It is my honor to have our first Guest Post on our little blog! It is my privilege to introduce to you, Beth Slater, an amazing woman with a pure heart that strives to glorify Jesus in all that she does. She recently did a word study on JOY and I asked if she would write a guest post. Beth is a follower of Jesus, wife to Brett, Momma to 2 boys, and so much more.
I’ve been asking myself lately “Can joy can be a discipline?” Is it simply a spontaneous emotion as a result of seeing the perfect wildflower, or smelling the air after a fresh rain, something of that nature? Or is joy something that can be fostered? The world would say it’s the power of positive thinking, might recommend a book to read or insist on a life mantra to repeat at all times of discouragement. But as I open my bible to see what God has to say about joy it’s not surprising that I find something very different than what the world has to say. When God speaks of joy He speaks of something truer and purer, something that transcends circumstances, a manifestation of a lifestyle and most exciting of all it is eternal- not a passing moment.
Let me show you 3 intentional ways of living that abound in joy.
1. The first way I see joy manifested is so simple and yet so easy to miss. Joy happens in the presence of God. From the Old Testament all the way through the new, people are joyful in God’s presence. In Leviticus, at the first priestly ceremony, God’s presence comes down to the sacrifice on the altar “and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown” 9:23b, 24.
There’s a similar account in 1 Chronicles 29:22 as the Israelites celebrate their new king, Solomon, by offering sacrifices to God. And in the Psalms there are many instances of joy in the presence of God for example “Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence” 21:6, says King David while worshipping in God’s presence. Moving to the New Testament Jesus talks about joy being complete in Him “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them” John 17:13. In Luke, Jesus has been crucified and He has resurrected, when He first appears to the disciples they respond in joy and they share a meal, “And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 24:41. A few verses later it’s time for Jesus’ ascension as He goes up from them, the disciples worship Him with great joy, “Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” 24:52.
For us, we don’t have sacrifices to call God down from the heavens, we don’t have Jesus here in the flesh, but we do have the Holy Spirit, so let’s take a look at Galatians “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” 5:22, 23. A fruit of the Spirit is joy. As with each item listed, true joy simply cannot be produced by human flesh, it is a byproduct of spending time in the presence of God.
So let me ask you, do you spend time with God every day? Would you ask God to show you how to make room in your schedule so that you can spend time with Him each day?
2. Another way joy is manifested is directly from God, a gift, if you will. Going back to the Old Testament of Isaiah and Jeremiah, God promises His people, the Israelites, future joy “You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder” Isaiah 9:3. “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours” Isaiah 61:7. “Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow” Jeremiah 31:13.
The New Testament “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy” Hebrews 1:9, this is speaking of Jesus, He is the fulfillment of the promise from the Old Testament passages. In 1 Thessalonians Paul speaks to the church, he commends them on how they imitate Christ “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit” 1:6. Even in suffering the Lord gives joy to endure, stand strong.
How can you hold on to the promise that God will give you joy? How can you look to Jesus to fulfill that promise today? God is faithful, true to His promise, He will be faithful to you, too.
3. The third way that joy will manifest is when believers share their faith in God. Isn’t that so true? I love walking away from a conversation with a fellow Christian, my countenance is bright, my step is light, I have a smile on my face; I’d call that joy wouldn’t you?
As I read in scripture I am reminded that this isn’t only in times of celebration. Paul describes it as a refreshing in Romans “so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed” 15:32.
In Philippians, Paul is united in joy “then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind” 2:2. And I love this verse from 2 John “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete” 1:12.
When was the last time you had a genuine conversation with another believer in Christ? How can you be an encouragement, or bring a refreshing word to someone today? It will surely bring you joy if you do!
Do you see a flow?
It begins in the Old Testament and moves through the New. It begins with the sacrifice and is complete in Jesus. It begins in ritual and is fulfilled in relationship. It begins with God’s desire to have a people that love Him, to have a community of people to respond to and to be united together resulting in abounding joy.
That is what I imagine heaven is like. Go today, be intentional about joy in your life, find your slice of heaven here on earth!
If you have questions for Beth or want to contact her, message me through Twitter, the FaceBook Page, or email! Links are on the side bar.