JOY Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
In Gods Presence is fullness of joy. Joy is the eternal goal. All of Gods working in us and through us is to bring us to joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength and our destiny.
God has made the Lord Jesus the Center of joy. Those who choose to receive and obey Him will dwell for eternity in the fullness of joy. Those who will not receive and obey Him will never experience joy.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)
In Gods Presence is fullness of joy. Joy is the eternal goal. All of Gods working in us and through us is to bring us to joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength and our destiny.
This was, of course, the issue raised in the beginning. Satan inserted a doubt in the mind of Eve concerning Gods intentions toward her. By denying her access to the knowledge of good and evil, wasnt God directing that she should be lacking in some aspect of joy? In this same manner Satan reasons with all of us.
True faith is the enduring trust that God is bringing us to perfect joy; that He knows the details of our life and is working accordingly; that God has the power and wisdom sufficient to bring us to complete joy; and that all of the ups and downs of our life, as we follow Christ, are for the purpose of bringing us to the place where we can receive perfect joy and then hold onto it for eternity.
Eve was persuaded God is not to be trusted. Mankind today is persuaded God is not to be trusted. The victorious saint believes that God is to be trusted to bring him or her to perfect, total joythe fullness of joy.
God has made the Lord Jesus the Center of joy. Christ is filled with joy and is Joy itself. Those who choose to receive and obey Him will dwell for eternity in the fullness of joy. Those who will not receive and obey Him will never experience joy.
I have told you this so my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11)
Precisely what is joy? Joy includes love, peace, satisfaction, fulfilled desire, security, a sense of Gods complete approval, a happy feeling of being "home," of being where one belongs. If any of these elements is lacking, our joy is not full.
If we do not love God and some other people, and there are not some people who love us, and God appears to be rejecting us, our joy is not full.
There is no aspect of our state of being more central to joy, than is true of love. Whoever does not love God and others, and is not loved by God (as he or she perceives it) and others, is deeply, profoundly disabled.
When through Christ we have overcome all hindrances to Gods perfect will for our life we have peace. Peace is the result of success in war, in a struggle against opposition.
When our will and Gods will are the same, we have peace. Lasting joy is not possible when we do not have peace, although we can have joy while we are in the process of overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way of our obedience to Christ.
When we know we have stood true during difficult tests of our integrity we have a feeling of satisfaction. The individual who has betrayed those who trusted him will come to a horrible end. As he breathes his last in the present world he will realize all the lusts that caused him to betray those who loved him were tricks of Satan to keep him from being worthy of the Kingdom of God.
People sell their inheritance, their mates, their children, their friends, for that which fascinates them for a brief season. What utter anguish is theirs when they have time to think about the grief they have brought to others!
Think about the end of Judas!
Christ will see the fruit of His travail and will be satisfied. Such satisfaction will be our possession if we are sternly obedient to God.
Worthwhile goals are achieved only after we emerge victorious from severe challenges, after we conquer stiff opposition. But once they are attained we have a feeling of satisfaction. This is an essential aspect of joy.
One of the elements of the cross the disciple must carry is deferred desire. The fulfillment of his most fervent desires are withheldsometimes for many years, or even a lifetime. Or, he or she is compelled to endure a disagreeable situation for a long period of time.
"I cant stand this for one minute longer," we cry. But the test continues for another twenty-five years.
The cross is a prison. If we break out of our prison we are arrested and given a longer sentence. If we simply will not accept any sort of imprisonment, any kind of deferred desire, we are not worthy of the Kingdom of God. By our immature behavior we earn eternal deferment of our desires.
The Bible tells us that deferred hope makes our heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled it is a tree of life.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 3:12)
How blessed is that individual who delights himself in the Lord while he sees no possibility of ever realizing that which he wants so fervently. The Bible promises he will be given the desires of his heart.
The Lord Jesus desired the three things all the sons of God look for: survival and security; the pleasures of the kingdoms of the world; and the achievement of enduring success.
Satan offered Christ a shortcut to the desires of His heart, just as Satan offers you and me a shortcut to the desires of our hearts.
