Monday, November 5, 2007

Obedience VIII – Joy

I am overjoyed where the Lord has brought me to.

Being obedient to Him has taken me around the world to 10 different countries. Being obedient has shown me café’s in South Africa, and surfing in Hawaii, and chocolate in Venezuela.

Being obedient has had me take the pulpit in Florida and Kenya. I have seen the sick healed, and seen the captive set free. I have watched my mentor flow in depths of the spirit that would cause people to stand in awe of who God is. I have seen rains fall for weeks at the mere prayer of the faithful.

Even this morning, as I approached my prayer spot, I was overcome with joy.

How did God bring me here?
How did I end up being paid for my creativity?
How did I end up being paid to grow and learn and prosper?
Doesn’t He know where I came from; what I have done?
What events did He arrange just to bring me to this one point in time?

There is so much joy and appreciation for who I have become (especially compared to the life I led previously!) Even how I survived that past with so few emotional problems, the mystery of how He brought me through, causes me severe joy!

That is how it was for the servants of God before Christ came.

The prophets all spent time with kings of nations. Those who were obedient were given great victories on the battlefield. They enjoyed love stories like Jacob and Rachel. They traveled all over the known world. They saw so much, and were ever in awe of who God was.

Likewise, the disciples and the early church all had times of immense joy. The Bible tells us in several gospels that when Peter and John left the empty tomb that they were full of joy.

Simply put, being obedient brings us the joy we so long for and desire!

Being American, I have observed the difficulty it is often for other Americans to want to be obedient to anything. Call us protestants. Call us revolutionaries. Fine! Whatever! The obedience factor is hard for us to understand.

It is even harder to conceive that we will ever experience joy unless we take it for ourselves.

Which is why it is so hard for us to believe that by submitting our entire beings to God, being 100% obedient to the Jiminy Cricket voice we are hearing in our head, that we will ever live the life we have truly dreamed of.

I assure you, it is true. Truth be told, the very reason we are not experiencing truly satisfying joy is because we are trying so hard to make it happen for ourselves!

What if I told you that we need to QUIT trying?!
What if I told you that we just needed to be obedient to the voice in our spirit?
What if I told you that Jesus actually told us this same thing, plain as day?

Read the entire chapter of John 15, but I want to zero in on verse 11 in the Amplified Version:

I have told you these things [His commands] that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be in full measure and complete and overflowing.

“Overflowing”! Can you believe that?!

Well, you should, and so should I. Its there in red and white, friends.

You see, Jesus spends the first part of John 15 talking about abiding in the vine as branches.

How does He recommend that we abide in the vine? By being obedient.
What will that produce? Our overflowing joy!

It may seem counter-intuitive; especially as Americans. But this walk with Christ is a walk of obedience.

It is not an obedience you would find at a dog-training school. It is the obedience that produces that which is good and prosperous for us. The best part is that He promises that it will bring us joy.

To be honest, the first few years of my salvation were hard. The transition of my old lifestyle to my new lifestyle was a slow, long path. But, just 8 years into this life I look back and think that it wasn’t that hard.

The difficulties were nothing compared to the joy and awe I feel day to day now.

Consider deeply how to be more obedient. Reading John 15 will bring additional insights as to how. But, when things get tough, keep in mind that on the other side of those obstacles is a joy that exceeds our greatest imaginations!

And when that I happens, I pray that your joy may be full!

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