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Saturday, July 7, 2018

6-26-2018     Joy
                        We have joy                                           Angels have joy

As I look at many Christians today, I don’t really see “joy’ in their life.  Now, I don’t always walk around with a big smile on my face but I am happy and content with where I am in the Lord. However, I think sometimes we get joy and contentment confused.  Paul says he has learned to be abased (have need) and to abound (have plenty) (Phil. 4:12-13).  I’m generally content in any situation I find myself, but do I really have joy?

I was speaking with a friend one time and they were sharing a rough time they were experiencing.  I made a couple suggestions which might help, but the Lord put on my heart that they weren’t looking for suggestions, but rather someone to agree with them as the how horrible the situation was.  I finally realized that there really wasn’t anything I could say (at that time) that would console my friend.  That’s when the Lord put on my heart to tell this friend to go read Acts sixteen.  Paul and Silas had been beaten and not just thrown into prison but put in stocks as well.  Now, these aren’t the stocks where you put money into them and later on get a nice return for your investment, but the ones where one’s hands and/or feet were bound with a wooden yoke.  You know, the old New England witch hunt type.  In the midst of all this, what did Paul and Silas do?  They prayed started singing praises to the Lord!  In a bad situation they had joy!  (Acts 16:22-26).  And just where did they find that joy?  In Jesus Christ!  They knew that no matter what situation they found themselves, He was always with them!  They knew He would deliver them.  And they knew that even if this situation was unto death, THEN they would truly be with Him.  And isn’t that our ultimate goal, to be with Jesus forever?

The following morning Father put on my heart about joy.  He said look at the book of Acts and at what was one of the things most people experienced when they gave their hearts to Christ.  He also mentioned the joy David had when He brought the Ark into Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:12-19).

There are nine Hebraic words translated as joy.  The most used is simcah (Strong’s 8057) and a distant second is rinnah (Strong’s 7440).  Simcah is a state of being or attitude meaning great gladness, pleasure or mirth.  Rinnah is an action expressing joy or gladness which is not done quietly but proclaiming with shouting.  Now, the bible doesn’t explicitly say that Paul and Silas expressed joy, but I do know that when I sing praises to the Father, I start to feel pretty good – inside.  So what do you think?

Seven Greek words are translated as joy in the New Testament of which the two most used are chara (Strong’s 5479) and chairo (Strong’s 5463).  And here, chara is a state of being of calm delight, gladness or great joy.  Chairo is an action expressing happiness or joy which may be why this was also used when greeting someone.  We have joy in coming together with that person.

So let’s take a look at some of the passages in both the Old and New Testaments that reflect joy.  As we do, look at how this joy is expressed, both inwardly and outwardly.  Yes, I’ll give a brief synopsis but you still have to read the passage to get the full effect.

We should bring all and any of our offerings to the Lord with joy.  We should be glad to give, privileged to bring the gift and we should bring it with a willing heart (1 Chron. 29:1-10).

When we repent, we are actually bringing a gift of attrition before the Lord.  We grow because we have turned from what we did.  When Israel repented, they experienced great joy.  Think about when we go to the Lord, the peace, the joy, we feel because we have been relieved of a heavy burden (2 Chron. 30:1-27).  At least, I feel that way.

We should not only be thankful, but rejoice in the fact that Father blesses us (Psalm 15:11).  It’s never hard to be happy with our good fortune, is it?  The pleasure we receive from His blessings bring joy.

We should also rejoice when Father blesses those around us, being truly joyful for their good fortune.  I don’t know how many people would want to throw a party, but that’s the attitude the Hebrews expressed (Esther 8:17) and it should be the joy we express when Father blesses others.  We should rejoice with them.

We should rest in the joy of the Lord simply because we know God is our salvation and our strength to do whatever we need to do (Psalm 21:1).  Resting means trusting Father fully for all things.  Not always easy to do, but when we can, wow!

When we listen to God’s counsel, it brings peace and who can be unsettled (not know joy) when we know that God’s in control (Prov. 12:20)?  I know that everything He does is for my benefit and growth and that’s not only what He does for me but includes what He tells me.

We should find joy in whatever work we do.  We should rejoice that we have the opportunity and are able to do what we are doing ((Ecc. 2:10).  We should appreciate having the ability, the health and the opportunity to that which God has called us.   After all, doesn’t Paul encourage us to do whatever we do as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23).  I had worked with FDA for several years when I found myself grumbling, complaining about the difficulty of different documents with which I had to process, The Lord, sort of Spiritually, tapped me on the shoulder and said “Give me the job.”  I said “Huh?” So He repeated Himself and then I said “OK, it’s Yours.”  He changed my attitude, my work level went up, my work quality went up and promotions started coming in.  Notice I used an “s”.  My pay level was, on the government scale, a GS5 when I started with FDA.  When I retired I was a GS12 which was about as high has one could go without a college degree.  The highest one could go was a GS18, unless you were a presidential appointee.

