Category Archives: Joy

Storms of Spring

Twitter happy

According to Twitter, March is one of the happiest months of the year.  I think it’s because it’s the time when you finally begin to see signs of spring.  The daffodils bloom.  The days get longer.  You see the light at the end of the tunnel.  What a relief, you’re going to make it!

My peach tree blooming

My peach tree blooming

Here in Auburn, the March days have been so nice that it’s almost criminal.  Could it have been getting dark at 4:30 only a couple of months ago?  Now it’s in the 60’s and sunny and beautiful.  With daylight savings time, the gorgeous days go on and on.  In contrast to the dark and cold we’ve been experiencing, it seems like utopia.

And on top of all of that, Mike and Marge are coming to lead our church.  We’ll have permanent leaders!  How much better could it get?

Then, in the midst of this perfection, cracks started to appear.  People I’ve been reaching out to walked away, friendships I’ve been building collapsed.  Events didn’t turn out the way I’d planned.  I begin to worry about potential dark clouds on the horizon — things that could go wrong with the future.

No matter how good it gets, I’m still a scared little child on the inside, feeling insufficient against the howling winds of the world.

storm

That’s why it’s great that I have something more.  When I feel inadequate, Christ gives me his own righteousness, wraps me in it like a comforting cloak, giving me his entrance card into the Divine Family.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  (II Cor 5:21)

It’s so uncanny how God works.  My computer wouldn’t come up yesterday morning, so I spent extra time in prayer.  The verse above was the magical passage that came to me as I was praying.  It was just what I needed to help me deal with my inner struggles.  Then, when I went to church, what did Jake preach about, but the same thing that came to me in prayer!

Jake defined righteousness as this, “the state of him who is as he ought to be; the condition acceptable to God.”

So when Christ makes us righteous, we become what we ought to be in order to be acceptable to God.  This is a state we can never achieve on our own.  No matter how many good things we do, how many “gold stars’ we collect on our spiritual chart, we will still fall short.

But, “Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.”  (I Cor 1:30)  Paul described it as, “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ  (Phil 3:9)

I will always be that scared child in the storm.  I fear that people will see that’s what I am, and it will be like the villagers who laughed at the emperor who had no clothes.  “She’s not that impressive!” they will say.

But just like my husband puts his coat around me when I don’t have one, Jesus covers my naked faults with his righteousness.  I don’t ever have to feel inadequate, or ashamed.

And I don’t tweet, but the way I live my life is like a tweet to those around me.  No matter what happens, good or bad, winter or spring, I can send the message, “I am happy.”

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Filed under Having the Right Heart, Joy, Self Worth

Don’t Pray for Blessings!

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To start off, I got the idea for this blog from another blog.  I read it and then went on my way.  Yet as time went on, I kept thinking of it, and it made such an impact that I wanted to communicate its main ideas.  I tried to find the blog to give it credit, but couldn’t.

Here is what the blog said:  Don’t pray for blessings.

We Christians have a habit of defining life in terms of our “blessings.”  We say our material possessions are blessings.  “God blessed me with such a nice house, car, etc.”  We say the good things that happen to us are blessings.  We name our friends and family as blessings.

And, don’t get me wrong, all of these things ARE blessings.  “Every good and perfect gift is from above.”  (James 1:17)

But labeling things as a blessing can lead to a mentality where our happiness is MEASURED by what we have, and what goes right.

If things work out, we are happy.  After all, we are blessed!  But then what do we think when things go wrong?

If we are studying the Bible with people and they decide to make Jesus Lord, we’re happy.  When we see the church assembly full of fired up people we’re happy.  But what about when people get weak, or leave?  It can be so discouraging.

Of course, if we care about people, we are going to feel emotional when they struggle.  “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.”  (I Cor 12:26)

But we we need to have a joy that transcends our “blessings.”  We need to have a deep and abiding joy that comes solely from Christ.

Instead of filling our prayer time with so many petitions, we need to pray to have MORE OF CHRIST.     Pray for God’s will to be done, and let this will be our food, as Jesus did in John 4:34.  Pray to know God’s love better, as Paul prayed in Phil 1:9 and Eph 3:17-19.

