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July 22 | 1 Thessalonians 5:11-24


 

DAILY READING


 

REFLECTION

Unstoppable Joy

by Mary Alice McGinnis

Picture a glorious wedding day. Two betrothed people are enraptured in love. They have decided they no longer want to live life apart from one another. The bride and groom carefully prepare for the day when they will commit their lives to one another. When the day arrives, the couple and those who have come to celebrate with them are filled with ecstatic joy.


Picture the groom as he stands in the front of the room with his groomsmen. He longingly looks down the aisle as he awaits the entrance of his bride. When his precious beloved bride enters the room, his eyes light up with joy as she walks radiantly down the aisle to meet him.


Why is it that such a scene can so easily bring a tear to our eyes? This type of joy touches the depths of our being in such a profound way, it’s nearly unexplainable.


There is a deep-rooted yearning inside each one of us for joy. It is almost too much to imagine, too much to hope for, too much to expect.


I have heard it said that joy is the most vulnerable of all emotions. We may even resist allowing ourselves to feel joy. Allowing ourselves to become enraptured with joy often brings feelings of dread. Grief, loss, pain, betrayal, disappointment all seems to be waiting in the wings. We fear that something horrible will happen to extinguish our fragile joy. Perhaps we fear that we really don’t deserve such joy, so it will surely soon be taken away.


What if our joy were unstoppable? What if you could know such ecstatic joy and could never be taken away from you? Would you want that type of enraptured joy that would never end?


Paul says in today’s reading, Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”


Do you think he means that we should put on plastic smiles and pretend everything is okay? Does he want us to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the injustice, pain, and suffering all around us?


Look at these verses: “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.”


God is perfect in every way; it is His very nature. As the God of peace, He brings joy amid chaos, destruction and even death. He is so powerful that He can bring wholeness out of brokenness. The joy He brings is unstoppable because it is not dependent upon our circumstance, but on HIM!


He is perfect in every way. He is the embodiment of peace – shalom. In Him we can confidently know that all is well.


Remember the picture of the joyous wedding celebration? God Himself, the transcendent King, is the loving bridegroom. He has chosen us His own, as His beloved bride. How can a perfect God devote His endless love to frail, broken humans like us?


To sanctify means to be set apart, devoted solely to God. He betrothed us to Himself.


Being sanctified, set apart and betrothed to God, we must first be made pure. Only that which is pure can be fully devoted to God. As His bride, He prepares us for the wedding. He clothes us in the brilliance of His righteousness, brought with the blood of Jesus Christ. These wedding clothes do not just conceal the imperfections that lie underneath. He purifies the entirety of our being – spirit, soul, and body. He continually works in us his sanctifying work, purifying us through and through, until that final day that we will stand before Him as His spotless bride.


We are the beloved bride of the King of Kings! What an ecstatic JOY! How can we be sure and trust this joy is unstoppable?


“The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”






PRAYER

Lord, You are the only source of lasting peace and unstoppable joy! Because You love me infinitely, please set my heart ablaze with Your Holy Spirit fire, to love those around me today. Those that are disruptive, those that are disheartened, and weak. I have been all those things, yet You claimed me as Your own, and set me apart, keeping me blameless in You sight. May I live all my life rejoicing always, praying continually, and giving thanks in all circumstances. You are my One and Only Faithful and True God.



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