He Is (at 32:45)

Old notes taken mostly from my personal time with God. We're moving house again, so, I guess we're back to being, literally, pilgrims on the Rough Roads of Planet Earth. (Photo taken on a road to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, North Auckland, NZ, Dec 2009.)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Joy

Whoa! I really took my time to think through and reflect before I wrote this one. I am just overwhelmed by "joy"! What does the Bible say about “joy”? Actually, the Bible says so much about it, I don't know where to start. Even so, I am not sure whether I am really getting it yet.

Arguably, the most prominent “joy” verse in the Bible would be:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace....” Galatians 5:22

There are nine of those fruits of the Spirit but let’s just focus on these first three - love, joy, peace. Now let’s look at the scope of these three:

Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 3:19
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Although I can’t find a similar passage explicitly stating that joy in the Bible - just like peace and love - is beyond our understanding, it does make sense to say that being a “trio,” these three will synonymously have very similar characteristics, at least that of being beyond our comprehension and wildest imaginations. Come Christmas time, we’ll be wishing one another, “love, joy, peace,” again. These triplets always come together!


Furthermore, if one keeps studying the Bible, one would come to the conclusion that the believer’s joy in God stems very much from God’s peace and love. My gut feel is that these three are really closely intertwined. So, let’s look further and examine these “joy” passages:

James 1:2
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,

2 Corinthians 8:2
In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.

1 Peter 1
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Habakkuk 3
17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

I think this "joy" thing is not quite logical. How can someone be joyful or have glorious joy under such dire circumstances? If we cannot quite imagine what this “joy” being talked about above, it could be that it is also beyond our comprehension, just like “love” and “peace” in the Bible. But don’t despair, when the Bible says something is quite beyond our knowledge and understanding, it is actually an invitation for us to draw “nearer” or “higher” so we can increase in our knowing. For example, if we look at the context of the “love” verse above, we will find that the Apostle Paul prayed for the believers of his time to start comprehending the greatness of God’s love towards us. In the same way, we must desire and pray for that understanding, too!

Here’s what Paul wrote:
Ephesians 3
17”... And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

In the same way, we must pray for that supernatural revelation of God’s peace and joy, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God! If we have revelations and manifestations of God’s love, peace and joy, beyond measure, just think how much better persons we would become (oozing with love, joy and peace!) and how much more blessings we would become to the people around us! God blessed us so that we would bless others.

Now here’s another clue as to what “joy” is in the Bible.
In 1 John 4:16 it says, “...God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”
So there, God is love. Love is the innate character of God. It doesn’t say “God is loving.” it says, “God is love.” It’s just like saying, “God is holiness.” Or, “God is goodness.” If we do not have a concept of “holiness,” we should get to know God and we would know what “holiness” is. If we have a warped understanding of what “good” and “goodness” are, we need to get close to God to know “goodness.” Hence, if we are not sure what “love” is, as there are now so many definitions and concepts of “love” proliferating, we need to get to know the God who is love!

Now here’s more. Ephesians 2:14 says,

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,...”

“He himself” in this passage refers to Jesus Christ.

A most recent translation,” The One New Man Bible,” a translation by William J. Morford that reveals the Jewish roots and power of the Bible, states it this way:

Ephesians 2
14 For He is our peace, the One Who has made both things one and Who has loosed the dividing wall of the fence, cause of the enmity to His flesh, 15 by His nullifying the tradition of the commandments by decrees, so that He could create the two, Jewish and non-Jewish, into One New Man establishing peace 16 so He could reconcile both in one body to God through the cross, as God killed their enmity by means of Him, Y’shua.
(“Y’shua” is the original Jewish name that got translated into the English “Jesus.” This translation uses the original Jewish “Y’shua” for the name of Jesus.)

