Down in my Heart to Stay

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”  ~Phillippians 4:4 (ESV)

Lately, I’ve been teaching my 2 year old daughter the children’s Bible song “I’ve Got the Joy In My Heart”.  It starts like this…”I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart! Where? Down in my heart! Where? Down in my heart… My little one loves to shout the “where?” part.  It goes on a few more verses and is a lot of fun to sing, as well as teaching basic but fundamental truths about a relationship with Christ.

I pray that learning these songs and stories about Jesus will take root in her heart so that she develops and nurtures the joy that can only come from a relationship with Him.  God is the master gardener in this way–as we know Him more and more, the seeds of joy He plants in us grow big and beautiful.  Of course, it is our responsibility to make the soil of our heart healthy and rich in order for those seeds to flourish.  So I ask myself- how do we do this?  How do we make our hearts joyful?

I believe it is all about nurturing our relationship with Christ.  When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit.  There is a pure joy in that alone.  But as many of us may have experienced, that initial seed of pure and true joy can get smothered if left unattended (*note: I didn’t say it dies!).  Without taking time to spend with God in His word, through praise, through prayer, and so forth, we miss out on the opportunity of that joy spreading like a bed of wildflowers throughout our heart…and through our very being.  What’s more, we miss out on the opportunity to have our garden on display for others to see.

God made us to be joyful as Christians.  I don’t always do a good job of showing my joy to others, especially if I’m having one of those days (you know, days where everything just seems to go wrong, or days where feeling depressed hits hard and fast).  But joy isn’t based on circumstance (happiness, however, is).  Paul speaks of this as he discusses being able to be content in all circumstances (Phillippians 4:11).  Rather, the essence of joy is based on the knowledge that God loves us and Has given us the privilege of a relationship with Him.  When everything else can change, God is our constant.  And in God we find the essence of joy.  So joy is meant to be a constant in our lives because we have a relationship with the God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit.  How amazing!

We are meant to overflow with joy so that others can see it and say, “I want that.  I want to be filled up and bubbling over like she is.”  Joy in our lives is meant to not only serve as a spiritual blessing to us as Christians, but it is even more important as the joy in our lives is meant to point others to its source: Jesus.

One of my favorite verses is Phillippians 4:4 (see above).  As we rejoice always in the Lord, we are meant to keep our focus on Him.  To further prepare the soil of our hearts for the growth of joy, keeping our focus on the Lord prevents our focus from going towards those things which would steal our joy.

So rejoice!  The God of the universe loves you and His desire for you is to experience the joy that can only come from such love.  Allow that joy to take root in you today!

Dear Father, thank you for your joy.  What an amazing gift to know we can find joy in You no matter what the circumstance!  I pray you would help me to nurture this gift and show it off to others so that they might receive it too.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This post is part of Rachel Olsen’s devotion carnival– go take a look!  It’s a wonderful way to read the thoughts of some other ladies on joy!