by Dr. Michael Cochran
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“Joy to the World, the Lord is come!” The thrill of hope within the message spools out to touch a weary world with anticipation of tasting some good!
Romans 14:17 (NIV) says that the kingdom of God is "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." That should tell us just how valuable joy is to the believer. Jesus spoke about joy a lot. It was the Savior's desire that His disciples would be filled with joy. (John 16:22, 17:13) And, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NIV), Paul writes, "Be joyful always."
Our joy and our praise were never intended to be kept hidden behind closed doors! Jesus is full of joy and if you are full of Jesus then you have all the joy you need. You always have a reason to rejoice. Jesus was able to look beyond the horrors of the cross because of the joy set before Him. We can rejoice that He paid the price for us. If we never had anything else to rejoice about, that would be plenty, but we have so much more to rejoice over.
I can give myself freely to God and He gives everything He is back to me creating an overflowing joy that is untouchable by the uncertainty of life. This love becomes overwhelming and overflows into the lives of those around me because it is produced by a reciprocal relationship with the Living God.
We ought to expect trouble. Jesus said, "In the world you [will] have tribulation" (John 16:33). The apostle James said, "Consider it all joy ... when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1:2-3). God has His own profound purpose in our afflictions, but it's never to take away our joy. To maintain our joy we must adopt God's perspective regarding our trials. When we yield to the working of His Spirit in our lives, our difficulties will not overwhelm us.
Joy comes from knowing we are never alone. Prayer is the ongoing conversation we have, Spirit to Spirit, with God. Giving thanks is the great reminder that we have been blessed no matter what the circumstances may suggest. Joy is not about our circumstances. We rejoice in spite of everything. Joy is about being with God. Forever!
We make a choice each day as Christians to either operate in our own strength or to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit and to ask Him to bring an abundant harvest of fruit into our lives. The work of the Holy Spirit is to point us away from ourselves and towards Jesus. Introspection and joy are not compatible, and it’s thankfulness which makes our hearts glad and fills us with joy.
God’s joy is so amazing that nothing can suppress it. Not darkness, not hardships, not evil. God’s joy will always permeate through everything. His joy energizes, empowers, encourages. It is this overflowing joy God tells us to share with the world around us.
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