This is an interesting point here, for we know that the peace in the whole wide world, like it or not, depends on the peace or un-peace in Jerusalem. If the Jewish and non-Jewish people in the Middle East could be reconciled and co-exist in peace, the rest of the world will have peace, too. This passage shows that the solution to the Middle East crisis is for the Jewish and non-Jewish to be reconciled through Christ - the sons of Isaac and the sons of Ishmael reconciling in peace - for truly they come from one father - Abraham. Now I know I just made a controversial statement but I am just saying what the passage above is saying, highlighting a point that matters to us most at this time in history. I myself am non-Jewish, I do not live in Israel or Palestine, or the Middle East, but I know that if we can settle this enmity between the Jewish and non-Jewish in the Middle East, we all would be better off. The solution offered by the Bible is staring us in the face - it is through Christ. Picture a Jewish and non-Jewish worshiping Jesus Christ together. Is there enmity there? That’s exactly the point! In fact, in Christ, so many things in life become non-issue. It’s very much like all our questions won’t matter anymore when we get to see God in Heaven, face-to-face. That is just what it is.

Now we know other passages in the Bible talk about Jesus being “the Prince of Peace,” (Isaiah 9:6) and that His priesthood is the priesthood of Melchizedek, King of Salem (“King of Peace”) (Hebrew 7:1,2) and that Jesus’ message of salvation to us is known as the “Gospel of Peace” (Ephesians 6:15), and that God reconciled the believers to Himself through Jesus Christ and has committed to them the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18,19); which means we are reconciled with God through Jesus and are able to reconcile with one another, wherever there is enmity, through Jesus Christ. Jesus is our peace! God is our peace! God is peace to the believer!

So, if for the believer, “God is love,” and “God is peace,” will the statement “God is joy,” also be true? Unfortunately, again, the Bible does not directly say so. However, there are indications that it is safe to say so.

Psalm 43:4 says,
“Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.”

We know from our former definition (in my blog "Joy and Gladness") that “joy” can be a person or thing which is a source of great happiness to another person. So, yes, the Bible does say God is the joy and delight of the believer! In fact, if this is not true for any believer, he or she is exhorted to make God his/her joy, in this following verse:

Psalm 37:4
...make Yahweh your only joy and he will give you what your heart desires. (The Jerusalem Bible; this translation uses “Yahweh” instead of “Lord” in reference to God.)

Also,
1 Chronicles 16:27 
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place.

Psalm 16:11
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (King James Version)

The believer is exhorted to have God as his joy. Fullness of joy is found whenever God is around! So yes, it’s safe to say, “God is love,” “God is peace,” “God is joy,” at least for the believer! I say, God is love, joy and peace, and more! But as we say that, we have to remember that the love, joy and peace that is God is the God-kind of love, joy and peace. “Love” in God’s definition is “agape” - unconditional love, something we talk a lot about but hardly ever practice or experience, right? And the “peace” that is God’s kind of peace is “shalom” and “ere’ne’,” a kind of peace we can’t quite fathom. Well, that’s why the Apostle Paul said, “the peace that passes understanding.” And “joy”? I did a word study on joy and I will write what I have to say on that in other blogs. You see, when you came through the gate of “Pure Joy Land” you probably weren’t sure what to expect. Well, neither was I. Now I am getting a bit overwhelmed. Are you intrigued with God, yet? If He is the God who could possibly be my “joy and delight,” I want to know that God!
Ok, so did that get us to a better understanding of “joy,” yet? Hmmm, now it seems we’re just wading deeper into something that is really beyond our comprehension - the Person of God Himself. It looks like if we can only understand some of the God-kind “joy,” then we also get to understand some of the God-kind peace, God-kind love and God Himself. Are you still with me in this? Are we going to go swim deeper to find out? Or better still, find HIM!

