In the eyes of the world, most people look upon joy as an outward action - "jumping for joy", "joyful laughter", "there is a bounce in their step, they are so full of joy"; etc.
Funk & Wagnalls New International Dictionary of the English Language states:
My hearts desire, for this study series, is to get to know, understand and experience the full and wonderful "joy of the Lord". It is our strength! It is in our salvation! Now, let me stop here and clarify a common misconception in Christian communities today. The "joy of the Lord" is NOT something that makes us giddy and/or laugh all the time! (yes, there are times when laughter has broken forth - in some meetings - and that may or may not be something we will address, I'm still praying about that.) What we will be doing is taking a good look at Scripture and see how "the joy of the Lord" works and manifests itself in our day to day lives.Quite a number of years ago, now, I read a church sign that summed it up perfectly. I do not know who coined the phrase, but I would like to share it with you:
Joy is Peace Dancing
Peace is Joy Resting
Why do I feel that sums it up so perfectly? Well, let's begin our time of study, and you will soon understand. Ready? Here we go!
Let us take a look at the Hebrew word hxmX - "Simchah" pronounced as sim-khaw', which is a noun, feminine in origin. This word has been translated into joy 44 times in the Old Testament.
Meditate on these passages this week, asking the Lord to deeply impart His joy in to your life - why not leave a comment so we can 'discuss' things as we progress through this study.
In the margin of my Bible I have subtitled the book of Philippians "Joy, Joy, Joy!". It is through the study of these four wonderful chapters that I learned much about the true meaning of joy. Philippians is broken into four chapters, with four different areas that we can be joyful in.
"This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.
"It is written to all of God's people in Philippi, who believe in Christ Jesus, and to the elders and deacons.
"May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
"Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. I always pray for you, and I make my requests with a heart full of joy because you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.
"It is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a very special place in my heart. We have shared together the blessings of God, both when I was in prison and when I was out, defending the truth and telling others the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus. I pray that you love for each other will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in your knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until Christ returns. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation -- those good things that are produced in your life by Jesus Christ -- for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
"And I want you to know, dear friends, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including all the soldiers in the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ.
"Some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know the Lord brought me here to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But whether or not their motives are pure, the fact remains that the message about Christ is being preached, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and as the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, they will all turn out for my deliverance.
"For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or I die. For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ. I really don't know which is better. I'm torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ. That would be far better for me, but it is better for you that I live.
"I am convinced of this, so I will continue with you so that you will grow and experience the joy of your faith. Then when I return to you, you will have even more reason to boast about what Christ Jesus has done for me.
"But whatever happens to me, you must live in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ, as citizens of heaven. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing side by side, fighting together for the Good News. Don't be intimidated by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trustin in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this fight together. You have seen me suffer for him in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of this great struggle."
Let's take a look at Chapter 2 of Paul's letter to the Philippians (verses 1-11). Please, read it in at least two different versions.
I just love this chapter! When people ask me what it truly means to be a Christian, I often refer them to this chapter. Being a Christian, is being "Christ-like", and this tells us ever so clearly how we are to lay our own thoughts, desires, plans down and put on the same attitude as Jesus Christ.
Take a good look at verses 5-8, and let's answer some questions:
We are going to take a look at Chapter 2 of Paul's letter to the Philippians (verses 12-18). Please, read it in at least two different versions.
Let's take a look at Chapter 3 of Paul's letter to the Philippians. Please, read it in several different versions, if you are able.
I love the first verse in The New Living Translation! It reads, "Whatever happens, dear friends, may the Lord give you joy. I never get tired of telling you this, I am doing this for your own good."
For our own good, we are to be joyful, no matter what! Oh, but then we ask, "what about this?", and "what about that?", or "you don't understand all that I have to face in my life!". Oh, dear ones, read about where Paul is, what he had been through, what he was facing! He KNOWS hardship, far better than most of us ever will (even though it may not seem so).
As you continue reading this chapter, and re-reading it, let us ask oursleves some questions.
Oh, dear ones, does not that thought, alone, cause your heart to well up with His joy unspeakable and full of glory?!
Please read Philippians chapter 4 in at least two different versions. Thus far Paul has shared with us how to be joyful in our suffering, in our service and in our trusting/believing in Christ. In Chapter 4 he wraps it up by talk about obtaining joy through giving of ourselves to others.
When we hear the word "give" we often freeze up. We start discussing all the reasons we can't give, yet Paul addresses this ever so wonderfully here.
