When we read about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 we recognize that immediately after love is the fruit of joy.
We find the word joy approximately 165 times in the King James Version of the Bible.
In the Old Testament, it is mentioned 102 times and it is mentioned 63 times in the New Testament of your King James Version of the Bible.
But of course, the numbers vary depending on what version of the bible you are studying from.
There are several verses that come to mind when I think of joy… And yet there is one, in particular, that seems to keep coming to the forefront of my thoughts.
Would you like to know which one that I am thinking of?
Well, if so beloved… They are words that we find tucked away in the book of Nehemiah 8:10.
Where we find these extraordinary words…
…The joy of the LORD is your strength.
With Joy Comes a Promise.
You may be wondering why I’m saying that?
I mean the part about… With Joy comes a promise.
Beloved, please hold on for a minute and you will understand exactly why I say that.
But for now, what I want to discuss is how I have read this verse and understood the verse up until recently.
Let’s look at it again.
As I said the scripture that tells us The joy of the LORD is your strength has been at the forefront of my mind whenever I think of the fruit of joy.
And now it’s time for a little more transparency.
I say transparency because I believe I understand why it is that the verse seems to keep popping into my thoughts.
Well, it’s like this my beloved friend…
The Holy Spirit needed to refine my understanding of the verse and show me what he was really saying.
You see I have not had a proper interpretation of this verse… And I believe that It’s due to how I have quoted the verse.
Did you know that if you quote a verse in a different way that it should be quoted that it will cause your understanding to be skewed?
Well, that’s what’s been happening to me.
So let me give you a bit of advice…
And it is when you read the word of God make sure that you are reading it the right way.
That is to say…
not until the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of our understanding and reveals to us what is needed for the season of life we are in.
I believe this is such a time for me concerning the fruit of joy.
I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 13 which states that we know in part… and that we look through a dimly lit glass.
Up until recently, I have always looked at the fruit of joy from a one-sided point of view.
What I mean is that until I saw what the scripture The joy of the LORD is your strength is really saying…
I really didn’t see God as a joyful God and Father and I believed the verse to be speaking of only my personal joy.
I hope you get what I am saying now.
A Closer Look At Joy.
What is joy?
I’m glad that you asked… and here is your answer.
Joy is the happiness and cheerful state that one can only experience by having a loving and trusting relationship with God through Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
As of late, I have begun to see Nehemiah 8:10 and understand it in a way that is oh so important to us as Believers and followers of Jesus Christ.
You see when God says to the prophet or to the governor Nehemiah… The joy of the Lord is your strength, what he was saying is that…
The rejoicing of the Lord himself is our strength… or let me say it like this…
When the Lord is happy and cheerful about us as his children… he will be our mighty fortress and He will fight our battles.
I’m sure you understand what I’m saying now?
The Lord is Our Strong Tower.
There’s another scripture that reads like this… The name of the Lord is a strong tower and the righteous run into it and is safe.
We find that verse in Proverbs 18:10.
This is also what God the Holy Spirit has shown to me that the scripture that reads “the joy of the Lord is your strength in its essence is saying.
This is another proof to me that the practice of meditation adds to our lives in a most dramatic way as followers of Christ.
As a matter of fact, I believe with all of my heart that God meets with us in a very extraordinary way when we obey his command to meditate on his word.
Maybe up until now you too have only viewed this verse in a one-sided manner the same way as I have.
As I said I just recently began to understand this verse in a way that really puts emphasis on the Joy that God experiences himself.
But you know as I said earlier I honestly believe that the way that I have always quoted the verse is what had such an influential part of my understanding.
I’ve always looked at and understood this verse from a selfish position of joy and not in the sense that the more that the Lord rejoices in us.
The more he becomes a mighty fortress for us as his children.
I guess I’m finally learning to start looking at things from God’s perspective.
At least I pray that I am anyways.
The World Didn’t Give It… And The World Can’t Take It Away.
This joy I have… the world didn’t give it to me, and the world can’t take it away.
You might be familiar with those words… that’s only if you have been around church folks for a while though.
Those are words to a very old gospel song that the church sang many years ago.
The reason I mention those words is that … it may be another cause that we as Christians have acquired our theology and relate to the joy of the Lord.
Or should I say… our joy in the Lord?
This Joy I have the world didn’t give it to me and the world can’t take it away is still a great song and confession.
This is the Joy I believe that the Lord Jesus is talking about when he says that he will give us his joy and that his joy might remain in us.
Did you know that…
Joy is a Gift From God.
Okay… I’m reminded right here of several more verses in the word of God.
Here is one of them … For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Romans 11:29.
And the other is the verse that speaks in this way…
In the world, you shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.
Here are some words that Jesus spoke in John 15:11 and this is one of the reasons that I say joy is a gift.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
When I think about the old gospel song… This Joy I Have.
It’s probably safe to say that this is where most of us old-schoolers of the church get our perspective on the fruit of joy.
I’m sure you have probably said or heard someone say these words… And I quote.
“I’m not going to let them still my joy.” End quote.
It’s actually a good thing to say to ourselves as a reminder that the Lord Jesus has said that in this world we are going to suffer persecution and troubles.
But he also went on to say that we should not allow our hearts to be troubled and to be of good cheer.
Why does he say that?
Well, beloved, he tells us that because we are more than conquerors in Christ… But that is as long as we are abiding in Him.
How Do We Bring Joy to God?
How is that we as sinful mankind can bring joy to an all-powerful, all-knowing and ever-pressent God?
That’s a great question…
So let me see if I can give you some answers to meditate upon and also something to put into practice in your Christian journey.
