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Week of August 10, 2008

You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.”  ~Psalm 4:7   

        Our Heavenly Father created us with an ability to experience joy.  We know when we have it, and we know when we don’t.  And even though we can receive enjoyment from our loved ones, activities, work or even material things, only the Lord gives us everlasting joy.  It comes through receiving all of Him, beginning with the joy of salvation and redemption. 

        Remember the children’s song that goes, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart to stay”?  How profound this simple truth is.  For when we sincerely accept Jesus into our hearts, so too do we invite His joy. 

        Like peace, the Lord’s joy is found in His presence.  It is a divine gift, a byproduct of His love.  Joy is cyclical.  It propels God's heart to move on our behalf and our hearts to move on His.  He plants joy in our hearts, and we give it back to Him through actions of praise and worship and a walk of obedience.

        The joy of the Lord is powerful.  It is described as “complete” (Jh. 15:11), “exceeding” (Ps. 43:4), “filling” (Ps. 126:3), “everlasting” and “overwhelming” (Ps. 35:10). 

        And as we come closer to His joyful presence, He pours out His divine favor upon us.

        Consider the Psalmists.  David said in Psalm 16:11, “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy . . . “

        Psalm 45:7 says, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed you with the oil of joy above your fellows.

        Psalm 97:11 says, “Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.  Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy name.”

        The joy of the Lord is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) intended for sharing.  Pouring out joy imparts joy.  Ever notice how difficult it is to be down when in the presence of God’s joy that pours through someone else? 

        Even when we sin, the Lord provides a restoration of joy for those who repent. 

        Consider the exiled Israelites in Nehemiah who lost their joy and their homeland to disobedience.  When Nehemiah repented on his and their behalf, God, in His unending mercy, led them to restore Jerusalem’s wall with His hand of favor upon them, and they celebrated with “great” joy.

        Nehemiah 8:10 says, “ . . . Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Choose joy.

        Moreover, obedience invites the reward of complete joy (Jn. 15:10-11).  May we press through any blockages of sin for the fullness of the Lord’s reward.

        Since the Holy Spirit who resides in us brings joy (Luke 10:21), no one can diminish it unless we allow access. 

        May we hold fast to the resounding joy of the Lord.  It is our divine, prevailing strength.  It keeps our hearts built up, soaring above the pit of despair, propelling us in His glory to work unto Him and to reach others.  All that's required is that we simply remain in close relationship with Him.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

1 John 4:16
Margaret D. Mitchell

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