The Joy of the Lord (3)
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield. Psalm 5.11, 12
It doesn’t just happen
It used to be, before the present policy of “Y’all come” immigration, many people from other countries, having fulfilled certain conditions, would take the oath of allegiance and become citizens of the United States. This didn’t just happen. Conditions had to be met to become a citizen of this country, and to enjoy one’s citizenship to the fullest.
That sound Constitutional policy seems to have gone the way of all flesh these days. But the point is still valid.
Citizenship should be not automatic. Nor should it be the result of simply insisting one is an American. Full-fledged enjoyment of the benefits of living in this country demands conformity to certain conditions. They make the best citizens of the United States who accept the terms and conditions of citizenship and are diligent in fulfilling these every day.
Experiencing the joy of the Lord is like this. Many Christians will testify that they do not always experience the joy of the Lord, and when they do, the experience is fleeting. Others will say they think they have known this joy, but they aren’t quite sure. And at any rate, they’re quite sure this is not a continuous experience. Believers in Jesus Christ may enter the joy of the Lord, and we may daily experience it. But it doesn’t just happen. Conditions must be met. And unless we understand and conform to those conditions, the joy which is ours to know in Jesus Christ will remain an elusive commodity.
What are the conditions for knowing the joy of the Lord?
The most obvious condition
Four primary conditions establish the foundation on which we may expect to know and grow in the joy of the Lord.
The first and most obvious of these is that we must have the Spirit of God dwelling within us. The joy of the Lord is part of the fruit the Spirit bears in, for, and through us. We have seen why this is so, but how does this come about?
We receive the Spirit when God sends Him to us through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we hear the Gospel, the Spirit comes to open our minds and hearts, and to take up residence within us. He empowers us to believe the Gospel and to confess Jesus as Savior and Lord, and God as our Father (cf. Gal. 4.6, 7). The Spirit is the gift of Jesus Christ and God the Father for all who believe in Jesus and trust in Him for forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.
This being accomplished, we must learn to be filled with and walk in the Spirit, so that we can increase in the joy of the Lord as we become daily more like Him. That is, we must submit daily to the Spirit’s work of conviction, and of His striving within us to make us more like Jesus in every way (Phil. 2.13; 2 Cor. 3.12-18).
Do not quench the Spirit by ignoring His Presence and work within you. And do not grieve Him by departing the path on which He would lead you. If you have believed in Jesus and received His Spirit, then you are well-positioned to know the joy of the Lord regularly and increasingly.
Three other conditions
Three other conditions are necessary for experiencing the joy of the Lord.
First, remembering that our joy is in the Lord Himself, and nowhere else, we must set the Lord always before us, fixing our minds on Him, meditating on Him exalted in glory and ruling over the progress of His Kingdom (Ps. 16.8, 11; Col. 3.1-3). We must train the eye of our heart (Eph. 1.5-23) on Jesus our King, and, as He did on the cross, project ourselves into the joy which will finally and completely be ours when we stand before Him and see Him face to face (1 Jn. 3.1-3). Much as, when you were a child, you could work up a healthy measure of delight just thinking about Christmas morning – especially the closer it came to that glorious day, and the more you imagined the contents of those presents under the tree. Just so, abounding joy, exceeding joy, awaits us forever in the presence of the Lord. But we must set our minds and hearts to enter that joy, in prospect and in actuality, every day of our here and now.
Next, we must think often on the works of the Lord, and that this powerful and amazing God is our Father, Savior, Redeemer, Comforter, and Friend. So the prophet Joel exhorts us: “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done marvelous things…Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God; for He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you…” (Joel 2.21, 23). The more we reflect on the mighty works of God in creation, providence, redemption, and sanctification, the more our joy will increase as we realize that He Who does such marvelous works is with us where we are, and we are with Him where He is, even now. He is always thinking about us, thoughts more numerous than we could count (Ps. 40.5, 17), and by those thoughts He sustains and blesses us.
Finally, seek the Lord for joy: “Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD! Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore!” (Psalm 105.3, 4) Seek the Lord in His Word. Seek His glory in every aspect of the surrounding creation. Seek Him in the faces and words of those who know Him. Seek to talk about Him with others, to share what you’re learning about Him, and to celebrate the many reasons to rejoice daily in the Lord. Seek Him so that you know Him, and thus know the fullness of joy that comes from being in His Presence.
If you’ll keep these conditions in mind, preparing each day to know the joy of the Lord, and living each moment from within these conditions, you’ll experience more of the joy for which you have been created and redeemed, the joy of your Kingdom citizenship (Rom. 14.17, 18), and your heart will soar with love for God Who gives you such joy each day. A joyful heart is a well-kept heart, and a heart that can strengthen your soul to know, love, and serve our Lord increasingly.
1. What are some of the great works of God you might focus on as a reminder of His goodness and passage into His joy?
2. What is your approach to meditating on the vision of Christ, exalted in glory? Can you think of any ways to improve this?
3. What are some practical ways you might remind yourself to seek the Lord through the course of a day?
Next steps - Conversation: Think of a way to begin a conversation about the Lord with a fellow believer today. How might you broach the subject? What questions might you use? What would you like to share, so that the two of you might know the joy of the Lord today?
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.
Thanks for your prayers and support
If you find ReVision helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.