To take a shortcut, not patiently enduring the cross, is to insure that lasting joy never will be ours. We have chosen to serve our self, our lusts, and Satan.
"If you will worship me, all shall be yours!"
Today the Lord Jesus Christ possesses survival and security. He does what He will with the kingdoms of the world, for all belong to Him. Also, He has achieved as an eternal inheritance all whom the Father gives Him, having successfully obtained eternal redemption for them. Christ is today, as He always has been, filled with joy.
America is one of the wealthiest nations of the world. You would think the citizens would all be happy and secure. They are not. Severe anxiety is commonplace among young and old.
Many young people commit suicide. They lack a sense of security. They believe they will not survive the heavy problems they have or foresee.
It appears various kinds of psychologic trauma are on the increase. Some individuals attempt to find relief in alcohol or drugs. In numerous instances those who resort to alcohol or drugs are confined in prison, there being insufficient funds for rehabilitation services.
Joy does not abound in America. Employees who are fired murder their former employers. Young people in the public schools murder other young people who appear to be more socially successful than they.
Some Americans have survived the intense competition, the striving to gain money and material possessionsor even to obtain the necessities of life. Others retreat into emotional disorders. Millions of American citizens cannot afford proper medical treatment for themselves or their children.
Yet we cling desperately to our "way of life." While we think of ourselves as candidates for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we are going further away from lasting joy.
There can be no joy when our survival and security are threatened.
We often say that the Lord Jesus is the way to Heaven. The Bible does not teach this. The Bible says the Lord Jesus is the way to the Father.
I think in every human being, whether he or she is a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Moslem, an atheist, or an adherent to any other religion or philosophy of life, there is a innate knowledge that there is a God. The innate knowledge of God may be buried under any number of acquired convictions, but I believe it is there.
Maybe we can call it conscience. But down past our education or experience we will find instinctively that there is a God.
"Oh God!" we cry when in extreme pain or when we are terrified.
Life tends to heap ideas, fears, and duties on us until the image of God in our mind grows faint.
But there is a God. And there cannot be fullness of joy until we realize deep within us that God approves of us.
I remember traveling to the hospital in an ambulance. I was having a heart attack. But there was no fear in me. I knew I had served God to the best of my ability and joy awaited me. How terrible that experience would have been had I disobeyed the call of God on my life.
At the time of writing this brief essay our country is under attack from terrorists. The infamous "September Eleventh" attack on the World Trade Towers has occurred. Anthrax has been found in the mail in some post offices. Yesterday an airplane crashed in a residential area of New York killing 260 people. As of now the authorities are citing mechanical failure; but people will suspect the terrorists.
People understandably are frightened. They are afraid of dying.
My wife and I discussed this terror and have decided to engage in some "church-sign evangelism." We intend to put a sign outside our church with some of the comforting passages of the Scriptures where people driving by can see them. Hundreds of people pass there every day.
Our nation has become biblically illiterate. The people do not know the protection God offers to those who put their trust in Him.
Being in our seventies, the next life has become so real that the thought of dying holds no terrors. In fact, to pass into the next world would be a relief from the aches and problems that are part of our daily life.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of deaththat is, the devil And free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14,15)
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)
But we can understand how frightening it would be for people who do not have a clear vision of the next life. To die would be for them the end of everything. Naturally they are horrified at the thought they might contract Anthrax or plunge to their doom in an airplane.
Actually, the present dangers faced by the American people are a great opportunity for Christians to bring to people the comfort of the Scriptures, such as the twenty-third or ninety-first Psalms. I am not speaking of trying to get people "saved" or to accept Christ, in the traditional sense. I am referring to pointing out to them that Christ cares for them and will provide survival and security for them if they will place their trust in Him.
The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth to bring us to the Father. It is impossible to have the fullness of joy until we know we have Gods complete approval.
I guess many of my readers would wonder how one can gain Gods complete approval of ones life and behavior. It is simple. Just look up to God right now. Tell Him that you will do whatever He commands you as He supplies the necessary strength and wisdom.
That is all there is to it. God will take you at your word. He will give you all the strength and wisdom you need to obey Him in every detail.
We have a strange idea of God. We think He is some kind of cruel tyrant in the heavens who expects behavior from us we never could possibly perform.
