Bible Ballistics: What Joyfulness?? Vol. 5 #03
We talk a lot about Christians having “JOY” and I’d like us to examine our perspective of real “JOY”. Is there a difference between happiness and ‘joy’, and if there is what is the difference?
Happy: feeling or showing contentment or pleasure….to be satisfied with someone or something…..fortunate and convenient.
Happiness: the state of being happy.
Happiness by definition relates to our circumstances and conditions, and/or those around us. If we have good things going on in our lives and around us, we then can be happy about those things: if not, our happiness can be short-circuited, to say the least.
Joy: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. With its root in Latin and old French meaning ‘rejoice’.
In their basic definitions these two words are similar, but happiness is clearly tied to circumstances and “joy” can be brought about from something other than our outward circumstances. Scripture is replete with examples of the joy of God’s own people, and what kind of joy they can have continually.
Nehemiah 8:10 says, “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 and Ezra had helped the returning children of Israel to rebuild the city and the temple, and they called the people to hear the ‘Word of the Lord’, portions of the Law of God. When the people heard the Word, they wept because of their own failures, but Nehemiah called them to celebrate God—to remember that God’s ‘JOY’ was their strength!!! Not their circumstances, the difficulty of their plight, the hard task that they had been working to accomplish, but their God’s joy was to be their strength. Their joy in who He was and what HE had done was doing and would do!!! We can go back and see what Jeremiah had to say before they were taken to Babylon.
Jeremiah 15:15-19, “O Lord, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. 16 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. 17 I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation. 18 Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail? 19 Therefore thus saith the Lord, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.”
Jeremiah was amidst people who hated him and hated the message that God had given him. The message he preached for some 40 years had very little positive response, yet he knew his “JOY” was in God and not his circumstances. He had joy, not because of his abundance or lack thereof, but because of whom he belonged to—he belonged to the Lord God!!! He was mocked, alone, pained because of his circumstances but he had the “JOY” of the Lord. Because of his difficulties God gave him instruction in verse 19 that is very special to me:
“19 Therefore thus saith the Lord, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.”
God assured Jeremiah that even though he stood alone—he stood with a majority, GOD!!! That if he, and we as well, kept the precious from the vile, God would continue to speak through him. God told him that he didn’t have to appease those who wanted their ‘ears tickled’, but if he stood firm, those who desired truth would come to him. He wasn’t to chase after the ‘mockers’!!! Those who were really seeking truth would know his message, and seek him out. We live in a day of people with itching ears:
2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;”
And Habakkuk 3:18 says,
“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
It’s our personal relationship with God that makes the difference!!! Our joy goes beyond circumstance due to our confidence in the God that we serve—
His sovereign control,
His goodness and
His love for us.
We don’t have to fear circumstances, because we never face them alone, as Hebrews 13:5-6 says,
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
God is our confidence and “JOY”. But joy is sometimes hard to practice, for it isn’t always easy in condition, circumstance or demands on our lives. Let’s look at part of Paul’s prayer for the Colossians:
Colossians 1:10-13, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:”
“unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” OUCH!! Patience and longsuffering?? Yes—and I can be thankful in and for all things. (As we see in Ephesians 5:20 and 1 Thessalonians 5:18.) Even as Paul and Silas were able to sing praises to God from a jail cell.
Acts 16:25, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”
How? Because the ‘JOY of the Lord’ was their strength‘. They had a calling and a mission and they were confident in the God they served. They weren’t in jail by coincidence!!
How about you? What distracts you from the ‘joy of the Lord’? May we be able to live Nehemiah’s call and know that, “the joy of the Lord is your strength”!!! Remember– the source of our confidence isn’t in our circumstances—good or bad, it’s in the sufficiency of our God. He is our joy, no matter the circumstances!!! And we can have that joy when called on to exercise our “patience and longsuffering with joyfulness”. HIS JOY!!!