Friday, July 20, 2012

The Joy of the Lord

Joy is a valuable commodity in heaven and is one of the three foundational pillars of the Kingdom of God. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit but joy comes quickly. You cannot have joy if love is not first expressed. I’m joyful because I’m loved by God. It’s a mystery. I don’t understand it, I don’t deserve but it makes me happy, exceedingly happy.

Jesus demonstrated joy is worth dying for in Hebrews 12:2, “for the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame.” He also came so his joy would be in us, thus making our joy complete. In other words, Jesus said without him our joy is incomplete but because he came [as a man to die and be resurrected, breaking the curse of death] his joy would be manifested in us. His joy is already complete.

Often we think the totality of joy as a happy emotion. It is that for sure but there has to be more to it because Jesus said his joy was full, complete and not lacking anything but scripture also says he was a man acquainted with many sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). Clearly circumstances cannot dictate whether we have joy.

Nehemiah 8:10 says the joy of the Lord is our strength. Many of us have heard that before. How do you hear/understand it? Is the joy we’ve created about the Lord our strength or is the joy that belongs to the Lord our strength? I used to interpret it the first way – it was my effort to garner up joy about the Lord. The onus was on me to generate joy. Therefore it was easy to get lost in circumstances and become joyless, but [once again] God showed me a better way. It’s not our job to generate joy, just like it’s not his expectation for us to love him first – it always originates in God. The joy that belongs to the Lord is our strength and it’s this joy Jesus was talking about. The head speaks to the heart and the body follows in rejoicing. It’s not the other way around.

Isaiah 40:31 says those who hope in the Lord renew their strength. Our strength comes from his joy, and when we put our hope [an expected positive outcome] in him, our joy is complete (John 15:11) and we are strengthened – in resolve, in action, in attitude. Hallelujah, amen!

But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. ~Isaiah 35:9-10

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