Well, the weather has definitely changed; from about three weeks of summer to fall in the Northwest. While working on this blog this morning, I found myself sitting at the laptop with a sweatshirt on and barefoot; I can’t seem to let go of summer altogether. And yet, the joyful Christmas season is just around the corner; “Joy to the World!” “For unto you is born this day…a Saviour… Luke 2:11.
In my quiet time with the Lord this morning, I began pouring over biblical verses on the words joy and happiness. If I couldn’t explain JOY, how could I sing “Joy to the World”? I wanted to know if there was a difference between the two-word meanings. As I was sorting through my small but extensive library, a note fell on the carpet, from the inside of a Tommy Tenney book, The God Chasers. I had forgotten I ever wrote this note after reading the book in 2004. Let me share my written thoughts on that note with you all:
“A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers” (John 4:23).
This book has had an effect on my spiritual life, for I had so many questions. As a born-again believer in Christ Jesus, “Why am I so dissatisfied? “Why am I so hungry for God’s Word?” “Where is my joy that is supposed to be inside of me?” I wasn’t a new believer, but “there has to be more than this!” Have I become a part of the Matrix without realizing the absence of my joy?”
These divine heart cries were calls from the Father to truly find Him! He wasn’t hiding from me; He is hiding HIMSELF for me.
In this note that had slipped to the floor, I read this introduction again from my notes: Cindy Jacobs, co-founder of Generals of Intercession said, “I must warn you, this is a dangerous book if you are comfortable and complacent and want to stay that way”. I definitely didn’t want to stay in a state of joyless complacency.
The more I read in The God Chasers book, the more I felt a shift in my spiritual life. My past focus on the Father had been on the anointing. Now, my attention was being drawn to a different dimension; shifting to the glory of His presence; the calling for me to enter–beyond the veil into His manifested presence. I had found a new meaning of joy in my spiritual life and I was not going to let it just lie there.
After reading those notes this morning, I seemed compelled to address the believers JOY. ALL of our lives are affected by how we relate to others. If believers are not joyful, how on earth’s creation can we ever “Repeat the Sounding Joy” to the world around us? At Christmas time or any other time.
WE HAVE GOT A HEAVENLY GIFT
JOY is God’s gift to every believer by the fruit of His Holy Spirit living inside of each one of us (Galatians 5:22). We have a choice before us; the “ifs” and the “do’s”. The evangelist Billy Sunday once said, “If you have no joy in your religion, there’s a leak in your Christianity somewhere.”
“If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the spirit]. Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited [NO JOY here!], competitive and challenging [NO JOY here!] and provoking and irritating one another [NOJOYhere!], envying and being jealous of one another [NOJOYhere!]” (Galatians 5:25, 26). I inserted the “NO JOY here!” for emphasis.
From the moment you receive the gospel; “I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing” ~ Jn. 5:11. The JOY increases as you study and obey: “And we are now writing these things to you so that our joy may be full [and your joy may be complete]” ~ 1 John 1:4.
Even severe trials shouldn’t rob you of your JOY! You might be thinking as I once did, “How can I be happy after losing my job or no food in the ‘Fridge?” JOY is something entirely different from HAPPINESS! Happiness is associated with:
Joy, in the biblical context, is not an emotion. Joy is an attitude of the heart; your feeler, your thinker, your doer; a firm confidence that ALL is well, regardless of my circumstances
HAPPINESS versus JOY; THE DIFFERENCES
I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a car as I approached a red signal light, and it read, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”.
The Bible uses the words “happy” and “happiness” about thirty times. While “joy” appears over three hundred times. The word To Rejoice definition comes from the word “joy“; “to feel great delight, to welcome or to be glad“. In the book of Genesis 30:1-13 we run across one of the first times the word “happy” is used.
In Genesis 29:32-35, we see that Jacob’s wife Leah named her first three sons for the way she felt at the time. Her fourth son, Judah meant to praise. Now Zilpha, Leah’s handmaid, bore Jacob [her] second son and Leah said, “I am happy” and she named him Asher. Happy is the Hebrew root word, “Ashar” which means “to set right or be blessed“.
Now being happy in severe trials, isn’t going to make us laugh out of happiness but your circumstance shouldn’t rob your joy. What do I mean here? The best way for me to convey that thought is through God’s Word:
“Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations” (James 1:2).
I like the Amplified version and the King James wording ‘whenever you are enveloped’ “in” or while you “encounter trials“. Being “joyful” in trials and being joyful ‘because’ of trials is different. Why? Because in verse 3, James continues in saying:
“Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.”
Now turning to 1 Peter 1:3, 5 ,6, and 8 , he goes on to say that as believers, we are “born again to an ever-living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” and that we are “being guarded by God’s power through your faith [till you fully inherit that final] salvation that is ready [for you] in the last time”. And because of that faith in God’s power in your dire circumstances, “for a little while you may be distressed and suffer…”; your trials are but for a little while, and “Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) JOY” (verse 8). Where is my JOY now and where should my JOY be? That my friends is where ‘The Believers JOY’ comes from!
If you are not convinced of your joy at this point, turn to The Letter of Jude:
“Now to Him who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]—” (verse 24–Amplified version).
THE WORD “BLESSED” IN THE BIBLE
The word “blessed” in the Bible includes being “happy, happy, happy” and “joyful”. So the next time you read in Matthew 5 and read the word “Blessed“, read the Amplified versions “Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions)…”
Old Testament verses:
–Nehemiah 8:10; 12:43
–Isaiah 58:5-12; 61:1-3
–Habakkuk 3:18, 19
The Book of Psalms is loaded with being “happy”, “joyful” or “Blessed”.
A great two verse found in Psalm 51:7-13 to pray when joy and happiness seem to be absent in your spirit.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, preserving, and steadfast spirit within me” (verse 10).
“Restore to me the JOY of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit” (verse 12).
New Testament verses:
–Luke 2:10-14; 10:17-20; 15:4-7; 15:10
–John 15:5-17; 16:21-24
–Acts 2:22-28; 13:52; 20:24
–Romans 5:11; 14:17-19, 22; 15:13
—2 Corinthians 7:4
—1 Thess. 2:19, 20
–Hebrews 12:1, 2
–James 1:2, 3
—1 Peter 1:6-9; 4:12, 13
—1 John 1:4
–Jude 24, 25
These are but a few verses I found in the Bible in reminding me of my joy planted by God in my heart; my feeler, my thinker, my doer. I also found the words to a Hymn of Joy by Ludwig van Beethoven, adapted by Edward Hodges (verse two):
“All Thy works with joy surround Thee, Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, Flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain, Call us to rejoice in Thee.”
JOYFUL, JOYFUL, WE ADORE THEE
How is your JOY working for you right now? Lift your head and eyes and look around you and Rejoice!