Stay in Joy

Looking to Jesus is pivotal. Have you considered that Jesus is not just a commendable example to emulate, but also shares the same essence as us?.......

April 8, 2024

Hebrews 12:2 – Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Looking to Jesus is pivotal. Have you considered that Jesus is not just a commendable example to emulate, but also shares the same essence as us?

1 Peter 1:23 – Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God
In the above verse it is affirmed that we are born of God’s word, just as Jesus was born of God’s word. Jesus embodies the Word of God, thus our essence mirrors his.

Therefore, when we emulate Jesus, we’re not merely looking up to an inspiring figure but aligning with our inherent nature. The Bible instructs us to look to Jesus as the founder and perfecter of our faith. He’s not merely a role model; he established the very essence of faith.

Jesus, enduring the cross despite its agony and shame, exemplifies the power of clear vision. As Dr. Bill Winston aptly put it, “When the vision is clear, the prize is easy.” Jesus endured the cross because his vision was set on the joy that awaited him. His endurance wasn’t merely passive; it was fueled by a profound sense of purpose and joy.

It’s crucial to understand that Jesus didn’t just endure the cross as another trial to overcome. He endured it with patience and steadfastness, driven by the joy that awaited him.

Why did Jesus endure the cross? It was for the joy set before him. His vision was steadfastly focused on joy, not wavering or fretting about the hours ahead on the cross. In his agony, he envisioned each of us, seeing our faces, and affirming to himself, “It’s worth it.” He foresaw us seated at the right hand of God, liberated from sin, and declared, “It’s worth it.” Jesus endured the cross for the joy that awaited us, for each of us.

Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

The hope that sustained Jesus on the cross was joy. Hope, or you might say vision, is like a snapshot of your future. That snapshot can either be bleak or filled with hope. Depending on that vision, that’s how you’ll live today.

This is why the Bible says that faith is the substance of things hoped for. Without hope, there’s no faith. Hope shows you what God will do in the future, while faith declares it’s now.

What God is going to do in the future is available for you now. So faith brings the reality of hope into the now. That’s why Paul says in Romans 15:13, that the God of hope may fill you with all joy and peace in believing. If you have hope, it will evidence itself through joy and peace. For instance, if you’re praying for healing and haven’t received it yet, the hope of being healed will fill you with joy and peace in believing right now that you are healed. Even though you’re not healed physically, you can live your life as if you are healed because of the hope that fills you with all joy and peace.

Hope brings all joy and all peace. Joy provides endurance, while peace brings restoration and assurance. When you believe in something the Lord is going to do, that hope, that vision of your future, will infuse you with joy and peace in the present moment, giving you the strength to endure and the assurance that change is coming. Faith begins with hope, and hope always brings joy.

Today, my message to you is about joy. Sometimes, as Christians, we become so spiritually focused that we forget to enjoy life. We mistakenly believe that spirituality means being serious and somber all the time, but that’s not the case. Joy is an essential aspect of our faith journey, and we shouldn’t let it slip away amidst our spiritual pursuits.

I understand that encountering God can lead us to a profound sense of joy, where His presence envelops us in warmth and love, sometimes bringing tears of joy. However, joy isn’t the only indicator of spirituality in the Bible. Joy itself is evidence of spirituality. Imagine walking into a church where everyone is laughing uncontrollably, without knowing the reason why. What would you call that experience? It’s spiritual. Similarly, if you enter a room where people are engaged in worship and some are in tears, that’s also a spiritual experience. Both laughter and tears are different expressions of spirituality.

Joy is inherent to God, and He desires to impart it to us because He possesses joy Himself. God can only give what He has, and since He has joy, He wants us to experience it too. It’s God’s desire for us to live in joy at all times.

Consider the example of Jesus. He endured the cross despite the shame it carried. Crucifixion brought shame because it branded individuals as criminals and outcasts, subjecting them to public humiliation, often being hung naked. Yet, Jesus, the King of Kings, endured it all for the joy set before Him. He bore the shame and suffering of the cross because of the joy that awaited Him.

What is joy? Joy transcends mere emotion; it’s a deeper spiritual reality. Scriptures like Philippians 4:4, which commands us to “rejoice in the Lord always,” convey more than just fleeting happiness. It’s a call to embrace joy as part of our spiritual essence. Similarly, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, we’re urged to “rejoice always.” It’s not a suggestion; it’s a command. Joy isn’t optional for believers; it’s integral to our faith.

When we understand joy in this light, we realize it’s not contingent on external circumstances but is a constant spiritual reality within us. The Psalms repeatedly exhort us to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord,” emphasizing the centrality of joy in our worship and relationship with God.