I mean, just look at the Ephesians 3 prayer: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

We get COMPLETELY FILLED with God when we understand the love of Christ.  And I think that is what leads to the next statement in Ephesians 3, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

I think God does immeasurably more, not with life circumstances, as much as with our INNER TRANSFORMATION.  God does immeasurably more by helping us understand his love, and filling us completely.  We overflow with, as Peter put it, an inexpressible and glorious joy:

  • “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  I Peter 1:9

God works incredibly in our hearts, giving us inner security where we were insecure, giving us confident where we were fearful.  Our weaknesses are turned into strengths. We are freed from the fruitless pursuit of trying to meet our own needs, and finally trust that He who loves us will take care of us.  A vibrant joy in our souls can keep growing and growing.

In my house, I try to always keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the table.  It symbolizes abundance to me.  As I look around, I see that I surround myself with the comfort and affirmation that I am blessed.  I see the cat curled up on the couch.  My grandmother’s quilt on the rack in the bedroom.  Pictures from vacations in the guest room.  Shells from the beach on my dresser.  Pictures of the kids on the occasional table.  Decorative pieces from loved ones on walls and shelves.

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But this mentality is only good if everything is in order.  It requires me constantly having to straighten up and clean.  Somehow my symbols of abundance aren’t as powerful when they’re surrounded by mess!

It’s just one more reminder that I cannot let my blessings dictate the level of my joy.

Okay, I know the title of this blog went a bit overboard.  There are many good “blessings” we should pray for.  There are circumstances that need to change.  People who have needs.

And we do need to be thankful.  Gratitude is POWERFUL!  I am keeping a list of things I am thankful for, and I am up to about 400 things on that list so far. It is so helpful to focus my mind on the positive instead of the negative.

But I want something more.  I want something deeper.  I am not entirely sure how to get it, but this has been my prayer —  that God will show me how to have an all sufficient joy that is based on Him, that my happiness will not be based on physical blessings, but on spiritual ones.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  Eph 1:3

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Filed under Joy, Luke, More of Christ, Uncategorized

Make My Joy Complete!

Partners in the Gospel

Partners in the Gospel

Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel. . . “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left . . . . Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord. . . If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate.”

The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but people scorned and ridiculed them. Nevertheless, some from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem. Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the Lord. 

The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests praised the Lord every day with resounding instruments dedicated to the Lord. . . There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.   (Selections from II Chronicles 30)

What a super passage this is!  I think it is perfect for going into the new year.  Here are some of the great themes of this reading:

Return to the Lord.  I pray that in the coming year, we all can love God more wholeheartedly, that we can get rid of all of the impurities.  May this be our constant prayer:

Burn away everything that breaks Your heart
Everything that is not love
Purify my every thought
Take away everything that comes between us
Everything that is untrue
Jesus make me more like You
Burn away

(“Burn Away,” sung by Meridith Andrews, written by Meredith Andrews, Jenna Cowart, Benji Cowart,  Jonathan Smith)

The Lord your God is compassionate and gracious.  We can focus on all of our mistakes and failings, and feel so unclean before God, hopeless even, that we will ever be what we need to be.  But let us come before God with a broken and contrite heart, knowing that his compassionate arms are opened wide.

  • Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Hebrews 4:16
  • He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.  Ps 103:10
  • Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  Lam 3:22

Some humbled themselves. How far are we willing to go to get our life on track?  “I’m doing fine, I don’t really need to do that.  It’s too much trouble.”  That is what we say when we’re faced with a challenge to do something to grow spiritually.  Last night I was messaging with an old friend from my days in Montgomery in the 80’s.  I stayed with that church there a long time, saying, “I don’t need to move to Atlanta, I can do what I need to here.”  But I wasn’t repenting, and I didn’t repent until I moved to Atlanta and started giving my complete life to God.  Even now, I live a life that is bursting with things I’m doing for God, but I can resist fasting, having an extended prayer time, door knocking, etc.

The hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind.  We need unity.  I’ve tried to do something significant for the Lord by myself, or with a few people. It’s much better for the whole church to work together in an effort. I would rather see one small thing done for God in unity, than several great things with a few people doing all of the work.  There is just something so encouraging and powerful about everyone taking up their oars and pulling together in the same direction.

