I love a good acronym! It’s a great memory technique making words from the initials of others words-think USA or SCUBA. But we also can use current words to help remember concepts. Take the word JOY. It can assist us to recall our priorities in life: Jesus, Others, You. As Christians, we live and find joy by putting Jesus and others before ourselves as the Bible directs. We’ll explore this over the next few weeks, so let’s begin with finding joy in Jesus.
Joy is a deep and abiding form of happiness, often referred to as being elevated to a spiritual level. I believe it’s truly experienced in its highest form from Jesus living within us. As I listen to God and try to find joy in all things, God the Father’s own words remind me of the true source of joy: Jesus.
But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” ~Matthew 17:5 NLT
Not only does Jesus bring joy to us, but He brings joy to God the Father, too. No wonder! He listened and did exactly what He was supposed to do: live and die for our sins. Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection brought us out of the darkness of our sin. Now, when God looks at us, He only sees Jesus. Because of Jesus, we now bring joy to God and others.
When the angel announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, he foretold this:
but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.” ~Luke 2:10
Jesus himself explained this as He spoke to the disciples before His death.
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! ~John 15:11 NLT
20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. 21 It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. 22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. 23 At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. 24 You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. ~John 16:20-24 NLT
Our grief turns to joy in Jesus. No one can take this joy away from us. We now come directly to God because of Jesus. In all of this we truly do have abundant joy!
We could never reconcile ourselves to God. Only Jesus could and did. His act, His sacrifice, His love creates the abundant joy we now have by being made clean and reconciled to God.
Because Jesus listened, we now have His joy.
As I listen and am aware of joy around me, I’m learning joy is not about what’s outside me as much as what’s inside me.
Our joy begins with, comes from and will always be about Jesus first. His love for us created the joy we seek. We don’t have to look anywhere else except within us to find this joy. The Holy Spirit lives within us and produces this fruit of joy.
And now that we have this joy through Jesus, we can see it, share it and give it to others.
But just like the word and the acronym remind us-it all begins with Jesus.
Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful. ~Proverbs 16:20 NLT