The Joy of the Lord

We’re coming to the close of our discussion about what to do when we feel overwhelmed.  The fourth pointer God spoke to my spirit was, “The joy of the Lord is your strength (Neh. 8:10).”  That’s such an often-quoted Scripture, but what does it really mean, and what is the practical application of it?  I must say I don’t really have the answer to those questions.  I do know that if God says that His joy is our strength, I want to find a way to stay in that joy when life gets difficult, because His ways are always right, and I want His joy and strength.  I also know that in any given situation, we are each going to find our own way to stay in the joy of the Lord.  So, how can we find and stay in His joy when life seems to be crashing down all around us?  Well, I know that joy comes when we trust Him, rest in Him, commune with Him through prayer, obey Him, thank and worship Him, and meditate on Him and His Word.  So, those are all things I will do.

Meditating on Him and His Word reminds us of God’s character and His intentions toward us.  When we are going through challenges, isn’t it comforting to get into His Word and remind ourselves of how God is for us; He is our friend; He loves us unconditionally; He has good things planned for us; He will never leave us or forsake us.  Going to His Word reestablishes in our spirits that He is mightier than our trouble or our adversary, and He is on our side.  He sent Jesus to the cross to be resurrected for our rescue.  Read the Scriptures that edify your spirit.  Read Scriptures about His love and power.  Meditating on His Word also reminds us of who we are in Christ.  Greater is He Who is in us than he who is in the world (1 Jn. 4:4).  I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).  I can do all things through Christ (Phil. 4:13).  I am an overcomer through Christ (Lk. 10:19; Jn. 1:5; Jn. 16:33; 1 Jn. 2:13-14; 1 Jn. 5:4-5).  I am made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27, 5:1; Rom. 8:29).  If God is for me, who can be against me (Rom. 8:31)?  Don’t you just feel joy and victory rising up on the inside of you?

Trust and rest in your Lord.  Of course, meditating on His Word builds trust, but another great way to develop trust is to actively think about and remember times when God has brought you through a trial or helped you avoid a temptation.  Think about those times in the past when your situation seemed impossible or you were in fear, and God brought the answers.  God never changes.  He is able.  He has been with you all the way, and He will not forsake you now.  God told the Israelites to put themselves in remembrance of His greatness and protection toward them when He commanded them to commemorate the Passover (Ex. 12, esp. vs. 21-28; see also 1 Cor. 11:23-25), and that is exactly what we need to do.  When you trust God, you can rest in Him; you can step away from your worry and know that there is nothing you and He cannot handle together.  You can find peace and comfort for your soul.  Trusting God, meditating on His promises and His acts of kindness, grace, and mercy builds faith for your journey; it brings a vision of hope and success.  Then the faith that comes from trusting Him and His Word gives eyes to your vision.  Scripture tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for (Heb. 11:1); it is the foundation of that hope.  Trusting God is just taking Him at His Word and believing that it is more true than your difficult circumstance.