  • All the believers were one in heart and mind.  Acts 4:32
  • I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. Jer 32:39
  • After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.  Acts 4:31
  • I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel  Phil 1:27

God, please work through your Spirit to give us unity of mind.  By ourselves, we are distracted, independent and downright selfish!

Following the leaders, following the word of the Lord.   Let us give wholehearted support to those who are leading us in the Lord.  

There was great joy.  There is nothing better than to feel that we are wholehearted for God, joining with others who are wholehearted for God, to accomplish something together for Him.  At this point in our lives, even with all of the health challenges, mood challenges, job challenges and selfishness challenges, Ken and I are perhaps the happiest we have ever been.  We love being a part of our church and feeling that we are members of a mission team with others who share our enthusiasm and dreams.

Let us remember that as we set goals for the new year, that it is not just a great walk with God that fills us with joy, but that deep happiness comes from being one in mind and purpose with others, having a great walk with God together.

“. . . make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”  Phil 2:2

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Filed under Humility, Joy

Walking Dead

I have some videos my mom took when I was in my 20s.  When I see myself then, I see a person who was self conscious and stiff.  I lacked vitality, because I guarded myself so closely.

A few years ago I realized that I could pinpoint the time when I began to be truly happy, truly alive.  It was when I was baptized and committed my whole self to God for the rest of my life.

Without a wholehearted commitment to God, we are like the walking dead in this world.

Walking dead

We are like shades, shadows, pursuing meaningless things, going through the motions of living.

  • You were once dead because of your failures and sins. in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  Eph 2:1
  • They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Eph 4:18
  • People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, . . . having a form of godliness but denying its power.  II Tim 3:1-5

But having a relationship with God gives VITALITY, it makes life unbelievably rich and full.

During this Christmas season, it is so meaningful to read what Zacharias prophesied about the coming of the baby Jesus, “the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” Zech 1:78-79   

Jesus came to animate our dead, dull lives.  He conquered death.  An impossible feat, and yet he did it!  And he takes us by the hand and walks us out of the valley of the shadow of death.  “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive WITH CHRIST even when we were dead in transgressions.” (Eph 2:4-5b)  The word for “made alive” means actually “made alive together with.”  We weren’t just brought to a new life.  We were joined with Jesus and were brought to life WITH HIM.

Here are some more verses about being made alive.

  • The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you–they are full of the Spirit and life.
  • For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
  • He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
  • Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him  Col 3:10
  • Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.  I Cor 6:10

Yesterday I listened to a Ted talk on depression by Andrew Solomon.  It really impacted me.  He said the opposite of depression is vitality.  As he quoted from someone else, depression is “a slower way of being dead.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_solomon_depression_the_secret_we_share.html

So many people are like the walking dead.  The joy of life has leaked out of them.  A worldly life of sin has deceived them.  The things they did to find happiness instead destroyed it.

Jake asked a question in our midweek class last night, “How many people truly know how to live?”  Most of us don’t.  We follow our own best wisdom, and we think we’re doing well.  Then one day we wake up in a slimy pit that’s too slippery to escape.

What is the solution?  How do we know how to live?  Christ left an example on how to live, how to really live.  God created life, he made the blueprint.  Jesus walked in the way man was created to walk.  As Jake said last night, we need to not just walk the path, but walk the way Jesus did.

Solomon said the best way of coping with depression is to find value in it.  He learned to love his depression because it forced him to find and cling to joy.  Each day he made a decision to cleave to the reasons for living.

In other words, Solomon found that his life wasn’t just random.  There was purpose and meaning in it.

And that is what will change our lives.  We need to realize that we weren’t just thrown here on this earth, and our days are not just a jumble of circumstances bumping up against each other.  Each moment has a sense of rightness, it has purpose and meaning.  When we know that, we start to truly live.

Today, I feel so full of life, so different than I did when I was younger.  But it is far from perfect, I have many uneasy times.  It is good for me to remember to walk the way Jesus did, to continue to find the blessed life I was meant to live.  It is good to remember that there is an order to life, and I need to value the things in my life.  I need to trust, and get every bit of value out of every moment.

