Joy :: by John Lysaught

“For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name” (Psalm 33:21).

The world puts a snag in the fabric of Psalms 33:21, doesn’t it? Let’s be honest here, really. We don’t always have joy in our hearts for Christ because the world gets in the way of the rejoicing. The world makes us lose our focus.

I want to talk about joylessness, the lack of joy, unhappiness, or what ever you want to call it: The opposite of joy. We’ve all faced it and probably are facing anti-joy in some parts of our life right now. Think about it for just a moment. See, you probably thought  of something.

Where are you lacking joy in your heart that’s separating you from Christ?

I know someone who used to be a preacher and is having an affair with a married women who is the same age as his oldest daughter. Talk about cradle robbing, right? He denies the affair but when this woman is over at his house every day at all hours, one can only assume one thing. This is beside the point. The point is he does not have joy in his heart anymore for Christ. He is separated from Christ, or I should say he has separated himself from Christ.

He used to be a close friend and mentor to me, but he now avoids me and my family like the plague. His kids don’t even come over anymore after we confronted him about the affair to which he said he and the woman are just really, really good friends. Can you say discernment? Anyway I digress. The spark of joy that he used to have that I saw in him is gone, squished out like two wet fingers putting a candle out. Puff, gone.

He let Satan snag him, catch him, and has squashed the joy he used to have.  Sure ,he feels worldly joy, but spiritual joy? That’s gone. Joy is not in his heart and now he has this emptiness in his heart, I assume. As knowledgeable as he is in the Word, he cannot recognize it anymore because he has been blinded by Satan. This shows you that no matter your knowledge or status in Christ, if you let that door to Satan open, you can be pulled  into his world and influenced to choose him over Christ.

Where is your joy in Christ quashed? Are you frustrated with, oh, I don’t know, finances maybe? This is a big joy dumper for many a people.  Scared to look online at your account balance everyday? Ha, that is how I was this pay period. I looked and boom, I still have a little bit to my name, today at least.

I’m not very joyful of this and I put myself in this debt position so it is my fault, but how can I find joy in such a little amount to my name. It gets in the way with my relationship with Christ because I’m not focusing on Him at the moment but my troubles with money instead. I’m not looking for pity, but just using an example.

See, something even like finances can get in the way of joy in your heart for Christ. How? Well, money is a worldly thing and the things we buy are worldly. The world causes us trouble and challenges that can affect our faith. We may end up blaming God for our money problems or that he hasn’t fixed them for us. This can cause us to put a damper on our joyous heart for Christ.

What about addiction? There is definitely no joy in Christ when one is high on crack, meth, cocaine, heroin, or whatever else there is out there nowadays.  This is for sure worldly joy that Satan uses to keep the joy of Christ away from the hearts of addicts.

How can an addict proclaim to rejoice in Christ when they are drunk or high? I don’t know. I’ve seen it, I’ve smelled the words out of the mouths of drunks, but don’t understand how one could speak out of both sides of their mouths. This just frustrates me a bit.  I can go on and on but I think the gist is taken.

There are parts of our lives that are interrupted by the world and ourselves—taking joy from our hearts and take it away from our relationship with Christ. Hold on a second.  I just had an idea. I want to read the verse backward (Psalm 33:21).  It’s like a logical statement to me and it may make a little more sense:

Because we have trusted in his holy name, our heart shall rejoice in him. Makes me look at this a little differently. And it makes me shameful because there are parts of my life where I haven’t trusted in Him. Reading it this way makes me feel as small as a mouse.  By trusting in His name my heart shall rejoice in Him.  We’ve failed at this and I’ve failed at this.

Aren’t there times when we haven’t trusted in Christ? Come on now, be honest.  Even if it was 10 years ago or 10 days ago, at one point and at some points, we have not trusted His holy name. We lacked trust in Him for some thing in our lives that we needed fixed and it didn’t happen.

When that thing failed, we didn’t have joy in Him. An unanswered prayer? A desire to do something great to change the world?  It could be anything, but we lost hope in Him. For some this is just for a moment and then their senses are brought back in line. For others, they have turned their back on Jesus because of this.

Now joy in Christ is and should be just that: Joy! Regardless of what is going on in our lives, we need to remember that certain things are constant. The bad constant is that, at least till the end, Satan is always going to be nipping at our heels day in and day out. The good constant is Jesus and the joy we have with Him to include the mercy, grace, and salvation He has given to His elect: All true believers!

