The Joy of Our Hearts
* This teaching is taken from Godís Magnified Word published by The American Christian Press in 1977.
Recently four people came to me individually on the same day, and unknowingly, wanted to discuss the same subject.† All of them related their experiences of having so much joy in their lives since the Word of God had been taught to them and since they began living that Word.† The joy of the Word had made their lives so exciting that they bubbled from one day to the next.† If a perplexing situation did indeed come up, they could face it with God's Word, go to bed that night and say, "Well, Lord, I thank you that this day is finished.† Hallelujah!† Amen!'† And immediately they would go to sleep.† The next morning these people would wake up with great anticipation of the new day, having the joy of knowing that God's blessing was upon their families and their work. The people lived their lives with joy.
God's Word tells of various types of joy.† Joy is a very important quality which God wants us to have.† So it is this one word "joy" we want to investigate that we can know the fullness of our joy.† Let us begin our study with the great revelation of Jesus' joy told in Hebrews 12.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,† and let us run with patience 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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. †-- Hebrews 12: 1 and 2
We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, referring to all those believers mentioned in the previous chapter of Hebrews and including everyone who knows and believes God's Word.† They are our examples.† By the testimony of their believing we can do the same wonderful works they did as we walk for God.† Because we are encircled by such examples, "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us."† We† have to lay aside the weight and the sin.† Our own action determines the casting off of the entanglements of this world.† God didn't tell us to pray about laying them aside; He said, "Do it."
"Let us run with patience the race that is set before us."† In order to meet the challenge of the race, we must be disciplined and in condition from practicing.
Looking unto Jesus [who is] the author and finisher of our† faith [pistis] .... -- Hebrews 12: 2a
We run this race by focusing solely on one person, the Lord Jesus Christ.† He is the author, the starter, and also the finisher of faith.† What a witness.† What an example for us to follow.
... who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. -- Hebrews 12: 2b
Was the cross a joy?† No.† But Jesus Christ saw beyond the cross, beyond the punishment, the crown of thorns, the spitting in the face, the whipping.† "For the joy that was set before him," because of the anticipation of the future, Jesus was able to endure the cross, "despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."† What a contrast to go from a shameful cross to the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus Christ felt within himself this quality of joy.† Joy is an inside quality.† Happiness depends on the things with which we are surrounded, while joy is never dependent upon our surroundings.† The Greek word for "joy," chara, comes from chairo, from which is also derived charisma, gift from God. †Joy is something that comes from within.† Just as a rock remains steady no matter how the waves slap or the winds blow, we still have joy because we know where we are going, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances.† We know the outcome because we are assured of seeing Him face to face.† We can walk with an abundance of joy because joy is a quality lodging deep within us.† Joy is not dependent upon the environment or the circumstances in which we may or may not be engulfed.† It is dependent upon what Jesus Christ wrought for us.
I have set the Lord always before me:† because he is† at my right hand, I shall not be moved. -- Psalms 16: 8
If and when we have come to the place where we put God first always, then we shall not be moved.† Putting God first, being so absolutely sure that what God said He meant and that His Word is His will, we are unmovable.† No one is steadfast at all times and in all points.† But as we grow in the knowledge and the grace of the greatness of God's Word, we become more certain; and the more we believe, the more sure we become, the greater the joy we have in living.† This same sixteenth psalm which says God is at my right hand, three verses later give us more edification.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life:† in thy presence is† fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are† pleasures for evermore. †-- Psalms 16: 11
"Thou wilt shew me the path of life:† in thy [God's] presence is† fulness of joy .... " Not just half joy, not just 99 percent joy, but full joy comes in God's presence.† If we want this fullness of joy, we have to get into that presence of God in Christ where "there are pleasures for evermore."
Psalms 105 speaks of God and the children of Israel and tells that the Egyptians were glad when Israel left Egypt.
He [God] brought them [the children of Israel] forth [out of Egypt] also with silver and gold:† and there was† not one feeble person† among their tribes.† Egypt was glad when they departed:† for the fear of them [the children of Israel] fell upon them [the Egyptians].† -- Psalms 105: 37 and 38
Our enemies will become perplexed by us too when we have this unmovable joy deep within.† We can become so full of joy that our foes won't be able to understand what is going on.† They will be like the Egyptians who were glad when the children of Israel departed.
