Joy is the over-brimming sense of God’s presence in our lives. A joy-filled Christian is a powerful witness to the world that Jesus is alive. It gives testimony to the fact that joy is unique and does not fluctuate with the changing circumstances of life.
Our text for today was a promise which God’s people would receive when set free from captivity in Babylon on the way home to Israel. It speaks of the transfiguring and transforming effects of repentance which is the unique gateway to forgiveness. Its message has much to say to us today, for true forgiveness is the doorway to the Father’s heart.
Joy is a result of being brought to true repentance by the Holy Spirit and receiving full and free forgiveness from God through the death of Jesus. This is the first step on the road of the joy-filled life, for repentance and forgiveness lead us on the highway to knowing that we are loved by God. What daily joy is ours to know that we have a Father whose love is unfailing, undeserved, unearned and without limit.
Love is a two way process, so joy is also a result of knowing that we love God. When we love God and believe in Him, we’re filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8). This joy is so marvellous that it can’t be expressed. It’s glorious joy – the joy that those who now see Jesus in heaven are experiencing. Joy is a result of mutual love – being loved by God and loving Him.
Joy is a result of loving others. Jesus said that this brings complete joy (John 15:11). We might say it’s a result of releasing those who’ve hurt us into the freedom of our forgiveness. Jesus has loved us with divine love – He loves us with the depth of love that the Father has loved Him. He commands us to love others as we’re loved by Him.
Joy is a result of being overflowed by the Holy Spirit. The early disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52). The overflow of joy was so great that the people who heard their message thought they were drunk. They were overwhelmed by something beyond themselves and outside of themselves. People listened to their story because their lives lived in the joy of the Holy Spirit gave witness to the fact that Jesus is alive.
The joy that Jesus promises (like His peace) is not dependent upon our circumstances, but upon His presence. It’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and so it’s ever increasing, as our lives are more and more surrendered to Him. It’s not something we can produce ourselves, but it flourishes in a thankful heart.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, put within my heart today a desire to be a living witness for Your kingdom. Please forgive me for the times when I’ve lacked Your joy, because I’ve been overcome with lesser things. Show me anything in my heart today which limits the work of the Holy Spirit in me. I ask for the fruit of joy to become alive in me, so that I live daily in Your presence as a witness in the world. I pray for the glory of Jesus. Amen.
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