The Joy of the Lord is our Strength: Part 1

 By Pastor J.D. Link

Neh 8:10, “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah was reminding the Israelites that God’s joy was where their strength lie. It did not lie in sorrow and mourning. They had just suffered the seventy years of Babylonian captivity that Jeremiah had prophesied and had come back into the land. Now was not the time to mourn, but rather to rejoice.

God’s joy is our strength (rock, fortress, stronghold, defense) as well. Our heart should greatly rejoice, because the Lord is our strength and shield (Ps 28:7). Because God is our strength, we ought with joy to draw water out of the wells of salvation (Isa 12:2-3). Joy typically produces strength; while sadness and depression produce weakness.

A fruit of the Spirit is joy (Gal 5:22), for God gives joy to the good (righteous) man (Ecc 2:26). We learn in the New Testament that only those who have put saving faith in Jesus Christ can be made righteous; therefore, the Christian can rest assured that they have abiding in them the joy of the Lord.  If in God’s presence is fullness of joy (Ps 16:11), then we can deduce that if we are in a constant state of sorrow and depression, we are not walking in the Spirit. To be carnally minded is death (Rom 8:6); and sowing to the flesh reaps corruption (Gal 6:8). If we are walking in the Spirit, then joy is a fruit of that fact.

An important element in experiencing the abiding joy – and the fullness of it – comes through reading and meditating on God’s Word (Jn 15:11, 17:13, 1Jn 1:4).  We find in these verses that it is through what Jesus has spoken and what has been written (The Word of God) that we find fullness of joy. This should be of no surprise, for our God is a joyful God (Zep 3:17).

David prayed in the Old Testament, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation…” (Ps 51:12). Though David had not lost his salvation, he had lost the joy of it. Why do we lose our joy? Here are at least four reasons: 1. We are living in sin. 2. We are neglecting the reading of God’s Word. 3. We are thinking on wrong things. 4. We are self-focused. However, we can rest assured that when we turn from the above issues, our joy will be restored unto us (Ps 126:5, Isa 61:3).

In the New Testament, we have been given means to restore our joy. It is up to us to do it. We should not suppose that we can ignore the means, and God is just going “restore our joy” by tapping us on the head with a magic wand. If we have lost our joy through living in a constant state of sin, we can repent. If through neglecting the reading of His Word, we can make it a priority. If through thinking on wrong things, we can change what we think on (Philp 4:8). If through being self-focused, we can focus on serving others (Jn 13:14-17). There is much more to say on this subject, and we will look deeper into it in the coming weeks. Selah.

The Joy of the Lord is our Strength: Pt. 2

By Pastor J.D. Link

John 16:20-22 “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.  (21)  A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.  (22)  And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” 

In John 16:20-22, we learn that because Jesus is risen from the dead, we can have abiding joy – and no man can take it from us.  If we lose our joy, it’s on our end, not God’s. It’s no one else’s fault. We choose to be happy. It is an act of the will. Because it is a choice, circumstances have nothing to do with it. “Your joy no man takes from you” means that if we’re not walking in joy, we have chosen not to.

One of the clearest examples of this in Scripture is found in Hab 3:17-18 “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:  Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Notice, “I WILL rejoice” and “I WILL joy”. It is an act of the will. It is a decision, not a feeling nor circumstantial.

We also see, that the root of this joy is “The God of (our) salvation”. You see, as a Christian, no matter what hardship or trial we may be encountering at the moment – we always have reason to rejoice. No matter how bad it may be, we can be joyful in our salvation every moment. We always have something to be happy about. This rejoicing in our salvation is found often in the Bible (Ps 9:14, 20:5, 35:9, Isa 25:9, 61:10). This was the rejoicing Jesus spoke of above when He said, “No man can take it from you” (Jn 16:22).

We can rejoice in God’s mercy (Ps 31:7). We can rejoice because God is our Help (Ps 63:7). We can rejoice for every new day God gives us (Ps 118:24). We can rejoice because Christ is preached in the world (Philp 1:18). We can rejoice, knowing our enemies will eventually perish at the presence of God (Ps 9:2-3). Notice, in all these things I said, “We can”. The question is, “Will we?” “Can” simply speaks of possibility or ability; while “Will” speaks of choosing and following through. We have the ability to “rejoice always” (Philp 4:4) in the Lord, but will we do it? It’s up to us. We’ll continue more on this subject next week.

The Joy of the Lord is our Strength: Pt. 3

 By Pastor J.D. Link

Thus far we have seen: 1. We have joy and that joy is our strength.

2. Through various actions or ways of thinking, we can lose our joy – as in, have no manifestation of it or it not be beneficial. 

3. No man takes our joy from us. If we don’t have it, we have given it up.

4. We can always rejoice, because we are saved. What shall we then do, to manifest the fruit of joy consistently and abundantly? 1. Don’t be self-centered. If want to finish our Christian life with joy, we can’t let things “move” us nor “count our life dear unto ourselves.” (Act 20:24). 2. Rejoice and shout for joy, because you trust in God (Ps 5:11).  Do you trust in God and love His name? Be joyful! (Ps 5:11). 3. Be happy in Jesus, because he has made you righteous (Ps 32:11). 4. Be in favor of God’s righteous cause, and know God delights in our prosperity (Ps 35:27).

5. Sing/play worship songs (Ps 43:4). Let God be your exceeding joy.

6. Be a peacemaker (Philp 2:2). Peaceful people are generally joyful people.  Troublemakers generally are not.

7. Keep your eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2).   Despise (disesteem) whatever trial you may be going through; and like Jesus, keep your eyes focused on the joy set before you. 

8. Keep things in proper perspective (Jam 1:2-4).   Trials can make us bitter or better.  Choose to let them make you better and focus on the good.

9. Be content and enjoy what you have (Ecc 9:7-10).   Be thankful for your food, your spouse, your home, your work.  Enjoy them. This brings joy.  If we always focus on what we don’t have, it robs us of our joy; wastes our present and ruins our future.

Some may feel to always walk in joy is unrealistic or impossible. That is a lie. The Apostle Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord alwaysand again I say, rejoice” and “Rejoice evermore” (Philp 4:4, 1Thess 5:16). This doesn’t necessarily mean laughter or mirth.  It means deep abiding joy in the truth.  There is not always cause for laughter and sometimes it may be inappropriate.  However, we can and should always be joyful. It is a state of being, and not of circumstance.

We can rejoice – past, present and future. Past, because we were saved (Isa 61:10); Present, because our names our written in Heaven (Lk 10:20); Future, because God will do great things (Joel 2:21).

We rejoice, because we have eternal life! Because we’re forgiven; redeemed; accepted; loved; blessed; righteous; called; chosen; friends of God; heirs of God – and multiple other benefits! We have much to be joyful about as children of God! May we have the attitude of Habakkuk the prophet: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:  Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (Hab 3:17-18).