Psalms 105: 39-42:
He [God] spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night. The people asked, and he [God] brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven. †He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river. †For he [God] remembered his holy promise, and† Abraham his servant. -- Psalms 105: 39-42
God remembered His holy promise to Abraham His servant, and God brought forth His people.† Then will God not remember us?† Will He not remember His promises to the Body of Christ, the Church, His sons?
And he brought forth his people with joy, and† his chosen with gladness. -- Psalms 105: 43
For God to deliver His people is a joy to Him. You never† knew God had joy?† He surely does.† When He brought Israel out of Egypt, " ... he brought forth his people with joy ...Ē It was a joy to God to deliver His people.† He brought them out of Egypt with possessions of silver and gold.† There wasn't one feeble person among them.† God led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.† He gave them food to eat and water to drink.† They had all their needs met.† God was pleased that He had the privilege of doing all these things for Israel.
God also has joy today when He delivers people.† It brings joy to the heart of God that He has people who come to Him and say, "I need a little help, Father.† I thank you for giving it to me according to the promise of Your Word and for remembering the promises that You made to us as Your sons."
Psalms 105: 43-45:
And he brought forth his people with joy, and† his chosen with gladness:† And gave them the lands of the heathen:† and they inherited the labour of the people;† That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws.† Praise ye the Lord.† -- Psalms 105: 43-45
Isn't that beautiful!† God is full of joy to help His children who in turn carry out His Word.
Jeremiah 36: 23 relates the experience of an angry king who took his penknife and cut up one of the scrolls of the Holy Scriptures, God's Word.† Showing no regard for God, the king tossed the pieces into the fireplace.† An earlier account in Jeremiah tells that when God's people returned from many years of captivity, another scroll was found beneath the debris which had accumulated in the temple area.† In contrast to the angry king, Jeremiah's feelings and action in finding a copy of God's Word were very different.
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart:† for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts. -- Jeremiah 15: 16
God's Word was unto Jeremiah joy and rejoicing.† Not just joy, but joy and "re-joy" over and over again.† Rejoicing is a repeated performance of joy.
Isn't this true for so many of us?† The first time we really ate the sweetness of God's Word, it was a tremendous joy.† We savored it, and we still like to savor that Word over and over again.† Every time we hear God's Word, we rejoice in it.† That is why the Word is† joy. In God's presence there is joy.† God's joy is the deliverance of His people and it is His Word that is the joy of the believer.
I Thessalonians 1: 2-6:
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith [believing], and [your] labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.† For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.† And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost [pneuma hagion]. †-- I Thessalonians 1: 2-6
What a tremendous truth to receive the Word with joy as Jeremiah did when he found the Word and as the believers did in Thessalonica in the first century.† Did they have a few afflictions?† Were they surrounded with unbelief, persecution, paganism, idolatry? Certainly, but that didn't make any difference.† Even if we are right in the midst of all negatives, we can have joy because joy is an inner quality.† It comes by renewing our minds on the Word and letting the presence of that Word stay there, absolutely refusing to allow anybody or anything to interfere with it.
The Book of Acts contains a record that teaches us some of the great, great truths on joy.
Acts 8: 4-8:
Therefore they [the believers from Jerusalem] that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.† Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.† And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.† For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them:† and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.† And there was great joy in that city. -- Acts 8: 4-8
The believers from Jerusalem were scattered abroad because of persecution.† Yet, because they were scattered, they spread God's Word in many new places.† And they went everywhere preaching the very same thing that brought on the persecution in the first place.† As at least one believer, Philip, spoke the Word and it began to gain preeminence in Samaria, many people were released from their afflictions.† And there was great joy in Samaria because of the way the Word of God moved in that community. There was great joy in that city because the Word had permeated the lives of people, and they saw signs, miracles, and wonders.† This is always a great joy.† Is there any greater joy than when one of us leads someone into the new birth or when we lead someone into the manifestation of the holy spirit or when we share just one little word or one verse which really helps a person?† Is there joy in seeing someone delivered from bondage by healing or a miracle?† Could we buy that at any price?† That is joy; that is an inside benefit.† What a tremendous blessing joy is.
