Page 8 - Vol. 92 No. 1 December January February - Singles
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Mission USA

William Strickland, Administrator

        INTENTIONAL                                              What have I discovered along this intentional journey?
                                                             I had to be reminded that although we often use them
    I have spent a large amount of time this year            synonymously, JOY and happiness are not identical
meditating on two words, and it’s been enlightening.         terms. While it’s possible to experience them both at the
This illumination actually began during the transitional     same time, it’s only possible for me to keep one of these
time from 2015 and into 2016. What began as reflective       two year-round. Happiness is always, and can only be,
thinking over the old year grew into a curiosity of what     a temporary emotion in this world. JOY, however, is and
the incoming year would hold. It didn’t take too long        should be the permanent disposition of God’s people.
before the first focus word became impressed upon my         Happiness is dependent upon my happenings, or my
mind. Within a few days, a second word was strongly          circumstances. And there are many things which happen
impressed upon me. At first, these seemed like two           in this world that do not make me happy. Regardless
different and unrelated words. What are those two            of how happy I might be at the moment, any number of
words? The first one was JOY and the second word             crises could arise and that emotion would flee. Seriously,
was intentional, and it soon became clear that they were     some things are happening in this country about which I
strongly related for me.                                     cannot be happy. So if the JOY of Jesus is supposed to
                                                             be my permanent disposition, then it cannot be identical
    Admittedly, I have not always been intentional about     to happiness.
every area of my life. What does that even mean?
Intentional has to do with focused effort. Without due           What gives? I had to find a new working definition
attention in the form of hands on the steering wheel         of biblical JOY. Joy, as I understand it through the
and eyes on the road, one can easily begin to swerve         pages of our New Testament, is not simply being
along the highways. The Lord began to show me how            hooked on a feeling. For me, JOY is a deep-down,
that was indeed the case for a few areas of my life. I’m     settled contentment, which tells me that in spite of the
really good at staying in between the lines and out of the   appearances of my circumstances, everything’s going to
ditches for a brief season, but I usually allow something    be all right in Christ. This joy is a peace that surpasses
to grab my attention and distract me. So I began to think    the understanding of this world and can only be found
about the areas where I needed more consistent effort.       through Christ and His Word.
Discouragement came as I realized the great challenges
ahead. Then JOY suddenly appeared on my mind’s radar             How do you get it? It becomes ours when we are born
and conviction settled. The Lord wanted me to spend my       again. At the time of regeneration, it seems to simply
year’s efforts on intentional joy.                           flow without much effort. Resistance is futile in those
                                                             grace-filled days of baby steps; however, life happens
    Here’s how I got started. First, I announced to Lisa     and we must grow in this grace and knowledge of Christ.
that the lighted JOY sign we had on the front porch          You must take responsibility and pursue God’s Word for
would be an all year long decoration. This visual            “His joy” to become “your joy.”
reminder has sure kept me praying and meditating on
John 15:11. So that was the next step. I re-memorized            If your Christian life has been anything at all like mine,
Jesus’ words as my key verse for the year: “These things     then you understand that there have been times when
have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you,     you have lost the JOY of Jesus. I’ll skip the sermonic
and that your joy might be full.” My studies led to writing  form of how that happens and go straight to the remedy.
about this “Intentional JOY” on my blog as a form of         Three words in this key verse demand more attention.
accountability. Of course you know, I’ve been preaching      The first one is “spoken,” and it refers back to all that
about it too.                                                our Lord shared with His disciples (and us) in this Upper
                                                             Room Discourse. Then see the word “remain” and take
The Gospel Messenger | Page 8                                note of how the Early Church maintained their state of
                                                             joy in spite of persecution. Lastly, see that word “full” at
                                                             the end of this memory verse. It is the perfect will of God
                                                             for us to not only get filled with the JOY of Jesus, but He
                                                             also wants us to stay full.

                                                                 In spite of the stressors that have come along
                                                             with elections past and the ones to come, we can
                                                             be intentional about maintaining our joy. I have sole
                                                             responsibility for the joy of my soul. Besides, this world
                                                             is not my home. My citizenship belongs to a Kingdom
                                                             not made with hands, and it is all about righteousness,
                                                             peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit! Along with so many of
                                                             you, I look forward to that day when I hear “well done”
                                                             and I will enter into the forever joy of my Lord.
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