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To Be Marked By Joy - Amanda Schrieber

So much is rapidly changing and escalating in our nation with each new day. The reality of it all and the heartbreaking stories we hear seem to creep closer and more personally into our homes with each passing day. It’s not unusual to lay my head down at night crying out to God for His grace, mercy, healing, protection, peace, provision, deliverance and comfort for the overwhelming needs of our nation, those working the front lines, the sick, families and loved ones, and our very own households. At times, it all can feel too big and too heavy.

Yet, I don’t want to blend into this world in all its fear and panic. We weren’t meant to blend in either; we were meant to shine. Jesus Himself said, “You are the light of the world -like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14) With so much darkness surrounding us, now is the time for us to shine his marvelous light. People are taking notice. They are watching. They are hungry and desperate. As people profoundly changed because of Christ, we should stand out as that city on a hill. So how do we do so?

In a very practical way, we do this by the example we live. Peter gives us much insight here. First, we live with great expectation. (1 Peter 1:3) As followers of Christ, we have a priceless inheritance that is kept in heaven for us and cannot be changed or destroyed. (1 Peter 1:4) This alone, fills us with hope for our future despite what is happening in the world around us. God is protecting us with His power until we receive this salvation. (1 Peter 1:5) The Greek word for “protecting” is phroureo.  It is a military term picturing a sentry standing guard as protection against the enemy. We are in spiritual combat, but God’s power and peace are our sentinels and protectors. Other versions of the Bible use the word, “kept”. Through faith, we are being kept by the power of God. Confidence in these things should make us live with great expectation even in a world that keeps handing us the unexpected.

Secondly, Peter tells us, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.” (1 Peter 1:6) While it is important to mourn with those who mourn and to have compassion and concern for all that is broken and wrong in this world, there should be a deep-rooted joy and gladness of heart in us that does not shift and sway when things of this world do. It is possible to be in a state of sadness over earthly things while still holding firmly to our joy in the LORD.  The joy of the LORD is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) Finding joy in him keeps us strengthened to persevere through the trials that come against us. Peter states, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold- though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

This text explains to us that none of the pain and suffering we endure is in vain. There is purpose in it as God is refining our faith. When gold is refined, the temperatures increase and make the impurities rise to the surface so that they can be removed and thereby, the gold is purified. When suffering and trials heat up around us, we can know that God finds our faith so valuable and precious that He is refining us in the process. He is good and kind. He has a greater picture in mind behind all that we can know or perceive. Let this be a time where our faith remains strong and is proved to be genuine.  

Thirdly, 1 Peter 1:8 states, “Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.” Trusting in the LORD allows us to keep our joy. This joy can be glorious and inexpressible. A joy like this in a world like this will be a testimony in itself. He tells us to be joyful always (1 Thessalonians 5:16) and joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) It should mark us. His word says, we will be known and recognized (as true believers) by our fruit. (Matthew 7:16) Joy is one practical way we can shine his light into the darkness. We should not be joyful about the sickness and brokenness of this world. But we can be truly glad, live with great expectation, and be filled with inexpressible joy in the LORD and all that lies ahead as we trust in him. We are a city on a hill; may our joy be the light that shines through this darkness.

Father God, 

You are a good, good Father. It is so easy to sink into fear and negativity with all the uncertainty around us. But you are our anchor. Our hope. Our refuge. Our light. May your grace and peace be multiplied in our lives as we choose to trust in you. Your word and your truth trumps all logic and reason. You defy statistics and diagnoses and have the power to protect, heal and save. We call out for your healing and deliverance in our nation. We choose to believe you and to seek you as our Redeemer, and we exalt you as the One, True, Almighty God. Because of you and your promises, we can live with great expectation even in times of uncertainty. Fill us with your inexpressible joy. May our lives be marked with it and may it be a light that sets us apart and points others toward you. In Jesus’ matchless, mighty, powerful, saving name we pray. Amen

Prayer:  Ask God to reveal the joy He has already given to you.  

Action: Choose joy, then share a story or personal experience of the unshakable joy you have found in the LORD in a time where joy would have been uncommon to find. 

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