This is not at all true. God is our Father. The tasks He wishes us to perform each day are well within our ability, most of the time, and are peaceful and joyous. Sometimes, not too often, there is a difficult challenge. When that is the case, additional grace is provided.
Satan can never be pleased. But God is easy to please His commandments are not grievous. If you dont believe me, go to Him in Jesus name and tell Him you want to be pleasing to Him. You will find it is as I have said.
You cannot have lasting joy until you are certain God has accepted you.
And then, as part of joy, there is the happy feeling of being "home," of knowing you are where you belong.
Do you know what I mean? Do you know what it is like to feel you are home?
One time, for the briefest of seconds, I had a sudden realization when I go to the Lord I will be "home." As brief as that feeling was, I have never forgotten it. I know what Paul meant when He spoke of being at home with the Lord.
Sometimes when I am in Israel I feel that I have come home. But that sensation is not nearly as poignant as the momentary awareness I had of being at home with the Lord.
We go through life looking for that thing, this experience, that circumstance, this place, but no thing, experience, circumstance, or place ever provides lasting, complete joy. Isnt it so? We are never "home."
Perhaps we are not aware our goal is joy. When we want something, a new house, a better paying job, a new relationshipwhatever it may be, we often do not realize our actual goal is joy. How many times have we acquired what we were sure would bring us happiness, only to find that after a brief period of time we were as dissatisfied as before.
The Lord told the woman that whoever drank of His water would never thirst again.
So it is true. God has appointed us to joy. He has created all things for us to enjoy, a world to play in. But sin and disobedience prevent our obtaining joy; preventing our being able to play.
The goal is eternal joy in the Presence of God.
In America we speak of "fun." People of all ages want to have fun and speak a great deal about having fun. Many advertisements in the media speak of fun: "buy this and you will have fun"; "come here and you will have fun."
Do the poorer nations of the world emphasize fun to this extent?
What is fun? It is something we enjoy experiencing. Often it is frantic, and sometimes results in behavior that we regret or even is destructive.
In the state of California there are many gambling casinos. People go there to have fun. But it is obvious they are not filled with joy. They sit there hour after hour in front of the slot machine, throwing their money away. Occasionally someone wins much money. Then other people return to the slot machines, giving their money to the owners of the casinos.
There have been articles in magazines about people who were addicted to gambling and whose lives were destroyed as a result. But who ever heard of anyone who was addicted to joy and whose life was destroyed as a result?
Fun and joy are not the same thing, obviously. Martyrs have experienced joy while going to their death. But they were not experiencing fun. The victorious saints have joy even while in prison. But they do not have fun there.
We understand therefore that fun has to do with pleasurable sensations experienced in the body. Joy is a pleasurable sensation that springs up from within us, or may be introduced into our personality from the Lord. It is not dependent on the well being of the physical body.
Fun is always temporary. Joy can be eternal.
In America today there is little understanding of the difference between love and physical attraction.
We speak of "falling in love." This often is a delusion because we know very little about the other person. There has been no opportunity to build respect or trust. How then can we love him or her? It is one body neighing after the other. It is no more significant than that.
There is romantic love. There is undisguised lust. There is sexual perversion. There is the normal sexual activity between man and wife.
None of these is the love that is an essential component of joy.
Physical love is of the fallen nature of man. Consequently it tends to be temporary in nature. Also, it can rapidly turn into hate. It is self-gratifying. It has to do with how the other person makes us feel.
Undisguised lust is an animal activity. Human beings yield to the desires of their glands (often intensified by demons) without regard to the consequences.
The father molests his little girl. Thus he saddles her with severe psychologic problems she may experience her entire life. He may refer to this as love. It is not. It is totally selfish; totally self-centered; totally destructive. Society rightly imposes prison terms on adults who destroy the lives of children in order that they may satisfy their lusts. It is a morally filthy practice and in no manner is love. It will never result in joy. How could it?
Some physical and emotional love is honorable, such as the love of parents for their children.
Then there is the eternal love which is such a necessary part of eternal joy. This kind of love comes from God. It seeks to bring its object into union with itself and yet is not possessive. Divine love is not dependent on how another person makes us feel. It is the desire to give, to sacrifice on behalf of another.
