How to get the fullness of joy?

While listening to one of my favorite Christian songs “Joy” by for King and Country, I started to think about the fullness of joy and where it comes from. The reasoning behind this was because I started to think about how many Christians that I have met while traveling during these past four years that had little to no joy in their lives. Then I started to think about how many nonbelievers I have seen that are unhappy and use things like alcohol, drugs, or something else to fill a void in their life for temporary relief. So, I want to share with everyone today a little devotional about the fullness of joy and how to attain it today.

Most people know that every Christian receives the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives after they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and are baptized (Acts 2:38). Once a believer receives the Spirit of God in them, they start to feel energized and want to grow closer to the Lord. This season of a Christian’s life is one filled with love, peace, and joy. However, over time a Christian can become stagnant and stops seeking the Lord in everything they do. Soon, they start to allow worldly opinions and desires cloud their judgments and they start to lose focus on what joy is and that only through Christ can the fullness of Joy be in a believer’s life.

In Jesus’ lesson about the vine and the branches (John 15), He teaches us that no branch can bear fruit by itself. To be able to bear fruit, you must remain in Christ Jesus and Him alone. He goes on to clarify what He is teaching by stating, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete,” (John 15:9-11).

I think that Jesus is the ultimate authority on the fullness of joy because His joy becomes our joy when we keep His commands. I say this because no one can steal your joy! Joy does not come from getting a promotion or getting something that you want. Joy cannot come from alcohol or drugs either. Those things may make you happy, but after a while, you will start to feel another void in your life. Something will upset you or you may not get your way. This is why I want to share with everyone today that to have the fullness of joy in your life is a simple choice. That choice is to accept Jesus Christ into your life. Within this choice, you can choose to follow and obey Him or choose not to. You can become fruitful and enjoy the gifts of His Spirit or not. It is that simple.

My family and I have chosen joy and I pray that many of you start to follow. If you are already chosen joy (Christ), but you do not feel joyful on a daily basis, sit back and consider where the source of your joy is coming from. It may just take some time to reflect and then get back on track. For those who have not come to know Jesus, I challenge you to learn a little about Him. Pick up a Bible and read about His life and ministry. Then I challenge you to follow His commands and you will see a change in your life for the better. Then you can make a choice to accept the fullness of joy in your lives.

I pray that everyone reading this today takes what the Lord wants to put in their hearts as a reminder to lean on Him not only for strength and peace but also joy. Please have a blessed day!

FIVE STEPS TO BE A MORE EFFECTIVE MINISTER

Lately, I have not been writing many devotionals because I have been studying hard to graduate with my master’s degree. While doing so, I have been so focused on doctrines and the complexities of theology that I have been having issues relating to those I am called to minister to. While doing laundry today I prayed. I asked God to provide me with the wisdom to be a better husband, father, and minister. I have been trying so hard to balance being a full-time student, husband, father, and minister and to be honest, I have felt that I am missing the mark at times. However, after I prayed, I opened up my Bible to do my devotional time and I read 1 Corinthians 9:22-23. Then it hit me like a brick! The Lord gave me the solution to a problem I was pretending not to have because of my pride. I need to get back to the basics of ministry and leave the complexity of theology for school and get back to the foundational principles that made me an effective minister, to begin with. It is these five principles that I want to share with you all today.

It is written, “To the weak, I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may, by all means, save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it,” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23, NASB).

Principle One:

Find a common ground with everyone you meet. I am a strong believer that you can start a conversation with anyone. My wife tells me often that I have never met a stranger because of this principle. Do not be afraid to engage others to find a commonality. It may take time, but when it comes to ministering, it is a requirement.

Principle Two:

Humility is key when communicating with people. You never want to have or give off a know-it-all mentality, especially when trying to minister to an unbeliever. This is key for having an impactful conversation with someone. You want people to not only hear your words but respect them as well. So, when you communicate with someone, always do so in a loving manner.

Principle Three:

Always make sure to make the people you are in contact with feel accepted and loved. Whenever you engage someone, you must always remember that they are a person you want to help find salvation and not a number. It does not matter how many people you have saved or how many people are in your congregation. When you are ministering to someone, they are the sole focus of your ministry. Treat that person as if they are the only member of your congregation.

