Subject: Where is my joy?
Dear Mr. Gordon,
I've been listening to your sermons and reading them also. I was saved when i was 13 and then came back to the lord in my late 20's. I know the lord was with me he helped me stop smoking which was a miracle for me! now i'm in my sixty's and feel so far from the lord. I don't know how to get back what I once had.
What am I missing? Can you help me? By the way i love hearing your messages. Thanks
thanks for the email and testimony. And thanks for listening/reading my messages. Glad you like them : ) You haven't really written how you got to where you are (between 20 and 60) so I'll just say a few thoughts in general. In feeling without joy and far from the Lord would you say that you still do the things you did at first, like when you came back to the Lord in your 20's? The reason I ask is because I am currently studying Revelation and earlier today was writing up a message on the first church - Ephesus. Jesus said to this church something that stands out:
Rev 2:4-5 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. (5) Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
The members of the church were still saved but they had slowly but surely moved from their first love - Jesus. So would you say that you still do spiritually what you did at the beginning? Are you still praying and spending time in His word and thanking Him for what He did and who He is for you now?
Our relationship with the Lord is like a marriage - which requires work and time together. There is often a honeymoon phase which does wear off over time and we need to maintain that closeness and relationship. In the O.T God spoke to His people:
Jer 2:2-5 "Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, 'Thus says the LORD, "I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, The love of your betrothals, Your following after Me in the wilderness... (4) Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. (5) Thus says the LORD, "What injustice did your fathers find in Me, That they went far from Me And walked after emptiness and became empty?
So this is not a new problem. That is why Jesus told this church to repent (means change their mind leading to a change in their current course) and return to what they did at the beginning of their relationship with Him.
Joy is a fruit of the spirit when we are walking with Him. It is also the result of what we are focusing on. The scripture says that Jesus had joy even while facing the cross because He focused on what was to come:
Heb 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I don't know your situation but the difficulties of this life can also take our joy if we are focusing on them and not the Lord. The book of Philippians has a theme running through it about joy (even though Paul wrote it from prison!) and ends with some of the best advice in the Bible - for everyone no matter what their situation really. It tells us to ACTIVELY REJOICE in the Lord. In fact Paul said it twice in a row! That is find something to be thankful and joyful in the Lord for. And then set your mind on those things, the good things of the Lord that you can rejoice in:
Php 4:4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (5) Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (6) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. (9) Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
We also need to remember that we are in a battle and the enemy wants to tell us that we are miles from God and God doesn't care anymore. That is from the 'Father of lies'. Even great men of God like David, Elijah, Job, John the Baptist etc had times of depression and feeling separated from the Lord when focusing on the wrong things. They weren't of course, and neither are you, but feelings are a funny thing - they don't know what is reality and what isn't... they just respond to what we are thinking about! So that is why Phil 4:8 is so important!
So, again, I don't know your situation, but I would:
- Tell the Lord how you feel but thank Him that His word is true and that He loves you. Tell Him that you desire to walk closely with Him again.
- Confess and repent before Him if you have left your first love (like the church at Ephesus) and begin to practice the things that you did when you came back to Him in your 20's.
- Practice thankfulness. As you go about your day thank Him, in your heart and mind, for who He is and that He is with you. It is true even if your 'feelings' tell you otherwise! Believe the word of the Lord and not the lies of the enemy.
- Set your mind on what is true and on something that you can rejoice in as you go about your day.
All of these things are 'practicing the presence of the Lord' just as you go through your normal day. Bring Him into it!
Hope this helps. Let me know how you get on.
Oh thank you so much for responding. Yes your message helps me a lot. Thank you again .