Romans 14:17 ESV – For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy. When we receive Jesus who is the King of this kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy; we also […]
December 19, 2022
Romans 14:17 ESV – For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy. When we receive Jesus who is the King of this kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy; we also receive the kingdom with Him. The Kingdom goes where the King goes. The Kingdom of God is within you in your spirit. That’s why Jesus iterated this in Luke 17:21, “the kingdom of God is not here or there but within you.”
Everyone longs for peace and joy. The reason the world is in a rat race is because they are seeking happiness and contentment. But they don’t know that happiness and contentment comes only from God. These come when we receive the joy and peace of His Kingdom. Everything we are seeking in the world is already within us.
If we don’t experience joy, we lose one-third of the Kingdom. Joy comes with the Kingdom. So if the Kingdom is within us, then joy is also within us.
John 15:11 ESV – These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
The words of Jesus bring joy. This joy is meant to remain. He knows that the worldly kind of joy is flimsy and does not remain for a long time. But the joy of Jesus is not fleeting. And He wants our joy to become full.
Since joy comes when we hear Jesus speak, it is the evidence that we have heard Him. That’s why most church going people are happy after the Sunday service but are not so happy when they get to office. The Bible says, “in your presence there is fullness of joy.” There is fullness of joy in God’s presence, and we experience God’s presence when we hear God’s Word. As faith comes by hearing the word of Christ, joy also comes by hearing Jesus. So when we hear God’s word, we encounter His presence and joy comes. But when we are at our workplace we entertain other voices which dampen God’s word which brings joy. And as a result, we don’t experience it. If we can remain on the word we receive on a Sunday, we can experience the joy of Jesus throughout the week.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus explains that the first ground is not able to produce any fruit because the seed i.e. God’s word gets stolen. And the reason it gets stolen is because the heart has not received the Word with joy. When we receive the Word with joy, the devil cannot steal the Word. If we choose to remain in the joy that comes with the word, the devil cannot steal the word from us.
Faith without joy cannot persevere. And joy without faith is useless. Faith and joy come in the package of the Word. So when we receive the Word, we have to receive in faith with joy. Joy will ensure that the word is not stolen from your heart.
How to grow in faith?
Romans 4:20-21 ESV – No belief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
Abraham’s secret to growing strong in his faith was to give glory to God for the promise he received. He neither analyzed the Word, nor judged God’s intentions. He did not wonder how the Word would be fulfilled. He simply received the Word with joy. And that joy sustained his faith, and he grew stronger in faith. When Abraham received the promise that he would have a son, he just believed it with joy. The condition of his body and his wife’s body were standing in direct conflict with the Word. But that didn’t stop Abraham from rejoicing in God’s Word.
How do we respond when we hear the word? If we have heard the word then the word is for us. We should not sit and waste time analyzing and dissecting it with our logical reasoning. Instead, we have to receive the Word with joy. If we can learn to prioritize God’s word over all the other voices of discouragement and disappointment, with joy, then we can guarantee to remain in faith.
We have to be mindful of the devil’s tactics. He steals the Word by attacking our joy. And he attacks our joy through circumstances. It doesn’t take a lot for us to lose our joy. The Bible says, “small foxes spoil the vineyard.” Small things steal our joy. It is probably something someone said at the wrong time. Or it could be someone overtaking your car in traffic. It is not always the big things that steal our joy. Little things that can wear us down. If the devil can steal our joy, then he can steal the word. Be wary of the small foxes in your life.
Hebrews 10:32-34 ESV– But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.
The Word brings enlightenment. Once you are enlightened, the devil brings suffering to steal the word. The devil is never happy when we receive the Word because he knows if the Word brings fruit, we will become unstoppable. So in response, he brings difficult circumstances along our way so that we will remain distracted and he would get to steal the Word. The author of Hebrews warns us of the tactics of the devil and encourages us to endure suffering in joy. How can one endure suffering in joy? We need superior knowledge to endure suffering in joy. If the devil comes to steal your money, let him steal it without stealing your joy. If the devil comes to steal your promotion, let him steal it without stealing your joy. Because the ones who remain in joy will get the restoration of whatever has been lost or stolen.
James 1:2-4 ESV – Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James tells us that trials and sufferings are not the end of the story. It’s a breakthrough of the next level. The testing of faith produces endurance, steadfastness and perseverance which further pushes us to be perfect and complete.
Resist the devil
In the Old Testament, Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau was the firstborn and his father’s favorite. When Isaac wanted to bless Esau, he asked him to cook something for him. While Esau went hunting, Jacob quickly cooked something and went before his father pretending to be his older brother. Isaac, being deceived, blessed Jacob with the blessing of the firstborn where all his brothers would serve him. When Esau returned, both the firstborn and the father realized what had happened. Esau then pleaded with his father to bless him. And this is what Isaac said,
Genesis 27:40 ESV– By your sword you shall live,and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
Isaac meant, “Esau as long as you use your sword you shall live but under bondage. You will serve your brother. If you want to break out of this bondage, you have to become restless.” The sword was Esau’s strength and skill. What is your sword? It could be money, logical reasoning, intellect, etc. As long as we depend on them as our source, we will always be under bondage. But there is hope. The day we become restless from letting our bondage remain our comfort zone, we can break the yoke of this bondage.
Some of our bondages have become our comfort zones. Instead of breaking out from them, we are satisfied by managing them. Like when we have a headache, we might just take a Panadol. But if we had cancer, then we would pray. The intensity of our problems sometimes define whom we should depend on. As long as we think we can manage our problems, we don’t go to God. But it’s usually the little foxes that steal our destiny
James 4:7 ESV – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
In spite of our small or big problems, we have to resist the devil. For resisting the devil, we need strength which comes from the joy of the Lord. So when we have joy, we have strength. When we have strength, we can resist the devil. When we resist the devil, he flees. That’s why we need to keep hearing God’s word in faith with joy so that we will be able to resist the devil.
Jesus never promised a storm-free life but He promised a storm-proof life. When you stay encouraged in spite of the attack of the devil, it is a slap on his face. The devil wants you to be discouraged, anxious and worried. Don’t give him pleasure by getting discouraged. Resist him in the joy of the Lord.
You magnify what you focus
Psalm 34:3 ESV – Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!
Why should you magnify the Lord when He is already above all things? Why lift the name of Jesus when His name is the highest? Whatever you focus on with your mind, will be magnified in your life. If you focus on lack, lack will be magnified. If you focus on sickness, sickness will be magnified. Likewise, if you focus on God’s faithfulness, His faithfulness will be magnified. You have the choice to magnify what you want to see in your life.
What would you want to see magnified in your life?
When you focus on God’s abundant grace and mercy for your life, you begin to experience His abundance. When we received Jesus, we received the complete package of salvation.
Isaiah 12:3 ESV – With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
It is not enough to just receive salvation within. You need to draw out that salvation for your experiences to change. With joy you can draw out the salvation that is within.
Whatever you give to God in faith and thanksgiving, He will multiply and give back to you. That’s why Paul says, “always rejoice.” So don’t wait for the feeling of joy, but begin to rejoice in faith. The feeling of joy will follow your faith. When you ‘faith the joy’, joy multiplies in your life.