By Jennifer O. White, Crosswalk.com
In her book, He Restores My Soul, author Jennifer Kennedy Dean focuses a week of devotions on rejoicing. I’ve been going over the truths that I highlighted and writing them. I want them to be as real to me as my first name. I want to daily embrace JOY.
Here are 9 truths about joy we can ask God to sew into the fabric of our souls. The quotes are from He Restores My Soul and the rest is me processing it out loud with you.
1. True Joy is Christ-Centered
“True joy is so Christ-centered that earthly success can neither add to it or diminish it.” My earthly success may ebb and flow. But Jesus cemented my heavenly success. In God’s kingdom, I am clean, and whole. We have access to the Father and His unlimited love, power and resources.
2. True Joy is One of the Marks of Authentic Faith
“Joy marks the life of a person whose heart belongs exclusively to the Father.” If I lack joy, my heart is clinging to something other than God.
3. True Joy is a Measure of Our Focus and Dependence on Christ
“The joy that Spirit-led Christians experience is the very joy of the indwelling Christ being expressed through their souls.” The fruit of the spirit is joy. So, Christ is joy and He is one with God, so God is joy too. He is Immanuel, God who is joy, with me. If my soul is not expressing joy, then my eyes and heart must be fixed on something other than God.
4. It is God’s Will for You that You Should Have True Joy
In John 17:13, Jesus said, “Father let My followers be filled to the brim and overflowing with the joy that I possess. I will be in them pouring my own joy in their hearts.” (According to Jennifer Kennedy Dean, this is how the verse reads with nuances of the original Greek.) Jesus, who lived in total agreement with His Father’s will, prayed that I would be filled and overflowing with joy – His joy. He prayed it for you too.
“Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.” 1 John 5:14-15 HCSB
Jesus asked, therefore, I have it and you do too.
5. True Joy Must Be Fought For
“The heart that has passed through crucifixion and is continually sloughing away flesh is able to receive the river of joy flowing through it. The flesh’s earthbound perspective interrupts the flow of joy.”
To help me understand this concept, God gave me a vision of the bayou near my mom’s house. The bayou often gets cluttered with kudzu vine. This vine takes over, creeping out over the water until even a canoe would have trouble passing through. On a recent visit home, mom pointed out that the neighbors cleared the kudzu and the bayou was once again a beautiful body of water.
When I keep my eyes on things of this earth – what is wrong, what is missing, and the what-ifs, I choke out the river of joy that is waiting to flow through me. When I apply the real truth – the reality of God’s kingdom reign in my life, His generous love for me, His abundance to meet all my needs – I the river of joy is free to flow through me.
6. True Joy Leads to a Heart that Overflows with Thankfulness
“Joy expresses itself in praise … the spontaneous and natural outflow of the inflow of His life. When my soul is satisfied as if it had feasted on the richest of foods, when my soul is flooded with His life, the praise spills over.” (See Psalm 63:5)
I’ve learned to start praising God with songs when I am feeling low. Sometimes I just have to listen to them and say, “yes” in my heart to the truth I am hearing. If I remain in an atmosphere of praise for at least 15 to 30 minutes, my heart catches up to the reality of joy (Sometimes it takes hours). Eventually, I feel refreshed by the Truth and I can begin to speak the praise with my mouth. I intentionally allowed my soul to feast on what is pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8)
How do you combat the blues and intentionally pursue the joy of Jesus?
7. True Joy Relies on God
Because God has set “eternity in the hearts of men,” nothing less than eternity – nothing temporal – will satisfy.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
We were created for a world ruled by God. We do not physically live there — yet. So we should expect longings for more. We need to trust that it will come and rely on God’s Spirit of perseverance to enable us to wait for that day. Until then, we fight the battle against our sinful natures to be vessels of joy – unhindered by the desires of our flesh.
8. True Joy Fills Us with Life
“God’s says, ‘I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied with my goodness.’ (Jeremiah 31:14) The word translated “fill” means to “saturate.” He will saturate our souls (we are priests according to 1 Peter 2:5,9) with His abundance and it will satisfy us. His abundance will satiate that soul-craving that is born in us.”
I had an amazing encounter with God while studying this material. I was meditating on the description of God as the “river of life.” Then, in my mind, Jesus and I were standing together at this river. He pointed to the river and said to me, “All of this, the abundance of life God has to give is yours. I made sure you had access to it. You now have my righteousness and my name, Jennifer, so you have access to all the spiritual blessings that flow from God, the river of life.”
Can you see yourself there at the river with Jesus? Can you see the river teeming with life? It is packed with the life that resurrects, the life that restores, the life that fills in the gaps for our weaknesses.
9. True Joy is Indestructible
“Joy is a work of the Spirit – the indestructible Spirit of God.”
God is indestructible. God is joy. So joy is indestructible.
Let’s pray about this together:
Father, we praise You, the river of life and the indwelling source of our joy. We praise You for the gift of Jesus who gives us free and undeserved access to You through His righteousness.
Please show us Your joy. Please reveal Yourself to us as joyful.
Are there lies from the devil blocking our vision of Your joy and abundant life for us? Please save us from them! Deliver us from the kingdom of darkness into Your light.
We surrender our sadness and desolate places to You in faith that You have so much more for us.
Help us to nail our fleshly desires to the cross. We want to live with our hearts set on You and Your generous affections and provisions for us.
Lead us to lives of joy. Teach us to deny ourselves of anything that stands in our way of reflecting Your joy to those we influence.
In Jesus we believe and pray,
Jennifer O. White is the author of Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God’s Armor After the Wedding Dress and Marriage Armor for the #PrayingBride. Jennifer is a natural encourager who offers hope from the truths of God’s Word at her blog, Prayerfully Speaking. With every blog post, Jennifer is exalts the one true God who can empower us to do more than we can ask or imagine.