Bible Study Joy

Joy in Trials

‘What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Romans 8:31-39

‘Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.’ James 1:12.

The word blessed in this verse is used in the same sense as in Psalm 1 and it expresses the happy condition of the one who endures trials through trust in the Lord. The ability to persevere under trial comes from an unwavering resolution to follow the Savior whatever life throws at us.

This helps us understand the part of Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians. This is not different from when he asked the questions in Romans 8:35, ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?’

Simply put, will trials through these various dimensions take us away from the Lord and His love? If we count it all joy James 2:1, nothing shall separate us from Christ’s love.

Paul also provided an answer to these questions in later verses when he says: ‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Romans 8:37-39.

Basically, because of our steadfastness and perseverance, we can be Joyful in Christ in spite of trials and we will stand firmly on the promises of Christ whatever life’s circumstances bring.

‘Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.’ James 1:12

Bible Study Joy

Joyful Christian

‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.’ John 10:10-15

The lyrics of the hymn written by T.C. O’Kane entitled ‘There stands a rock’ emphasizes that the hope of the Christian is on the rock that shall stand forever though some people build their hopes on the ever-drifting sand while some build theirs on their fame or their treasure or their land. Indeed, most people often think that these transient items give joy but the wisdom from above instructs us otherwise.

A number of Christians often put up sad countenances thinking that a true Christian life is one devoid of joy. There is certainly a world of difference between being self-controlled and being sad.

A self-controlled life is one which is based on sound principles of love, justice, mercy and faithfulness in obedience to the will of the Master. It is one which puts God first and seeks as a priority, His Kingdom and righteousness. From this viewpoint, Christians ought to be the happiest people on earth.

A sad life is one without Christ. Jesus came to give us abundant life. An abundant life in Christ is certainly not a sad one. In the beatitudes, our Lord pronounced blessedness (or happiness) on us when we do His glorious will.

The beatitudes say in Matthew 5:12a ‘Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven ……’ There is no better reason to be joyful in this world than the truth that we have a great reward in heaven which has been made possible by Christ’s redemptive work. Praise God!

‘Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’ Matthew 5:1-12
Bible Study Joy

Joyful Life

‘So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.’ Galatians 5:16-24

A joyful life in Christ is one that is characterized by walking by the Spirit. It is disciplined enough not to gratify the desires of the flesh. It is a life where the fruit of the Spirit is made visible.

In His letter to the Galatians, Paul listed the essential parts of the fruit of the Spirit. Oftentimes, I hear Christians mis-read this part of Paul’s letter to the Galatians as the fruits (plural) of the Spirit, but it clearly says the fruit (singular) of the Spirit.

The singular sense of the word ‘fruit’ suggests that the fruit of the Spirit is just one but it consists of all the listed virtues which are ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control’, Galatians 5:22-23.

It is a complete package of virtues that should be evident in our lives as God’s children. This again implies that the life of a Christian is such that should constantly radiate the joy of the Lord as much as it does not preclude self-control from being an essential aspect. Christ told His disciples to be joyful because their names are written in heaven. This is the right reason to be joyful as people of God.

Nehemiah told the people of God that the joy of the Lord is their strength, Nehemiah 8:10. If this is true, why should God’s people not be joyful?

To the Romans, Paul says ‘there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’, Romans 8:1. If there is no condemnation, then this calls for constant joy.

‘The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.’ Proverbs 10:28

‘The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’ Luke 10:17-20

Bible Study faith Joy

Finding Joy

Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
James 1:2–4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Trials of life come in various forms, shapes and sizes and it is extremely difficult to be joyful when faced with various trials, but the outcome makes it inevitably important and hence, we should count it all joy because by the help the Spirit provides, we shall be victorious.

Steadfastness is inevitable to a viable Christian life. Paul encourages the Christians in Corinth to be steadfast (or immovable). This suggests the idea of consistency in faith and in our resolve.

A rock-solid faith is one that demonstrates steadfastness in upholding the truth in word and in deed. However, steadfastness does not come by accident!

Most times, it is produced through the ability to endure trials. James persuades us to allow steadfastness to have its full effect as this brings completeness. Paul admonished the Christians at Philippi to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’.

This is critically important that it necessitates emphasis. He goes ahead to repeat it: ‘I will say it again, rejoice!’ The word ‘always’ implies that our rejoicing should be all the time. This includes times of trial because we know that the Lord will never forsake us and He will see us through just as He saw Job through.