Though there may be… and are a great number of things that we can do as followers of Christ that brings joy to our heavenly Father… I will only touch on a few of them at this time.
5 Things That Gives God Joy.
The number one thing is Our Confession.
In Romans 10:9 the bible reads this way.
That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.
It further goes on to say in verse 10…
For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
The word confession in the bible means to say the same thing.
But to be more precise when it comes to the two verses that I have just quoted.
This means that we are confessing or saying the same thing as God is saying.
Another way to understand the word confession is that it also means to be in agreement.
Have you ever heard the saying that confession is good for the soul?
If you have.
You can believe it.
Because it’s a true statement.
That leads me to this.
Our Salvation is the number 2 thing that I wish to discuss that I know brings joy to the heart of our God.
The scripture tells us…
with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation… That is to say… to the saving of our souls.
So you see confession is good for the soul.
Here’s another thing that the bible teaches us… and they are the words of the Lord Jesus himself.
We see that after the Lord finished telling us about the lost sheep in Luke 15:6 he went on to tell us about the joy in heaven over one sinner repenting of his sin.
Here are the words of Jesus.
I say unto you, that likewise, joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, who need no repentance.
By the way, repentance is to turn from our sinful ways and turn to God and obey him.
Repentance also has a great deal to do with…
The use of our Tongues.
There are so many places in the word of God that talks about the proper use of our tongues.
As you recall the bible says that with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
There couldn’t be a more proper use of the tongue than that.
We will talk more about that at another time… if the Lord is willing… but for now, I want to share with you a few of the verses that have helped me and inspired me to keep my tongue in line with God’s word.
Oh… And please keep in mind that we are still talking about the things that bring joy to our heavenly Father’s heart.
I love these verses.
Proverbs 23:15 reads like this…
My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad, even mine.
But here is the one that really resonates with me at this time.
The Lord is saying to us as his children… Yes, my heart will rejoice, when your lips speak what is right.
I took this translation out of the NHEB… The New Heart English Version of the Bible.
But regardless of which version that you read it from… it will tell you that we bring joy to God when we keep our tongues intact.
I’m not sure about you? But that verse motivates me to keep the right words coming out of my mouth.
Jesus said that we will have what we say and that every word that we speak we will have to give an account for.
The Return of the Backsliding Son or Daughter.
We have briefly touched on…
We talked about Our Salvation.
And also the use of our tongues.
All of these things have a particular role in the fourth thing that truly rejoices the heart of God.
And that would be the return of the backsliding son and daughter.
In the Gospel of Luke chapter 15 beginning with verse 15, we discover another extraordinary story that we know as the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
This parable speaks something about every one of us in one way or another…
And yet for some of us, it speaks to us and about us in many ways.
Let me just name a few of them.
It speaks to our pride and selfishness.
It also speaks to our rebellion and reluctance to be under God’s authority.
And the last thing that I will mention is that it speaks to the love that we have for the things of this world and how ungrateful we can be for the way that God has already blessed us…
and how we are never satisfied…
The Bible sums up these things and so much more about us in this way…
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world.
These are the main problems that we have as human beings… and they are the main issues of life that turn our hearts and minds away from God.
But here is the Good News my beloved… And it is just as we see the father welcoming the wayward and backslidden son back into the graces of his home…
So will… and so does God welcome the repentant, wayward and backslidden son or daughter back into his care and favor.
As we study the parable of the prodigal son we recognize that everything that we have previously discussed has its part in the parable.
But the most important thing that we find in this story… and not to take anything away from any other aspect of our character that God finds joy in…
is none other than…
Above all else, I believe our heavenly Father finds more joy in the humility and meekness of his children over anything else.
Let me please share with you the verse that expresses just that.
We find it in Psalm 51:17.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Here it is again in the (N E T) New English Translation of the bible.
The sacrifices God desires are a humble spirit – O God, a humble and repentant heart you will not reject.
20 years ago this seemed like to be one of the most quoted verses in the scriptures.
But today it seems like the church has been so bamboozled and hoodwinked by the devil and the things of this world we have forgotten about the importance of humility.
It’s as though we have adopted the philosophical view of the world that we were put here to be served and not to serve.
We the Church seems to believe that God wants us to gather up all sorts of things in this world that we might sustain or obtain some type of world-renowned status.
This mindset is not of God.
The hard truth of the matter is just as the Apostle Peter admonishes us to do in 1 Peter 5:6.
… to clothe ourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Peter also goes on to tell us in verse 7 of chapter 5 that we as Christ-followers must voluntarily humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God… and he will raise us up in the right season and at the right time.
With Pride Comes Consequences.
On the flip side of humility and of the other things that we have touched on can be… none other than the ugly sin of pride.
The bible tells us that pride goes before destruction and a haughty heart before a fall.
That just means that pride brings with it some consequences that one must at all cost do our best to avoid,
But we must keep in mind that we need Christ, the Power, and Guidance of the Holy Spirit and the word of God dwelling in us to overcome the wiles and tricks of Satan.
Take this advice from someone who knows the ills and consequences of pride all too well.
And besides this… pride is the sin that I believe our heavenly Father despises the most out of all sin that can so easily beset us.
As we come to the closing thoughts of the lecture on the fruit of joy… Here’s one thing to always keep in the forefront of our minds…
Seeing that God loves and rejoices when we come before him with humble and repentant hearts.
Let us be careful to do just that.
Because if we don’t freely humble ourselves, God has a mighty way of doing it for us.
I’m sure as the weeks progress you and… I will most likely discover a few more ways that we can rejoice the heart of our Great God.
But for now beloved always
Keep up the good practice…
And experience the power of God giving you a new life…