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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Enter the Joy

The joy of the Lord is our strength.

The Joy of the Lord (1)

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12.1, 2

Strength in sorrow

We should not think of the Christian life as being without grieving and sorrowing. A well-kept heart, the anchor of a strong soul, knows how to grieve with hope, to sorrow and suffer without despairing. Jesus promised that, in this world, we would have tribulation, and we don’t normally associate tribulation with good times (Jn. 16.33). Our lives are a journey through a valley of weeping, and we expect to know grief and sorrow during our sojourn on this earth.

But a well-kept heart is set on the joy that is ours in Jesus Christ, so that no amount of grief or sorrow, and no lesser forms of happiness, can dislodge us from that quintessential Kingdom condition (Rom. 14.17, 18).

We may bear up under all sorrows if we, like our Lord Jesus, will fix our minds and hearts on the joy that is set before us, in the Presence of God and His glory (Ps. 16.11). So great is the joy our Lord Jesus knows at the right hand of the Father, that even the prospect of that joy was sufficient to enable Him to bear up under the greatest trial and suffering imaginable.

That same joy is available to us, and it can turn our valley of weeping into a journey of joy and rejoicing. Strength to endure through grief and sorrow comes from looking through our trials to our eternal destination, and laying hold on the joy of the Lord to sustain us on our journey.

Joy is the great sustaining affection. It completes the cycle of affections that begins with love and reinforces the heart for even greater exertions for the Lord. As we work to keep our hearts with all diligence, therefore, let us nurture the joy which is ours to enjoy in the Presence of the Lord.

Joy in the Presence of the Lord
The end of our journey in life is pure, uninterrupted, fullness of joy in the Presence of the Lord (Ps. 16.11; 1 Jn. 3.1-3). The joy we know in the Lord’s Presence is the joy He experiences with the Father and the Spirit. As we lay hold on the promises of God, we partake of Him, and participate in His love, joy, peace, and all the other fruit and virtues which the Persons of the Deity enjoy continuously together (2 Pet. 1.4).

The ultimate fount of joy is the Lord. From Him, from within His very Being, joy flows continuously, a joy which nothing can take from Him, nothing can obstruct or obscure, and which it pleases Him to share with us. This is pure joy, joy uninterrupted and unbounded, joy that comes from nestling into the very being and essence of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We rejoice to be in the Lord, and we are joyful in Him (Is. 61.10). Whatever may be the outward circumstances of our lives – whether favorable or dire – we may “rejoice in the LORD” and “joy in the God of [our] salvation” (Hab. 3.18). Whenever we come to the Lord in prayer, in His Word, in worship, or in periods of silent reflection sprinkled throughout our day, we may expect to know “exceeding joy” (Ps. 43.4) because of our relationship with Him. As we shelter in Him, resting in the shadow of His redeeming and protecting grace, we rejoice, feel exceedingly glad, and know complete and perfect peace (Ps. 63.7).

And we do this here and now, knowing full well that whatever taste of joy is ours in the present, it is but the most meager of hors d'oeuvres before the banquet of joy which is to come.

As we run our race through this valley of weeping, fixing our eyes on Jesus and the joy in which He now dwells, we commit ourselves to the Lord and draw near to Him, and He will keep us from stumbling into despair, buoying us with His Presence and joy, and pointing us forward to when we will live forever “before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1.24).

Where we are, where He is
Joy is the great sustaining affection of the life of faith. The joy of the Lord is our strength throughout our journey, both as we anticipate the joy we will know in the eternal Presence of the Triune God, and as we experience His joy here and now.

For we know that the God Who is joy, in Whom is all joy, is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28.20). He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13.5). We have been seated with Him in the halls of eternal joy and rejoicing (Eph. 2.6), so that we enter the joy of the Lord, knowing His Presence with us, where we are, and with Him, where He is.

This is the great privilege and hope of every Christian, and this is what separates believers in Jesus Christ from those who vainly seek the joy for which they have been created anywhere other than in Him. We know the Lord! His Spirit dwells within our hearts! And we have access to the Father by our faith! Thus, the joy of the Lord, that which our heart desires above all else, is available to us now and forever, world without end!

The love we nurture in our hearts for God strains and stretches toward the joy that comes from knowing Him. And that joy, when we experience it, greatly enlarges our love for Him Who is our joy, and strengthens our soul for serving Him in everything we do.

For reflection
1.  What is joy? Do people sometimes mistake happiness for joy? What’s the difference?

2.  Why do we say that we may know the joy of the Lord here and now? How can we do that?

3.  What are the greatest hindrances keeping you from knowing the joy of the Lord?

Next steps – Preparation: Review the verse for today’s lesson. What does it mean to fix your eyes on Jesus, exalted in glory? How can you begin to practice this more consistently?

T. M. Moore

All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here. Check out our newest feature, Readings from the Celtic Revival (click here).

All your reading and study should focus on Jesus as the hope of glory. Our book, Know, Love, Serve, can show you how to realize this goal. Order your free copy by clicking here. As we increase in the joy of the Lord, we fulfill our calling as joy-bringers to the people around us, as we explain in our book, Joy to Your World! A free copy awaits you by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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