Joy = Strength

Over the past several months, I’ve discovered a whole new meaning to the common Christian phrase, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” One day while I was listening back through some old recordings of prayers that I’ve received from people over the years, I noticed a consistent theme…almost ALL of them talked about joy! The people praying over me would say things like, “You are the Lord’s joyful one!” or “The joy of the Lord is your strength!” And for a while, I just glanced over these things thinking, “Oh that’s nice…joy…whatever.” I’d always just lumped joy together with other “Christiany” themes like faith, love, and hope…

My friends, today I would like to pose to you the idea that joy is not just another one of those happy feelings that all Christians “should” have…instead it literally carries the power to overcome. It is a weapon against the enemy in times of trial, a fortress of encouragement when fiery darts are flying, and a vehicle for victory!

James 1:2-4 – “My dear brothers, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy for you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have it’s full effect so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Wow…do you want to lack NOTHING?! I do!

What if we began to see every situation in our lives, whether positive or negative, as an opportunity for God to deliver us further into his love and divine purpose? What if we actually began to believe that “God is able to work good in every circumstance” (Romans 8:28)? What if we were literally able to “be unafraid of bad news” (Psalm 112:7)? Then frustration, complaining, discouragement, depression, and fear would be nullified.

In every situation, God has an agenda and the enemy has an agenda. The question is, who are we going to choose to partner with? Are we going to partner with God in our circumstance, choose joy, and see it as an opportunity to strengthen our character and faith to walk in a greater measure of the calling to which we have been called? OR are we going to partner with the enemy in our circumstance, choose bitterness, despair, and discouragement, and further sever our relationship with God and others? It really is up to us…

Because joy is a choice. Do I have to be ruled by my emotions and feelings? What if I learned to laugh because it was right, not necessarily because i “felt like it?” If I can stop laughing, then isn’t it possible for me to start laughing whenever I choose? Now, I am not talking about fabricating my feelings. I’m talking about having the ability to root my feelings in something more true and eternal than my circumstances.

If faith is a choice, then joy is a choice that I make by faith. Not enough money to pay for school? Rejoice in the fact that you will get to see God’s provision! Still waiting for God to bring that special person into your life? Rejoice in the fact the you are loved infinitely by the God of the Universe! Fighting with a friend? Rejoice in the fact that you get to grow in your conflict resolution skills! As it says in James, we rejoice because we can become stronger with everything that is thrown our way!

Is it really possible to access this kind of strength through joy? It is now! (Now that Jesus has come! And now that He has given us His Holy Spirit!)

JESUS brought joy into the world

  • It was prophesied in Isaiah 61:3,7 that the Messiah was to bring “the oil of gladness” and “everlasting JOY.”
  • John leaped for JOY in Elizabeth’s womb when he encountered Jesus in Mary’s womb (Luke 1:44).
  • The angels announced, “I bring you good news of great JOY that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).
  • Jesus’ dying wish was that we would have the full measure of his JOY within us (John 17:13)!!!

The HOLY SPIRIT gives us unlimited access to that joy

  • “For the Kingdom of God is…righteousness, peace, and JOY in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
  • In Acts 13:52, the disciples were “filled with JOY and the Holy Spirit”
  • The fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience… (Galatians 5:22).

Joy is from the FATHER

  • “In your presence O God there is fullness of JOY…” (Psalm 16:11).
  • “He who sits in the heavens laughs…” (Psalm 2:4).
  • May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in him” (Romans 15:13).

I am a living breathing testimony that this kind of joy is possible, even amidst the difficulties of life. Over the past couple of months, I went through an unexpected trial season. But because I had been studying these truths about how tough situations are simply incredible opportunities to rejoice and grow in steadfastness, I was able to access greater measures of his JOY than ever before. People were baffled by it! By all worldly standards, I should have been devastated, but I wasn’t. As one of my friends points out in his blog, “The joy of the Lord isn’t a powerful testimony when everything is going well, but when everything is going horribly!” http://indagatioveri.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-spirit-of-joy-and-thanksgiving.html.

The fact is that Jesus brought joy into the world, and when He left, He gave us full access to it through the Holy Spirit who lives and dwells in each of us! Woohoo! Be strong in joy and bring on the celebration!

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