fruit of the spirit

Joy Part 2: Quiet Confidence

“Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.” (Psalm 23:6)

So, Cinderella—she had a rough go of it, right? Evil stepmother. Jealous stepsisters. Fun fact: Her original name was Ella, but since she cleaned the cinders out of the fireplace, her stepsisters started calling her Cinderella, and the mean nickname stuck.

Do you know how the story ends? No, not with the Fairy Godmother. No, not with the mice and pumpkin and glass slippers. No, not even with marrying the prince.

We all know how it ends: She lived happily ever after. Just like Snow White, Rapunzel, Ariel, and Sleeping Beauty. Fairy tale authors hand out happily-ever-after endings all over the place.

Y’all, happily ever after isn’t real. But joyfully ever after is a very-real gift from God.

Kay Warren says this about joy: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”

It seems that, if joy is an option, it wouldn’t take much to persuade Christians to embrace it. But the truth is, we find it difficult to remain joyful when things aren’t going our way. Could it be that we don’t really believe what we profess? Could it be that deep down we doubt whether God is going to make everything right in the end?

Joy is a supernatural gift from God. It flourishes in a heart confident of God’s intention and power to make all things end up as they should. If we find ourselves daunted and fearful about our circumstances, we may also find our joy diminished.

Do we truly realize what our future holds? According to Psalm 23:6, God’s goodness will be with us every day for all of our years on earth. His kindness will never fail us. We are surrounded by his tender care every minute of our earthly lives. When this life is over, jackpot! We move into heaven, where the splendor is beyond anyone’s ability to imagine.

We may have troubles in this world, but temporary trouble doesn’t change our future. God’s children will ultimately be OK. Believe it.

If you’re having trouble with joy, here’s some practical advice from Psalm 95:1: “Come on, everyone! Let’s sing for joy to the Lord! Let’s shout our loudest praises to our God who saved us!” So many Bible verses associate singing, shouting, and praise with joy. When you’re running short on joy, try shouting a praise at the top of your lungs. Or enthusiastically singing a worship song. Or a roar a heartfelt hallelujah.

Our God is faithful. Our future is amazing, and it’s guaranteed. We have every reason to abound in joy.

Dear God, I want to live “joyfully ever after.” When my world is noisy and confusing, help me rest in your quietness and peace. When I don’t see how things can turn out OK, help me focus on your provision and kindness. Let me shout your praise and sing for joy in the midst of any storm. Fill me with your joy. In Jesus’s name, amen.


Perpetual Worship

“I will praise the Lord at all times. His praise will continually be on my lips.” (Psalm 34:1)

Worship should continually spring from the depth of our souls. But that’s not always the case, is it?

Consider this person’s story: “My family was going through an unsettling time with jobs and finances. It had been a difficult week, but I was in church on Sunday, joining with the others in the congregation in singing the beautiful song, ‘Ever Be’ by Bethel Music. I heard myself singing the words, ‘Your praise shall ever be on my lips,’ when I realized that, in the past week, I had actually whined and complained much more than I had praised. I wasn’t singing the truth. Tears began to fall, and I asked God to put praise back in my heart and on my lips.”

Can you identify? Do you ever find yourself complaining or criticizing more than you praise?

The Bible tells us that heaven will be filled with spontaneous worship, shouts of the worthiness of God and the Lamb. Revelation 4:10-11 gives us an example: “…They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they existed and were created.’”

Heaven is a place of worship. Really, how could we not worship when we see God sitting in the throne room of heaven? When we come face to face with Jesus, who redeemed us with his own blood? When everything we hoped for becomes a reality?

But should it be any different here? Praise and worship should continuously flow throughout the earth from the lips of those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. The Lord’s prayer says, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). There should be spontaneous, heartfelt worship on earth just as there is spontaneous, heartfelt worship in heaven.

What has been on our lips this past week? Has it been more worship and praise, or more criticism and complaints? Friend, God is worthy of our worship, in good times as well as difficult times. As we praise God here on earth, we prepare for that glorious day when our voices join the throng of worshippers gathered in the throne room of heaven. What a day that’s going to be!

Lord God, you are so worthy of my praise. I repent of the times when worship has been far from my heart and not at all on my lips. Fill my heart with a revelation of your holiness and power. Remind me of how you rescued me. I praise you for your faithfulness, your forgiveness, and your never-failing love. In Jesus’s name, amen.