Joy

I loved Pete Grieg’s recent tweet: “Jesus had three years to save the planet and still found time for parties, picnics and fishing trips. #relax.”

“O Jesus, if You don’t come today for Your waiting church, come in Spirit to my sighing heart and make it sing for joy.”

Charles H. Spurgeon

Is God happy? What do you think? Bible teacher John Piper refers to himself as a Christian hedonist. In his book, Desiring God, Piper writes: “Can you imagine what it would be like if the God who ruled the world were not happy? What if God were given to grumbling and pouting and depression, like some Jack-and-the-beanstalk giant in the sky? What if God were frustrated and despondent and gloomy and dismal and discontented and dejected? Could we join with David [in Psalm 63v1] and say, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water”? I don’t think so. We would all relate to God like little children who have a frustrated, gloomy, dismal, discontented father. They can’t enjoy him. They can only try not to bother him, or maybe try to work for him to earn some little favour. Therefore if God is not a happy God, Christian hedonism [our seeking to enjoy God] has no foundation. For the aim of the Christian hedonist is to be happy in God, to delight in God, to cherish and enjoy His fellowship and favour. But children cannot enjoy the fellowship of their father if He is unhappy.”

Source: John Piper, Desiring God, 2006 edition, Leicester: IVP, p.32-33

Joy is the only commodity you can increase by giving it away.

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, former minister of Westminster Chapel in London, wrote a book called Spiritual Depression. In it he says: “The devil’s one object is so to depress God’s people that he can go to the man of the world and say: There are God’s people. Do you want to be like that?” Lloyd-Jones goes on to say: In a sense a depressed Christian is a contradiction in terms, and he is a very poor recommendation of the gospel. We are living in a pragmatic age. People today are not primarily interested in truth, what they are interested in is results. The one question they ask is: Does it work? They are frantically seeking and searching for something that can help them. (…) Nothing is more important, therefore, than that we should be delivered from a condition which gives other people, looking at us, the impression that to be a Christian means to be unhappy, to be sad, to be morbid, and that the Christian is one who scorns delights and lives laborious days. (…) Satan can’t rob us of our salvation, but he can definitely rob us of our joy. His great concern is to prevent anyone becoming a Christian, but when that fails, his one object then is to make them miserable Christians so that he can point men who are under conviction of sin to them and say: ‘That is Christianity; look at him or her. There is a picture of Christianity! Look at that miserable creature. Do you want to be like that?’

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 1965, Spiritual Depression, Michigan: Eerdmans, p.19-20, p.69)

John Stott noted that: “Depression is a fairly common condition among Christian people. I am referring not to clinical depression, which may need expert psychotherapy, but to spiritual depression which we should be able to handle ourselves.” – “For people who truly struggle with daily depression and live most of their lives in the depths of despair, it is important to understand the relationship between joy and thanksgiving. If you are a thankful person, joy cannot be so very far away. If you are a joyful person, I can guarantee that you count your blessings loudly and daily. Thanksgiving is the password that opens the door of His presence to His people. And, when you enter into His presence, you know that you will find there: JOY! So today if you are struggling with sadness or disappointment in life, make a list of things for which you are thankful. Don’t stop at 5 or 10, be lavish in your thanksgiving and make a list of 20 or 50 or 100 things for which you are grateful. Thanksgiving should be a genuine daily lifestyle. A grateful heart is the fertile growing place for the seeds of joy to spring up and blossom in abundance.”

[Note: Source: A Jolt of Joy, devotional on YouVersion, day 30 of 31]

John Stott, 2006, Through The Bible Through The Year, Abingdon Oxon: Candle Books, p.97

Joyce Meyer writes: “If you want to have joy, you must stop trying to figure everything out. You must stop rolling your problems around in your mind. You have to quit anxiously searching for an answer to your situation, trying to find out what you should do about it.

We reason and try to figure things out, asking “Why, God, why?” and ”When, God, when?” We want to know the answer to our situations so we won’t have to trust God. We don’t want surprises; we want to be in control because we are afraid that things won’t turn out the way we want them to.

“Why, God, why?” and ”When, God, when?” are two questions that can keep us from enjoying the lives Jesus died to give us. Many times we don’t understand what God is doing, but that’s where trust comes in. Nobody says we have to know everything; no one ever told us we have to understand everything. We need to be satisfied in knowing the One who does know everything: God. We need to learn to trust Him, not ourselves. Stop overthinking things. Trust means not needing to know the whys and when’s in order to be at peace.

