JOY – EFFERVESCENCE EVEN IN CHAOS
Last week we looked at Paul and Silas as they praised the Lord while they were in prison, locked down in stocks. Then we considered the early Christian church as they experienced joy even in horrific persecution. Now, let us think about joy, depression and what we have to be joyous about in 2016!
What does Scripture say?
Recall that the basis for our joy is the work of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Because of His victory, the real basis for our inexpressible joy is that, as believers in Jesus Christ, our names are written in heaven! For this reason the prophets, apostles and even Christ Himself command us to rejoice and be glad.
We are not to rejoice in great acts that are accomplished here, even if they are done in the power of the Lord. See Luke 10 where we read that the disciples returned after going out to minister to others in the power of the Lord, and they did marvelous things. While they were telling Jesus of the results of their mission, I envision Jesus smiling, perhaps nodding His head, and then He issued this warning:
“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
We are told to be joyful in both the Old and New Testaments. For example, in 2 Chronicles 29, that King Hezekiah took action and restored the service of the house of the Lord that had been neglected for many, many years. In the next chapter, the King sent couriers to all the people inviting them to come to Jerusalem and keep the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread in celebration of the worship of the Lord. Scripture tells us:
And the people of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness, and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with all their might to the LORD. … So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 30:21, 26.
In the Psalms we are repeatedly told to be “joyful in the Lord.”
Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in his salvation.
Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
Not just the Psalmist speaks of joy — Isaiah describes joy in Isaiah 61:10:
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
In the New Testament, in Philippians 4:4, Paul says:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
Here, joy is so important that Paul repeats himself, in the same sentence!
God does not like doubt and dejection. He hates dreary doctrine, gloomy and melancholy thought. God likes cheerful hearts; His very work in freeing us from the bondage of sin is evidence that joy is His desire. Notwithstanding this truth, we need to pause and recognize the reality of depression. Remember that despondency is not the fruit of the Spirit. It can come from many things — satanic temptation, unbelief, some harbored sin, or perhaps indigestion or a medical condition. The fruit of the Spirit is Joy not depression..
Beware! Don’t set too much store by your own feelings as evidence of the grace given to you. The fruit of the Spirit is joy but you may not at this moment be conscious of joy. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ through the Word of God which is a sure testimony to the work of Christ for us. That is what we should trust, not emotions or feelings.
God is sovereign, and He is in control. He sends both prosperity and adversity, for His purposes which are often unknowable to us. Don’t let the adversity take way your confidence in God.
In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.
C. H. Spurgeon noted:
Precious as the fruit is, do not put the fruit where the root should be. Please do remember that joy is not the root of grace in the soul, it is the fruit and must not be put out of its proper position. “The fruit of the Spirit is … joy” and it is brought forth in believers not alike in all or at all times, but to all believers there is a measure of joy.
Spurgeon who himself struggled with depression, also said:
Constantly looking within you own self instead of looking alone to Christ is enough to breed misery in any heart. Do not covet the counterfeit of earthly joy. … The Spirit of God is not barren … If he be in you, He must and will inevitably produce His own legitimate fruit, and the fruit of the Spirit is … joy. We experience Heaven’s joy even here, on occasion, … and we can say with David “happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.” (Psalm 144:15)
How does this apply to my daily life?
What prompts this joy in the Christian?
The ways that this Joy is touched in your heart are innumerable, but here are just a few suggestions that you might want to consider. You likely will be able to come up with others and, when you do, praise the Lord for His grace and send a comment letting us know how He brings Joy to you.
- The Christian is joyful because she is certain of her pardon for God has told her that she is not condemned as she is accepted by God for she is justified by faith.
- Joy comes when we hear the Word in worship. See Isaiah 52:7. Think about Israel and the celebration they had when their worship was restored! Do you long to worship, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, to study and hear the Word? (Just a note: the reason people grumble at long sermons is because they do not feed on them. Very seldom do the hungry gripe at having too big a meal!)
- Joy comes when we think of God Himself.
“More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
The Psalmist asks in Psalm 8:4: “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” God, Himself, answered that question 2000 years ago when He made it possible for us to spend eternity with Him through Christ our Savior. That is way more than merely “mindful”!
God’s Joy is an abiding sense of happiness – an emotional pattern that enables Nehemiah to write “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
The musical offering below is from the Silver Anniversary Concert of The Centurymen, Buryl Red, conductor. Listen to “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee” and let the Lord’s joy envelop your heart and mind. Then let the Holy Spirit fill you with joy as you go through your day.
Put Jesus first. Follow His commands. Rest in the joy of His Word. Worship Him. Listen to the Helper, the Holy Spirit as you face difficulties, and have confidence in your salvation through Christ’s atoning work on the cross for your sins. Remember your reconciliation with God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. His Joy will come!
Next week we will begin our study of Peace.
Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.