Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Joy in Relation to Hope

Pre-Warning: this is a long post.

I am currently doing the Beth Moore study on the fruit of the Spirit with my mom and sister, this week we are covering joy. After talking on the phone with my mom about joy I began to think about how confusing the topic really is for me. How many misconceptions and assumptions I have regarding joy. Something that has always stumped me about joy is that I have always assumed that being joyful is a continual thing, like you can NEVER lose it once you have it, like a joyful person would always show signs of joy (like never being sad). After looking into the Bible a little more, I now know that this is not true - Joy, like any other fruit of the spirit or character can be temporarily forgotten or ignored by a believer , a good example of this is patience. You can be a patient person, and have a sudden outburst, but you are still a patient person, you didn't lose your patience just because you failed, the same is true with joy, if we allow a situation to overtake us and we lose our joy, it doesn't mean we aren't joyful, it only means we aren't currently experiencing our joy.

So, back to my thoughts....What is joy? We know that it isn't happiness... it's seems similiar to peace, but a little different, we're told it isn't dependent on our circumstances, but we really don't know what that means --- can you still cry and be joyful? What emotions are 'allowed' while still remaining joyful? Are we supposed to be glad when bad things happen? What is it about trials that is supposed to be considered joyful?

Let's go over a few things that the Bible tells us about Joy:

1. We acheive joy when we obey the commands of God 1 John 15:11 "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." This also insinuates to me that there are different levels of joy

2. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5:22-23 Joy comes as a result of the Holy Spirit in our lives, as we open up our hearts and lives to the Holy Spirit, in turn, we will experience joy as a 'fruit", or side effect of His indwelling.
3. Joy is not dependent on our circumstances Romans 5:3-5 "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces HOPE, and HOPE does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." James 1:2-3 "Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness."

4. It seems to me that joy is a result of suffering, not because of the suffering per say but of the character that sufferings and trials produces. If that is the case, then it is fair to say that anytime we begin to develop character (perseverence, HOPE, faith, loyalty, etc.) we also obtain joy. Joy comes as a result to character development, primarily HOPE. Romans 12:12 "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." When we face trials, the test is: are we going to allow ourselves to hope in our salvation, in our Lord and saviour? Or are we going to focus on the storm around us? It isn't the trial that matters as much as it being an excercise of hope, which brings us joy in the midst of our suffering.

5. Joy is dependent on our faith in Jesus Christ, without Christ we have no salvation, we have no future, no HOPE Romans 5:2 "Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and we rejoice in HOPE of the glory of God."

6. God also rejoices and has joy, He finds joy in His creation (including us) Psalm 104:31, Isaiah 65:18, Luke 15 speaks of 3 parables (the lost coin, the lost sheep, the lost son) and refers to the joy over the salvation of 1 sinner(15:7)

7. Sin will rob a person of joy Psalm 51:7-8 (along with this the sin we fall into will turn us into a prisoner to sin... definetly NOT joy!)

8. We are called to rejoice (to be joyful) with those who are rejoicing Romans 12:14 "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." When I looked up the original greek word for "weep" I was surprised by what I found. This word ("Klaio", pronounces klah'-yo) is NOT referring to crying. It actually refers to 'any loud expression of grief, wailing, sob'.... this word is referring to a serious expression of emotion and sadness. What this is telling us is that as christians we can be joyful and also wail, weep and express (strongly) the pain and hurt we experience in this life.

9. Joy is a result of having an eternal perspective Psalm 51:12 & Luke 10:17-20 When we allow ourselves to focus our heart, mind and spirit on heaven and the eternal implications of our actions - our lives will be TRANSFORMED, and in that as well. When our heavenly destination and eternal fellowship with God becomes our focus our earthly circumstances take on a new meaning, giving us a natural joy and peace.

I pray that we will all begin to experience the joy of God in our lives, that we may focus our hearts and lives heavenward and live in the joy and strength of our God.

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