Where do you begin when talking about joyful faith? Perhaps, it’s best to start with what joyful faith is not. Joyful faith is not dependent on my mood or circumstances. Joyful faith is not feeling constant warm fuzzies or having continuous emotional highs. Joyful faith is not dependent on my involvement in several activities at church – although my attendance at church is an important component. Those things are all about me: how I feel, what I’m doing for God. While those things can contribute to joy, they are not the ultimate source. Joyful faith comes from a daily relationship with God. Joyful faith is a fruit (gift) of the Holy Spirit in me, not a result of outward circumstances or effort on my part.
If you’ve grown up in the church, like me, you’re probably thinking, “Here it comes, the daily devotional guilt trip.” This blog is about joy, not guilt. Guilt comes from the enemy of our souls who would have us think that if we miss a day in our devotional reading, we might as well give up all together. (Again, that’s all about me and what I’m doing for God.) I’m a recovering perfectionist, and by the grace of God I have learned to recognize this “all or nothing” attitude as a lie from the deceiver. The reality of life is that things happen to mess up the most devout person’s devotional plan. Kids get sick, you accidentally sleep in, guests come to visit, you go on vacation – any number of things can interrupt a reading schedule. And you know what? It’s okay! God knows. Plan to spend time with him tomorrow anyway.
The reason why I believe so strongly that joyful faith comes with daily time in God’s Word and prayer is because I have experienced it. In my youth (that is slowly drifting away), I cherished sleep in the morning. As a young mother, I figured out that the only time I could find in my schedule for quiet time with God was during my children’s afternoon naptime. That worked well until my youngest was 2 and quit taking naps. I had always heard that mornings are the best time to read and pray because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. But I loved to sleep! So I began to pray that God would make me a morning person. Yes, the God who created the universe and raised Jesus from the dead has the power to make me a morning person. In fact, he was so successful that it is now virtually impossible for me to sleep in (so be careful what you pray for).
I’ll admit, there have been times when God seemed silent during my devotions. There were no warm fuzzies or deep revelations. But I determined in my heart that I would keep reading the Bible anyway. Always, a fresh revelation from the Spirit would eventually come (usually revealing an area of my life that was in need of surrendering to God), and that determination turned into anticipation as God poured out his love to me through his Word each morning. It’s taken years to develop the daily habit of reading and prayer, and I’m not perfect. But each time I miss a day (including yesterday!), I pick up the Bible and continue where I left off.
This year I’m reading a one-year New Testament that’s divided into daily readings containing a passage from one of the gospels (stories about Jesus), one of the letters of the apostles, and a passage from Proverbs. The reading schedule for the current week is posted here, so those who are interested can join me in daily Bible reading. I look forward to sharing with you the joy and insights God gives me, and hearing feedback from you as we explore together what it means to have Joyful Faith.
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