When we lose the shackles that sin places on our ankles, we experience the kind of freedom found in Christ. But what does that look like? Last week we talked about finding freedom from fear, but this week we’re talking about how freedom in Christ brings us joy.
1 Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with a jubilant cry.
2 For Yahweh, the Most High, is awe-inspiring, a great King over all the earth.
3 He subdues peoples under us and nations under our feet.
4 He chooses for us our inheritance— the pride of Jacob, whom He loves. Selah
5 God ascends among shouts of joy, the Lord, among the sound of trumpets.
6 Sing praise to God, sing praise; sing praise to our King, sing praise!
7 Sing a song of wisdom, for God is King of all the earth.
Psalm 47:1-7 (HCSB)
This beautiful Psalm acknowledges both God’s sovereignty over the world as well as providence for His people. What strikes me most about this Psalm is the energy it contains. Just meditate on the words for a moment: “jubilant cry”, “among shouts of joy,” “among the sound of trumpets”, “sing praise” repeated FOUR times, and “sing a song”.
This psalm is a great picture of what joy looks like.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-25 (HCSB)
There’s not a lot to write about the context of this Scripture. It’s self-explanatory. So let’s move on to our next section:
Joy Comes From Worship
It’s no coincidence that the Psalm 47 portrait of joy is captured alongside worship. You see, the Christian walk is very much like aerobic workout schedule. They both require dedication and willpower to get results, and these results often come alongside pain. Just like a runner at the start of her journey sheds fat while simultaneously building muscle, we must shed our burdens so we can build our faith.
Our burdens are the things that are outside God’s will for our lives. It’s sin and emotional baggage. It’s the things that we struggle with, and the things that God never wanted us to face.
In opposition to the burdens, our faith is the life that God wants for us. As we draw closer to God, we strive to display those positive virtues that we know are in line with His word. As those virtues become habits, we begin to experience life as God intended.
The Role of Worship
I think we have a strange idea of what worship is. You see, I tend to picture the solemn Sanctuary. In my better moments, I imagine what it must have been like to dance and singe praises with a giant group of like-minded people on the way to the Temple of the Lord.
Meanwhile, we know that God created us for a relationship with Him. By that standard, worship should play a huge part in fulfilling that purpose. So why all the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ and formality?
When we put our focus on who God is through worship, it becomes impossible to ignore who we are: sinful, fallen, and dirty. We can have a relationship with God because of Christ. We are redeemed because of Christ, but our perspective is still tainted from living in a fallen world.
So when we add that in to our little equation, we can come to this conclusion: worship is designed to build our relationship with God by revealing the impurities that we still retain.
Once those impurities are revealed, we have two options:
- Let the Refining Fire cleanse us like the coal from Heaven’s altar cleansed the sin from Isaiah’s lip (Isaiah 6:6)
- Decide that we’re comfortable right where we are
Either way, worship is a vehicle that draws us closer to God. The closer to God we grow in our relationship, the more unburdened we become. With each burden lost, there is a little more room for the Holy Spirit to occupy. This process enables us to live a little bit more like God intended.
This is how worship helps us to find joy in our lives.
Joy is a Sign of the Holy Spirit Working Inside Us
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,
Galatians 5:22 (HCSB)
I am fascinated by all the things that the Holy Spirit does for us. What’s even more fascinating is that the labor of the Holy Spirit produces visible, discernable traits in the lives of a Christian. What’s included in this list of fruits? Joy.
Joy is a sign that the Holy Spirit is working in the life of a Christian. So if we don’t have joy in our lives, we should ask ourselves, “Why not?” Are we choking out the Holy Spirit by holding on to our burdens?
The Painful Crucifixion of Desires
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.
Galatians 5:24-25 (HCSB)
Crucified. If that word doesn’t make you cringe, then you need to go watch Passion of the Christ and imagine how all of that felt. Crucifixion is painful. The refining fire analogy used in the Bible is painful. Anything in reference to giving up our desires is painful. Why? Because sin is an addiction that wants to keep us ensnared.
However painful it is, crucifying those sinful desires is a necessary part of building your relationship with God. Look at Galatians 5:24-25 here. Think about the analogy and the words being used. Crucifixion = death.
This passage is talking about the new life found in being a believer. And if we’re going to die to our old ways so that we can “live by the spirit” and so that the Spirit can produce the fruit of Joy in our lives, then we need to endure the crucifixion of our sinful desires.
We need to struggle so that we see where our personal strength fails us. We need to be broken so that we can be rebuilt in God’s image. And we need faith that we can set aside those burdens that hold us back so that we can be filled with the Holy Spirit.
- Ask: “Am I giving the Holy Spirit room to produce joy in my life?”
- Remember: Joy is only attained by living according to the will of God.
- Do: Set aside an extra 30-45 minutes to worship during the day.
- Pray: “Dear God, please give me joy in my life. Illuminate the things in my life that are choking joy out so – like a gardener pulling weeds to make room for the plants – I am able experience freedom in this area of my life. Amen.”
If you want to dig even deeper into this post, then you need to connect with the Chaotic Life community. Comment below with one of the following:
- At least one way you like to worship God.
- About a way that you found joy in an unlikely situation.
- A thought about finding joy.
Look for another comment or two to respond to. You can also join Chaotic Weekly for even more Chaotic Life encouragement by signing up for the Freedom from Burdens journal below.