I want to focus on joy. It would be simplistic to say, “You need to have more joy in your life” or “Just choose joy” without explaining how one obtains joy.
How often I’ve heard that old truism, “If you’re happy; that’s all that really matters.” So if I’ve found my happiness in acquiring stuff, in a relationship or in gaining recognition, is this the same as joy? No, happiness seems to center around feelings and happenings. Joy according to the Bible is of supernatural origin, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace…” Galatians 5:22 NLT. I can still be filled with joy even when I’m not feeling happy about happenings around me.
Most persons of faith readily acknowledge a supernatural presence of evil. The Lord Christ put it this way, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV. How may I live this abundant life promised by Jesus? The life which overflows “…with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
The first thing the thief comes to steal is our Christian joy. Satan doesn’t want believers in Christ to be joyful. He wants them sad-faced. If he, the evil one and his allies, can get Christ’s followers to be infuriated with the lawlessness saturating our country these days he will succeed in getting our minds off Jesus, hijacking our joy. He then moves in to kill our testimony and destroy spiritually, emotionally and physically.
A Christ follower may be angry with the darkness hovering over our beloved country; however we are warned: “Be angry, yet do not sin.” Anger is not here condemned, it’s when anger births joyless hatred and rebellion in that we sin, letting the devil have his way with us.
How can I hold firmly onto joy? Joy is fruit produced by God, so believers must be walking with the Holy Spirit to realize and maintain a life of godly joy. What an amazing promise we have from our Lord Jesus, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth…for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:15-17 NIV. Do you see the simple formula to stand firmly against the thief, holding on to joy in troublesome times? Love Jesus — obey Jesus and therefore be filled with his Holy Spirit.
In that same chapter of John, another breathtaking promise – “Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father and I will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’” Our Lord’s words fill me with joy; if I love and obey Jesus — three Persons, one God, will indwell me, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Who or what can take my joy away with the Holy Trinity dwelling within me? Certainly not the thief, Satan.
How can I love and obey Jesus and receive this spiritual fruitage of Joy? Simple, He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NIV. Approximately, 40 years ago, here in Franklin County, I personally asked Jesus to give me rest from the evil things I had done, and to forgive me and enter my heart. Never once has he left me or forsaken me over those four decades. His promises have never failed. Ask and it shall be given you, seek and you will find. Jesus, lovingly died for my sins and your sins, He waits for our sincere response. There is lasting joy in our relationship with Jesus Christ.