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Stop, thief! You stole my joy!

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

Week 22 in the Word – May 28, 2021

By John A. Carroll

A couple of decades ago, Mary and I moved to the suburbs of Houston, TX where I served on the pastoral staff of a new church in the city of Katy. Many mornings I would wake up to the Texas drawl of an amiable talk show host who ended every program with this exhortation “Don’t let anyone steal your joy!”

That sounds like good advice, but how can anyone steal your joy? The answer is that no one can steal your joy unless your joy depends on something which can be stolen. If your joy depends on some material thing that can be taken away—a prized car, some special piece of jewelry—there is always a chance it will be.

Even some intangible things can be stolen from us—like important relationships. Rejection by someone we love is painful. It does steal our joy to lose them. Many have lost someone they loved by divorce, and almost everyone has lost someone by death—a parent, a child, a friend.

A quick search online turns up some very dubious advice about this subject—for example: You must get rid of people who steal your joy. Cut off contact with toxic people. A wise friend said, “if I got rid of everyone in my life who is toxic, I would not have any friends, and no one would have me as a friend.”

But what if our joy is based on something intangible, something or someone that we can never lose? What if our joy is grounded in God?

Paul told the Philippians “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4 ESV). Jesus told His disciples in the upper room on the night before His death: “You have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” John 16:22-24 ESV).

Who can steal our joy that is based on God’s love to us in Jesus Christ? God assures us, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5-6; see also Deut. 31:6-8; Isa. 41:10; I Peter 5:7; Phil. 4:6,7; Matt. 28:20b).

If there is anything that should characterize Christians, it is the presence of joy which is grounded in nothing which can be stolen from us. Naturally, there are many things in which we can and do take joy but our ultimate joy is not in anything or anyone but God Himself who has come to us in the person of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Don’t let anyone steal your joy, but if they do it is because they can. If they can, it is because your joy is not based on that which we can never lose, and that would be a signal that it is time to reboot and reestablish lasting joy that is in Christ.

Tip of the week

Forget worrying about someone stealing your joy; practice rejoicing in the Lord.

Looking back

This week we continued in I Chronicles (chapters 3-22). After chapter 10, we found the history of the death of King Saul and the successes of King David. A highlight here was the covenant that God made with David to build him “a house”—a dynasty that would last forever. We know from the New Testament that Jesus Christ would be the fulfillment of that covenant as the true eternal king over God’s people in all the earth.

In John 8, we saw Jesus’ mercy to a woman caught in adultery and how He presented Himself as “the light of the world.” The Lord warned the unbelieving Jews of coming judgment for sin.

In John 9, Jesus healed a blind man who then endured pressure and scrutiny by the Pharisees before discovering who Jesus is and falling before Him in worship.

In John 10, Jesus revealed Himself as the Good Shepherd who would lay down His life for His sheep. He explained why some would not listen to Him nor follow Him, but those who do are assured of eternal life, a gift from Jesus to His sheep.

Looking ahead

This is week 22, and our schedule is to finish I Chronicles and read through II Chronicles 12. Many pages describe the wise and thorough organization of David’s kingdom and the careful transition to the reign of Solomon. This period in Solomon’s life is glorious as he asks God for wisdom, takes great pains to dedicate the completed temple, and seeks God’s blessing for the nation. The transition from Solomon to his son, Rehoboam, is rough as the new king increased demands on the populace, sparked a rebellion and left a permanently divided kingdom to his son, Abijah.

We will continue our reading in John (chapters 11-13) covering the final days of Jesus’ public ministry leading up to the last Passover that He will share with His disciples. In these days, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and rides into Jerusalem to the acclaim of crowds who cannot know that He is on His way to the cross.

The love and grace of Christ fills every line of these chapters while the Jews ramp up a plot to put Him to death. Read slowly and let the words sink deep into your heart.

Week of May 28- June 3, 2021 (Audios by Pastor Charlie Evans)

May 28/Day 148 Your Assignment from God (I Chronicles 23-25; John 11:1-17) Audio here. May 29/Day 149 Learning to Trust the Love of God (I Chronicles 26-27; John 11:18-46) Audio here.

May 30/Day 150 Why Mercy Triumphs over Judgment (I Chronicles 28-29; John 11:47-57) Audio here. May 31/Day 151 Lessons from Mount Moriah (II Chronicles 1-3; John 12:1-19) Audio here. June 1/Day 152 Choosing which Glory to Seek (II Chronicles 4-6; John 12:20-50) Audio here. June 2/Day 153 Two Kings in Contrast (II Chronicles 7-9; John 13:1-17) Audio here. June 3/Day 154 Setting our Hearts to Seek the Lord (II Chronicles 10-12; John 13:18-38) Audio here.

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