“Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” (Isa. 12:3)
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
Over two thousand years ago the angel announced that God was going to bring great joy to all people through the birth of His Son Jesus Christ. Everyone since then who has accepted Christ into their hearts knows that this promise has been kept.
However, we seldom see this joy in the believer’s life on a daily basis. That genuine joy that was experienced upon salvation often gives way to something less. Many times what we think of as joy today is a cheap imitation of the real thing.
We use words like “humorous” or “funny” when things happen that make us laugh or give us a smile. However, when the “funny things” are over and forgotten the feelings also go away because they too are only temporary.
We use words like “happy” or “glad” to express the way we feel concerning a particular situation but these feelings also fade away.
And then there is real “joy”. Although often misused, the mere word makes us think of something deep and abiding, not lighthearted and temporary. Something once had but now longed for.
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
This is especially true when we think of the Biblical type of joy that the Bible says only God can create. This is the “fullness of joy” that every true believer experiences when they first step into the presence of God upon salvation.
“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:” (1Peter 1:8)
The word “glory” in this particular Scripture literally means “honor”.
In these two verses alone we see that this joy from God is a joy which words cannot describe (joy unspeakable), that fills us to the overflowing (fullness of joy), and that receives honor (full of glory).
Sadly to say, not many Christians today receive honor for their joy. On the contrary, Christians are often characterized as stern, grim faced individuals whose worship is like a funeral and whose lives are filled with “woe is me”.
The once indescribable joy that filled our lives to the point where others beheld it and honored God has now faded to a distant memory.
Exactly why did the joy wane when our faith in God continued? How do we retrieve it back? And more importantly, how do we keep it?
In the next few posts we will see what the Bible teaches about the joy of the Lord, how we can walk daily in it, and why the devil wants to steal it from us.
To walk daily in real joy will cause us to dwell in the pleasures that are at God’s right hand and live our lives far above the worldly situations that Satan would use to rob our peace and steal our joy.
The world needs to see that there is a way of escape from the evil that is present today. They need to behold the joy of the Lord in us and be drawn unto Him.
“Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:” (Gal. 1:4)
“Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” (Isa. 51:11)
The Bible teaches that there are psychological and physiological feelings that imitate spiritual attributes.
For example, there is worldly sorrow and there is godly sorrow.
“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (2Cor. 7:10)
Godly sorrow is being sorry that we have done wrong and offended a Holy God. Worldly sorrow is being sorry that our schemes did not succeed or that we got caught.
One leads to forgiveness and life while the other leads to death.
There is a worldly type of peace that anyone can have when things seem to be working out and everything is going well in their lives.
Then there is the type of peace that only comes when we know that we have a right relationship with God and He is divinely in control no matter what the circumstance.
One is fleeting and only lasts until trouble comes while the other is produced by God’s Spirit and flows in us like an unstoppable river.
“O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:” (Isaiah 48:18)
There is a worldly love for things and others that endures only until whomever or whatever we supposedly “love” becomes a disappointment. Then there is the love that comes from God, birthed in us by the Holy Spirit, which never fails.
“Charity (Christ-like love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth…” (1Cor. 13:4-8)
For every godly attribute or fruit of the Spirit there is a cheap worldly imitation.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23)
“(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth…)” (Eph. 5:9)
So it is with the joy of the Lord. Happiness is just a temporary imitation of the unending joy that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are forgiven and cleansed from all sin. Our sins had separated us from God, but now God has made us to be the righteousness of God in Christ and we have entered into His presence.
Not only does God forgive us and make us righteous, but He sends the Holy Spirit to live inside of us and empower us to become the children of God.
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom. 8:9)
When the Holy Spirit comes, not only does He bring His power to change us and enable us to do the will of God, but He also manifests His fruit so that others might behold Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)
The Holy Spirit has said that He would never leave us nor forsake us. (Heb. 13:15) He is always within us.
The Holy Spirit never changes. He has not diminished. His power and fruit is still the same and ever present. His peace and joy is always inside.
That same joy we experienced when we were born again and first stepped into His presence has never left. It still flows in us like a river.
However we do not experience it because we lose access to it.
How do we lose access to the joy, peace, and faith that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit? How do we regain access so that this fruit is manifested in our lives on a daily basis?
The first step is to not settle for the imitation, but to crave the genuine article.
“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
(TO BE CONTINUED)