Where a person finds joy can encompass a great deal of areas. We all have activities we enjoy, people we love to have fellowship with, children we adore, spouses we love, ministries we want to flourish, and dare I say: foods we love to eat. All of these activities and objects are wonderful in and of themselves, but when taken out of perspective, we will find they often rob us of our joy rather than bring us joy.
What is joy? Among all the bible dictionaries and collegiate dictionaries, joy is defined in many ways, but the most common definition I found is this: a feeling of pleasure or happiness; a calm delight. Biblical joy is the result of a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. The joy of the Lord is evident in our lives even when we are facing trials. How can this be? How can we have joy in the midst of trials? The answer is simple. The Holy Spirit is living inside every believer, and according to Galatians 5:22-23, joy is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is the evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in an individual. Of course, we have periods of sadness and mourning and no one finds joy in these periods to begin with; however, when the Lord begins the healing process, after brokenness, joy cannot help but spring forth.
Far too often, we try to find our joy from sources other than the Lord. I know I have! Looking for joy in eating what I want when I want it is what brought me to Thin Within so I could get the help I needed. The leaders of Thin Within then pointed me to Jesus, the source of all joy. When I find my joy in Him, life’s hardships and challenges come into proper perspective, and I no longer look to any other thing to bring joy. Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Wow! There is no other place to find true and lasting joy than in the presence of the Lord, and this joy is full and complete. Knowing that joy comes from His presence and not food or any other idol, I need to spend time in His presence, sitting at His feet, or better still, getting in His face so I can know His heart.
Take notice of the last portion of Psalm 16:11 which says, “At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” When I am spending time in His presence to find fullness of joy, I will experience pleasure. God never meant for us to avoid the enjoyment of this life He gave us. He meant for us to enjoy the food we have to eat. He meant for us to enjoy our ministries, friends, church family, and many others placed in our lives. He gave us all these people and things for enjoyment. Our joy disappears when any of these things or people become a god to us because we are no longer going to His presence for the fullness of joy only our Lord can bring. Instead, we expect people to fulfill us. We expect food to bring us fullness of joy. We tend to think that if we just had a little more food, a little more money, a little more of this or that, we would have joy and happiness. Nothing could be further from the truth! Fullness of joy comes when we are tapped into the source of joy—the presence of the Lord!
Nehemiah 8:10 says the following: “Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” We love to quote that last part which tells us the joy of the Lord is our strength, and it is true! Without the fullness of joy that comes from the Lord’s presence, we will be weak and powerless to fight our battles. However, notice the first part of that verse which says to go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks. God gave us pleasure including food. We are told to enjoy what God has given and be thankful for it. What happens is like I said before, we look to the food and drink for joy rather than getting in the presence of the Lord for fullness of joy.
It is no wonder that Jesus told us in Matthew 6:33 to seek the Lord first then everything else would be added to us. He knew that if we didn’t know the source of joy, nothing or no one else could bring us that joy. Isn’t our Jesus just awesome? Isn’t His joy like no other?
What about you? Where do you find your joy? Do you attempt to find joy in any other avenue but the Lord? Do you need to tap into the right source for joy today?
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” Romans 12:2 (NKJV).
Romans 12:2 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. I began truly meditating on it when I became a part of Thin Within as the workbooks have quite a bit of teaching on this process. Mind transformation is a total necessity if we are going to walk in victory concerning any area of our lives. Victory for me not only applies to my issues with food, but it also applies to other areas of my life.
Struggling with major insecurity for many years, I knew that as a minister, I could not go on in defeat and expect to help others to victory. I began to apply the mind transformation scripture to my insecurity which, by the way, contributed to much of my emotional eating.
One of the first steps in mind transformation is recognizing lies from the enemy of our souls. We can fall for his lies and not even realize that we are wearing a cloak of deceit. For example, I believed the lie that I was not good enough to work in my church, witness to people, or have successful relationships with people. The source of much of my insecurity was wounds I had suffered from relationships with men before I met my husband, people in the church who had lied about me, and friendships that had seemed to dissolve rather quickly. What was wrong with me? Why could I not maintain relationships?
I had to recognize the lie Satan had put into my mind that I was not good enough. Of course, I am far from being the perfect person, but if I am a child of God, I am made worthy through the blood of Jesus. Recognizing this truth took time because the lie was engraved in my mind for such a long period of time.
Once I recognized this lie, I could begin tearing it down through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing EVERY THOUGHT (emphasis mine) into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NKJV).