Even in moments of sorrow, like when Jesus encountered the grieving women at the tomb, He questioned their tears, reminding them that joy comes in the morning. As Christians, we’re called to embody this joy as a permanent aspect of our spiritual identity.

Romans 14:17 – For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

This verse affirms that the kingdom of God is characterized not by temporary pleasures, but by righteousness, peace, and joy.
Therefore, let us understand that joy isn’t just an emotion to be felt sporadically; it’s a constant spiritual reality that we carry within us. It’s a foundational element of our faith, shaping our outlook and responses to life’s circumstances.

Joy is indeed a fundamental aspect of the kingdom within you, comprising one-third of its essence. This joy isn’t merely fleeting emotion; it’s a permanent spiritual reality bestowed upon us when we receive Jesus into our lives. Isn’t it remarkable? Even Jesus Himself was anointed with the oil of gladness.

Hebrews 1:9 – You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.

This anointing of joy is a divine impartation, a spiritual inheritance we receive through Christ.

Isaiah 61:3 – to grant to those who mourn in Zion to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

This verse further confirms this truth, speaking of the oil of gladness that accompanies the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. If you’ve received Jesus and have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you, you possess this anointing of joy. It’s not something external; it’s an intrinsic part of your spiritual makeup, always accessible to you.

Joy isn’t contingent on external circumstances; it’s a choice we make to activate the permanent spiritual reality within us. God has already deposited this joy within you; it’s up to you to tap into it. So, in our discussion of joy, let’s take a moment to smile, acknowledging the joy that resides within us. Even if you don’t always feel it, remember that it’s there, a constant presence in your spiritual journey.

You don’t have to rely on your feelings to experience joy because it transcends mere emotions; it’s a spiritual reality that you believe in. When you believe in this truth, you start to feel it, even if initially by faith. Consider those who practice laughter therapy in the morning at parks; they understand the physical benefits of laughter, but our joy stems from a much deeper revelation. It comes from knowing that Jesus resides within us, that the Holy Spirit is upon us, and that the kingdom is within us. This profound revelation brings joy that isn’t swayed by external circumstances.

Joy shouldn’t be contingent on passing exams or receiving praise from bosses. It should run deeper, grounded in the permanent spiritual reality within us. Jesus once sent out his disciples on a mission, and upon their return, excitedly shared their miraculous experiences.

However, Jesus reminded them not to find their joy in these external accomplishments but in the fact that their names were written in heaven. He wasn’t diminishing their achievements but urging them to root their joy in something deeper and more enduring.

Root your joy in the deep revelation that you are loved by God, accepted by Him, and redeemed by His blood. Regardless of circumstances, remember that you are a cherished son or daughter of God. When your joy is anchored in God’s permanent reality for you, it remains unshaken even when situations turn unfavorable. Consider the analogy of driving in Delhi and getting rear-ended, causing damage to your car. In such moments, we often lose our joy. But if our joy is rooted in a deeper revelation of God’s love and provision, it can endure through all circumstances.

James 1:2 – Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds.

This verse instructs us to count it all joy when we face trials, emphasizing the importance of maintaining joy regardless of external challenges. Instead of dwelling on the immediate losses, we can rejoice in the knowledge that God promises restoration and abundance. Even in moments of loss or difficulty, we can find joy in anticipating God’s faithfulness to multiply blessings.

Therefore, let your joy be rooted in deeper truths, transcending temporary setbacks and anchoring you in the unchanging love and provision of God. This perspective shifts our reactions to everyday occurrences, such as when a cherished China dish breaks. Instead of becoming upset, we can count it all joy, trusting in the promise of something new and even better. Our joy isn’t tied to fleeting circumstances but to a profound revelation of God’s provision and faithfulness. Let’s go deeper in our understanding, recognizing that joy stems from these deep revelations, not merely from surface-level emotions.

Indeed, joy isn’t just a passing feeling; it’s a kingdom reality. As we deepen our connection with God, our joy becomes more steadfast and unwavering.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 – Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

What shall you do yet I will rejoice.” I’ve paraphrased this passage to resonate with our modern context, understanding that not everyone here may relate to fig trees, vines, or olive produce. So let me put it in terms we can all understand.

Though my business isn’t thriving, and there’s no profit to be seen, though my investments in the stock market yield no returns, and my bank balance keeps dwindling, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, the God of my salvation.

As believers, we must grasp that our joy isn’t tethered to fluctuating circumstances. Instead, it’s anchored in the unchanging reality that God is our provider and sustainer.

