Experiencing fullness of joy ( #2 in a series of 3 blog posts)
In my last post we looked at the Biblical definition of Joy. I used this definition from the Bible project: “The attitude God’s people adopt, not because of happy circumstances but because of the hope in God’s love and promise.” In this post, we will look at how to experience this gift from God more fully.
I recently read an article on fox news from a well-known pastor about how to have more joy this Christmas season. I love and respect this pastor but I was disappointed in what he had to say about how to experience more Biblical joy. Most of his suggestions were tips on how to change your circumstances so that you might avoid some stress and sadness around this time of the year. I’m sure some of his tips would be helpful to follow to reduce some stress this Christmas, but Biblical joy is even better than that! Maybe you can’t change your schedule this year, or maybe you can’t push away the sadness and the grief you are feeling. The good news is, you don’t have to ignore or rearrange everything around you to experience Biblical joy. You have access to this amazing gift no matter what your schedule looks like, or what the reality of your circumstances are. Let me give you three ways you can experience fullness of joy no matter what is going on all around you this holiday season.
Walk in the Spirit
Kevin De Young on his explanation of the Holy Spirit said “The Holy Spirit not only empowers us for Christlike living, he equips us for Christlike service. “Fullness” is one way to describe this equipping. The Spirit fills with boldness, courage, wisdom, faith, and joy (Acts 6:3; 11:24; 13:52). Even though the Spirit dwells within us, he can still fill us to a greater or lesser degree, just like a balloon can be full of air—if you blow into it, it expands and has a fuller fullness.”
How then are we filled with the Holy Spirit who produces joy in us? My Pastor, Dr. Kevin Carson, explains it this way: “We are filled with the Spirit when we think about Christ, think about the truth of the Bible and put it into practice, walk in that truth and think about the joy that you have in your relationship with Christ. Then you will find that the Spirit helps produce joy in you because you are filled with the Spirit.”
My 9 year old son, Liam, got a hover board for his birthday this year. As he started riding it around the house we knew we would need to come up with some rules. Some of the rules are, don’t eat while riding on the hover board, don’t ride through the kitchen while some one is cooking, and a few others. When ever he broke one of those rules his consequence was that he could not ride his hover board for a few days. He still had it, it was still his, but he was not able to enjoy it for a time. This is not a perfect example, but joy is similar to this. When we don’t walk in the Spirit we still have the gift of joy but we don’t experience it to it’s fullest extent. If we look back on our week, we might be able to think of times when we were not obeying God and times that we were not in fellowship with Him. We will probably notice how we lacked joy in those moments. Jesus said in John 14: 10-11. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” If we want to experience fullness of joy we will daily abide in Christ’s love and walk in the Spirit. (Galatians Ch. 5).
Another way to experience this fullness of joy is to abide in Christ.
In John 15:4 Jesus says “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” We can’t bear fruit unless we are saved, and we won’t grow in this area if we are not continually abiding in Christ. God never meant for us to get saved, and then go and live life apart from Him. He wants us to daily abide with Him. According to Strongs concordance, the word abide in the original language means to stay, in a given place, state, relation or expectancy. It means continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand tarry. Are these words that describe our relationship with Christ? If not then we are not experiencing the fullness of joy that God intends for us to have. Waking up each morning, starting our day with Christ, and seeking to abide by his side all day long will fill us with the blessings of godly joy.
Finally, we can experience fullness of joy by focusing on God’s love and promises.
We can also experience more joy by focusing on God’s love and promises that we find in His Word. God gives us so many wonderful verses that help to encourage us along the way. He didn’t have to leave us with so much encouragement and instruction but He did. When we focus on His love and the promises of His Word we will be filled with less fear and anxiety and instead have more joy, peace and hope. Here a just a few examples to focus on.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave you or forsake you.
Revelations 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
We don’t naturally think about these truths. In fact, our thoughts often discourage us and lie to us. We need to constantly be renewing our minds and meditating on these truths. We can do this by spending more time in God’s Word searching out these truths, writing them down, and meditating on them throughout the day. No matter what our circumstances are, this will help us to fight for more joy in our day.
We don’t need to have a perfectly cleaned and decorated house, or a stress free schedule. We don’t need to ignore or avoid any grief in our hearts this holiday season. We can fight for more joy by walking in the Spirit, abiding in Christ, and focusing on God’s love and promises. This is such amazing news, because it means that no matter who is reading this right now, no matter what you are going through, you can experience this gift of joy this Christmas season and all year round.