Expect Joy

jeswin-thomas-466474.jpg

There are more than 2,700 passages in the Bible containing the words JOY, HAPPINESS, GLADNESS, PLEASURE, CHEER, LAUGHTER, DELIGHT, JUBILATION, FEASTING, JOYFUL and CELEBRATION.

At least 25 different Hebrew words and about 10 different Greek words get used to describe the idea of joy and happiness. If you’ve ever had a hard time defining biblical joy, now you know why…

What’s interesting is that in both the Hebrew and Greek, the concept of happiness and joy are almost always expressed as a NOUN or a VERB, not an adjective. In other words, HAPPINESS and JOY (the terms are used interchangeably in the Hebrew and Greek) are something we DO or something we POSSESS, not something we FEEL

If you define your level of happiness or joy by the level of your feelings of pleasure about something, you’re shot! If your emotions determine your level of joy or happiness, you are sunk. But if HAPPINESS and JOY are something you can EXPRESS and/or CHOOSE through your actions, words, thoughts and intentions, that’s a game-changer!

Regardless of what happens to you or around you, your joy and happiness cannot be taken from you!

aaron-thomas-157926.jpg

You were MADE for JOY

In fact, according to Jesus, the problem with people is not that we experience too much joy, but that we don’t experience enough! 

Joy isn’t about being emotionally or intellectually dishonest, it’s affirming the BEST and MOST TRUE things in life.

It doesn’t mean you stick your head in the sand as if to say, “I’m fine. We’re fine. Everything’s fine.”  It isn’t about denying grief, denying reality or faking happiness.  It comes from REMINDING YOURSELF about the TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD, the REALITY OF GOD’S LOVE, and the PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!

The Bible BEGINS with JOY!

Job 38:7 says that when God created this world, “…the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy!” —Job 38:7

The Bible ENDS with JOY!

In the book of Revelation the people of God throughout the ages gather around the throne of God, we lay our crowns at His feet and declare that He is worthy; and, while we worship, God Himself wipes every tear from our eyes, and declares that He is the one who makes all things new!

And IN BETWEEN — the beginning and the eternity — God promises JOY!

In John 15:11, Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my JOY. Yes, your JOY will overflow!”

zac-durant-302752.jpg

Here’s my definition for JOY…

Joy is a deep, abiding sense and the confident expectation that God loves me, God is with me, God is for me, and that He is always working everything together for my ultimate good and His great glory!

So, why don’t we constantly live this way?

It’s the result of SIN and/or SPIRITUAL DRIFT...  loss of joy, happiness, contentment, fulfillment and well-being.

…everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. —Romans 3:23 NLT

But… there’s power when you KNOW your problem and your SOLUTION.

Our biggest problem is SIN which means that the SOLUTION to our problem can’t come from INSIDE us — because that’s where the brokenness is.  It’s got to come from OUTSIDE us.

The solution is JESUS — who lived the life we could never live, died the death we deserved to die — for our sins, in our place — and was raised again to life so that HIS victory could become OUR victory!

There are all kinds of PROMISES about this in the Bible. Today, these are promises God gave to people -- who, like you and me -- were living in the IN BETWEEN… surrounded by crisis: moral, political, economic, military, social and spiritual.

In that day you will sing: “I will praise you, O LORD! You were angry with me, but not anymore. Now you comfort me.  See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The LORD GOD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”  With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!  In that wonderful day you will sing: “Thank the LORD! Praise his name! Tell the nations what he has done. Let them know how mighty he is!  Sing to the LORD, for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world. —Isaiah 12:1-5 NLT

The idea in the Bible is that GOD is FILLED with HAPPINESS and JOY and wants YOU to EXPERIENCE JOY and HAPPINESS.

C.S. Lewis put it like this: “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

So, get SERIOUS about the business of HEAVEN… get SERIOUS about JOY.