The Joy Stealers

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Several years go I was strolling through Wally World (Wal-Mart) on a boring Saturday morning. I passed by the book section, and the Holy Spirit said, “Stop.” Since He normally doesn’t tell me to stop when I’m walking through Wal-Mart, I did. He said, “That book (The Secret Sources of Power by Tommy Tenney) you already understand, but you can read it if you want to.” I walked on “bugged” by what God had said. I got to the milk section and decided to go back and get the book.

As I read the book, I found that indeed the Lord had shown me a great deal about what Tommy was sharing, mainly about laying things down. Most Christian ministries today will tell you to just keep pursuing and pursuing, no matter what, and you will have your dream. What they often don’t tell you is what you may be pursuing could wear you out while you seek what you want instead of finding out if God is in the thing in the first place. As Kenny Rogers once sang, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.” Thank you, Kenny, for sharing that wisdom with us. (Some of us wish we had run!)

Paramount in our lives is the commodity of the Holy Spirit called the joy of the Lord. Derek Prince once pointed out – and I never forgot it – that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in our spirit, happiness is a product of our soul, and pleasure can be the experience of the body. The last two equivocate; joy doesn’t have to. We can all experience lack in all three areas, but I hate it when I lose the joy of the Lord! Joy stealers keep us from experiencing deep satisfaction where it counts – in our spirits.

Tommy Tenney essentially expressed that a great deal of power comes from laying things down (may I emphasize that he knows all about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, etc.?). Someone who attended a conference where he was speaking told me that previous speakers on the agenda attempted to hype it up, and it was flatter than a Cracker Barrel pancake, but when Tommy quietly stepped to the podium, the Holy Spirit fell on the place! We all love great speakers, but there’s a vast difference between a great communicator and an anointed one! With a great communicator we can be impressed and enthralled with him or her, but an anointed speaker leaves a different impression, that of the Holy Spirit’s penetrating move in us.

I need to get to the point. Many of us are dragged down by a lot of unnecessary things. We obsess over nothing, worry about the insignificant and carry burdens in our spirits that don’t below there (I have a PhD in this). These are joy stealers. Yeah, we also know about people who can bring us down in a New York minute over some minutia (I can think of a nastier word) that’s not worth a plug nickel. Hebrews 12 warns us against “sin that so easily entangles us,” but it also warns us about “encumbrances” or unnecessary weights (Heb. 12:1). The Greek meaning includes two other words that help define this a little better – mass and bulk. These are burdens that we hold on to that we shouldn’t but often do! I’ve listed a few of these to see if we can unburden ourselves from them. I want to emphasize, though, that honesty is preeminent in this matter, and to get there we have to get alone with the Father so he can reveal them to us. Some of these are obvious, and some are so subtle we miss them completely. Also, beware of the role of false guilt and false burdens that are “religious” but not from the Lord! Ok, you can probably add to this list of “thieves”:

  1. Continuing burden of praying for people who never change no matter what! Yeah, I know after several millennia some do, but we’ll be dead by then!
  2. Also, regarding prayer, it’s extremely important to rid ourselves of the burden of holding onto our overly complicated life as well as those of others. Solomon said this about us: “God made man simple, but by many devices he’s gone astray.” In other words, simply your life.
  3. Too many Christian books, teaching CDs and TV programs. As one friend of mine humorously said, “If you don’t like the Jesus that’s being preached on one TV program, wait 30 minutes, and another will be along shortly!”
  4. Sometimes thinking too deeply – it can bring on a spirit of heaviness.
  5. Religious obsession. We can become obsessed with religion; it’s not Jesus.
  6. Interminable prayer lists that eat our lunch. I heard about one guy who prayed for people he found on the Internet (I’m kidding).
  7. Not addressing issues and difficulties with people who are driving us crazy, and they don’t know it. This is called peacekeeping but not peacemaking.
  8. Our unwillingness to give over to God our dreams and visions that are beginning to grow mold on them. Hey, He’s big enough to make them happen if He actually began them.
  9. Worrying ourselves silly over someone else’s behavior. Look to yourself first, pray for the other one, then shut up, and let God arise. Religious nagging will likely drive them farther away from God.
  10. Wanting what we want, when we want it and how we want it. This is called “demanding” God, and it’s usually accompanied by anger and resentment toward God for not doing it our way. “But God, I stood on my pet scriptures!”
  11. Bearing up under religious rules that are not clearly delineated in Scripture. Many churches have these because they think the Bible and the Holy Spirit can’t keep people in the straight and narrow. As one exasperated church member exclaimed, “Our church has more rules than Moses did!”
  12. People who have decided that they are our Holy Spirit. We incessantly hear them in our heads not God. In this event, by faith, place the cross between you and them because Jesus also died to break soulish power from others off us!
  13. “Mama or Daddy always said…” Question is, did what they say line up with the Word?
  14. Worrying about the antichrist or the world going to hell in a hand-basket. Hebrews 12:2 exhorts us to “look to Jesus and away from all that distracts.” These things will still be there when you get through with your anxiety fit, but God’s got this thing, and we win!
  15. Not realizing that not being anxious for anything (Phil. 4:6) means exactly what it says. Being anxious is partnering with the spirit of fear.
  16. And, last but not least not establishing ground rules for ourselves about people who talk us to death; they steal our energy and our joy!

What to do? Make sure you uncover what’s covered up – what’s really bugging you? It can be ANYTHING. It can be small, stupid, unreasonable, very unlikely to happen, large, impending or on top of us! The guidelines remain the same:

IDENTIFY the weight, guilt or burden.

CONFESS your own anxiety worry or incessant burden (it could be that sweet thing sleeping next to you or sitting piously in the pew beside you).

TELL IT the LORD. David poured out his complaint to the LORD (Psa. 142:2).

CAST IT AND KEEP CASTING IT ON JESUS until it’s gone (1 Peter 5:7).

RELEASE it in prayer or if need be, grab your favorite counselor or trustworthy friend, get real and get in agreement.

GET OUT OF YOUR BOAT OF PASSIVITY and do something about it!

TOMORROW if it’s still there, do the above again!

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