Journeying Towards Joy

Justin Arnold, LPC-S
Minister of Family Discipleship and Counseling
New Beginnings Baptist Church

As a Christian counselor, I meet with clients all the time whose current life rhythms are not working. This past Sunday, we looked at Psalm 1 in our Rhythms of Life: Inward Rhythms series and learned that “Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord” (Ps 1:1). This discipline of delighting in the word of God is a rhythm every Christian should practice. As noted in the sermon, “Blessed” refers to a state of joy or happiness that is not circumstantial or easily changed. And this deep-rooted joy only comes from delighting in the Word of God. But we are constantly bombarded by a consumer-driven, market-saturated plethora of products and ideas that promise to satisfy our greatest needs and desires. And no matter how often we attempt to attain lasting happiness through worldly consumption, we are never satisfied. Reflecting back on the first two verses of Psalm 1, two options are presented. One option leads to instability and destruction, and the other leads to stability, blessing, prosperity, and being known by the Lord. This is the age-old struggle that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Eve had this same dichotomy of choices- to delight in the Lord and obey his command or believe the lies of the serpent that promise pleasure and satisfaction (Gen 3:1-6). You and I are no different, and we face this clash of choices regularly. However, a sprinkle of Scripture is simply not enough to transform our lives.

So, whose voice are you currently allowing to be your greatest influence? Are you like Eve, and allowing the enemy to deceive and usurp God’s rightful place as Lord in your life? Are you like the person in the first verse of Psalm 1, listening to the wicked, hanging out with sinners, participating in worldliness, whose end is destruction? Or, will you discipline yourself to delight in God’s Word?

According to research,[1] the majority of Christians are allowing a voice other than the Word of God to be their greatest influence.

LifeWay found that although Americans tend to view the Bible positively and believe it is filled with moral lessons for today, this positive regard does little to encourage most Americans to pick up the Bible and engage the Scriptures.[2] For example, only 30% of Bible users engage with the Scriptures at least several times in a week. And for those who claim to have ever read the Bible less than 25% have a reading plan.[3] That means 70% of our friends and family members engage the scriptures infrequently at best and when they do 75% do not have a reliable plan.

However, the Center for Bible Engagement found some encouraging statistics for those who engage God’s Word at least four times a week.[4]

  • Their odds of giving in to temptations significantly decrease. For example: drinking to excess falls by 62%, viewing pornography drops by 59%, lashing out in anger drops by 31%, gossiping drops by 28%, and lying drops by 28%.
  • A person’s odds of struggling with issues such as feeling bitter drops by 40%, thinking destructively about self or others drops by 32%, having difficulty forgiving others drops by 31%, and feeling discouraged drops by 31%.

Engaging scripture, likewise, produces a more proactive faith among Christians.

  • The odds of them giving financially to their church increases by 416%, memorizing scripture increases by 407%, discipling others increases by 231%, and sharing their faith with others increases by 228%.

People’s perceptions of their own spiritual growth are also impacted by how often they hear from God through the Bible.

  • Those who engage scripture most days of the week are less likely to feel spiritually stagnant (↓60%) and to feel that they can’t please God (↓ 44%).

Process with me for a moment as these statistics are staggering… According to this research, the major contributor towards life change is engaging in God’s Word at a minimum of four times a week. Do you want to overcome your sin struggle? Do you want to grow in your confidence in your relationship with the Lord? Do you want to see your growth and fruit as a believer skyrocket? According to the statistics the only option is to become a man or woman who delights in the Word of God daily.

So, what about you? What voice are you going to listen to today? Will you simply sprinkle some Bible over your worldliness when times get tough, or are you ready to experience contented joy? If true joy is what you’re after, I encourage you to engage in the “living and active” Word of God, so that you can “be complete and equipped for every good work” experiencing the hope you have been so desperate to find (Heb 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:16).

I encourage you to find a reading plan and stick to it. The New Beginnings app has a daily reading plan with readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. Read all of the passages or choose one or more of the options daily.

Remember, from the sermon this weekend, you spend time in God’s Word not to check a box or to gain more knowledge but to delight in His goodness. Think about it…God, the creator of the universe, who designed you, who loves you to the point of sacrificing His child on your behalf, also provides you an opportunity to know Him and His ways through His Word. I encourage you to engage the Scriptures not out of duty but rather recognizing that our good God has something to say to you.

As you read use the following questions gleaned from the sermon in order to help you meditate effectively on the Scriptures:

  • Is this a command? If so, what does this look like in my life?
  • What is God revealing about Himself?
  • Where is Jesus in this passage?
  • Is there a promise God is making? Take time to thank God for the promise.
  • How can I walk in this truth?
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand the passage(s).
  • Pray the verse in your life.

Blessings on your journey towards joy,

Justin Arnold

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[1] American Bible Society. State of the Bible 2019; Center for Bible Engagement: Bible Engagement as the Key to Spiritual Growth: A Research Synthesis; LifeWay Research: Americans Are Fond of the Bible, Don’t Actually Read It; and Pew Research Center. Frequency of Reading Scripture.
[2] LifeWay Research: Americans Are Fond of the Bible, Don’t Actually Read It.
[3] American Bible Society. State of the Bible 2019.
[4] Center for Bible Engagement: Bible Engagement as the Key to Spiritual Growth: A Research Synthesis.