“Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:4
“These things have I spoken to you that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:11~ ~ ~
“Joy” is a subject we have “felt,” talked about, shared, read articles about, studied it and heard many sermons preached on it. There are many definitions of “joy” – good and bad – but we must look to God’s Word and see how we define “joy” in the Christian life.
What is true joy? Do we know this joy? Do we have it in our lives? Is it a living fact in our experience? Are we rejoicing in the Lord in spite of our circumstances and surroundings? Is our joy found in Him and not in ourselves? These are some questions we as Christians need to ask. When we look in God’s Word, we see:
- Christian joy is basic and foundational in Christ. It is based on joy in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. It is “Christ-centered.”
- It is a gift from God, (you must be in-Christ) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22
- It is based on His love and perfect plan for our life and knowledge that everything is working for our good and His glory.
- It is based on sound doctrine as set forth in Scripture.
- It is positive. It is not negative.
- A Christian has it — it is the peace and comfort in Christ that gives joy. It is not to be confused with the world’s short-lived definition of joy.
- It is not a “grin and bear it” stoical spirit of resignation but a clear and present positive conviction of His presence and power and sovereignty in our life.
We know that the first cause of joy is that you must be “in” Christ; you must have a personal relationship with Christ. An unbeliever cannot know “true” joy because an unbeliever is under the condemnation of God and does not have the Holy Spirit or the gifts of the Spirit. We also know that wrong living and wrong belief can rob you of your joy; i.e., living in an outright sin; not believing or trusting Christ and His Word. We know that “unhappiness” or “lack of joy” is a denial of our profession of faith and it robs you of one of the most glorious things about our faith. Christ says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:4 If you are “unhappy” you are not exercising the gift of Spirit, which is “joy” in the Holy Spirit. Our joy is not dictated to by trials, circumstances or events. If things go wrong either by trials, testing, problems, or whatever, no matter how severe, we still have the joy of Christ, even in the midst of these circumstances because we know He is sovereign and He is working everything for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28) We are not to be tyrannized by circumstances. This is the most common cause of a loss of joy – we cannot allow the tyranny of events and circumstances to rob us our joy. They will trouble us but should never allow us to be pulled down by them and become depressed, discouraged or miserable. Christ has given us “joy in the Holy Spirit” and the “Comforter” – it is to Him we go and to Him we look when troubles, problems and chaos come. We are resolved to look to Christ and not the circumstances and Christ will give us peace, joy and hope in those circumstances and with joy, and peace and hope, we will get through them. Yes, we will have pain and suffering, trials, losses, all of these things, but we always remember we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. Our joy cannot depend upon circumstances and events because they are ever changing and cannot be “true” peace and joy and therefore we must not trust in them .
Now that we know this, how do we practically apply it?
We must look to Christ and “rejoice in the Lord always” – we have His promises in His Word, great and wonderful promises, there is nothing that can separate us from Him, His love, His peace, His joy. Look at His attributes; Who He is; remember His kindness and love to you in saving you; remember His past care and provision for you; remember His promises; remember His person, His attributes, His power, His sustaining grace. Thus,
- You have the gift – it is a gift of the Spirit, you already have it, you must exercise it;
- It is a promise of Christ – He is the Comforter, He alone brings peace and joy ;
- Pray – pray without ceasing; pray when these trials and difficulties come; He wants you to seek His face, ask for His guidance, look to Him ; Bible Reading – this is crucial, you must always immerse yourself in God’s Word; it is your Armour against trials, the world, the flesh and the devil ;
- Praise – thank Him, just as Job did, because you know He is working out His perfect plan for you ;
- Exercise self-control, a fruit of the Spirit;
- Practically take one-step-at-a-time in dealing with the issue (i.e., God is working in this issue for my good and His glory; rest in Him, do what needs to be done, knowing even in this event or circumstance, it is His working and my response is to be one of joy);
- To be more joyful, I need to drink in God’s presence every day; spend more time in His Word, memorize those scriptures of God’s sovereignty, joy, peace an provision so they will come to mind during these times; Use these times to look up to Him; pray and ask Him for strength; start praising and thanking him for His goodness to you. In our weak strength we cannot do them but in Christ, “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” Philippians 4:13
When we look to Him and see His perfect providential care of the world and everything in it, we see His promise that “that every hair is numbered” – that not even a “sparrow falls from heaven” without Him – and that He will care for us. Look what He says in Matthew 6:25-34
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
You have heard the phrase “Jesus never fails” applied to everything…but this is actually true…He never fails, He is perfect, we fail, but He does not. If we are truly grounded in Christ, circumstances will come and go, good and bad, peace and chaos, but when our relationship is solidly in Him, depending upon Him, focusing on the “joy” in the Holy Spirit that He has given us, then we will triumph when these trials and circumstances which try to rob us of our joy come.
“Whenever a Christian man yields to a mournful, desponding spirit, under his trials; when he does not seek grace from God to battle manfully and cheerfully with trouble; when he does not ask his heavenly Father to give him strength and consolation whereby he may be enabled to rejoice in the Lord at all times, he does dishonor to the high, and mighty, and noble principles of Christianity which are fitted to bear a man up, and make him happy even in times of the deepest affliction. It is the boast of the gospel that it lifts the heart above trouble; it is one of the glories of our religion that it makes us say, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine, the labor of the olive shall fail, and the field shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no heard in the stalls; yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:8-19
 C.H. Spurgeon, “Gleanings Among the Sheaves: Rejoice Always
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Blessings in Christ,Editor & Publisher, “Heavenly Notes”