Whoever is filled with Gods love as found in Jesus Christ has acquired the basic ingredient of eternal joy.
The fallen nature of man, as well as the nature of demons, demands gratification now. It burns with the fires of hell. It reaches out and grasps what it thinks will satisfy it. It will destroy all that stands between it and its coveted object.
Once it has attained its objective it is not satisfied. It never can be satisfied. Satan never can be satisfied. This is because Satan is driven by his self-will. The self-willed individual can never know lasting satisfaction; and thus can never know lasting joy.
The fallen nature of man, as well as the nature of demons, will not tolerate unfulfilled desire. It will break every law, take every shortcut, until it has what it craves.
Over the last few years in America the Charismatic movement was invaded by the so-called "faith message." This doctrine taught that if we have faith we can have what we want right now! If there is a delay, if there is not instant gratification, it is because we do not have faith.
Unlike other false doctrines that are more insidious, the "get it now by faith" is boldly unscriptural in its assertions. It appeals to the natural cupidity of the American people. I wonder how many believers pursued this error until they experienced discouragement. Perhaps some fell away from Christ altogether, thinking the entire Gospel message is false or that there is something wrong with God.
The American people are of the opinion that amassing money is the normal goal of life and has been the objective of all peoples for all history. This, of course, is not true. There are nations, such as India, in which the people often have interests and objectives other than the acquiring of money.
Some religions promote meditation, the contemplation of spiritual values. And then there is the Hindu ascetic who stares at the sun until he is blind. Sometimes such individuals are revered. Think of the Moslem who blows himself up in order to assist in bringing the peoples of the world into subjection to his religion.
I am not saying these are desirable practices. I am pointing out that there are numerous people in the world who are not driven, as are Americans, by the urge to acquire as much money as possible.
Let us recognize that money is one of the principal gods of Americanseven Americans who are Christians. We suppose money will bring survival and security. In case God fails, we can rely on money to save us.
Those of us who have lived for a while have observed that money does not bring joy. Neither does it bring survival and security. It indeed is a treacherous god.
Money can never bring lasting joy. Those who are very wealthy usually are seeking for more money than they already have, not realizing that the more money and things we possess the more control they have over us. Actually the rich are slaves to their money and their possessions, thinking that if they lost all their money and things their world would have come to an end.
What a blindness this is! What bondage! What chains! The love of money destroys any hope of joy.
People can ignore God and amuse themselves with electronic toys, athletic events, entertainment, and so forth. But when enough trouble arises, most of them will turn away from their toys and games and cry out to God.
Our purpose for being born into the world is that we might learn about God, that we might develop faith in Him. By and large, we are here on earth so we may be examined as to our worthiness for the new world of righteousness.
Because we are in the world for this reason, we can never have deep, lasting joy until we feel in our heart that God is pleased with us. Every other aspect of life is superficial.
Every mentally healthy person longs to be "home." People who can afford to do so move from place to place, hoping to find their hearts desire.
But it is all to no avail. That which we are longing for, that sense of being "home," cannot be found anywhere on the earth. God and Christ are our Home. Until we are at rest in them we will never be "home."
In Gods house there are many places of abiding, many homes. All of these homes are part of Jesus Christ. Each home, each room, is prepared for God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and us.
Our personality has been created in an incomplete form. This is the meaning of "male and female." No person is sufficient in and of himself. He or she was created to be part of another.
Man as a creation has been designed to be Gods tabernacle, Gods dwelling place, Gods chariot. Man is to be the representation of God throughout His creation. Because of this design, permanent, complete joy, love, peace, satisfaction, fulfilled desire, security, a sense of Gods complete approval, a happy feeling of being "home," is not possible to anyone except the individual who through Christ overcomes the world, his bodily passions, and his self-will.
Thus it is written: "He who overcomes shall inherit all these things. He will be my son. I shall be His God.
All the things, circumstances, and relationships we desire are only symbols of what we truly want, which is total joy. If we are wise we will recognize this. We will turn away from lesser things, from our gods, and seek Christ who alone can satisfy our longing for joy.