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INTACT JOY
Maybe is because we are seeking joy all in wrong places, in broken cisterns of our own creation. May be we are investing where moth, rust and thieves can access, or maybe we are a branch protesting for cessation or independence from the vine, maybe we have raptured our relationship or maybe we have signed up for competitions that are busy draining out cups.
As a toddler, I particularly loved Sunday because it was a day when the ‘Nguo ya Kanisa’ was legal, we did not need to be woken up, like other school days. At least we would bathe (Bathing was non-negotiable this day) we were cladded ready for church. Therefore, we would receive a few instructions and warnings regarding the ‘Nguo ya Kanisa’ (Keep it clean, remove them immediately after church, do not play football with it etc.). Motivations of sweets irresistibly plunged me to series of memory verses and recitations, we would say with excitement ‘Furahini katika Bwana siku zote tena nasema furahini’ because English had not yet landed in my rural neighbourhood. Scarcely did it occur to me that this Sunday school recital was a centuries old truth that will later demand such a heavy meditations. So as I reminisce the two decades plus of this thought embedded deep in my heart, and am left to squeeze meanings from this truths. So rejoice in the Lord again I say rejoice. A call to joy is so central in living out the Christian duty. For God is not impressed with a frowned face, murmuring heart and joyless service that represent multitude of congregants in the pews and clergy in the pulpit. We live in a sad world indeed, joy is a rare commodity these days of fleeting happiness and parte after parte confusions. More and more of us are becoming more depressed, more hopeless and more joyless. Maybe is because we are seeking joy all in wrong places, in broken cisterns of our own creation. May be we are investing where moth, rust and thieves can access, or maybe we are a branch protesting for cessation or independence from the vine, maybe we have raptured our relationship or maybe we have signed up for competitions that are busy draining our cups. We hear news of relationships gone haywire, economy on its knees, runaway teenagers, pandemic unemployment, family dysfunction, Corruption scandals, demanding workplaces, the Bushfire in Australia, impeding wars of words, threats, terrorism and the list is endless of joy killers, which rock our boat right, left and centre. In the face of these reality how must  one live? The question posted centuries ago seeking alternative path because the default mode is to join the pessimist joyless and bitter camp, so I have for long thought about this subject. Joy is a central virtue, it is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit that must ripen well and be feed to this generation to refresh and breathe hope The chief end of man, is to Glorify God and enjoy Him forever, we repeatedly recited this creed with my friends as we were studying Westminster Confession of Faith. It was in this season that it sunk in me the great call to Joy. I marveled at how that reality has shaped my relationships, worship and service As the year unfolds what we must purpose is to keep our joy intact in this uptight world. We must learn to live in the divine centre, where we see the outworking of God’s power, we must rest in the provision of grace and strength and joy. Practical path to joy To translate this almost abstract concept to something practical, I will suggest attitudes of the heart that will make our joy intact Thankfulness and prayerfulness The attitude of thankfulness is a doorway to joy, It will prove to be an element that will keep your joy intact, as we learn to give thanks in all things. In plenty and in lack, in pain or in pleasure, in sunny days or in rainy days a thankful heart will find beauty of every moment and lining of God Glory. A grateful heart is a joyful person who consciously casts his burden to the Lord, for he will find relief and joy. Praying like the hymn writer, Sweet Hour of Prayer… that calls me from the world of care… my soul has often find relief. It will forever be our comfort to have our cares are burdens surrendered to God. Simplicity and Contentment Greatest threat to joy is discontentment and duplicity! When we are pushed to discontentment, we are made anxious, faithless, covetous and joyless. We live competing with people we shouldn’t, we buy things we shouldn’t, we strain more and are blinded from the great blessings we are already enjoying. For godliness and contentment will be our greatest gain. Simplicity is freedom, brings joy and balance. Simplicity sets us free to receive the provision of God as a gift that is not ours to keep and can be freely shared with others. Security and consistency Security means to structure our life around what is eternal, what cannot be destroyed or taken away. We will rightly invest ourselves, talents resources in the right causes. To have our treasures where we have moth, rust and thieves will drain our joy. This season we will learn to commit all that we are to the keeping of Our Great God so that our dream, resolution, vision or prayers will rest in His Hands. There is an element of discipline that we will season these truths, for us to reap the full harvest of joy, we will learn to live in patterns that demonstrate consistency, reliability and integrity. Repentance and confession If there is an element that strangle Joy is sin, it deflates the heart and sucks every element of peace and joy. I will not in another extreme claim that a man does not sin, that will be heretic. The desperation to seek out forgiveness and restoration is what sets apart this person from many other lawbreakers. David’s prayer ‘Restore to me the joy of salvation’ is key to refill a cup emptied of joy, being right with God in experience will be indispensable if one is to have their joy intact. When one loses, the joy of salvation is a dreadful experience for we become susceptible to every kind of enticing of sins. Confession is a discipline to endeavour to, to God and corporately with the body of Christ Living in the divine centre Our Lord Jesus Christ admonishes us to abide in him and He will abide in us, He goes on in the fifteenth chapter of John to tell us his intentions in the beautiful exposition, ‘I have told you these things so that my joy and delight maybe in you and that your joy maybe full and complete and overflowing’ Knowing the rough terrain that will mark the landscape of faith, it is joy that will make a lot of difference especially in the face of suffering, lost or even martyrdom. Brace yourself, let us collect the fragment of our broken joys and forge ahead to an experience of wholesome joy, INTACT JOY

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