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Joy, Relationship with God

Word and Light

The Word of life existed from the beginning. We have heard it. We have seen it. We observed and touched it. This life was revealed to us. We have seen it, and we testify about it. We are reporting to you about this eternal life that was in the presence of the Father and was revealed to us. This is the life we have seen and heard. We are reporting about it to you also so that you, too, can have a relationship with us. Our relationship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that we can be completely filled with joy. This is the message we heard from Christ and are reporting to you: God is light, and there isn’t any darkness in him.  (I John 1:1-5)

Jesus is described in two ways in this passage.

Jesus is described as the WORD.  John also depictsJesus this way in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word. . . and the word was made flesh.”

What is the Word?  Creation is associated with the Word.  God spoke things into existence.

  • Through him (the word) all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

The word is also associated with wisdom.

  • The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be. . . I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep. . . Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.”  Prov 8:22-23, 27

What can we learn from these verses?  That Jesus is the executor of God’s will. That  God delighted in man from the beginning.  That the creative process made God and Jesus rejoice. (I love that.  When I look around nature, I also am filled with delight and rejoice with God.)

The creative process.  We have an idea.  We “brainstorm” this idea and shape it into a plan.  Then we formally articulate our plan.  And finally we execute it.

Jesus is that instrument by which an idea comes to fruition.  He is a force of creation.  Thus, it made perfect sense for him to come to earth, to be made flesh.  He could create a spiritual life on earth.  He could create a new covenant.  He could create a new order, the perfect priesthood, forgiveness of sins, a way for God to dwell with man, a way for man to live forever.

So when John says the word was made flesh, John says he saw that Jesus was much more than a man.  He saw that Jesus had a supernatural force of creation in him and the power to execute God’s will.  And when we look at Jesus, we see the same thing.  He had power over the elements, over disease, over death, even.

It is interesting to note that even with this power, Jesus was still in submission to God.  He prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.”  He said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”  (John 5:19)

Jesus is described as LIGHT.  In the Bible, light is used as as the depiction of divine holiness and goodness.  The prophesies about the Messiah describe him as the arrival of a wonderful beacon of hope.

  • Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.  Is 60:1-2
  • “because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”  Luke 1:78
  • But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.  Mal 4:2

If Jesus is the Word, and he is light, what does that mean for us?

  1. That when we pray, we are praying in the name of the executor of God’s will.  Jesus is by nature the one who can carry out our requests.
  2. That when we have God dwelling in us, the Holy Spirit, we have this incredible power of creation available to us.
  3. That just as Jesus delighted in creation, we too can delight in creation, both of the physical world and the spiritual one.  We can be in awe of the wonders of nature around us.  We can be in awe that we can help create the new kingdom of God.  And it is a part of our spiritual nature to want to create and build the church.
  4. That we need to draw close to Jesus to combat the darkness in our lives — depression, hopelessness, negativity.
  5. That we can see that we have incredibly GOOD NEWS for others.  Our message is the same as that in I John 1:7: “God is light, in him is no darkness at all.”  We want to help people see just how good and loving God is.
  6. That being light also means that God is holy, and we need to teach people how to fear God.

“You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy” (Is 9:3)  This is what the creation process of Jesus was — to expand the kingdom, and to bring an age of joy to everyone.

In this Christmas season I think of the words of the chorus of the hymn, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen:” “Oh tidings of comfort and joy.”   That is what we have, and what we carry to others, now and always.

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Joy, Uncategorized

Laughter!

LaJasmin's baptism

LaJasmin’s baptism

aa- baptism great

“Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.'” (Gen. 21:6)

I write about some heavy stuff some times.  And it is important to be serious.  I was in a cross study yesterday, and I was struck once again about how much Jesus went through, and how great our response should be.  We should be devoted to giving giving our very best to God.

But today I would like to focus on something less heavy — laughter.  What a wonderful verse this is, when Sarah says she will laugh, and everyone will laugh with her!  She has traveled with her husband for years through all kinds of places, been through all kinds of things.  She has never had a child, and she is old and wrinkled.  And then God gives her the thing she dreamed about most — a child!  Her heart was filled with joy, joy so great that she laughed out loud.

I can remember a time in my life when I don’t think I really laughed for years.  I had kind of frozen emotionally.  I can remember a time in my life when I didn’t really have hope.  I am so grateful that God has brought me to a place where I can laugh, and laugh often.

