Advent: Joy (Philippians 4:4)

pexels-photo-724825

God wants you to rejoice. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16, we are told to “rejoice always” and in Philippians 4:4 we are told to “rejoice in the Lord always.” Don’t feel like rejoicing today? I understand. But consider Psalm 118:24: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Notice that the call to rejoice is not based upon what the day brings, but on the One who brings the day. Jesus gives us joy, let us cultivate it in our lives.

  1. God Gives Us Joy. I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “How is this possible?” We know how to rejoice during the good times, but how can we rejoice in the tough times? The key to unlocking this truth is to remember that our joy is not dependent upon our situations or circumstances. Our joy is given to us by Jesus. The “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22) includes the attribute of joy. This is one of the spiritual blessings (Eph 1:3) granted to us by our merciful and loving God. God blesses us with joy and it is up to us to cultivate it in our lives and not quench it.
  2. Gifts and Trials Increase Our Joy. God not only gives us joy, He permits all things for the increase of our joy. God’s gifts are good and designed to increase our faith. Also, God permits trials to come in order to increase our faith and spiritual maturity.
    1. God’s Good Gifts. Jesus told His disciples, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt 7:7). In Hebrews 4:16 we are told: “Let us with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” God delights in blessing His children with good gifts and all of God’s gifts are intended to increase our joy.
    2. God’s Merciful Trials. Christians can rejoice even in trials. In fact, James tells us to: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). That which God uses to test your faith is designed to increase your faith. As your faith increases, your joy increases. This is because trials, for a Christian, are not random or purposeless. Trials are meant to test your faith. Trials expose whether or not your faith is genuine. How can you know if your faith is genuine? What do you do when trials come? Do you run from God or to God? When your faith is proven genuine, the result is joy. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 8:2 of “the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” Their affliction did not quench their joy, but God used it to cause their joy to abound.
  3. Sin Quenches our Joy. Since God gives us joy and His good gifts and our trials are designed to increase our joy, why do we often feel as if we do not have joy? It is because sin quenches our joy. Joy is an aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit and 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Do not quench the Spirit.” Coveting the goods of the world quenches the desire for eternal goods. When we seek happiness and pleasure outside of God’s will, we quench the joy He gives us. Consider King David. After he sinned against God with Bathsheba, he cried out to God: “Restore to me the joy of my salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:12). Conviction of sin is a gracious act of God wherein He exposes our sin to us. Our response should be confession (agreement) of our sin with the desire to repent. Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action. For the Christian, conviction does not mean we are afraid of losing our salvation, but we are heartbroken for grieving the Spirit of God whom we love. When Christians sin, the result is not spiritual death, but spiritual grief. Ephesians 4:30 says, “Don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption.” David prayed in Psalm 51:8, “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.”

God gives you joy and desires that you rejoice always. You can do so if you commit your life to Him. Consider the following verses on joy and guard your joy at all costs.

Important Verses Concerning Joy

  • This is the day of the Lord’s victory; let us be happy, let us celebrate! (Psalm 118:24)
  • Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time. (Proverbs 17:22)
  • May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
  • May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. I say it again: rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
  • Indeed, you are our pride and our joy! (1 Thessalonians 2:20)
  • You love Him, although you have not seen Him, and you believe in Him, although you do not now see him. So you rejoice with a great and glorious joy which words cannot express, because you are receiving the salvation of your souls, which is the purpose of your faith in Him. (1 Peter 1:8-9)
  • In the same way, I tell you, the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10)
  • I will shout for joy as I play for you; with my whole being I will sing because you have saved me. (Psalm 71:23)
  • You have shown me the paths that lead to life, and your presence will fill me with joy. (Acts 2:28)
  • And so, He will make you happy and give you something to smile about. (Job 8:21)