Guest blogger: Angela Thomas
These are Angela Thomas’ speaking notes from the Faithlife Women Conference, presented unaltered and in their entirety.
The followers of Jesus have been given lavish gifts from God. Most of us open the ones we need most and too many of us leave the gift of joy unwrapped or still in the box.
God gives us much Scripture on the unshakable joy we're to have within:
The gift of God is life eternal. – Romans 6:23
God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. – Romans 11:29
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. – Ephesians 1:8
What has happened to all your joy? – Galatians 4:15
- I was asked to write the devotional called Choosing Joy.
- I found that I knew very little about God’s instructions regarding joy.
- Turns out God, in the Bible, God is serious about His followers living in joy.
JOY defined – the inner attitude of rejoicing in one’s salvation regardless of outward circumstances. One of the fruits of a right relationship with God.
Why should we unwrap the gift of joy?
Take it out of the box. Put that baby on. Show it off!
1. The Bible clearly commands
Rejoice in the Lord – Phil 3:1 – is a command
Be joyful always. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16
The Bible uses the word joy (Greek and Hebrew) to communicate a positive human condition that can be either a feeling or an action. In this passage the Greek uses the word “joy” in the action sense. Choosing the action of joy.
God did not stutter – always means always.
2. Our joy is for God’s glory
How will we choose joy for the glory of God:
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1
The goal is to become a living expression of joy.
3. Choosing joy (surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit) transforms your life and therefore all those you influence, love, parent, etc.
4. Joy is evangelistic. Missional. Mountain moving.
Some protest that the pursuit of joy seems self-centered:
It’s NOT!! Pursuing joy and glorifying God are not in conflict. To pursue joy with your whole life is to honor the One who has given you life.
Pursuing joy in God is very different from just enjoying His gifts. Most of us know how to enjoy His gifts, but the pursuit of joy actually transforms us.
- His word and our pursuit,
- His power and our surrender,
- The creator of joy can put His joy inside of us,
- HE can create what we cannot manufacture.
- The more we approach God for this transformation, the more of God we will encounter.
God desires that we find our joy, happiness, peace and purpose in Him. When we have done so – HE is glorified!
We must fight for joy. We must fight for the relationship that God has called us to. Fight to become the woman filled with joy. – John Piper
- Fight our natures.
- Fight sin and countless distractions.
- Even fight against the ones who discourage you, so the pursuit of joy becomes your priority.
What the Bible has to say about joy:
1. Joy comes from God
- Joy was created in the character of God.
- Joy was born in the person of Jesus Christ.
- Gospel means “message bringing joy.”
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.’ I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord. – Luke 2:10 – 11
Gospel has been communicated as a message of condemnation or separation, but the NT intent is that the life and message of Jesus be communicated as a message of joy!
The power to choose joy comes from the Holy Spirit.
2. The Bible says that joy is a gift to those who belong to Jesus.
- Joy is given by God to His followers.
- Don’t Postpone your Joy.
- Don’t keep waiting to open the gift.
May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. (Psalm 68:3)
3. The Bible shows that joy increases because of our increasing relationship with God.
In our obedience to God, his word, the prompting of the Holy Spirit – there is greater joy.
4. The Bible teaches that joy is an action choice (obedience) we make because we follow Jesus Christ. The action can result in the feeling – but they don’t always follow each other.
The Bible says this kind of obedience produces joy:
- Following God’s Word – Psalm 119:14, Psalm 19:8
- Trusting God – Romans 15:13
- Being in God’s presence – Psalm 16:9 – 11
- Understanding God’s Word – Jeremiah 15:16, John 17:13
- For peacemakers – Proverbs 12:20, Matthew 5:9
- Surrender – Psalm 37:4 – 5
- Hope in God – Romans 12:12
- Becoming Wise – Proverbs 15:23
- Worship – Psalm 100:2, Psalm 149:1 – 5
- Serving others – Philippians 2:1 – 5
- Abiding in Christ – John 15:9 – 11
- Being generous – 2 Corinthians 8:2
- Faithful work – Matthew 25:21
- Thankfulness for our blessings – Psalm 126:1 – 6
Joy that comes from obedience has benefits:
- Freedom from things – Ecclesiastes 2:10 – 11
- Freedom from despair – Isaiah 61:1 – 2
- Comfort – Psalm 63:6 – 8, Psalm 94:18 – 19
- Forgiveness/Restoration – Psalm 51:12
- Peace in our loss – Habakkuk 3:17 – 18
- Peace in our waiting – 2 Chronicles 20:21, 27
- Peace through trials – Isaiah 12:2 – 4
- Peace when you are ridiculed – Acts 5:41 – 42, Romans 12:14
- Peace in our trials – James 1:2 – 4
- Freedom from bitterness – Lamentations 3:19 – 23
- Strength when you are weak – Nehemiah 8:10
- Joy even in our sorrow – 2 Corinthians 6:10
The benefits transform me. JOY is a characteristic of spiritual maturity AND surrender
5. The Bible says we have the promise of future joy.
We only know joy in part but one day … in full. In your everyday life — FIGHT FOR JOY.
First, fight for the transformation in your very own heart and attitude. You cannot impart what you do not possess. You cannot give the gift you left unopened.
In our homes. Marriage. Church. School. Every sphere of influence.
Mamas – you have the opportunity to give your children something you may have never known.
Single moms – you have the great privilege of setting the tone for your home.
Be the sunshine …
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14 – 16
The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father. – Matthew 13:43