We are going through unprecedented times in our generation. We know that pandemics have happened in the past but in our generation we have never seen anything like this. But we do know as well, that even in times of crisis God is in action. As we enter our third lockdown in France, due to the increase in cases of COVID 19, we thought we would share a message that we broadacst last year , from the series ‘ 5 things God wants to give you in a crisis’. Today we shall speak about joy. As you watch this video and read the article, may your soul be flooded with joy!
In times of crisis God does extraordinary things. God wants to fill us with His joy. Joy? What do I mean joy? Joy because joy is not a product of our circumstances; it is not a product of everything going well in our lives. It is a product of the work of God in our lives; it is a fruit of the Spirit.
So it is imperative that we understand that we need to walk in joy even in these times that are so uncertain for many people. But when you’re a child of God uncertainty cannot be a mainstay of your life. The Word of God says, ‘the Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.’ We therefore have a guarantee from heaven that our Father will watch over us and will take care of us; that we can rest in His goodness and in His kindness. So because of that we can have joy.
Joy is extremely powerful. It is a powerful experience to live a life of joy and it is imperative as believers that we understand the necessity of joy. How can we have joy when people are sick and people are dying? How can we have joy when we live under strange circumstances. These are peculiar times but in these peculiar times, God wants us to be filled with joy.
Why? Because joy is a fruit of the Spirit and because joy is a factor of strength and it gives us the ability to overcome difficult situations. In Isaiah Chapter 12 it says,
On that day you will say:
“I will praise You, Lord,
although You were angry with me.
Your anger has turned away,
and You have had compassion on me.
2 Indeed, God is my salvation;
I will trust Him and not be afraid,
for Yah, the Lord,
is my strength and my song.
He has become my salvation.”
3 You will joyfully draw water
from the springs of salvation,
4 and on that day you will say:
“Give thanks to Yahweh; proclaim His name!
Celebrate His works among the peoples.
Declare that His name is exalted.
5 Sing to Yahweh, for He has done glorious things.
Let this be known throughout the earth.
6 Cry out and sing, citizen of Zion,
for the Holy One of Israel is among you
in His greatness.”
This is why we have joy! With joy we draw water from the wells of salvation. As long as the wells of salvation have not run dry we can still draw water with joy!
What then are our sources of joy as believers?
1. Salvation is a source of joy
The first source of joy in our lives is our salvation; the fact that we are born of God. You know the Bible says in 1 Peter 1:8 ‘ You love Him though you have not Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy,
A joy that is unfazed and unchanged by circumstances; a joy that is uniquely based on the gloriousness of our salvation; a joy that is the fruit of the recognition of the greatness of what God has done for us. We cannot go back and contemplate our redemption without being filled with joy. Beloved, we are citizens of another world; we have a greater and a higher reality than the reality of the earth here. You know I say this always, ‘you will not die, you will live and you will declare the works of the Lord.’ But even if you were to die, death is not a tragedy for the Christian. We cannot fear death and be full of sorrow, be full of fear , be full of anxiety like people who have no hope. No, no, no! We are a people who have been connected with the source of all salvation and because of the life that we have in Christ, because we know the Son of God who gave everything for us, we can and we should be filled with joy.
I want to speak over you today and say, ‘may the joy of the Lord flood your heart and flood your soul.’ Because our joy is not a factor of our circumstances; it is a factor of our relationship with the Son of God and the salvation that we have received. Knowing that I’m born of God means that the ultimate disaster has been averted.
So when you see disaster, trouble and crisis in the world, get on your knees and just say thank You Jesus because the ultimate disaster has been averted in my life; the ultimate disaster of dying and being separated from God for eternity. And when we have a consciousness of the greatness of redemption, we are continually, despite what is around us, filled with joy.
