“The joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10, NASB

JOY: my word for 2015. I’m thrilled–who wouldn’t want to focus on that for an entire year? And just today, I remembered an acronym from my childhood. Surely you also know it:

J-esus

 O-thers

    Y-ourself

I wish I could say otherwise, but it’s only been this year in which I’m really grasping the ‘others’ part of this concept. I mean, really getting it. God is leading me on a journey, swiveling my attention from myself onto O-T-H-E-R-S.

Friends, I’m humbled to share my propensity toward self-focus because I’m 44 years old–far past an age when I should have let this go. For example, I’m very happy in the quiet. Time alone refreshes me. I treasure the solitude. While this isn’t wrong, I choose my comfort over time with others too frequently. And I’ve been way too comfortable for way too long. Thankfully, the Lord and others remain patient.

God is changing my perspective to align with His more accurately.

So here’s the deal: I’m praying God sets my sights even more on … YOU! As I labor over words and wrestle to communicate biblical truths, it’s all about stirring your hearts toward Jesus. This ministry is useless without making a marked difference for Christ in your lives.

Too often I’m hindered by looking at circumstances in light of how they affect ME. This holds true in my family and friendships as well as church and ministry relationships. Except now, I sense God freeing me from those blinders and exposing me to a landscape of beloved people. As we connect through Christ, He has amazing plans in store for us.

And that fills me with JOY.

Perhaps you can relate to my experience, and you long to taste joy as well. Of course, we know it originates from intimacy with Christ. No one and nothing can replace the love relationship He generates. But beyond that truth, God has created wonderful human beings for us to engage with on a daily basis. I’m not referring to lighthearted bantering although that maintains an important place. Laughing together certainly can reflect joy in action. Yet as Christians, meaningful interactions based on our life in Christ should feed our relationships. Sharing our beliefs about Him and His Word should characterize many of our conversations, encouraging and inspiring us toward more passionate Christian living. Joy exists as we “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24). God uses our love for each other to fill us up and give us joy.

Today, let’s throw off the shackles of self-centeredness and embrace others for His glory. Joy awaits.

Note: Special thanks to Beth Moore for her perspective on others in her Bible study, Children of the Day
photo credit: Joy! via photopin (license)

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