m leaving you with my current favorite worship song as it is indeed a new season. He does indeed make us come alive . . . alive with joy.

(PS – I chose this photo of my son, because all I see in this is pure life and joy. It brings me joy to look at it. God delights in seeing pure joy in our hearts.)

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