As I have sat here musing, pondering and penning these thoughts, I have to be honest with you- I have struggled and do struggle with joy...we are called and commanded as believers to be joy-filled -a people characterized by JOY! Those who cross our paths should step back and go "WOW, what's that?" We should stand out! It should be contagious and genuine -spontaneously pouring out of us -not mustered up in any way... an overflow of the deepest recesses of our heart.
So, what is joy?
Webster's defines it several ways:
" to rejoice; the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; to experience great pleasure or delight."
Much of the time, we equate happiness with joy. But the truth is they are not one in the same.
Reading Webster's definition of joy resounds in my ears as how most of us would define happiness...
True joy goes beyond the surface emotions intimated by Webster.
I believe the bible characterizes joy on a deeper more soul satisfying level...
Old and New Testament are full of references to joy... all powered by the Holy Spirit and our choice to submit to God's word and His authority in our lives.
Partial References to Joy:
Psalm 9:2, 16:11, 21:6, 30:11, 32:2, 34:5, 106:3, 112:1, 118:15, 119:2, 119:92, 119:143, 126:5, 144:15, 146:5
Proverbs 2:10, 3:13, 13:9, 16:20
Is. 29:19, 56:7, 61:10
Romans 14:17, 15:13
2 Corin. 8:2, 13:11
1 Thes. 1:6, 5:16
Don't be overwhelmed by the volume of references...take the time to drink them in - you will be glad you did -The Word is as water to the soul -quenching the depths; the marrow places...
Based on my reading and understanding (although I plan on going deeper so I may have more to add in the coming days), here is my summation of JOY:
Joy is the deep abiding undercurrent of a heart that is steadfastly secure in it's knowledge of the Father and it's understanding of His sovereignty over it's very life. It encompasses a face-like-flint posture that causes one to glory in the all-consuming presence of the living God and the absolute delight of knowing and being known. Joy is a place of complete rest in the midst of the storm -understanding that Jesus reigns even in the depths of the dark place...Joy is born out of the purest love and cannot be requited by the most tumultuous straight! It rises up from the land of desolation and despair to display the Father's glory and splendor in all things...
A gift from the Spirit given to all who believe, joy -for the believer - isn't asked for, it's accessed!
We are commanded in Galatians (5:16)to operate through the guiding of the Holy Spirit from which the fruit of joy (5:22) is born and sustained in our lives -even if the circumstance swirling around us would seek to dictate otherwise. We must chose to ascend from dwelling in the flesh to a position of surrender -laying down our natural tendencies and reactions in order to don the cloak of the spirit...love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
When we chose to live this way -we become a conduit of all that Father wants to accomplish in and through us to our sphere of influence -we become His face to our world - the demonstration of His life and character...it is here that He is enabled -through our obedience -to get glory and fulfill His purposes, plans and promises.
So, how do we "flesh" this out?
There are 3 principles to consider and reconsider:
Foundation ---- Focus ---- Forecast
1) Foundation is exactly that...the grounding principles. We have to know the Word -in this case what the scripture says about joy - so that we can operate in it. We have to know what is true of us as believers so that the enemy has no leg to stand on when he comes to "steal, kill, and destroy"
2) Focus - we have to be proactively aware of what we are giving our attention to...we must fix our gaze on Jesus and consciously chose to intently "FOCUS" our time, talent, treasure on Him, firstly, and beyond that, on the things that bring honor and glory to Him and point others in His direction. This requires active participation!
3) Forecast (perspective) Our day in and day out reality aligns with and filters through our focus and foundation no matter what circumstances surround us...our perspective is molded from our eyes being fixed on Jesus and the truth found in The Bible.
Our whole goal is found in 2 Corinthians 3:18:
" So all of us who have had the veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord -who is the Spirit- makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image."
Starting with the evidence of His joy!
Beth Moore has a great quote that I think sums it up...she says:
" We glorify God to the degree the we externalize the internal existence of the living Christ."
As we operate in the fullness of the Father's Joy, through the power of the Holy Spirit in us -we do just that- giving a reason for the Hope that resides within us!
For a deeper word study on "JOY" go to: