Written 2nd June 2017
Myself and my husband looked last night at what the Joy of the Lord is. We each sat and looked at different references of it in the Bible, sifting through different portions of scripture individually to see if we could find anything to answer our question. I found a few snippets that were helpful but they weren’t quite nailing it as I had hoped yet. I crossed a few references off my list from the concordance and came to John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full”. I immediately knew this was what was needed so I read it in context:
John 15:1-11; “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 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.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 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 remain in you, and that your joy may be full”
These words spoken by Jesus are what I come back to time and time again. When things start to go a bit pear-shaped or when I start to notice cracks in my character or behaviour, I am always brought back to this portion of scripture. I love it, but it is slightly annoying that we often have to go through long difficult journeys before we realise that the answer or solution is actually quite simple: remain attached to the Vine. If this is where God keeps bringing me why have I not learnt my lesson?! It’s almost funny – I ought to write John 15 on my forehead to remind myself daily that the answer is always found in John 15!
Regarding joy, verse 11 refers to everything Jesus has previously said and that if we do what He has told us in the previous verses, our joy will be full. Remain attached to Jesus, abide in His love, be obedient to His Word and our joy will be full. I turned to my husband and asked him if he had come across John 15. He smiled. I looked at what he was reading…John 15! We had both come to the same piece of scripture at exactly the same time and both found it contained the answers we needed over everything else we had looked at so far. I love it when God does such things!
True joy is found only in Christ. God alone gives joy – something that is more than an emotion or feeling. Joy is rooted in relationship with the Holy Spirit, not in earthly or material things. When we stand in the confidence that dying to self will enable us to share in Jesus’ victory, we have joy – it is an inner satisfaction that all is well despite the circumstances or situation we are experiencing. It is a trustworthy hope that nothing is bigger than God and a deep trust that God sees and knows all. The simple fact is that when we are in Christ He sustains us. It is so simple, but we often make it complicated. In this society I think we put God in a box. We schedule Him in to our day or week…we give Him a slot where we spend time with Him and then we get on with the rest of our day. Our priorities are all wrong. Yes we need to work and do practical things but God is the reason we wake up in the morning with the breath of life within us. Our waking hours should be a continual walk with Him. We should not put jobs, employment or other things first in our day. This can be tough because we often spend the majority of our time busy with necessary activity in our lives but we almost need to flip our thinking over. We are in relationship with the living God…going to work or running the home should only be part of our day regardless of how much physical time is spent doing it. Our minds need to comprehend that those necessary activities do not determine our day-our walk with God does. I’m not sure if i’m explaining myself very well but I trust you are able to glean that instead of our practical life-living ‘stuff’ being our main focus and God is scheduled in somewhere amongst the stuff if time, our main focus needs to be remaining attached to the Vine.
Psalm 16:11 tells us that joy is found in God’s presence. Simple! Yet we try and come up with formulas to increase how much time we spend in His presence, to fit him into our busy life as if we need to tick boxes by our own effort to qualify. That in itself is about us trying to work it all out. Instead our whole day ought to be in God’s presence. We don’t turn a ‘God’s presence’ button on and off. We are either in continual fellowship with Him or we are not.
Psalm 30:5 says that sorrow may last the night but joy does come in the morning. Joy is defined as a shout of victory or an act of singing triumphantly. Let us acknowledge that weeping will not last a lifetime but God’s faithfulness will. Despite our trials He is faithful and victorious and so we must raise a shout of victory even when things don’t look victorious.
Psalm 43:3-5 speaks of how we are to hope in God. We need to choose to praise Him in difficulty and go to His altar where we will meet with Him. He is our exceeding joy.
In Jeremiah 15:16 it was the Words of God that brought joy to Jeremiah. He ate (digested) the Word of life and his joy was full. What a lesson for us!
It is wonderful how God speaks to His people. I love the fact that He answers our questions and meets our need. I want to be walking with Him every moment of every day. I want my thinking to change. I desire to have the Vinedresser as my priority and focus over everything else in my day. It is my prayer for you too.