Equipping the saints for the work of the ministry - Ephesians 4:12

The Source of Joy

1 John 1:4 says, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” This verse reveals God’s desire to fill His people with joy. Why then is joy alluding us and how can we tap into the joy of the Lord? God’s plan for you is fullness of joy.

“The first requisite for happiness is the abolition of religion.” – Karl Marx

Of course, all religion does is convict and condemn a person unless they give their life to Christ. Unbelievers experience less joy and happiness around Christians because they are uncomfortable being in the presence of God. Believers could learn from this quote, applying it in a somewhat different way than he intended. We need to get rid of religiosity and get Jesus back in the church.

“There is a joy which isn’t given to the ungodly, that of those who love thee for thine own sake, whose joy thou thyself art; and this is the happy life to rejoice in thee, and of thee. This is it and there is none other.” – Augustine

“Joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian life.” – G.K. Chesterton

What a true statement. The problem is the church has lost its joy and therefore the secret of its life. Let’s get some joy back into the church and our lives as believers.

Joy and Happiness

There is a vast difference between joy and happiness. Chuck Smith contrasts joy and happiness in this way, “Happiness is the level of the soul dependent on outward circumstances (nothing there to ruffle things), whereas joy is a spiritual quality independent of outward circumstances.”

Jesus’ joy didn’t come from this world’s goods. In fact, scripture seems to indicate He lived on somewhat of a sub-poverty level. When taxes were due, He borrowed money from a fish to pay them (Matthew 17:27). “A certain scribe came and said to Him, Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go. And Jesus said to him, Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:19-20).

I’m not always happy about my circumstances, are you? Paul was incarcerated when he said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4)! We may not be happy about our circumstances, but in spite of what we may be going through God wants to fill us with “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). This is God’s will for you and me. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

There are some reading this who have been going through a time of sorrow, discouragement and despair. Life has a way of taking everything out of us – stealing any joy we might have. God wants to set you free today and fill you with joy as only He can. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, That you shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. And you now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man takes from you” (John 16:20 and 22).

This is a prophetic word for many of you. You have been overwhelmed with sorrow and grief to the point of intense weeping and lamentation. God is about to turn your sorrow into joy. You are about to catch a glimpse of Jesus and your sorrow is going to be turned into joy – and nothing will be able to steal your joy from you.

“Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8).

“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 Ghost” (Romans 15:13).

“The kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).

“Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, you righteous: and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart” (Psalm 32:11).

“Everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee” (Isaiah 35:10).

“Break forth into joy, sing together, For the Lord has comforted His people” (Isaiah 52:9).

“Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy” (Isaiah 60:5).

“Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).

“Thou hast put gladness in my heart” (Psalm 4:7).

“The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Sources of Joy

Righteousness. Paul said, “For the kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). Righteousness always precedes joy. There is no joy without righteousness. Let me be clear, we have no righteousness of our own – “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). If we are going to experience joy it must be dependent upon Him and His righteousness and not ours. When we trust Christ as our Savior, His righteousness is put to our account.

The source of our joy is His inputed righteousness. “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). If we are depending on our own righteousness, we will never maintain any level of joy – we always fall short (Romans 3:10, 23). Also read Matthew 6:33, Psalms 32:10-11, Hebrews 1:9, Romans 12:9, and Micah 6:8.

Answered prayer. “Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have you asked nothing in My name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24). How glorious and exciting it is to see our prayers answered.

God’s Word. God’s Word is a glorious source of joy for the believer. “Thy Words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). If we are called by His name, His Word is a constant source of joy to us. It’s like getting a love letter from someone you have been longing to hear from. We’re thrilled, excited and filled with joy upon hearing from them.

Also read Psalms 119:103 and Luke 10:38-42.

A View to the end of your trial. “And not only so, but we glory (boast, rejoice, exalt) in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). Read James 1:2-4. The key is knowing. If we are to stand up under trials and experience joy, we must have a vision toward the end product which is hope. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12a).

Forward vision is essential. “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18). Lack of hope and vision destroys us, but looking forward in faith to something better is life. “Desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12b). Also read Matthew 5:10-12, Hebrews 12:2, Romans 5:13, Romans 8:18, and 1 Corinthians 2:9-10.

Soul winning. Reaching souls for Christ should be one of our greatest sources of joy. “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20). Imagine the Apostle Paul in heaven. A great multitude walks by and the Lord says to him, “These are here because you cared, sacrificed and remained faithful to your call (Acts 20:24). Wow, what joy!

Jesus told parables about a lost sheep, coin and prodigal son (Luke 15). At the end of the parables He proclaimed there was rejoicing in heaven over one soul that comes to repentance. Soul winning is one of the greatest sources of joy a believer will ever experience both now and in the life to come. Let’s reach the lost!

Leadership. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17). You can either bring joy to your pastors and leaders or grief. We can make their job enjoyable or an utterly miserable thing. I have seen and experienced both.

It is unprofitable for us to make their job difficult, but profitable when we make their ministry a joyful experience. They watch over your soul and will give an account to God. Let’s make what they do enjoyable. We will be the better for it. We can do so by getting behind them and being supportive to them and their vision. Jeremiah said, “I will fill (saturate) the soul of the priests with abundance, And My people will be satisfied with My goodness, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:14). The more blessed our leaders are, the more blessed we will be.

God’s Will “That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God” (Romans 15:32). We are never filled with more joy than when we are in the center of God’s will. I have experienced times when I was struggling over what to do in a situation and had no peace or joy whatever. Once I surrendered to the will of God joy flooded my heart.

While in Caesarea, Paul was prophesied over that if he went to Jerusalem he would be arrested and bound. Everyone immediately began trying to talk him out of going. He finally responded, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:13-14). Paul knew that only in the will of God would he find fulfillment, even if it meant the worst of circumstances.

It’s amusing that when he couldn’t be persuaded, they finally surrendered to the will of God. Isn’t that the way we are? When God can’t be persuaded to do things our way or we can’t change our situation, we finally give ourselves over to the will of God. Let’s surrender to and commit ourselves to pursuing God’s will. In this alone is there true joy. Also read John 13:13-17, Acts 20:24 and James 1:22-25.

Victory in battle. “Let God arise, Let His enemies be scattered. Let those also who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, So drive them away. As wax melts before the fire, So let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad. Let them rejoice before God. Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly” (Psalm 68:1-3). Victory over the enemy is one of the greatest joys we will ever experience. The righteous “rejoice exceedingly” whenever God rises up and scatters our enemies from before us. Victory is on its way with accompanying joy!

Psalm 60:12 – “Through God we shall do valiantly: for He it is that shall tread down our enemies.”

There are many of you who have been going through battle after battle with seemingly no victory. Discouragement has set in and your joy has been stolen. God is about to rise up on your behalf and bring unprecedented victory into your life and situation.

God’s prophetic word for you today is, “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20). Claim it – Your victory is imminent!

Starting a new church or ministry is one of the most rewarding things you can do to advance the gospel, but it can also be very challenging. With over 40 years of church planting and ministry experience, Dr. Linton's passion is to encourage, support and equip pastors and church leaders.