Now, by what we give and by what we hold back, does that affect our salvation? NO! What it does affect is our level of contentment (as Paul speaks about in verses 11-13), or our "joy". Paul gave and gave and gave of himself for the sake of Christ! There were many, many times he had to do without certain things, but he always kept his joy . . . and, dear ones, we can too!
Now before you start thinking things like "no, you don't understand my life, what I have to face", let me remind you that Paul at the time of this letter to Philipi was IN prision! We CAN have joy . . . we can walk in it each and every day, we can live it each and every moment! It is a promise we can cling to and claim just as we can our promise of salvation - for from that salvation flows our joy in the Lord. It is a process, an application of God's Word and His prinicples to our lives each and every day, whether or not the "feelings" are there. It is a trust, a faith in Christ and in His Word.
Going back to the statement I shared with you in the very beginning of our study, I would like to reflect upon the strength that His presence and His peace present in our lives as we learn to walk and live joyfully.
Joy is Peace Dancing
Peace is Joy Resting
With that in mind, let us look at the strongest reasons we have for being always at peace! (yes, it really is possible).I'm going to list several Scripture references for you to read, and then would like you to answer the questions following them by putting which of the verse (or verses) apply to that question, and explain why you feel that way. (It may not be a bad idea to write each of them out in your own words, how they speak to your heart.)
Scripture gives us examples, time after time, of how the Lord blesses our lives with His joy. The examples that we are going to look at today express to us the ways in which we can obtain that joy:
Other references will share with us instances in which others had the God's joy even in the midst of:
This is our next to last lesson, dear ones, and a time for deep inner reflection. The assignment for this week is to pray and ask the Lord to show us our own hearts. What areas to we truly trust Him, and walk in His joy and peace, and what areas do we still cling to our own ideals and solutions? With prayer, Bible and notebook, I would like us to dig down deep and truthfully apply our response to the following situations:
Note - of all the studies we've done, this one is more of a personal sharing/reflection of the author than a "study". Yet, it is my prayer that as I share you will reflect upon your own life, and perhaps see how to apply God's Word to your situations.
How many times have we been asked, in the Christian circles we travel, what our favorite Scripture is? I know I'm asked that each time I go somewhere to speak, or even visit a Bible Study somewhere. What do I always tell them? (Most people do not understand, but my favorite verse really is . . . ) Habakkuk 3:17-19 "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feel like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights."
I truly enjoy the diverse reactions I receive when I share that passage as my favorite with others! Oh, I am smiling with the memories, even now! Most comments are astonishment that I would consider such a gloomy passage to focus upon . . . to me, it is not gloomy, but full of the strength I need to get through my day to day life. You see, dear ones, I don't know about you, but my life has been so full of "trees not budding" (things not going the way anticipated); "no grapes on the vine" (efforts seemingly worthless); "fields producing no food" (goals not attained); "No sheep in the pen" (broken dreams); "No cattle in the stalls" (fill in your own circumstance) . . . are you starting to identify? Ah, but my brothers and sisters, don't miss the rest!!!!
yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
You see, dear ones, no matter what life may bring our way (or, not bring our way - things we've hoped for, dreamed of, chased after) . . . we can still be at peace within, fully knowing that God IS in control . . . and that He can and will use every thing in our lives to shape us and mold us into the men and women He desires us to become - all we need to do is yeild to Him. He IS our strength, and He will enable us to go to the heights - to make our feet like the feet of the deer. (and how is that?) The reference in the original is "hinds feet", which are mountain animals . . . they can bound up steep rocky clefts with ease, they are able to leap straight up, and out of the way, in the middle of a dangerous situation. I would encourage you to use the study tool at the bottom of this page and research "deer" and/or "hinds feet" for yourself. May it encourage your heart to know that our Lord is doing that with us! I would also, highly recommend reading the book "Hinds Feet for High Places" by Hannah Hurnard, published by Tyndale. This book is one that has had such a great impact upon my life, and allowed me a greater understand of the times of suffering and struggle we go through. It amazes me that she bases the story on my favorite passage! I identified with that passage for years before I read the book, but never really understood why until after reading it.The verse that the Lord laid upon my heart for this ministry does not mention the "word" joy, but it does reflect that constant source of joy that I have with me at all times. I will leave you with it:
Well, that wraps it up for our study on Walking and Living Joyfully. I pray that the Scriptures presented here during our time of study, have touched your heart, taken root, and will blossom beautifully with His Everlasting Joy.
4-Given Ministries Prays
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