The word "joy" alone evokes a warmth in the core of my very being. Sometimes just stopping to think about the concept of joy can turn a grumpy day around. I'm like every other Mama out there who may read this post and want to join this challenge- I want joy. I crave joy. I need joy in my life.
In the good times and bad.
In chaos and in peace.
In times of new life and times of loss.
In the daily "get it all done, 1 million things on my plate" craziness of it all.
In the core of my being I crave joy, and God's perfect and holy Word tells me that on this earth, there is ONLY one way to it: Jesus.
I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. (John 17:13)
He came and SPOKE TO US so that we may have HIS JOY IN US.
Let. that. sink. in.
In every storm and in every fear, but also in the midst of the daily trials of patience, peace, and overwhelm in our lives- his presence (His Word and Spirit) brings the only available joy into our hearts- clarifying our minds and resting them fully upon his overwhelming grace.
The truth of the matter is, that even on our ugliest, most worn-thin days, Jesus is available to make it all new again. In our broken hearts, broken homes, broken bodies, broken perspectives, broken faiths, broken marriages, broken homeschools, broken finances, he can make it ALL new. He can wipe away every tear, bind up the brokenhearted, set captives free, and pour the oil of joy upon the heads of those who mourn.
When we invite Jesus into each and every broken place and brandished moment, the oil of JOY pours out.
His Joy HEALS.
So we know that Jesus is for us, available to us, and came to be with us so that we may have life, ABUNDANTLY, but how do we remember to bring him into each moment- each area of dull ache or overwhelmed frustration- and begin to live a life that's transformed by his transfiguration?
One day, one moment, one choice at a time.
Some of us spend our days wiping bottoms, correcting manners, managing misbehavior, pushing our little ones toward good character and proper habits in speech, conduct, and hygiene. But what about our habits? What about the DISCIPLINES of our spirit?
Should our faith be so transformational in the singular moment that we give our lives to Christ that even the temptation to sin be wiped away? Should our prayer of faith and decision to choose Christ be a once and done thing? Or, are we to pursue holiness DAILY? Choose Christ daily? Moment to moment, hour to hour, praying without ceasing? Does a life lived cruciform happen all of a sudden, or through trials, challenges, and failure?
I think we all know that nothing worth having is easy to attain. I think we all know that pressure and refinement are needed to procure gold. I think we all know that nothing about following Christ has ever been easy. I think we all know that while we have ETERNITY as a free gift, that a sanctified, joy-spilling life is not a one-step, one-time deal.
The "Jesus in. Joy out. Challenge" is a great recognition in each of our lives that we simply NEED. MORE. JESUS. We simply have to make the choice to choose Him in each challenging moment, each glorious moment, each mundane moment and invite him in. We have to choose to attend to his throne day in and day out, seeking His Wisdom, reading His Word, worshiping His Ways IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.
Through the majesty of our Almighty Father, the persistent presence of his Holy Spirit, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we have the ability and the great honor of seeking out God in each moment of each day. Most of us already know that the presence of God and the counsel and peace of the Spirit is the answer to almost every challenge we face.
What we fail to do is remember it IN THE MOMENT.
This challenge is about cultivating the HABIT and discipline to choose Jesus- choose JOY- in all circumstances. We will work together in a few ways to encourage, motivate, and pray for one another as we seek out God's way and wait (patiently) for him to act.
Over the 4 week period, from October 1 through October 28, we will work together via email (as subscribers) and in an exclusive Facebook Group (click here to join), utilizing videos, live events, giveaways, and devotionals to encourage and inspire one another. I’ve also set up a special page on my blog just to house all blog posts and encouragement related to this challenge, by topic. Find that here.
Here are how the 4 weeks are structured:
Week 1 (Oct 1-7): Joyful Body
Week 2 (Oct 8-14): Joyful Mind
Week 3 (Oct 15-21): Joyful Heart
Week 4 (Oct 22-28): Joyful Home
Here is a quick summary of the challenges for each week so that you can be praying in advance over each area. The TRUE, lasting change comes from the SMALL steps we take in each of these areas as directed by God. We want to move in the areas he's urging us to move in. Our precious Father loves and blesses small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10)
Pray and choose one small step to take this week that will move you toward answers about your health, healing, or better habits toward a healthier lifestyle. Pray for God to clearly provide direction (comparing that to His Word) and obey. Choose one small thing: stop the sodas, add a veggie, take a daily walk, order testing, begin new supplements, pray for healing, etc and take one, small FIRST STEP in this area.
Pray for spiritual protection from lies of the enemy, pray for God to reveal sin in your life that's keeping you distant from Him, and choose one area to consistently pray over and act in to take your thoughts captive. Choose a time to begin (or restart) a daily habit of prayer and Bible study.
Pray for God to reveal an area of your life, a relationship, or perspective in which you've hardened your heart. Is that a person, conflict, or situation that is distracting, hurting, or holding you back? Choose forgiveness. Ask God to help you evaluate your HEART in order to change what is coming from your mouth toward your husband or children. Confront the sin (if needed) and invite Jesus into the situation and wait. Be faithful.
Choose an area in your home that is stealing joy- keep it simple and small. Maybe it's completing a small renovation, decluttering, or a habit that you haven't taken the time to master (like laundry!). Invite Jesus into this area and ask for direction. Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict you, remind you, and encourage you that we are to work as unto the Lord. Ask God to bless you with much fruit from the small seeds that you're sowing.
As we work together to seek Christ in a daily, intimate, and intentional way, my prayer is that we will begin to cultivate the simple habit of SEEKING HIM in all circumstances. We will never be free from every ailment, sin, or stronghold in our lives, while on this earth. But as we pursue His Word and His Spirit faithfully and fervently, our lives will be transformed before our very eyes.
Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24