Dear Members and Friends of IBCZ,
Last Sunday in worship we considered God’s wonderful gift of joy. As we saw, joy is much deeper than happiness, which is dependent on outer circumstances. Joy is rooted in the character, faithfulness, and love of God. Knowing this is how God always is, and that in all things God works for good for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28), we can always experience joy, what Dallas Willard referred to as “a pervasive sense of well-being.”
Our joy is rooted in God, and there are numerous specific reasons for our joy in God. One relates to what is at the core of the Gospel, and that is the grace of God. Every other religion is based on our having to please God, having to earn His favor. Depending on the religion, we may have to do this through good works, or living a moral life, or performing various works of religious devotion on a regular basis, or offering the right sacrifices. We receive divine favor on the basis of our accomplishments. Thus, one always lives with a sense of compulsion, along with the fear that they haven’t quite measured up, and so will face judgment.
The Christian faith is just the opposite. Rom. 5:8 proclaims, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We do not have to earn God’s favor, or worry that we have not achieved that goal. Rather, God accepts us and loves us just as we are. We are accepted by God on the basis of what Jesus did for us, not what we do for God. It’s all God’s grace freely given. Then by His grace, God works within us to transform our lives. No wonder we have such reason to be filled with joy!
This week, may I encourage you focus your attention on the immeasurable grace of God and His never-failing love for you. As you do, His joy will fill your heart.
Grace and peace,