Joy, a Key Ingredient of the Season ~ Ray E Horton
The Lord woke me up the other night with three words in my mind, “joy,” “rest” and “fire.” I asked the Lord, what about those words, and He said they were three keys for the new spiritual season that we are in. I believe this is for the whole Body of Christ.
As I pursued this further in prayer, this is what the Lord opened up to me:
JOY – As always, all the Fruit of the Spirit will be important in this time, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). These are the building blocks of character, and they are “fruit” that grows and not things we can just work up. And, as always, “Love” reigns supreme among these. Without love, the other fruit does not come, and the gifts are meaningless.
We have the Light to push back the darkness, and we, the church, shall prevail. But the enemy sure does have plenty of ammunition for his lies, and without the joy of the Lord, we can get caught off balance.
However, God is wanting to emphasize “Joy” at this time. Just in the natural we can see the need for joy at a time when darkness is trying (but will be unsuccessful) to take over the world. We see struggling economies, natural calamities, war and terrorism on every side. We have the Light to push back the darkness, and we, the church, shall prevail. But the enemy sure does have plenty of ammunition for his lies, and without the joy of the Lord, we can get caught off balance.
How do we get this so-needed Joy?
How do we get this so-needed Joy? Where does it come from? Well, as with all fruit, it grows. And fruit takes time to grow. But we are now in a time of spiritual acceleration – so be ready to be surprised. God has given us certain understandings in His Word about Joy. First, we are told to “Rejoice.” Phil. 4:4 says “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice,” leading up to the well-known word in vs. 6 and 7 to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
How can we be told to do something we don’t feel? It is a matter of Faith! It is a matter of doing first, and feeling later, just like love. I might not feel love for someone, but if I will love them anyway, treating them in a loving way, more often than not they will respond with love, and those feelings of love will come. It’s not always that way – there are issues of trust and forgiveness, etc., but stepping out in faith is always best. So it is with Joy, I can choose to overcome anxiety with Prayer and Thanksgiving, leading to His Peace, which gives Joy.
The typical dictionary definition of Joy can be misleading, giving us sometimes wrong expectations. According to Dictionary.com, “Joy” is defined as “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation…” Well, while the world’s joy can be deceiving and short lasting, the Joy of the Lord can indeed involve elation, great pleasure, bliss.
But, be careful! It does not have to be. I know by faith our Joy does not have to be felt, but the satisfaction of Joy does come from experience. It usually will be a sweet, gentle satisfaction or just overall good, secure feeling. In fact, the verse we skipped above in Phil. 4, vs. 5, reads “Let your gentleness be known to all…”
Even more richly, during this time of Awakening, we are being called to worship the Lord, privately and publicly, like never before, coming into His presence. Ps. 16:11 says, “…In Your presence is fullness of joy…” Where do we find that Joy – it is in His presence? And that joy is our strength in this time of pressure from the world and the enemy. “…the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). That strengthening with Joy is accelerated as we come into His presence.
How do we stay in His presence?
So, to remain joyful strong, it is in His presence where we must stay. How do we do that? Well an attitude of Thanksgiving is a big part of the answer. Ps. 95:2: “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!” It will be good to cultivate, to practice having a thankful heart, meditating on the testimony of the Lord in our lives, and to praise Him in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). “Make a ‘joyful noise,’ even when you don’t feel like it, and watch what happens.
And there is something still deeper about the Joy of the Lord. The Lord had given me something preliminary on this subject during the night last week. This is what I posted: “‘The Father’s Joy’ – That is what I heard when the Lord spoke to me in the middle of the night recently. He expanded on that in a word He gave me to deliver at last Sunday’s service. The Father said that “He experiences joy when we come into His presence and step into the giftings He has provided for each of us.”
He receives joy from us fulfilling our destiny. The very purpose of His creation is beginning to come to pass. And He said we’d have that joy individually as we step over the threshold into the things of God. Stepping out in love and in the gifts will bring the joy of knowing we are filled with and empowered by the Spirit of God and able to be used by Him. It was an upward call for saints who maybe hadn’t stepped out before to hear the Lord’s voice, witness to some person, lay hands on a sick person, etc. and see Him move.” Just think, we get Joy from what gives the Father Joy.
So, to me this is new revelation. It is that quiet joy of satisfaction and fulfillment in knowing that we are walking in God’s plans and purposes for our lives. There is nothing better. Even if it’s not a time when I just want to shout and get all excited in the Lord, there is a wonderful peace in living for Him, serving Him and His master plan of Kingdom Advance, empowered and directed by His Spirit, with the confidence and freedom of His marvelous Grace, no longer having to try to make it happen. The old choice was burn out or forget about it. It is now, go forth with joy, Spirit-led, in His power and authority.
This is backed up in scripture. As “Vines Topical Bible” notes, one Biblical understanding of Joy is: “the circumstances attending cooperation in the authority of the Lord.” It was the same with Jesus, who received Joy from fulfilling His destiny, as it says in Heb. 12:2, “…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…“ As we fulfill our destiny and see the results of doing the great commission more and more, our Joy will overflow.
What is that destiny, that commission? Is it not, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;…they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover‘” (Mark 16:15-18).
When we lay hands on the sick, and more and more often we see them recover, when we set the captives free, when we encourage someone out of darkness with words of life, when we allow God to use us and to live through us, then comes the abiding joy of real significance, meaning in life and self-worth, as it is meant to be, in being who we were created to be.