Filled With Joy
Sunday, December 17, 2023
Read Psalm 100
Do you reflect on this often that our God desires for us to live joyfully, all the days of our lives, both here on earth and for eternity with Him? Jesus’ birth is a sign of great joy to all the earth! His birth is a celebration that brings forth a promised hope and a joy that our God is truly Immanuel. For those who believe, we are no longer separate from our God, but through Jesus, we are joined with Him forever, and we share in all the heavenly blessings that Christ has.
Through Jesus, we have a certain victory over the enemy and all his schemes, and even victory over death. We don’t have to fear tomorrow, because we know the One who holds our tomorrows and our eternity in the palm of His hands. I delight in talking with those who have lived long faithful lives because they know the joy of the Lord and truly understand there is no fear in death. I have seen and heard it in several of our beloved members who have been called to their eternal home and who are no doubt rejoicing in this very moment. What peace it brings me to hear them profess, I’m not afraid and I’m ready to go home. I want to see my Savior face to face. This is a beautiful gift we all have!
As believers, we know whatever trials and suffering we endure here in this life, they are not forever. We are promised a day of no more sorrows or pain, or tears-only rejoicing in the heavens with all the saints. We are told by our Savior “Surely I will be with you to the very end of the age.” And that “I will come back to bring you where I am.” We are told that as we love Jesus, He and the Father will make their home in our hearts. We are also told we have been given authority over all the power of the enemy, that we can walk along snakes and scorpions and crush them. This means we are called to live with confidence and boldness in who we are in Christ! The enemy can come against us, but it is we who are victorious over every scheme, as we walk in the power of Christ.
We have been called friends by our Savior, who freely shares all He knows with us as we seek Him. In fact, He delights in sharing hidden truths with us as we seek to know! We have been told that Jesus has sent another, the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, the Helper, the Holy Spirit to guide us in every way into His righteousness, to keep us safe from harm by learning to walk in His truth and to shine light into every bit of darkness in our hearts and purify us from within.
This is not a joy dependent on our circumstances, our plans turning out exactly how we decided they should be, or how happy we are at any given moment. This is a lasting joy that comes from deep within our core, a joy that is not of this world, but of God Himself, for He is joy! It is knowing what we have in the Lord far surpasses all that is fleeting here in this life. It is a confidence and delight in our spirit that no matter what we endure in this earthly life, it can’t compare with or take away from what is yet to come!
We have Jesus and therefore, we have JOY!
We can’t even begin to fully process or imagine all the bliss we will share with Him in heaven. That is the hope we cling to while we live our days here. But we can in our spirits receive and be filled with His joy now as we live our earthly lives. This is what God desires for us, to be joyful always in the Lord.
Yet far too many people spend a great deal of their lives being miserable, either completely stressed out, consumed with fear, or worry, or their hearts ladened with bitterness.
Why would we choose to live any other way than in His joy? Why would we choose misery? Rest assured that is a choice we make. We might not consciously be making it, but we are making it.
We give to others what we are filled with. Something to ponder. We can give joy or we can give misery. We choose how we fill the world around us.
You know the two things the enemy loves to steal from us? Peace and joy. He will use various things or people in our lives to distract us from keeping our focus in the right place. Once our focus shifts, we are no longer walking in joy because all we see are our huge problems, irritations from others, or our deep sorrows.
King David gives a wonderful example we’ll look at today in understanding how to find and remain in the joy of the Lord. We must remember the context of his life when we read the Psalms. These were not written when everything was going exactly to David’s plan-in fact, nothing ever went according to David’s plan. He had to surrender all plans and choose to fully depend on the Lord, just to stay alive at times. David wrote many Psalms while hiding from the jealous and rageful King Saul who wanted David dead. He wrote them while finding shelter in caves. He wrote them while he had a moment to look up at the vast sky and reflect on the awesome power of God at work not only in his life but that of Saul’s and the entire kingdom of Israel-working everything according to God’s sovereign purpose and for His glory. This is so important for us to do look up and look around and see the sovereignty of God at work. When David stilled himself, he could take in the love and mighty power of God.
When we read the Psalm today, and when you read them in the future, hear David’s heart and imagine what might have been going on for him as a man, at the time he penned these words of hope and praise. Listen today to his heart. Listen to what he focuses on. Listen to what he instructs his soul to do. Let us heed his example so we too might be filled with the Joy of the Lord this Christmas and always.
Psalm 16: 5-11 NIV
5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night, my heart instructs me. 8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
- Gaze Upon Jesus.
Joyful, Joyful we adore Thee! This is from a Christmas carol we sing. “Joyful, we adore Thee!” We bring joyful hearts to our Lord, fixing our gaze upon Him and the wonders of His love.
When we look upon Jesus with the eyes of our hearts; when we read His Word that tells us about Him and we let those truths penetrate our hearts, joy will rise within. It is automatic because Jesus brings joy wherever He goes and to whomever He touches.
You might think- that’s great when life is going well life has been really hard lately and I just don’t feel joyful. It’s too painful. It’s too stressful.
To which I would lovingly ask you, where are you gazing? What are you gazing upon? I would venture to guess when you feel like that, you are not gazing upon Jesus. You are likely gazing upon your circumstances, your pain, your misery, and your situation. This is why we are told to keep our eyes on Jesus because God knows how quickly our joy can fade when we look around us and take in the pressures of this life. But this life is not the source of our joy, material things are not the true source of our joy; money is not the true source of our joy; accolades and status in our work and accomplishments are not the true source of our joy; admiration from others is not the true source of our joy; Jesus is. So we must gaze upon Him.