I had what I needed to tear down these lies, not in myself but through the Holy Spirit. I had to participate in my mind transformation. I say this because we often want God to just pour victory on us without our participation. He must have our cooperation in the process, or we will just as easily return to bondage.
Now that the lies were torn down, I did not need to stop at that point. My mind was now empty and something had to replace those thoughts or the lies would return with a vengeance. Luke 11:24-26 is proof of the need to fill the empty places. Jesus spoke of an unclean spirit leaving a man and returning to find the house empty so the unclean spirit brought more with him causing the man to be worse off than before.
I believe this is where we often miss the mark in mind transformation. We begin to recognize the lies and tear them down, but we fail to replace the thoughts with God’s thoughts concerning the situation. 1 Corinthians 2:16 tells us that we have the mind of Christ so we can think his thoughts toward our situations. Philippians 4:8 describe the thoughts we should dwell upon.
Let me give you an example of the process. When I felt I was unworthy of ministry and relationships, I had to recognize the lie. Many lies will have some degree of truth which makes deception come into play. Without Christ, I am not a good person or a good friend, but with Christ, I can do all things. I have made a major step in the process, but I am not finished. I must realize that although I might have been at fault in previous relationships, those people had issues of their own so I could not be blamed for all of the failure.
Now that I had recognized a bit more truth, I needed to replace the lies. When replacing lies with truth, you must have scripture that applies to your situation. Some scriptures that I used in my battle were 2 Corinthians 5:21 concerning being the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. I read Ephesians 1 and 2 aloud concerning my spiritual blessings in Christ. I read Proverbs 18:24 claiming that I was able to show myself friendly. Philippians 4:13 about being able to do all things through Christ works in many situations. Aside from these, I found scriptures on the love of God. Recognizing His love made me able to have healthy relationships and a godly ministry.
The process was not easy but had I not participated in my mind transformation journey, I would not be able to tell you about it. You have to participate and cooperate with God in your own mind transformation. He is more than willing to be your strength, but He will not force His will on you. Your willingness to work through tearing down the lies and replacing them with truth is a must.
What about you? How can you cooperate with God in your mind transformation? What lies need to be torn down? What truths need to replace these lies with truth?
The more I get into the Word of God through the Thin Within classes, the more I want to whet my appetite for every spiritual blessing that is found in Christ. Barb Raveling’s bible study, Taste for Truth, is another one of her inspiring writings that have kept me motivated to stay within my boundaries.
At our church service this past weekend, I ministered on Psalm 16 emphasizing the boundary lines that God gives us. According to Psalm 16:6, the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places. Often, I do not see these boundaries as pleasant, but when I look at the boundaries through spiritual eyes, I see the hand of God bringing nothing but good for my life.
Even though I lead studies, I still struggle with the temptation to eat outside of my boundaries. Daily mind renewing is a must for me. In the Preface of Taste for Truth, Barb Raveling discusses strongholds. I no longer want food to be my stronghold because it is a very unreliable one. I desire for God and His precious word to be my stronghold. When that happens, the stronghold of overeating comes tumbling down.
Barb Raveling discusses her struggle with gaining and losing weight, and her struggle sounds very much like my own. She discusses the amount of time change can take. No one wants to be told that releasing weight and overcoming food strongholds takes time, but when you think about it, it’s encouraging, especially when you’ve wanted progress to be quick like I have. Knowing that a certain amount of time is involved is actually comforting because the process has never been rapid for me. Thank God for His timing and His ways!
I believe that Taste for Truth will give us more than a taste of the living water and bread of life which brings true satisfaction and brings food into its proper perspective. I am ready for that “taste”! I am ready for my spiritual cup to be filled until it overflows with the truth of God’s word.
What about you? Are you ready for a taste of the truth of God’s word? If so, join me in this journey?
An invitation: I invite you and anyone you know to join me beginning July 28 to indulge in a Taste for Truth. The study will last for six weeks with the weekends off, and it will end on September 8. Facebook is required as I will be conducting the study in a secret/private Facebook group. Send me a friend request on Facebook (Allison Browning Mitchell) and join me in this amazing study that is sure to change your appetite.
Allison and her husband, Lanny, live in Hanover, West Virginia. They have two children, Aaron and Amber, and they are the pastors of The Haven of Rest, a church in their community. Allison is a recent graduate of Bluefield State College and loves teaching, writing, and reading.
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