Obedience is another way to find His joy.  Regardless of the circumstance, God is always smarter than we are.  He is always right.  When His ways don’t seem to make sense, just obey Him anyway.  It never makes sense in the natural to turn the other cheek.  “What Lord, you want me to get slapped again?”  We always want to fight back, to prove the other guy wrong.  That’s just fear taking hold of us, fear that no one will take care of us and what we need.  But that is wrong thinking, because God always honors His children when they honor Him.  So, settle in right now.  If His Word tells you to do something, or if He speaks to your spirit telling you to move in a certain direction, obey, even if it doesn’t seem to be logical.  His ways are above our ways, and we need to settle in our hearts and minds that we will follow His ways no matter what.  Tithing is a good example.  Does that make sense in the natural?  Give away your money even when you are in dire financial straits, and the Lord will pour out a blessing you cannot contain?  No.  It makes no natural sense.  But I can testify that it works.  When my husband and I got married, we had both recently finished graduate school and had HUGE debt.  When I graduated, the Lord spoke to me and told me that as I followed and honored Him, He would make me debt free within five years.  I sincerely wanted to honor Him, and I set forth on a journey to honor Him in every way I could, in every facet of life.  I studied Scripture, and one of the ways I decided I could honor Him was to tithe.  I had not been taught that doctrine, so it was new to me.  I felt this was a personal commitment I could make to honor God, and the Scriptures were very clear on the fact that God blesses our tithes and our commitment to Him.  Read Malachi 3.  With two good incomes, the “task” of tithing didn’t seem that daunting; then my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, and the Lord spoke to us making it clear He wanted me to stay home with her.  I had no desire to quit my job and stay home; nor was it at all reasonable to leave my large salary, become a one-income family, and continue tithing when our new, reduced income would be only about a third of our debt amount and barely enough to cover daily bills, not even including school loans.  It made no sense for me to quit, but my husband and I decided to believe God and be obedient.  Shortly thereafter, I had three hand surgeries, and the bills kept mounting.  We kept tithing.  Do you know that within 5 years to the day when God told me we would be debt free, we were!  Praise God.  He performed the miraculous.  Not only were our bills paid, but He had enabled us to buy land and a house and had still provided the down payment for that.  Was obedience easy?  No, but it brought us into His presence and His joy.  It taught us to depend on Him for everything, and that when we can’t see the way through, His plans always succeed and bring us victory.  It showed us His great love and provision!  It is so liberating to know that we are in the Hands of a faithful, loving Father Who will not desert us, but Who will always provide!  Resting in Him, trusting Him, obeying Him takes the pressure off, and we can enter His joy!  He has so much more for us than we can ask, think, or imagine, and it is His delight to show us that we can end our striving and find our joy and our way through in Him!

Finally, find His joy by just praising Him and thanking Him, not just for all the wonderful things He has done for you in your life, but just for Who He is!  Just open your heart and bless Him.  Speak words of thankfulness; sing songs of praise.  Praising Him shakes the shackles off of your life.  When you praise Him, you cannot think about your own troubles.  Your troubles fall away into nothingness, and your heart soars and is set free; your spirit joins the angels in joyful exaltation.  When you express your love to God, it sets you free from the bondages of earth and the natural realm.  You enter God’s very presence, and your spirit communes directly with the Holy Spirit, and you are filled to the uttermost with wisdom, and revelation, and freedom!  You are refreshed and strengthened in His joy!  You are given new life!  I know I have gone very long this week, but let me just give you one more example.  Several years back, I “lost” my entire extended family (sisters, mother, and father) in an instant, the blink of an eye, not through death, but through circumstance.  The instant – and I mean the VERY INSTANT – I got the news, the Lord said to me, “Lisa Marie, do not lose your joy!”  I thought, “How is that possible?  How can that be expected?”  My family was very close.  I will never forget those words.  They seemed to give me an impossible task, but they were really God coming to my rescue!  I knew my only hope to make it through was to obey my Lord, and focus on His joy in me, and at that very moment, that is what I set my heart to do – find and stay in His joy.  Was the journey always easy?  No.  But GOD gave me His grace, and He gave me joy unspeakable and full of glory.  As I chose to remain focused on Him and His great love and care for me, His fatherhood, His faithfulness to me, His will in my life, the ugliness of the world just faded away, and He kept me and my immediate family (husband and kids) strong, and blessed, and at peace.  What could have been a devastating situation turned into a journey of new life, new hope, new relationships, new wisdom, new strength, new blessing!  Hallelujah to our Lord Who always gives us the victory through Jesus (1 Cor. 15:57). . .and Who always gives us His peace!

When the burdens of this world just seem too heavy to bear, His joy brings life, rest, peace, and grace, and all the wonder of His strength is poured out upon us, and we go forth with Him in victory!

The joy of the Lord is our strength,

Pastor Lisa Marie

If you have never made Jesus the Lord of your life and desire to, pray this:  Dear God, I believe that Jesus is your Son, that He died on the cross for me and was resurrected for my redemption.  I choose to make Jesus the Lord of my life.  I thank you for forgiving me and for filling me with Your Holy Spirit.  I thank You that I am Your child, that You are my Father, and that You have great things planned for me.  Amen