And when we have joy, even though we go through some hard times Father helps us to quickly forget them (Ecc.5:20), as we rest in Him, that is put our trust in Him, knowing that He will bring us through.  As He did with the job (the man, not the task).

We should be glad because Father reveals hidden things to us.  As we continue to read His Word, over and over, He shows us deeper meaning in the passages.  We can always apply these ‘revelations’ to our own lives and as we grow, that alone should bring us joy (Luke 10:21).

How sad or ‘down’ are we when Father answers prayers?  I don’t know about you, but I’m very glad and rejoice when I see my prayers answered!  God really does hear me (John 15:1-11)!  Why?  Because answered prayers encourage me to press on.

I’m so sad because God has given me eternal life (lol, haha, etc.)  I can’t describe the joy I realize when I think that I have the promise of eternal fellowship with Father through my Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:1-3)! 

I’m so thankful that Jesus didn’t give up on me and kept nudging me until I opened my heart up to Him (Luke 15:5-7).  The shepherd rejoiced when he found the lamb, how do you think the lamb (me/us) felt?

I don’t know about anyone else, but having received the baptism of the Holy Ghost after my salvation experience, my relationship with Father has grown in power (Acts 1:8).  I can relate to Cornelius and his family as they received all that Father had to offer (Acts 10:19-46)! And what about Peter and the disciples?  They were so excited they ran outside expressing the joy that they were feeling (Acts 2:1-41).

Have you ever led another soul into the kingdom of God?  That “satisfaction” is joy welling up within our heart (Phil. 2:1-2).

How many of us are unhappy because we have received healing?  The lame man that Peter and John prayed for jumped up and down and praised God (Acts 3:1-8).  Now I may not jump up and down but I do thank Father for healing and I do have joy and relief in my body and heart.

Philip cast devils out of people in a Samaritan city and we read that there was great joy there (Acts 8:5-7).  Consider, if you have ever had an overpowering desire or “lust” for anything, money, sex, fame, and you were delivered from its control, how would you feel?  The peace resulting from casting out such demons brings an indescribable peace and that peace is God’s joy in us.  Can you imagine how the man possessed with legion felt as he sat at Jesus’ feet, clothed and in his right mind (Mark 5:1-20)?

Having God-given joy helps us overcome out doubts or maybe even fears.  Paul knew the prophecies of imprisonment about going to Jerusalem, yet he pressed on (Acts 20:22-24).  
Jesus endured the hardship of the cross (even death) because He knew the joy that would come after (Heb. 12:2).  And as with Jesus, Father gives us strength to endure and overcome the trials and tribulations that beset us (John 16:20-22).  Because Jesus will never forsake us nor leave us (Heb. 13:5).  He is with us until the end of the world (Matt. 28:20).  We know that we can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13).  When we take on the yoke with Jesus, our burdens are lightened and we find rest (Matt. 11:29-30).  Think about it.  when we are yoked with Jesus, should we falter, who carries the burden?  He supports us every step of the way.  I am so thankful for this and the fact that He is so longsuffering with me (2 Peter 3:9), else I would have been no more a long time ago. 

Knowing all these things brings joy into my heart.  I envy the Hebrews sometimes for they expressed their joy very exuberantly.  If you read the passages and the definitions of the Hebraic and Greek words, the Jews didn’t just sit around with smiles on their faces but they got excited.  They made a big todo.  They had a party to celebrate their joy.  There is even joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10).  The word used here is chara, the feeling of great joy.  We see great joy in the prodigal son’s father who threw a big bash for his boy.

I’ve always been a bit more “reserved’ in expressing my emotions.  Even though I may not express myself outwardly as much as others, I do know what I feel in my heart.  Even though I’ve been pretty ‘dense’ throughout much of my life, Father has been so good to me.  He gave me joy in not just the hope, but the promise of my salvation (1 John 5:13), my eternal fellowship with the Father through His Son.  He has given me direction.  He has healed me, delivered and even reprimanded me and I know He loves me for when I strayed off course (Heb. 12:6).  The joy of knowing that the Creator of heaven and earth loves me.  Sometimes I’ve been a bit thick headed, but He has brought me back into proper alignment (PTL!).  He has shown me that He’s been with me for a lot longer than I ever realized, guiding my steps, watching over me and protecting me, since my youth.  That’s why I am so thankful that He is longsuffering and I find joy that He has stayed the course with me.

In part, in that thankfulness, rests my joy, my God-given joy and this is why I’ve made the decision to follow my Lord, my Savior, my God.  Yes, I still, at times, trip and stumble.  I may even scrape my knee or elbow.  But I now, that just as the prodigal son, as I repent, Father welcomes me back into His fold (1 John 1:9, Luke 15:11-24,).  This is why I have decided to follow Jesus and present my body, my life as a living sacrifice to the Father and draw into a closer relationship with my Lord (Romans 12:1-2) thereby increasing my joy.


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