Jesus knows the importance of focusing on joy. Since He is the source of joy for all of us, when he as a man, faced tremendous hardship and sorrow, He focused on the joy that would come through His death on the cross and His resurrection. He didn’t focus on the horror of the cross itself and all that led to it. He focused on what would come through it.
Hebrews 12:2 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
This is a good example for us to follow. Let us not be consumed with the horrors and sorrows of life, but let us instead focus on the joy we have in Christ for all we have in Him. For truly, that is enough.
Psalm 16:8 NIV I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Can you visualize this same truth in your life? Keep your eyes on Jesus and picture Him at your right hand going into battle for you in all things you face in this life. Let us not be shaken when we see this truth of Jesus at our right hand.
Nehemiah shared a powerful truth with the Israelites who needed great encouragement as they were rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem that had been destroyed by enemies and were still being taunted by other enemies as they were building. He reminded the people of their source of strength.
Nehemiah 8:10 NIV For the joy of the Lord is your strength.
That is something very different for God’s people. Our strength is not in our power or ability. Strength is found when we focus on the joy of the Lord within us! It’s His strength at work to accomplish all God calls us to, and as we recognize that, we are filled with joy that comes from Him and we have the strength needed to carry out the assignments given to us!
- Rejoice! It’s Good Medicine.
When I find my thoughts turning negative, I have learned to stop and praise the Lord and sometimes turn on Christian music that will get me singing praises to God. When I shift my focus to Him and all He is, my countenance changes and joy rises.
In our key Scripture, David also speaks of being intentional to praise the Lord and as he does his heart is glad and his tongue rejoices. Notice the other benefit when we praise and rejoice in the Lord, David says his body will rest secure. We can rest when our hearts are shifted to praise and rejoicing! Joy leads to peace.
Proverbs 17:22 ESV A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Think about the benefits of a joyful heart-spirituality- we are stronger, at peace, encouraged in hope, and positioned to be a vessel of service to the Lord.
Mentally- a joyful heart is encouraged, hopeful, and peaceful.
Physically joyful heart brings healing to our bodies.
Have you thought much about that latter part of this verse-a crushed spirit dries up bones? When you are crushed in spirit, you are not living in hope; you are not a joyful vessel for God to flow through might not be of service at all because you are so consumed with your troubles. You are not at peace, and your physical body is latching on to all kinds of sickness and troubles.
There is MUCH truth that a joyful heart is a good medicine for us in every way possible!
Psalm 71:23 ESV My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.
We must be intentional- even if we don’t feel like it in the moment- we must choose to rejoice in the Lord and start speaking of the great things He has done, specifically in our lives- let us speak of them. Let us sing to Him and let us bless His name, because the more we do this, the more our hearts will come around and get on board. The more His joy will rise within. As we spoke last week, we are again telling our souls to receive His joy.
We must decide- are we going to be led by our soulish nature or tell it to stand down and put our hope in Christ, letting our spirit lead? This requires intentional practice to change how we respond and think.
- Receive the Fullness of Joy.
As we gaze upon Jesus and rejoice in Him, His joy is made complete within us.
John 15:10-11 NIV If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
What Jesus is saying is to walk in My love daily aware of it and My presence in you-always-no matter what is happening around you- then My joy is within you and may be complete.
What a Savior and wonderful Counselor we have, that He tells us these things, so we might live in joy! He doesn’t leave us in the dark or unaware. He tells us exactly what we are to do, to live life joyfully in all seasons of life.
The choice becomes ours. Do we seek Him and listen to His counsel in what we are to do to remain in joy? We are given a gift to live beyond this world and live on a spirit level at the same time we are living in this physical world. It’s the great mystery of Christ in us! So do you choose His joy that is supernatural and ever-present, or do you choose to live shackled to all the burdens of this life? We choose.
If you struggle with living in joy and think “Great story PK, but that’s King David. I’m not like him. He led the entire nation of Israel and was a warrior.” Let me remind you when God called him, he was a shepherd boy- not a man-a-boy. It was his heart God looked at one that loved God and could be molded and shaped by God. One that would choose to be loyal to God. God then put His Spirit upon David and equipped him to become the great king he was. As you believe, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in you so you my friend are also filled with the Spirit of God and become equipped to live courageously, faithfully, obediently, and joyfully. The key was David opened his heart to God and loved Him. David allowed the joy of the Lord to fill him. Throughout all of history, God took ordinary people who would do extraordinary things to His glory and praise, and to build His Kingdom. Ordinary people learned how to live extraordinary lives as they lived under God’s blessings and favor. Ordinary people learn how to live in lasting joy, even amid great trials and hardship, because the Lord was with them and His hand was upon them. David’s story is our story! We might not be king of a nation, but we are all called to build God’s kingdom and we all have an enemy hunting us down and we all share the very same spirit that was upon David that enabled him to do all he did. It’s the same Spirit in you and me! The joy David chose to see is the same joy we share in today!
Christmas is a celebration of the Good News of Jesus Christ’s birth and the joy His birth would bring to all the world! We as Believers have every reason to be joyful this Christmas and all year round! Receive Him and receive His joy!
Psalm 68:3 NLT But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy.
Conclusion: As we gaze upon our Lord Jesus Christ, rejoicing in who He is and all He has done, being filled with JOY is an automatic consequence of our actions. We don’t have to work at being joyful, we simply come to and focus on the One who is the JOY Giver!
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Where can you serve in 2024? Do you need to find a place to serve, a ministry to plug into? Pray and seek God, and then talk with me about what He’s putting on your heart.
Final Blessing: Romans 15:13 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.