2. The work of the Spirit is a source of joy
How can we have joy? What is the source of joy? The source of joy is the work of the Spirit in us. The Bible says very clearly in Galatians 5:22, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,’
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit in our lives , and it is not conditioned by circumstances. The fruit of the Spirit works in every circumstance, even when there is a crisis situation out there. Because of the source of our joy, our joy is permanent, it is unending, it is continuous, and it is something that we can really manifest despite the circumstances. One of the reasons why people do not have joy in circumstances is because they believe that their joy must be dependent on what they’re going through. And if they are going through something difficult, then it’s ridiculous for them to have joy.
Sometimes God is pouring His joy out, causing us to overflow in joy, and we’re repressing it because we’re like, ‘no, this is serious. I have problems!’ I know that those that watch us must have heard me tell my story in this regard – how I was crying out to God for help in a particular situation and I had things that I wanted Him to do for me. But instead of doing those things He was filling me with joy. I was overflowing with joy and laughter was bubbling out of me and this sense of well-being was overtaking me. But I was like, ‘no no no no!’ I thought God was trying to bribe me to not think about my problem; to not talk to Him about my problem anymore. I thought He just wanted to use this joy thing to distract me from the real situations! But of course I’ve gained wisdom since (we bless the Lord!) and realised that indeed the joy of the Lord is our strength and that there are times when God just wants us to allow His joy to overflow out of us, because that is how He will sustain us in the situation that we are in.
I pray for someone today, that irrespective of what you see around you, even if there is a member of your family who is going through challenges right now; or maybe you’re praying for someone you have not received the answer fully yet, may the joy of the Lord overwhelm you in the name of Jesus.
3. Our vision is a source of joy
We can have joy because joy is also the fruit of our vision. You know it all depends on your perspective on life. If you’re going to somewhere good you will go there with joy in your heart. The vision of your desired future births hope in your heart, and that hope that is in your heart will inevitably birth joy in your heart. The Bible says that even Jesus, ‘who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross’ (Hebrews 12:2) because He saw what the outcome would be.
He saw the Church; He saw you and I serving Him and working with Him. He saw you, if you do not know Him yet, watching this programme, and commiting your life to Christ. And He saw me preaching the Gospel. I was a miscreant of the highest order; totally hostile to the Gospel and totally hostile to people who came to talk about Jesus! I mean, in the University, it was just the last thing that I wanted to hear! But God knew! And for the joy that was set before Him; the joy of seeing all of those people who today are anxious about the Coronavirus now get on their knees and say, ‘Jesus save me, Jesus help me!’ Because of that He endured the cross. Whatever is happening in your life, look beyond it and see what God has planned for you.
4. Our hopes and expectations are a source of joy
Joy is a function of our hopes and expectations. God always has good plans for u for us. Even when His people were sent into captivity, He still sent a message to them through Jeremiah. Despite the fact that they were going to stay there for a shile, He said, ‘ For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’ (Jeremiah 29:11). In other words, God has good plans.
Think of the future; think of what is coming in front of you. That will make you inevitably be filled with joy.
Characteristics of divine joy
- Divine joy is independent of our circumstances
If you coud assimilate that your joy is independent of your circumstances, you would receive it more fully and you will express it more completely.
ii. Divine joy is superior to the joy produced by natural circumstances
This is connected to the previous point. The Bible says in Psalm 4:6-8:
6 There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. 7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. 8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.
What does this say to us? There is a joy that is in us, that is not only independent of circumstances, but is superior to the joy that people obtain from favourable natural circumstances. Now that’s not how many people think! They think, as I used to, that to be joyful, there must be a reason for it. We are not joyful without reason, but the reason we are joyful is a spiritual reason. Many people think that there must be a natural reason, a physical tangible, material social reason to be joyful.
In this passage it is clear to us that people can have their grain, new wine and new bank account, new Bentley. They can have their diamonds, their roses delivered to their door everyday from this charming gentleman, who says, ‘I want to marry you, the Lord has shown me it is you!’ They can have whatever they want; their new investment account that is yielding amazing dividends, all these real estate investments. But all of these things cannot bring them more joy than the joy that God gives to me! Isn’t that amazing?!
Beloved, God wants to fill you with His joy. May you be flooded with the joy of the Lord!