In Luke 15 we learn of the joy felt even in heaven when one person turns to the true God and His Word.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth , more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. -- Luke 15: 7
Every time someone turns to the true God and His Word even the angels in heaven are joyful.† All heaven resounds with joy when a person is born again of God's Spirit.† All the angels of God are joyful, and God Himself is so full of joy that He will do anything for any person according to His Word when that individual believes.
This verse in Luke 15 does not indicate that God doesn't love those who are already in His family.† It is expressing and focusing on the exciting joy He feels when He welcomes a new son.† This is the thrill of having a new baby.† The older children are certainly loved, but great joy is brought about by the coming of a new baby.
When we study this word "joy" throughout the Word of God, we find that in God's presence there is much joy.
And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. -- I John 1: 4
The things written in the Word of God are written that our joy may be full.† God gave us joy when we were born again.† Now, as we walk in fellowship with Him according to the Word, our joy overflows, it comes into fruition in our lives.† The revealed or written Word is joy to people as they receive it.† When Philip was in Samaria, the whole city was filled with joy.† The angels in heaven have joy over salvation.† And now we read that the Word is written not to frustrate people, not to defeat them, not to enslave them, but to fill them with joy.
And then we have the truth about another source of joy in Galatians 5: 22.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy ....
One element of the fruit of the spirit is joy.† New fruit is brought about as we operate the manifestations of the spirit.† As we cultivate by the process of the operation of the manifestations, we produce the fruit of the spirit, one of which is joy.† So we cultivate and we produce fruit.† Operate the manifestations of the spirit, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discerning of spirits, faith, miracles and healing-and joy will definitely be produced.† God's Word says so.
In Philippians we learn that the Apostle Paul experienced joy for his brethren.
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my† dearly beloved. -- Philippians 4: 1
There is joy when we help bring people to a knowledge of God's Word, when we bring them unto salvation and into the fullness of the spirit.† Paul said to the Philippians that they were his joy because he had led them to the Lord and he had taught them the Word.† As these people walked on the Word, they were his joy.† Whenever we nurture someone up in the Lord, we realize this same joy.
We began this short study of the joy of our hearts in seeing that Jesus " ... for the joy that was set before him endured the cross."† I am sure that the Apostle Paul was not always pleased with his experiences; but what gave him joy was seeing growth and steadfastness in the people he had taught and the anticipation of Christ's return.† Paul declared in Acts 20: 24 " ... that I might finish my course with joy .... " In the midst of the greatest problems with which we could be surrounded, there is still the opportunity for us to overflow with joy deep within.† We also ought to have joy that we are in a race. We should keep running with joy the full course of that ministry which we have received.† As we read in Hebrews 2, we should never slack off on the ministry.
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them† slip. -- Hebrews 2: 1
We should pay "the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard," namely, the accuracy of God's Word, "lest at any time we should let them slip."† All of us in this ministry have an abundance of joy today compared with what we had before we heard God's Word and the knowledge of how to live according to its teaching.† Therefore .. we should be absolutely "stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord," as I Corinthians 15: 58 says, giving the more earnest heed to that Word and steadfastly applying it.
Hebrews 2: 2-4:
For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;† God also bearing them† witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? -- Hebrews 2: 2-4
We should always be steadfast on God's Word for it is that Word and the accuracy of it that makes possible our joy and rejoicing.† What a wonderful opportunity and privilege it is to have joy in the kind of world in which we live.† Generally, the people we meet just don't have it.† For us to have this joy is a beautiful example of what God is not only able, but willing to do for us His children.† Wherever we go and whatever we do, we have that joy within.
To manifest the joy within we must manifest the love of God in the renewed mind.† We do not hesitate to speak God's Word, but we share it lovingly with great joy.† Then the people who receive it will also have great joy.† Therefore, the angels will rejoice; God will rejoice; we will rejoice.
Those of us who are born again of God's Spirit are lights shining in the darkness.† We have to hold forth God's light, which is His Word.† We have to manifest the greatness of the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.† That is our joy.
So don't be discouraged or downcast.† Don't let people deceive you with the things which bring superficial happiness.† Just know that we have God's joy on the inside.† And we can manifest more and more of that abundant joy daily as we walk on the accuracy of God's Word.