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed.Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Ps 126:1-2

We had our women’s small group in Columbus last night, and we talked about dreaming.  It was so wonderful to reflect on how God has fulfilled the dreams I had in my 20’s and has given me more than I could ask or imagine!  He gave me a purpose, and a great way to serve Him, especially here in Auburn.  He has given me a wonderful marriage, and shaped Ken into the spiritual leader I longed for.  He gave me amazing ways to use my talents in television and on the stage.  He gave me treasured close friendships.  He helped my kids grow up in so many amazing ways, and for our family to be close.

And I can think now of dreams that have recently been fulfilled, and how my mouth was filled with laughter.  I was overflowing with joy when Max graduated and did well in nursing school, and now as Devon graduates and she has done so well in college after disliking it her first two years.  I was ecstatic when LaJasmine was baptized.  I was grateful beyond words when Jake and Bethany started serving here.  I could go on and on.

What we talked about in our small group is how we all go through “goo periods” (from our sermon Sunday by Steve Staten) — tough times when we are like caterpillars in cocoons and our life seems amorphous.  But then God helps us come out on the other side into laughter.  It is important to dream and get unstuck out of the goo periods,  to work and move forward, so God can bring us to these times of laughter.

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior ….He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful.”  Luke 1:47-48, 54

I wrote a musical about the nativity story, “My Soul Is Dancing.” and I named it after this passage.  In the musical, Mary is so happy that she sings these words and dances before God.  And she isn’t just happy because she is pregnant.  She is happy because she knows that the child she bears will somehow be a savior to Israel.  Israel has underdone many unpleasant years of oppression — a long goo period!  But a better time is coming.

When I wrote “My Soul is Dancing,” it was at a point in my life when I felt that MY soul was dancing.  How incredible that God brought me from those years of being frozen emotionally to a time of unbridled joy and laughter!

It is good to remember all of this now, because my latest trial has been to have challenges of not feeling well emotionally.  As with any time of trial, I can feel discouraged, bogged down with a negative mindset.  BUT — “we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.”  (Ps 66:12)  That is what God always does.  We read last night, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”  (Isa 40:31)  When I remember my hope is in God, when my focus is on Him, I can get through the trials.  I expect that He will help me find a way to get through, and when I do get through, I will be surrounded by His abundant grace, and I will help others.

In closing, I want to mention another verse on laughter:   “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. ….She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness…. a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  (Selections from Proverbs 31)

I believe God has brought me to a place of laughter because I have sought to fear Him and live a lifestyle where He is Lord. (I am not trying to hold myself up here,  I know my flaws!) The woman in Proverbs 31 lived confidently, not in fear.  She was always busy doing good things, and didn’t shrink back from trying new ways of using her talents.  This is a great example of what brings laughter.

I pray that I can always walk forward confidently, laughing at the days to come, and laughing with thanksgiving for the abundant blessings He has brought by His grace.

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Exhilirating Joy

Agalliasis is the Greek word that is used to describe great joy in five places in the Bible.

First, in Luke 1:14, the angel tells Zechariah that his son John (the Baptist) would be a great joy to him.  Certainly, because Zechariah and Elizabeth did not have any children, this was true.

Second, in Luke 1:44, John “leaps” with exuberant joy in Elizabeth’s womb when Elizabeth meets Mary.  It was an extreme happiness that the Messiah was coming.

Third, in the church in Acts 2, the people ate bread with one another in their homes with exhilarating joy.  They were exceedingly glad to be together, a spiritual family who share with one another the good news.

Fourth, Jesus is described in Hebrews 1:9 as being anointed with the oil of extreme joy.  In some translations, he is said to have been given more joy than anyone else.  The connotation is a king who is anointed with oil upon his royal appointment.

Finally, it says in Jude 1:24, “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.”  

Who has great joy in this verse, us or God?  Probably both!  But in summarizing, it seems that this word is used for a special kind of joy when something new is being experienced.  Zechariah will be joyful when he finally has a child.  John is joyful because the Messiah is finally coming into the world.  The new disciples are joyful because they are following a new way of hope, with new brothers and sisters.  Jesus is joyful because he is instituting a spiritual kingdom.  And we will be joyful when we finally enter heaven and can be in the Most Holy God’s presence.  God will be joyful when we are finally home, in His arms.

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Filed under Joy, Topical