In our church, the pastor who preaches has the opportunity to follow up their sermon with a devotional for additional reflection and study. Here is my last sermon and devotional.
ENCOUNTER: Read Psalm 13
Experiencing Joy is a strange discipline. It is not something we can conjure up or try to make happen. It is an emotion that resides deep within us and is a result of how well we are living into shalom, or at least the hope of shalom.
It is the hope of shalom where this breaks down for many of us.
We are situational in our emotional response to life and to faith. When things go well, we love God, experience his goodness and grace, experience shalom, and therefore experience joy. But what about when life throws you a few gutterballs. When the bottom seems to fall out, we get frazzled and often spin out in fear and anxiety. Here is where our faith in the God of hope is tested.
We know that our faith is maturing when we can pray like the Psalmist in our lament. We can cry out to God, we can wrestle with the challenges and even despair of life. And in all of that, we can affirm that our trust alone is in God.
Our joy is completely linked to our hope, which is completely linked to our trust in God.
Like I mentioned in my sermon, God has given us many gifts all around us, but we are too tentative to even enjoy them, to find delight, to experience joy because we have been hurt and let down in the past. So when a blessing is right there in front of us, we might nibble around the edges, always girded up for it to be taken away. But this is no way to live!
We have been given bunt cakes everywhere, and the discipline this week to recognize them, enjoy them, and do the hard work to walk towards Christ, to trust him more, so that we can be filled with all joy and peace!
May the blessing from Romans be our blessing as well," May the God of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you trust him more. So that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
BE REFLECTIVE: Here is some hard work. Would you consider calling out the ways that God has disappointed you and why your trust has been worn thin? Without this work, we are just doing band-aid work. Offer that brokenhearted prayer to Jesus and ask him to heal your heart and do the gracious work of building back your trust.
BE A BLESSING: Whether or not you are experiencing joy, the delight of shalom, would you be willing to put on the mantle of Christ and in the name of Christ intentionally bless another person, be a "bunt cake" in their life, a marker of God's goodness and joy expressed through you to someone else.
BE TOGETHER: Like all spiritual disciplines, the work of spiritual formation is best done with others walking with you. You can you invite to share your broken trust as well as be willing to listen to as they share the ways God has given you "bunt cakes" throughout your life. Enjoy!