Wednesday, August 24, 2011

God is Joyful!

"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
[Psalm 16:11 NKJ]

"Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again -- rejoice!"
[Philippians 4:4 NLT]

Thesis: "God is joyful, and He wants us to be joyful in Him."

Considering that words like "joy," "rejoice," "gladness," "delight," etc. are used multiple hundreds of times in the Bible, you wouldn't think it would be necessary to prove a statement like this, but... considering many people's perception of God and religion, I thought it might be helpful to refresh our awareness of the subject. I've broken this down into three simple statements, giving just a few of the many scripture verses that support each thought.

1. God is joyful, and
2. He wants us to be joyful
3. in Him.

1. God is joyful

In God’s Presence, there is “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11, quoted above). Zephaniah 3:17 says that God rejoices over us “with shouts of joy” [NAS] or “with singing [NIV].

"The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”
[Zephaniah 3:17 NAS]

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
[Zephaniah 3:17 NIV]

Jesus – described in Hebrews 1:3 [NIV] as “the exact representation” of God’s being [see also 2 Cor 4:4, Col 1:15, etc.] - is pictured in Luke 10:21 [NIV] being "full of joy through the Holy Spirit."  This is consistent with the description of Him (the Son) in Hebrews 1:9 (which quotes Psalm 45:7):

“You love what is right and hate what is wrong. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else."
[Hebrews 1:9 NLT, emphasis added]

2. God wants us to be joyful.

Jesus linked obedience to God’s commandments, abiding in His Love, and being filled with joy:

"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
[John 15:10-11 NAS]

"I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!"
[John 15:11 NLT]

"… I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of My joy within them."
[John 17:13 NIV]

He also indicated that fullness of joy is one of God’s purposes in answering our prayers:

"Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full."
[John 16:24 NAS]

"Ask in my name, according to my will, and He'll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!"
[John 16:24 MSG]

And then there are all those New Testament commands to rejoice – like Matthew 5:12, Luke 6:23 & 10:10, Philippians 2:18 & 3:1, I Peter 4:13, and…

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
[Philippians 4:4 NIV]

Joy is part of the apostle Paul’s “job description” for Christian leaders:

“Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy…”
[2 Corinthians 1:24 KJV]

And likewise for healthy relationships and attitudes toward spiritual leadership:

Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?
[Hebrews 13:17 MSG]

We could look at many Old Testament verses showing that the commandments, feasts and promises of God were expected to bring joy to His people (e.g., Deut 26:11, Deut 12:7 & 18, Nehemiah 8:10), the fact that the birth of the Savior was “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10), and that “great joy” followed the preaching of the gospel by the apostles (Acts 8:4-8, 16:34)… hopefully, you’ve got the idea by now.  :)

3. God wants us to be joyful in Him.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, second only to love [Galatians 5:22] – it flows from God, not circumstances (see 3 other blogs about Joy, posted on 3/12, 3/19 & 3/26/11).

“Knowing Me intimately is like having a private wellspring of Joy within you. This spring flows freely from My throne of grace, so your Joy is independent of circumstances.”
-- Jesus Calling, devotional by Sarah Young

Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say,
"All my springs of joy are in you."
[Psalms 87:7 NAS]

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
[Isaiah 12:3 NIV]

Psalms 16:11 and 21:6 speak of “joy in God’s Presence.” In John 15:11 and 17:13 (quoted above), Jesus expressed His desire that we would have His joy in us.

“Delight yourself in the Lord…”
[Psalm 37:4a NIV]

"Rejoice in union with the Lord always! I will say it again: rejoice!"
[Philippians 4:4 CJB]

Well, I hope this gives you a clearer picture of how much God wants you to share His joy...  :)

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”
[I Peter 1:8 NIV]

"When I see you again, you'll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you."
[John 16:22b MSG]

“I’ve got news for you: God is in a good mood!” – Bill Johnson  :)


"Laughing Jesus" by Sue Morrissey
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