Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Book Review: Can I Have Joy In My Life

Can I Have Joy In My Life. (Crucial Questions Series #12) R.C. Sproul. 2012. 66 pages. [Source: Free download]

First sentence: The word joy appears over and over again in the Scriptures. For instance, the Psalms are filled with references to joy.

R.C. Sproul's Can I Have Joy In My Life is a must-read in my opinion. I don't say that lightly. The subject is of the utmost importance for believers. Perhaps it's not of the utmost importance for unbelievers: these words, these promises, are for believers. But the undercurrent is that one cannot have joy without having the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the source of our joy, the founder of our faith. Sproul writes, "Our joy is to come from the assurance that we have redemption in Christ. The greatest joy that a person can have is to know that his name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he is saved and will live forever with Christ."

Joy is not to be confused with happiness. The source of our joy is in the LORD Jesus, not in our circumstances. Whether things be going our way, or far, far from it--joy is possible because a believer will always, always have the Lord.

Sproul writes,
 “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4a). This is one of those biblical imperatives, and it leaves no room for not rejoicing, for Paul says Christians are to rejoice always—not sometimes, periodically, or occasionally. The key to the Christian’s joy is its source, which is the Lord. If Christ is in me and I am in Him, that relationship is not a sometimes experience. The Christian is always in the Lord and the Lord is always in the Christian, and that is always a reason for joy. Even if the Christian cannot rejoice in his circumstances, if he finds himself passing through pain, sorrow, or grief, he still can rejoice in Christ. We rejoice in the Lord, and since He never leaves us or forsakes us, we can rejoice always.
Let those words sink in. Read them again, and then again. Do you see now why I said this book was a must-read?!

Here's another gem:
When we find ourselves depressed, down, irritated, annoyed, or otherwise unhappy, we need to return to the source of our joy, and then we will see those circumstances that are sapping our joy in perspective. The circumstances of this life will pale into insignificance when compared to that which we have received from God. When I have things in perspective, I know that if I never experienced another blessing in my entire life other than the blessings I already have received from the hand of God, I would have no possible reason to be anything but overflowing with joy until the day I die. God has already given me so much to be thankful for, so much to provoke my soul to delight, gladness, and joy, that I should be able to live on the basis of that surplus of blessedness and remain joyful all of my days.
But the book isn't just about ourselves: finding joy, discovering joy, being joyous. It's also about OTHERS.
The Bible tells us, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). That is one of the key principles of joy. It teaches us that our joy is not to be restricted to our own circumstances or our own achievements, but that we ought to be able to feel joy for other people, for their achievements, for their successes, and for their bounty. By the same token, we are called to enter other people’s sorrow. This is what we call empathy, which involves feeling what others feel. Jesus Himself exemplified this virtue. How else can we explain the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35)?
In the first year I was a Christian, I learned a simple acrostic with respect to the word joy. It taught that the letters that make up the word joy stand for “Jesus,” “others,” and “yourself,” and the lesson was that the secret to joy is to put Jesus first, others second, and yourself third.
This may just be my favorite of the Crucial Questions series so far.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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