Looking unto Jesus — chapter by chapter

Joy is a gift

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

–Philippians 4:4

Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

–Nehemiah 8:10

Philippians is aptly nick-named “Paul’s Epistle of Joy.” From an earthly-point-of-view his circumstances were most discouraging. But Paul takes us into the lens of a godly, eternal and proper perspective. His letter is needful in reminding us of how to rub-out the fog of a very natural and worldly view into a view containing invigorating, encouraging and truthful clarity.

A believer is continually vulnerable to being robbed of his joy. Such joy-stealers can be:

1) Allowing Satan’s influence through sin ( Ps. 51:12; I Pet. 5:8)

2) Anxiety & doubt over God’s sovereignty (Rom. 8:28; Ps. 55:22; Jn. 14:1-3

3) Prayerlessness (Phil. 4:6)

4) A view of life’s circumstances from the values of surrounding culture (Jn. 14:27; Phil. 4:11-12)

5) Ingratitude & forgetfulness towards God (Rom.1:18-21; Ps. 103:2)

For the unbeliever joy comes from the outside, while the believer’s joy comes from within as it is a gift of the Holy Spirit (see Gal.5:22).

As Oswald Chambers noted—“Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not.”

But what follows might be something you’ve not considered. Scripture also teaches that believers not only graciously receive joy from God but also have the ability to give joy to God. Yes, you read that correctly… you and I have the privilege to give joy to God. Luke 15:7 reveals clearly our salvation… acknowledging our need for a Savior and accepting the gift of salvation offered through Christ results in a flurry of joy in Heaven. Another way to give joy to God is to live our lives in a way which is right by His standards (see Prov. 11:20).

Finally, prayer… God truly delights in the believer’s prayers. Prov. 8:20 “the prayer of the upright is His delight.”

This helps me appreciate Nehemiah 8:10 even more. I’ve always been perplexed how God’s joy could give me strength. In salvation, as a gift of God, I have certainty of my home in Heaven. I can live on this earth with a completely different attitude and perspective…truly this world is not my home, I have an eternal home in Heaven. Also walking in the ways of God always will result in ultimate joy. As my dear pastor brother likes to say “Holiness leads to happiness.”

And then prayer… not only does it delight God to hear from me, but it does my soul well to cast my cares upon Him, and to acknowledge He is God–I am not. From Him I have much to be thankful for. The very things which bring joy to God do indeed bless me with joy and strength for my brief time here on earth…truly “the joy of the LORD is your strength!”