Just to whet our appetite to keep pressing in, I would like to mention just a few more things. Jesus asked His disciples to purposely ask for something in His name so that His Father in Heaven would answer their prayer and it would result to them having complete joy!
John 16:24
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Lately, I watched a video teaching by Bill Johnson and he mentioned that getting answers to prayer is designed by God to be our ongoing source of joy. He also said that “joy” in Heaven is such a priceless commodity that God the Father reserved that as the reward for Jesus in enduring the cross.
Hebrews 12:2
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Joy was the reward of His suffering. It was what God the Father gave Him to honor Him for His obedience - joy is that valuable. You can watch Bill Johnson’s teaching through this link. Don’t be afraid to click on it. The vid is an hour long but he mentioned this within the very first 5 minutes of his teaching. So, don’t hesitate to click on it and take time to listen.

Now here’s a quick jab on “pure joy.” I recently just watched this vid on youtube. I have read books and seen videos of testimonies of people going to Heaven but this guy has such a complete and detailed description of what it’s like in Heaven that I just got so blessed watching it. At the 1:14:00 onwards (just pull the arrow if you don’t want to wait one hour to get there) he mentioned seeing some members of his family who had gone to be with the Lord earlier and he met them there and he said his family only had “pure joy” in Heaven! Well, this is Heaven itself, guys. Of course, it would be “pure joy!” I’m sure everything in Heaven is going well, and there is wonder and awesomeness everywhere there! I think “pure joy” is when we have “pure happiness” plus “joy”. “Pure happiness” is the absence of pain (every form of it - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) plus, everything going well for you and having a sense of excitement or wonder. Whereas, “joy” is “having that inner peace knowing that you are in the will of God because you are living in obedience to Him.” Of course, in Heaven there is no pain, everything is going well, awesome even, and there is no disobedience of God’s instructions. Thus, "pure joy" is the joy found in Heaven!

So you ask me, how about us here on earth, can we ever have “pure joy”? Do we have to wait till we get to Heaven to have it? Good question. Well, as we saw earlier, joy is found in the presence of God. So where on earth can we find the presence of God? Some Bible teachers / evangelists  talk about “portals” where believers can more easily go through to get to the presence of God in Heaven. For example, in his book, "Aligning with Heaven," David Herzog wrote about Jerusalem and Bethel in Israel being “portals.” I am not going to dwell too much on that as this blog has gone too lengthy now, but the Bible also says the dwelling place of God is in man. We know every believer is the dwelling place of God, the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

The fellowship of believers also brings in the special presence of God.

Matthew 18:20
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

I believe we do experience this Heavenly joy on earth once in a while, but it may not be truly pure “joy” because of the presence of our “flesh”, the sinful nature. Also, when His special Presence falls on us in our congregational fellowship, Heavenly joy does fall on us but we do not know how to remain in His Presence when the meeting is over and hence, we are not able to keep that Heavenly joy. Sometimes we do get the Heavenly joy during private worship at home, when we are in deep fellowship with God, but we have problems keeping in His Presence when we go off to do our daily earthly duties. Most often though, the joy is missing and we may not even be aware that it is missing, because we hardly know what it is. We have a lot to learn about joy, having it, and keeping or abiding in God’s Presence and joy in our daily life. But there is hope, so, let us not give up!
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All Scripture references are from the 1984 New International Version, unless otherwise specified. Emphases in bold letters are mine. 

Note: I have started blogging in another website and the above blog is a re-blog of " 'Joy' in the Bible" from my new website. If you liked my blogs so far please feel free to visit my new site. Thank you for dropping by and a blessed day to you! :-)

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The Many Versions of Love Stories 1. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. They live happily ever after. 2. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. The marriage sours, they part, and live happily ever after. 3. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. Then boy finds out it's more fun to be girl... or girl finds out it's more fun to be boy, they part, change sexes and live happily ever after. 4.Finally, boy or girl meets God. It's love at first sight... The roads went rough, the tides rose high, the strong winds blew and the quake shook the ground... but they truly live happily ever after, forever and ever. 5. Try God's love... it's always happy forever after, and the story never ends. :-D