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April 24 – Counterfeit joy (2)

Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.Mathew 13:5-6

Scripture reading: Matthew 13:1-23

Every nation has strict laws against making and using counterfeit money. People who deal in commerce and handle money regularly must learn to distinguish fake money from real money. Banks, for example, have classes to train their employees how to tell the difference.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus taught about a certain kind of counterfeit joy. When He explained the point about the seed that fell on rocky soil, He said, “This is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy…” But when trials and hardships arise, this person fell away. Far from being true and lasting joy, this was a counterfeit joy because it was contingent on circumstances.

When everything is going smoothly in life, when things are going well, it is easy to confuse that sense of well-being with lasting joy. But this is not really joy at all because it depends on circumstances. Remember that Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer (be joyful), I have overcome the world.” The true joy of a believer is one that does not fall away due to tribulation and hardship. True joy’s foundation is far greater, far deeper than this world’s ups and downs. Its foundation is Jesus Christ. Therefore, pleasant circumstances cannot produce true joy and difficult circumstances cannot detract from true joy.

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that God would grant you wisdom to distinguish true from false joy and that you will rest in Jesus and have a joy that cannot be shaken by hardship.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado.

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