When our joy is rooted in this deeper revelation, it remains steadfast even amidst adversity. We can boldly declare, “Yet, I choose to believe, yet I choose to rejoice in the joy of the Lord.”

Remember, joy is a choice. It’s not something that happens to us when good things occur; rather, it’s a decision we make regardless of our circumstances. So, if you find yourself lacking joy, don’t blame others or external factors. Instead, recognize that God has already given you His joy.

John 15:11 – These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Jesus states that His words are spoken to us so that our joy may be complete. Therefore, embrace the kingdom of joy within you, for joy is indeed one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

You have joy within you. How many more reasons do you need to convince you of this truth? The decision to activate this joy is in your hands. It’s your choice. Look at me; if you still haven’t chosen joy, then decide quickly. Joy isn’t just a feeling; it’s a conscious decision. I choose joy, I choose to rejoice, why? Because this is not the end. I have a long journey ahead, and it’s going to be good. I declare that no evil shall befall me, only goodness. I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. These promises fill us with hope and joy. They remind us that our current circumstances are temporary, and there is abundant joy stored up for us.

The joy of the Lord is our strength, as Isaiah 54 tells us. I’ve personally experienced challenging seasons where my faith was tested, and everything seemed uncertain. Yet, in those moments, God reminded me of His promises and encouraged me to trust Him. Even when we stepped into unknown territories and faced uncertainties, God challenged us to hold onto His word.

So, my friends, regardless of what you’re facing, remember that joy is available to you. Choose joy, rejoice in the Lord, and find strength in His promises.

In this season, God has provided you with exactly what you need. Isaiah 54 has been a source of comfort and encouragement for many, including myself.

Isaiah 54:1-3 – Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married, says the Lord. Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities.

Verse 1 urges those who feel barren or unfruitful to break into song and rejoice. Despite not seeing immediate results, we’re called to sing and declare God’s promises with confidence.

I found myself in a similar situation, confessing and declaring God’s promises but failing to embrace the joy and faith they bring. God gently reminded me that He didn’t ask me to strive or work for His promises; He asked me to believe in them wholeheartedly. So, I started to meditate on this scripture, focusing on the command to sing.

God reassured me through verse 4 that I need not fear or be ashamed, for He will always support and back me up. If you’re feeling stretched and uncertain about the future, take comfort in these words. Sing out in faith, for God is faithful to fulfill His promises and bring about abundance in your life. Trust in His provision and step boldly into the plans He has for you.

Sing, sing in praise. This month’s theme of praise was set prophetically long before we embarked on this journey. We’re at a significant moment, a kairos moment, where God is leading us as a church to witness His victorious work in our lives. As Isaiah 54:4 reassures us, fear not, for you will not be confounded. The call is to rejoice and sing, not with tears, but with joy and anticipation of what God has already accomplished spiritually.

Even if our emotions don’t immediately align with this joy, our physical posture can lead the way. There’s power in physical posture to align our emotions with our spiritual reality. Just as the uncles laugh to align their emotions, we can do the same with our physical posture. So, when you’re feeling weak or sick, and the word of the Lord comes to you to sing and rejoice for healing, do it with faith. Your physical body will begin to align with the spiritual reality, and your emotions will follow suit.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t carry a tune perfectly; what matters is your willingness to sing and rejoice in faith. God’s healing is your inheritance as His child, so embrace it with praise and thanksgiving. Sing out, for God has already taken care of everything you’re facing. But can you sing? Can you sing praises to Him from the depths of your heart? Can you move your body? It doesn’t matter if you can’t move your body in the right rhythm. Nobody is watching; close the door, hide behind the closet, but start singing and dancing, for you will start seeing the victory of the Lord fighting on your behalf.

Do you know the secret of the Israelites? When they were outnumbered by enemies and all their strategies failed, they would drop everything and start praising and dancing for God. Then the Lord would fight for them. Joy brings victory. It gives you the endurance to endure tests, but remember, these tests won’t last long. You get to choose when they end because joy brings immediate victory.

There’s power in praise. It’s the protocol for entering God’s throne room. If you want to encounter God, you cannot do so without praise. So make it a habit to start your day with praise songs. Let them marinate your heart in faith. It’s not just a psychological thing; it’s a matter of faith.


About the author

Samuel Thomas

Samuel is a second-generation pastor with a rich heritage in the Holy Spirit. He has been the pastor of Lighthouse Church since 2017 with a two-word mission statement: transforming lives. Samuel's priority in life has been to know Christ and to grow deeper in His love.

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