As Christians we are expected to be joyful at all times. The joy of the Lord should be the prevailing characteristic in a believer’s life. This should ebb and flow in our lives and the experience of such joy is dependent on what occurs in our lives. We must know that our joy is found in the ultimate righteous rule of Jesus in our lives.
We need to understand that joy is not like happiness, which is based solely upon favourable circumstances. Joy is a supernatural emotion that remains in the life of a believer in spite of his or her circumstances! The apostle James says in James 1:2: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds“.The Lord Jesus Christ wants each of His children to experience joy to the full! We know this because of His spoken word recorded in John 15:11 that says: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete“.
Therefore, in this Scripture, we have a two-fold definition of this joy:
1) It is Christ’s joy. Notice exactly what He said: “…that my joy may be in you” (John 15:11). The true Christian life is simply the life of the Lord Jesus Christ in a man or a woman. Christian joy, therefore, is Christ’s joy in a Christian, and this means that this deep-down, unique and abiding joy is not found anywhere else except in Him. There are other kinds of joy found in other places, but His joy is found in Him alone.
2) It is joy to the full. Jesus expressed His desire by saying “that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).
There is a great difference between joy and fullness of joy. The vessel may be partly filled or completely filled. Our Lord’s desire for us is that we should experience joy to the full. We need to consider illustrations of the abiding nature of Christ’s joy, and the fact that it is unaffected by outward circumstances and conditions.
The Christian life is enhanced, enriched and advanced through the joy of the Lord, so let us look at some ways in which this is true. The joy of the Lord will:
1) Improve our work
Nehemiah was showing the people that joy was essential to the continuation of the work that was to be done in the city of Jerusalem for the Lord. We should also listen to what Paul said in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me“. That verse comes shortly after Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, rejoice“(Philippians 4:4). We cannot work for Christ as we ought to work unless we have His joy in us. When Paul wrote the verses we have just read he was in prison in Rome. If we lack this joy, we will become sidetracked and will do the wrong work in the wrong strength for the wrong purpose with wrong and heartbreaking results.
Not only will His joy improve our work, but it will;
2) Improve our worship
It is difficult to imagine a person truly worshipping God without a measure of divine joy. We should think of yet another thing improved with joy. It will:
3) Improve our witness. Our sharing our faith becomes delightful.
Now, just one more thing that joy will do, it will:
4) Improve our wellbeing.
Proverbs 17:22 says: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”.
There are three requirements to this joy:
1) The presence of the Lord. Psalm 16:11 says:
“In thy presence is fullness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore“. Joy is found in the presence of the Lord and we see this again and again in the scriptures. So, first we must have HIs presence of the Lord to have His joy, but also we must have:
2) The Spirit of the Lord. We should note that in Thessalonians that the Christians there knew joy through the Holy Spirit. The Lord desires to fill us with joy by filling us with His Holy Spirit. Listen to what the Scripture says about Jesus. Finally, to have this joy we must have:
3) The Word of the Lord. Nehemiah 8 tells us of Ezra reading the Word of God to the people for hours at a time. The people were brought to repentance through the experience of hearing God’s Word. The people began to weep and sob because of their sins, but Nehemiah told them to dry their tears and rejoice for the joy of the Lord was their strength.
Thus, the Word of God brings joy. Any Christian who neglects the Bible, will never have full joy. That is why we should allow the Lord to enter our hearts today and to bring with His presence the joy of heaven. And if you are already a Christian, allow Him to fill you with His Spirit, to embrace you with His presence and enable you to overcome the enemy in all circumstances.
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