The Amazing Power of Joy

Have you ever noticed how Jesus and joy go together?  Remember how you felt profound joy when you first experienced the reality of His saving mercy and love?   Yet how often do we talk about the joy of the Lord?

Scripture has plenty to say about joy.  The Angel of the Lord announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds by proclaiming “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”  The portion of Isaiah 61 Jesus quoted when He first revealed His public ministry goes on to say the anointed of the Lord will replace mourning with the “oil of joy.”  Another time Jesus said there is even joy in heaven…over one sinner who repents.  The Apostle Paul mentions joy immediately following love as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  Peter wrote: “you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  Discovering, or rediscovering, the joy of the Lord brings us strength, the prophet Nehemiah said. 

Everyone wants peace in their lives, and we preach about the importance of being righteous, but what about the importance of being joyful?  Steve and Wendy Backlund pointed out last weekend that joy is one-third of the Kingdom: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 14:17   Indeed, the Bible says Jesus endured the Cross for the joy set before Him.  That’s amazing!

For centuries the church has majored in the theology of suffering, often with drawn faces and heavy brows—justified perhaps by centuries of suffering from the harshness of life.  Yet the Bible makes clear that tribulation is not of God.  It’s a result of the Fall in the Garden.  When we keep our eyes on Jesus in the midst of trials and tribulations, it leads to hope and joy.  James put it this way: ” Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  Joy comes when we realize we lack nothing in the Lord.

Paul said he gloried in his many sufferings, because he knew that “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”  Paul’s hope, birthed out of suffering for the Gospel, produced joy, as described in Romans 15:13, my favorite verse of all about hope and joy:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The Hebrew word for “oil”, as in “oil of joy”, is the same word used for “perfume.”  Not only does the oil of joy make life go more smoothly, it also releases a sweet fragrance that changes atmospheres.  May you overflow with the joy of the Lord this week!