Joyce Meyer, Trusting God Day By Day, devotional reading for September 26

Try this little exercise to help you appreciate more what you already have. Visualise for a moment being completely destitute. Imagine that you have lost everything: your family; your loved ones, friends, your job, your home, your health and every material possession you own. Imagine, just for a moment, that everything you hold dear was lost to you. Hold this awful thought for a moment and imagine how you’d feel and how things would be. Now picture yourself waking up, as if from a bad dream, and having every single thing returned to you. Now how do you feel; relieved, grateful; appreciative? Remember the line from the old hymn: “Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done.”

Followers of Jesus are not supposed to be miserable. Jesus prayed for all believers (in John 17:13) asking, ‘that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.’ Earlier he said to the disciples, ‘Remain in my love… that my joy may be in you’ (John 15:9, 11).

“We don’t need to know what God is doing, what He is going to do, or when He is going to do it; we just need to know that He is with us. God is working in your life right now in ways you don’t see, don’t feel, and don’t understand. Just because what’s going on in your life right now doesn’t feel good doesn’t mean He is not working. He is!”

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer, Trusting God Day By Day, devotional reading for October 4

Psalm 118:24-25 (NIV1984) says: “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD, save us: O LORD, grant us success.” – It is worth noting that we are told to ‘rejoice and be glad in it.’ Not to rejoice and be glad before it, or over it, or after it but to rejoice and be glad in it. Remember this: Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is the present… a gift, so let’s rejoice and be glad in it! We are to seize this day with its blessings and challenges, and live every moment of it. We are called to enjoy the journey.

Are you ready for the greatest coaching advice in all of recorded history? Are you ready for a game plan that will ensure your ability to walk in victory and to never again be a victim of depression or discouragement? – Be thankful, honour God, praise him! – Rejoice in the Lord is a New Testament commandment, which means you don’t really get a choice! The strategy for a victorious life is to “Keep on rejoicing!” Joy is not just a spin-off from obedience to God. Joy is obedience to God! Joy is an act of obedience and we are commanded to rejoice in the Lord and to take delight in His presence. C. S. Lewis put it this way, “It is a Christian duty for everyone to be as joyful as they can be!” The entire goal of your life is to glorify God every day that you live. The goal of your life is to honour His Name with every choice you make, every word you speak and every thought you think. You honour God when you choose the joy of His presence. You don’t glorify Him through whining, complaining, bitterness or unforgiveness. You glorify God when you choose joy and thankfulness!’

Source: A Jolt of Joy, devotional on YouVersion, day 22 of 31

Joy is not the same thing as happiness; it is something far deeper than that. Happiness comes from happenings or circumstances. Joy is different: it goes deeper. Joy is an inside job; joy is a fruit of the Spirit; it’s an attitude; a choice. Joy comes from knowing that you are unconditionally loved and accepted by God. Happiness is external; joy is internal. Happiness depends on outward circumstances; joy depends on inward character. Happiness depends on what happens to us; joy depends on who lives within us. Happiness is based on chance or circumstances; joy is based on choice.

Source: adapted from The UCB Word For Today , 9/2/2017

JOY – stands for putting Jesus first, Others second and Yourself third.

Rick Warren writes: Happiness depends on happenings. It comes from the root word hap, which means “luck” or “circumstances.” Joy is different: it goes deeper. Joy is an attitude, a choice. Joy is an inside job and is not dependant on circumstances. It is our choice to rejoice. Joy is what makes life – well – enjoyable. To live joyfully:

  • develop the attitude of gratitude
  • develop inner joy by giving
  • develop inner joy by serving
  • develop inner joy by sharing Christ with others

Rick Warren, God’s Power To Change Your Life, 2006, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, p.66-67ff

We can be Spirit-filled and not Jesus thrilled. That’s the enemy’s work. The enemy wants to oppress us and keep us down. The devil wants to rob us of our joy in the Lord. We must resist him!

Jesus came promising abundant life, and he hasn’t changed the offer. And part of that abundance is simply ‘fun’. We disciples are encouraged to enjoy ourselves because we enjoy God, the giver of life.

John Pritchard