Principle Four:

Try to have a sensitivity to what people are dealing with and try to meet their needs. These needs can be physical, emotional, or spiritual in nature. Sometimes people do not want someone to solve a problem for them, but in actuality, they just want someone to listen to them. Sometimes people have a physical need that needs to be met such as food, water, or clothing. Other times, people are dealing with real spiritual needs. An effective minister must be able to not only be able to identify what a person’s needs are but to have the sensitivity to show compassion and not pity for others.

Principle Five:

Look for opportunities to share Jesus Christ with others. This does not mean shove religion down people’s throats, but to emulate the qualities of Jesus. Share his love, compassion, and mercy. This could also be an opportunity to share one Bible verse with someone having issues to lift their spirits, help them with comfort, or to encourage them.

Even though I am sharing with you all the five principles that came into my heart, it takes time and dedication to actually do them. We learn from Paul’s commitment to his ministry that it requires personal discipline. In fact, Paul compared this discipline to that of an athlete that is striving to be the best in his or her field. Like Paul, we have to be willing to give up certain thoughts and actions to win the prize, and that prize is helping someone find and build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I pray that these Principles help someone today to get back to the basics. If anyone wants to add or share a personal experience relating to this post, please leave a comment. I would love to hear how the Lord is working in your life. God bless you all!

Filling the Void

Ecclesiastes 2:16

“For neither the wise nor the fool will be long remembered, since in days to come everything will be forgotten. The wise man dies the same way as the fool, does he not?”

Death is the ultimate equalizer of all people. It does not matter how much you have attained in wealth, wisdom, or popularity. Death comes for us all the same whether you are penniless or a billionaire. Many people may ask “why not just enjoy your life?” I agree with asking these questions from a slightly different perspective. I ask, “why not live and enjoy the life God gave you?” The way we live our lives affects the outcome of our death. Do you want to pass away and hear angels singing and glorifying our Heavenly Father, or do you want to suffer the consequences of living life full of sin and worldly desires? So, what does the Bible teach us how to enjoy your life?

1 Timothy 6:6-8

“Of course, godliness with contentment does bring a great profit. Nothing to this world we bring; from it take us nothing. With food to eat and clothes to wear; content we are in everything.”

The Bible teaches us to enjoy the life we must be content with what we have. This lesson can be applied to both spiritual growth and personal fulfillment. If you put God in the center of your life and not your personal desires, then you can be content with all that God has already provided you with. Often times people confuse riches and possessions with being fulfilled. Money cannot buy you happiness. People get stuck in a vicious cycle of gaining riches and possessions, and they never feel fulfilled. They have a void in their hearts that only God can fill. However, these people try to fill their voids with more things that do not bring about any fulfillment in their lives. They try to fill the void in their hearts with things that can only bring about temporary happiness. When the void comes back, they repeat the process and end up living a life of emptiness.

Are you currently stuck in this cycle? If so, how do you break it? Many things can be learned from this simple truth God shared with us in 1 Timothy 6:6-8. First, is to love people more than you love your money and your possessions. When you die you cannot bring your things with you. However, the positive impact that you leave on the people around you will be everlasting. Focus on being a good person and being Christ-like. Do not be religious, but act compassionately towards others and be a blessing. Too many people go to church and go through the motions and still fill a void in their lives. But a life of service and love will always bring about rejuvenation to a person’s soul.
Secondly, there is a fine line between what you need and what you think you need. If you continue to try and fill the void in your life with possessions and riches, you can never be content with what God has already provided you. Think about your family and your friends that you are losing in your pursuit of riches and possessions. Think about how many people you could have shared what God has blessed you with and made memories with. If this is you, take some time and figure out what is really important in your life and what you truly need to achieve it.

Ecclesiastes 8:15

“So then I recommended enjoyment of life because it is better on earth for a man to eat, drink, and be happy since this will stay with him throughout his struggle all the days of his life, which God grants him on earth.”

The Lord wants us to enjoy our lives when done in the right spirit and with the right moderations. People who are not believers “yet,” often have this mindset that they cannot fully enjoy their lives if they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They focus on what they have to give up in their lives instead of realizing what they are gaining in return. You see, the Scriptures teach us that life is not just about enjoying what you do have, but understanding that you would have nothing without God’s mercy and compassion towards humanity. By understanding this, you will finally be able to enjoy an abundant life. If you continue to try and fill a void that only God can fill, then you are going to miss the happiness of knowing Jesus Christ and the daily gift of the Holy Spirit. I pray that this short devotional helps someone find fulfilled today in Jesus Christ. Only when someone can truly come to terms with the fullness of having Him in their lives can they truly live an abundant life.