(Video link below.)
The turn of the new year is a beautiful time to invest in your personal joy and open your heart, mind, and soul to “all things new” which God is bringing you. Believers in Christ Jesus, as they always have been, are called to experience and exhibit Joy. However, our experiences can feel the opposite at times. Charles Spurgeon stated that believers who have no real root of faith in them tend to wither during times of spiritual drought (paraphrase, mine). The world, and the believers in it, have gone through a spiritual drought and a time of testing recently. Covid began in late 2019, and for three years the world has witnessed several “illnesses” surface beyond a physical pandemic. The water to combat this widespread drought is found in the Word of God—the Word encourages us when we are weary (spiritually, mentally, physically) and have been traversing a very dry land. The Word builds us up in the spirit and helps us stir ourselves up in the Lord, enabling us to be a Light and to convey a message of hope in the modern world. Therefore, entering a new year is the ultimate time for believers to cultivate their inner joy in the Lord.
Good things are coming.
Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (AMP) writes:
“Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away, Behold the fresh and new has come!”
Christians are in a continual state of renewal. “New” in Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language means:
Lately made, produced or come into being; recent in origin; novel; as opposed to used things. Lately introduced to our knowledge, recently discovered or produced by change; renovated, repaired so as to recover to the first [innocent] state; fresh after any event [like the smell of rain after a storm]; strange, unknown; not cleared or cultivated, such as new land.
It also means to break from habit, particularly habits that do not align with the truth of God’s Word. In other words, we vaguely know something isn’t quite right with us, so we ask God to change it, to give us direction, to reveal the issue, and to grant us rest, relief and correction—when He does, we are made NEW. Jesus states through Revelation 21:5: He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true [they are accurate, incorruptible, and trustworthy].” We embrace the “ever living One” Who is eternal, always has been, and is always full of new life. When we embrace Him, we also become new, more like His image.
Spiritual “newness” is prophesied in Isaiah multiple times, such as:
“Indeed, the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things; Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you” (42:9).
“Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert...” (43:19).
Newness (new sap from the Vine) is a biblical thing, as is joy:
But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10, NLT)!
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving (Psalm 28:7, NLT).
However, many people are suffering an indescribable grief that seems to have worked its way from the environment into the heart. Paul outlines an important dichotomy in 2 Corinthians 3:1 through 7:10 which encourages believers to sort through the different types of grief or sadness, a few verses of which I will outline below.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom] (3:17).
…[S]ince we do hold and engage in this ministry by the mercy of God [granting us favor, benefits, opportunities, and especially salvation], we do not get discouraged (spiritless and despondent with fear) or become faint with weariness and exhaustion (4:1).
For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds…preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ (the Messiah), Who is the Image and Likeness of God. For what we preach is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord…For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God…in the face of Jesus Christ (4:4-6).
Paul goes on to say that Christians suffer perplexities and troubles, but are never “deserted” and “never struck out and destroyed” (4:9) because these things are taking place to add souls to the Kingdom of Heaven. Are Christians aware of this today? We should be. God is using us and will reward us in His Own good time. By His love, He is controlling, urging and compelling us, through His Holy Spirit, to continue on in service—the ministry of reconciliation, where we are charged with reconciling sinners to God, which God chooses to do through us as Christ’s ambassadors (5:14, 18-20). Paul plainly states that we are “ignored” and “unknown” in this world, but we are known by God and those He calls will hear the voice of God through us (6:9). To our point, Paul describes the Christian’s familiarity with grief: “As grieved and mourning, yet [we are] always rejoicing (6:10a).”
Paul explains two types of grief in detail (vs. 7:10):
For godly grief and the pain God is permitted to direct produce a repentance that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil, and it never brings regret; but worldly grief (the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of the pagan world) is deadly.
