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The Temple Completed

(Ezra 6:14-22)

Lesson 9 -- fourth quarter 1997
November 2, 1997

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1997, Christian Light Publications

The world hunts for joy in all manner of ways and in all manner of places. They may not all look in the same places, but as a general rule, they all look in the wrong places. Some look for joy in music. Others look for it in money and things. Then there are those that try to find it in relationships, in careers, in sports, in causes, in programs or in games. And of course there are those who look for it in sensuality, immorality, spirituality or carnality. A few look into drugs and other mind-altering experiences. Many expect to find it in rebellion, independence, community or isolation. Some even expect to find joy within themselves or in self-indulgence or in self-depravation. They ask, but it is not given to them. They knock, but the joy door remains closed. They seek...and keep on seeking because they don't find. What about you? Are you also being frustrated in your search because you are searching in the wrong places and in the wrong manners?

Consider the world and tell me whether you honestly think they have honestly found the joy in life they crave. Even those who think they have found it eventually discover the treasure in their grasp has turned to trash. The crystal they thought they had found turns out to be ice, shiny but oh so cold, solid but melting. If they haven't found it where they have searched, why should you bother looking in the same place? Sometimes we Christians seem to think that because we are Christians we will have better success than they, even if we look in the same places they look. How can we be so foolish?!

In a sense, finding joy is like finding a dim star in the night sky. Such a star can be so elusive! You might know exactly where it is located, but when you look there, you just can't see it! But look slightly away from it, placing it out of your direct focus...and suddenly it comes into focus! If you make joy the pursuit of your life and if you try to make joy the focal point of your experience, I can almost guarantee that you will miss it altogether.

So let me give you a few cryptic tips.

J-O-Y. Our choral repertoire includes at least two choruses that give away the secret to joy. When we put Jesus and His kingdom first in our lives, joy comes naturally. We don't need to look for it, it's just there! Once we have Jesus in first place, we need to make sure others come in second. The fact of the matter is, though, that with Jesus in first place we find it much easier to put others ahead of ourselves. HINT: put yourself anywhere other than last and joy will become more and distant, no matter how many thrills and highs you can cram into a day.

Obey. Herein lies one of the great truths awaiting your harvest in the field of today's lesson. Those who choose submission and obedience, respect and honor, by default choose joy. Those who embrace these virtues discover themselves warmly enfolded in the arms of Blessedness. The willing surrender of self is not loss but gain, not deprivation but plenty, not defeat but victory.

Word. "Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart" (Jeremiah 15:16). "The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart" (Psalm 19:8). "I rejoice at thy word" (Psalm 119:162).

Oh, and remember: don't look too hard for joy or you just might miss it altogether.

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