Joy IS Contingent On A House

todd shupe

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2 NIV).

 

Are you joyful?  Sadly, many cannot answer yes to this question.  Instead, they have postponed joyfulness until they obtain something such as a promotion, retirement, new boat, etc.  In essence they have chosen to have their joy contingent on an earthly achievement or possession.  It is important to recognize that there is a difference between happiness and joy.  Happiness is temporary and is largely based on our circumstances.  Joy is the feeling that we have when we truly understand our identify in Christ and live each day as Easter people.

Many people have stress instead of joy because they are trying to control things and people that they simply cannot control.  We can’t control our spouse, co-workers, parents, or the future.  We need to have some control over children with appropriate discipline and we can gain some control over parents and siblings by establishing and enforcing appropriate boundaries.  However, everybody will eventually make their own decision, and we can only choose how we respond. 

We feel stress when we try to control situations and people that only God can control.  As we try to play God, we grow in opposition to God’s first commandment in which He declares, “I am the LORD your God (Exodus 20:2).  As seek to gain His control, we also violate His second commandment.  “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20: 3).  Note, He is not saying you are your God.  Nor, is He saying you are to have no other gods before me except for yourself.  If you are a control freak, then realize that you will never gain the control that you seek, you will be forever stressed, and your unrepented sin will be a willful defiance to God.  If you struggle with control issues, I urge you to spend some time in Romans 6 with particular emphasis on 6:23 as you prayerfully consider to seek control or yield to God. 

It is sad to see so many Christians that have denied themselves joy because Jesus wants us to be joyful. John 15:11 reads, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12).  In the next verse he gives us the secret of his contentment, which can be ours too if we wisely use our free will.  “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).  Paul’s joy was because he was living out Matthew 6:19-21 which reads, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 It is fine to want things.  However, Romans 8:6 warns about the dangers of earthly pursuits.  “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” 

Only God can provide a peace that transcends all understanding and a joy that is independent of our physical circumstances.   The Psalmist put it this way, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).  Taking delight in the Lord means that our hearts truly find peace and fulfillment in Him.   Doesn’t that sound like true joy?  As we truly rejoice or “delight” in the eternal things of God, our desires will begin to parallel His and we will want for nothing.

Heaven is our eternal home not a physical building on earth.  Jesus described heaven for us in John 14:2, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? (emphasis added).”  Sadly, some people have decided that their joy is dependent on a new earthly house.  

This concept of home is essential to the proper mindset of a Christian and is beautifully described in the NLT translation of Hebrews 13:14.  “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”  This begs the question.  Where is “home”?   Jesus was modeling proper focus for us when He said, “My Father’s house has many rooms” (John 14:2).

Your focus on an earthy house or heavenly house is a matter of control.  If your focus is on an earthly house, then perhaps you are  seeking control as a pathway to power.  True power comes when you surrender to God anything you’ve been trying to control. The Bible says, “Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). This surrender is the key to what we all seek – a life of serenity.  If you are struggling with control issues, the right next step is to pray the serenity prayer below. 

Prayer:  Dear God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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