As Christians called to minister the Gospel and the love of God to others, it is imperative that we understand there is a form of grief that leads us to repentance, that causes us to see and mourn our former or present/future sins and to appropriate forgiveness and the joy and freedom that results from it. This grief, according to Paul, turns into zeal and energy and fuels us with the desire to share God’s miraculous deeds with other people lost to a spirit of worldly grief, which is utter hopelessness and decay. Christians are to be filled with hope, joy, peace, love, righteousness, goodness, kindness, mercy (these are the fruit of the Holy Spirit of God), and we are commissioned to communicate (read Matthew 28).
The Holy Spirit is Divine Communicator!
A worldly sorrow produces despondency and holds no hope, nor continuation—no zest for life. It silences us to the extreme (in a defeated or cynical way). Oftentimes when Christians do not minister to others (appropriate God’s love and give it out to others), it produces a deep state of sorrow. If not addressed, it can lead to hopelessness that is contrary to God’s will and call. Each believer is homesick for Heaven. Each believer has a deep seated need that only God can fill, but the response of being loved by God is to love God back. This grief or sadness is remedied by doing the works/gifts God has called us to do. Salvation comes by grace, through faith, but we also work it out (see Philippians 2:12). We respond. Silence and quietness and peace and solitude are wonderous things. But we also need to realize we only have a limited time here to make an impact—this takes bravery. In sum, sadness occurs in a Christian’s life when they do not serve God in the authentic manner He wills. This requires embracing newness, and change, without fear, but with a sense of Holy service and adventure. Even if you are the only believer in your sphere—step out and speak out.
Paul describes our situation very well:
…[W]e are always full of good and hopeful and confident courage; we know that while we are at home in the body, we are abroad from the home with the Lord…for we walk by faith…not by sight or appearance. [Yes] we have confident and hopeful courage and are pleased rather to be away from home out of the body and be at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home [on earth away from Him] or away from home [and with Him], we are constantly ambitious and strive earnestly to be pleasing to Him.
For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing]. Therefore, being conscious of fearing the Lord with respect and reverence we seek to win people over…” [to the Lord] (5:6-11).
Do something. You will be eternally glad you did. Even if you are hidden, no one seems to notice or care, even if you are mocked or unpopular, even if it is risky or you are accused of being nonsensical, even if it seems you are not making a difference at all—do something just for God. It will bring you true joy, multiplied. It may be novel, unique, ground not yet plowed, unfamiliar, strange to you…it may be BRAND NEW. But be compelled in the Spirit of God to do the thing you were born for and do it with all of your mind, heart, soul and strength (Luke 10:27). Be aware of the fact that YOU—your motives, acts, deeds, words, intentions, all things you do in secret, and in the open—are being recorded in Heaven and you will one day be openly discussed in His courts. Your works, whether for good or evil, will be addressed in detail. How will that conversation go? It depends on what you choose to do right now.
It is a brand new year.
Live it to the glory of God.
It is by the grace of God and His gift of Wisdom and discernment that Christians can tell the difference between godly grief and worldly grief. One leads to life, the other to death. Worldly grief manifests as hopelessness. Godly grief gets us going for God. We do not know how many “new years” in the Lord we have left on this earth. Ministry is more important than a pandemic. Get moving and you will find the JOY is there, indwelling you. True joy is an eternal trait because JOY is the fruit of the Spirit of God at work in you, giving you energy—even in a drought—to accomplish His will through you on earth, just as if you were standing in the Courts of Heaven. Be about your ministry—even to only one soul. Get rallied up. Every born again Christian has a God-given gift. Engage in it. Refuse to house a spirit of excessive grief, sorrow, defeat, depression, anxiety, or hopelessness—it stops up your dreams. Ask the Lord to remove a spirit of excessive grief and cynicism and replace it with the Holy Spirit of Himself—pure running Joy. You will see a difference. Focus on it. Minimize distraction. Refuse to live without Him. Convey the Joy of the Lord, which is your strength, to others.
Have a joy filled New Year from Dawn Dyson Ministries, and may God bless you abundantly!
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible verses taken from Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible (AMP), Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. lockman.org
King James Version (KJV). Public Domain.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Slater, Rosalie J. (1995). Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language. Foundation for American Christian Education, Chesapeake, VA.