Satan will try and try to get you away from Christ. Really though, he can’t. It would be your decision to let go of Christ by giving into temptation, just like my old pastor and his affair. Satan didn’t make him do it; he chose to do it. He chose temptation (lust) over Christ. He will be in for quite a surprise if he doesn’t repent of this and get back on track. When I have seen him, I can see that spark gone in his eyes. I see a miserable man. I see a man who knows he is doing wrong, but denies it and chooses to continue in sin. No joy in his heart for Christ.

James 1:2-3 says:“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”

Now why would the Bible say to have joy when faced with temptations?

To me it is because by facing trials and overcoming them, we grow in strength in our relationship with Christ.  I’m not talking about a worldly trial, like choosing the Honda or Toyota to buy. I’m talking about a temptation, facing a sin, standing face to face with a decision that may change your relationship with Christ. What you do matters.

When faced with temptation, there are two choices to make. Give in or avoid. Giving into temptations is a very bad thing to do, but you know that. Avoiding them is a good thing and builds us up in Christ and He rejoices with us that we turned our back on temptation. What happens when we do give into temptation?  We suffer.

We feel and are separated from Christ when we fall into temptations.  It’s what you do after you fail that is important. You ask for forgiveness and move forward. The great thing is that when you get back in line with Christ, you move forward where you left off. You don’t have to start all over again, but just begin moving forward again.

If you don’t turn back from Christ, you will begin to go downhill pretty fast and will continue to sin and sin. You will be sucked so deep by Satan that you will feel helpless to come back to Christ. You can though, through repentance and turning your back on your old ways. All it takes is that first step. Come on, you can do it!

Romans 15:13, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

You read this? We will be filled with joy and peace in believing and grow through the power of the Holy Spirit with Christ.  The Holy Spirit is so intertwined with our joy for God that he is always in us, directing us to holiness so we can have joy and peace.

The Holy Spirit directs us to stay on the path of righteousness. Even when faced with temptations, he is with us. He tells us “don’t do it” when faced with a temptation.

He is with us to protect us and to lead us away from the bad things and decisions we may make that are contrary to Christ.

Yet if we ignore the Holy Spirit, he is still with us. He wants to lead us back to the joy in Christ and if we listen to him, the Holy Spirit will make a way for us to do this.

John 16:33:  “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

I think that this is a verse to rejoice in. Christ overcame the world. No matter what happens to us, no matter what we face, Christ has overcome. The world to us should be just an annoyance like flies at a BBQ. If Christ overcame the world, we can too.

With joy in our hearts for Christ, peace comes with it.

I’ve felt that peace and joy. Have you?  If not, how long has it been? When was the last time you found peace and joy in your heart? A troubled heart feels no joy but a peaceful heart does. Christ wants us to have a peaceful and joyous heart. For without it, our relationship with Him is nil.  It is stagnant and not forward moving. It is something to overcome to attain that peace and joy.

To do this, we must discover Christ again.  If you have had a troubled heart for a time, now is the time to seek peace and with that peace, joy will be manifested. Even if your heart is troubled just a little bit, that wholeness with Christ will be missing.  Our troubled heart will be a roadblock to Him without peace and joy in our heart.

To get peace and the joy, we must do one simple thing: Ask for it.  Seek peace, pray for peace, and yearn for it. Don’t ever give up seeking Christ and the peace and joy he can give you. There will be no regrets in doing so. There will be no pain in seeking peace. There may need to be changes in your lifestyle, but you can trust that the Holy Spirit will urge you to make those changes to attain a greater relationship with Christ.

Having Christ in your life is the key to having peace in this horrible world we live in now.  Having joy in Christ will keep you motivated and on track to salvation. There is nothing this world has to offer that can give you the joy in your heart like Christ does.  Nothing.

If your having a hard time with this, examine yourself to see where the shortfalls are in your relationship with Christ that are causing a lack of peace and joy in your heart for Him.  Pray and ask for help from Christ. Seek guidance through deep study of the Word.  Get reconnected with Christ and you will have joy in your heart.

If you have joy in your heart already, water it and let the roots grow deeper. Don’t be static in your relationship with Him, but always seek more of Him. Seek Christ daily, every moment you have; have Him on your mind and in your thoughts.

Be an example to others of the joy you have for Christ. Mentor people by living the example of who Christ is and what He wants from us. Find joy in God!