I was reading an article in a magazine recently about Erwin McManus, pastor of the church Mosaic in Los Angeles. In it he quoted Genesis 3:11, “Who told you that you were naked?” and followed up with a tremendous insight.
Until the fall, the whole universe was filled with the voice of God, and everything that is was created by His voice. When God saw that the first couple had fallen, He did not first ask them, “Why did you do this?” or “What happened?” He simply asked them, “Who told you that you were naked?” And then as way of explanation, McManus hammers home a most important translation to God’s question to Adam and Eve: What other voice did you choose to replace Mine with?
This week at Journey Church I am starting a series on Philippians. As I do so I am still challenged by this Erwin’s question, for it is obvious that in spite of his imprisonment and abandonment by most of the Christians in Rome, Paul never replaced God’s voice with any other voice. Not despair. Not pity. Not loneliness. Not complaining or self-doubt. Instead, Paul remembers his calling to be a servant of Christ and continues not only to encourage the believers in Philippi, he even sees new converts in Rome. In spite of his circumstances, Paul writes a letter that has come to be known as the letter of joy.
The simple fact is you can only have this supernatural joy when there is only one Voice speaking in your head. When doubt, despair, sin or abandonment wants equal time with the voice of God, and it will, I can only encourage all of us to say, “I choose to listen to God and only to God.” Then we will all be able to say with Paul, “I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him” (Phil. 3:8-9). When that happens, our whole life will be a well-read letter of joy.
I needed to read this today. Possibly every day. Thank you.
I have been struggling for several years now feeling disconnected with God, but still going through the motions. I have been trying to figure out what my problem was, searching, keeping myself busy in church, not letting go, thinking that it would pass. After reading this, I had a very eye opening moment and realize, I have lost my joy. Somewhere along the way. So, when one loses their joy, how does one get it back?
In answer to your question I have one of my own: Are you going through the motions of being a Christian or have you truly connected your gifts and talents with your service in the Kingdom? Many people don’t have the joy God wants them to have because they aren’t doing those things God gifted them to do. Can you imagine Paul McCartney being happy as a roofer or Mother Teresa finding joy in being an actress? They knew what they were created to do and did it and that brought them joy.
Rom. 12:6-8 lists various gifts God gives people. The list is not exhaustive, but it shows us we all have something to offer God’s Kingdom. These gifts are called the “Motivational Gifts,” which distinguishes them from Manifestational Gifts in 1 Cor. 12 and 14 and the Ministry Gifts in Eph. 4.
The motivational gifts are those things that move us to joyfull serve in God’s Kingdom. They are the things that motivate us to get out of bed in the morning and say, “I get to do THIS today, and I’m looking forward to it!”
John Maxwell said everyone should find something they love to do so much they’d do it for free, then become so good at it someone will pay them to do it. Since I am the pastor of a church I get to teach the Word every Sunday. And since teaching is my motivational gift, I get out of bed every morning to study the Word with joy because I know I get to teach the Word twice a week, if not more.
Naturally, not every person will get paid for doing what they like to do the most. But we can all find ways of “employing” our gifts in God’s Kingdom, and many of these ways will be outside the four walls of the church. Sometimes, as in my case, I needed to move from one church body to another to use my gifts. Others will be able to use their gifts within the church while others will use their gifts in the community. My mom absolutely loved to knit and give her creations away. It gave her joy to see people receive gifts they couldn’t afford, even though knitting isn’t mentioned in Rom. 12.
So, what things could you get involved in so that when your feet hit the floor in the morning you say, “THIS is what I get to do today. I don’t have to, I WANT to!” When you find that area in your life, you may find your joy return.
Hmmmmmm. I might have to file that one under “Counsel from Pastor Jim that bothers me”. Sigh. I was really hoping for more of a sing a happy song 10 times and you’ll get your joy back type answer. Got any of those in your back pocket? Instead you went straight to the heart of the matter. The very thing I’ve been avoiding. Geez. Thanks for your input. I’ve obviously got some pondering to do.
It is my purpose to get you to ponder! Besides, I don’t want to be the only one who is bothered by these things, so I share them with others. Don’t you feel blessed?
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