What causes long-lasting joy in our life? Is joy come from a choice to see things through a cheerful perspective? Or does it come from an experience or activity that brings you happiness? Does it take discipline and habit-building to make joy a frequent friend in your life? Joy is a combination of all three, but built on the foundation of a single person.
Joyful: experiencing, causing, or showing joy.Merriam-Webster
This shows us that there are activities that cause joy, a conscious choice to respond joyfully, and experiences that cause it to well within our souls.
For me, there is only one thing that has consistently brought me joy in my life. My husband? He’s a pain-in-the-butt. (I say that as a term of endearment, really!) I love my kids but sometimes they make it feel like ants are crawling down my arms as they push me to the limits of my introverted personality.
My faith is the persevering source of joy in my life.
Joy is the habit of knowing Jesus Christ and experiencing the mercy He gives. The discipline of reading the Bible is the only way I can truly know this but I have to make the choice to engage frequently with God’s word to find joy. It’s only when I keep my identity straight (clearly, I need a lot of mercy) and acknowledge God as the source of all my good points that I can rest.
Jesus lets me set down the heavy burdens I carry. Sometimes He burns them away in a refiner’s fire. Either way, it brings peace to my life. This means I can be my genuine self. All this comes through habitually reading, studying, and applying God’s word.
Reading the Bible is truly a joyful habit.
The Experience of Joy
Some experiences carve themselves permanently into our identity. Whether sudden or slow, Bible study is one of those experiences. It’s a gift of transformation on our hearts.
We all know the sudden experiences. There’s the before and then there’s the after. It’s the moment where nothing changed inside you but, for some reason, it feels like everything did. A new child. The day you almost died. The moment your life fell apart.
Sometimes this internal transformation happens so gradually that it sneaks up on us. When we think back, we can’t tell when it began or when it ended. It’s the gradual deepening from attraction to like to love to being unable to imagine life without a certain person.
Or maybe this kind of slow-build experience is better thought of as skill mastery. Nobody starts out being able to sew a fancy dress, land a huge marketing deal, or being able to teach children. It’s a slow process until one day that skill has strengthened so much that it’s become an automatic part of who you are.
Would you believe that the reading the Bible brings joy through both kinds of experiences?
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people…Jeremiah 31:33 (WEB)
God’s law is contained throughout the Bible. When we read it, we allow Him to carve it onto our hearts so that He can be our God and we can be our people. When I read the Bible, I give myself incredible experience.
Sometimes this transformation comes from sudden, strong conviction that provides necessary strength to make dramatic changes. Other times the change is a slow process, like learning how to respond graciously to people even when they’re being ugly towards your belief and identity.
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The Habit of Joy
When I regularly read the Bible, I make an intentional choice to cause joy in my life. I understand that I experience God when I seek Him in His word. When I experience God, I allow Him to renew my heart, mind, soul, and even strength.
Side note: Isn’t it interesting how the Bible speaks about God’s transforming work in all of those areas when it’s also our entire heart, mind, soul, and strength that we are commanded to love God with (Luke 10:27)? God transforms the very things that we need to love Him. When we love Him, we seek to keep His commands which leads us to needing God to transform more of my heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Clearly, habitual Bible reading is a cause for joy in my life.
The Choice for Joy
While it’s true that we have to be intentional to create Bible-reading as a habit, it’s also true that our life sometimes falls apart. It’s like the path, your way forward in life, crumbles right as you set your foot down.
This happens to everybody and every Christian. Do you think that Paul, one of the earliest Christian missionaries, wanted to be imprisoned for the last years of his life? It’s in these moments that we have to make the choice for joy.
I’m not saying that you have to be elated about your circumstances. Believe me, I know how bitter tears can be. What I am saying is that God wants to satisfy every hurt, fear, doubt, worry, insert whatever is burdening you here that we are willing to hand over to Him. You can do this by intentionally meeting with God.
How does that happen? If you guessed “reading my Bible” then you are correct!
Side note: Paul is one of the most influential people to our faith. It’s not just because He was a missionary. It’s because he wrote so much of our New Testament as he corresponded through letters with his friends and disciples. He had to write letters because he was in jail.
What if it’s Not So Joyful?
Sadly, quite a few people don’t find joy from reading their Bible. If that’s you, please don’t feel bad. You have a need. I can point you to a Redeemer who wants to fix that need. It starts by identifying why you aren’t getting joy from your Bible study.
That’s why I want to write this blog. It’s an act of worship on my part. However, if I can help just a few other people find Bible-reading to be a joyful habit, then it’s worth putting the time into writing this.
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