James 1:2-12
‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.’

Every Christian will face hard times and trials, this is inevitable. However, how we face those trails and what we learn from them help us grow and builds our faith. Life is like a bed of roses, in the beauty of it all there are thorns. Don’t allow those thorns to scar you for life. Heal them through Jesus and come back stronger.

Bible Study Freedom Joy Living in the Spirit

Living in the Spirit

In today’s world of social media and selfies, our lives have become more and more about me. How can this benefit me? What do I get out of this? It’s not my problem. Raising a teenager and working with youth, I hear these quite frequently. To live in the spirit you have to realize it is not your life. It is God’s story told through your life. Luke 9:23 says, “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Jesus said put yourself to the side and pick up your cross daily. He didn’t say on Sundays and Wednesday night. He said “DAILY” If you want to live in the spirit, this is the first step.

Ephesians 5:18-33

18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Verse 19 says ” speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” I love this! My son is always getting on to me because I will randomly burst into song at any given moment. I tell him, “How sad it must be not to live in a musical.”

When everything is right in the life of a Christian, the Spirit of God gives love, joy, and peace which in turn give a song in the heart. The Christian is supposed to be one with a singing heart. Have you met a new Christian and seen the joy of the Lord on his face? Freedom from sin, a sense of God’s presence and a bright future ahead are all to be a part of the life of the Christian.

Today there are many who are suggesting all sorts of things as signs of being filled with the Spirit, but here in Ephesians 5 we have one of the three major signs declared to be evidences.

Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,

In verse 20 we have the second evidence of a Spirit-filled Christian and that is ” always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.” When Jesus is Lord we can expect God’s blessing and know that Romans 8:28 comes true:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

It doesn’t mean that everything will be easy, but the Christian doesn’t look at the present but at the end result.

The story of Paul and Silas in prison is a good illustration of this, as is also the story of Joseph.

Verse 21 gives us the third evidence of one who is Spirit filled. It says, ”
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ .” When we are self-centered instead of Christ-centered, we won’t want to be submitting ourselves to God or to anyone else. This verse says “in the fear of God.” We want to live in the right relationship to God so that we can expect His blessing on our lives. We put others first instead of ourselves. This is why it is a joy to be with truly Spirit-filled Christians, because they are “others-first” minded.

Show me someone with a melody in the heart, giving thanks for all things and submitting one toward another, and I’ll show you a Spirit-filled Christian. If we are not experiencing this, we need to go back and examine our hearts; are they filled with a lack of joy, unthankfulness or lack of submission? God brings His blessings, not so much because of what we know, but rather what we do with what we know.

In Ephesians 5:22 it says,” Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” In Ephesians 5:25 it says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Today we have many broken homes and divorces. Many reasons are given, but without exception you will find husbands have not done what Ephesians 5:25 says, or wives have not done what Ephesians 5:22 says. If husbands would love as they should, wives would submit as they should, there could be a beautiful relationship instead of the other kind.

Many times husbands will say, “If my wife were more submissive I would be more loving,” and wives will say, “If my husband were more loving I would be more submissive.” Maybe we need to mind our own business. Do what we should do and let the Spirit of God show the other what they should do. What a beautiful thing it is to see a loving husband and a submissive wife.

God can do it if we put our self off the throne and let Jesus Christ have His rightful place.

Next we see another area that will be much better if Jesus Christ is Lord. It is the child-parent relationship. In Ephesians 6:1 it says, “Children obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right.” In verse 4 it says, “And you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.”

It seems that apart from the Lordship of Christ and the Spirit-filled life, there is a natural tendency for children to be disobedient to their parents. And parents, through their self-will, provoke children to wrath. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if the relationship between parents and children were consistently pleasant? It can be if we consistently practice the Spirit-filled life.

Again, if we are children we should concentrate on being obedient; and if we are parents, we should concentrate on not provoking, but bringing “them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (vs. 4)

One other area of improved relationships when we are Spirit filled is that of the employer/ employee. In Ephesians 6:5 we read, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters…” And in verses 7-9 it suggests that masters should do good things for the servants.

Without Christ it is everyone for himself. Thus, in this world we have a great deal of employer/employee unrest. The servant would like to get as much pay for as little work as possible, and the master would like to get as much work for as little pay as possible.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. The first three things are what God gives the saved. We concentrate on outer love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self- control, but the Spirit of God wants to give us a well of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. In other words it is inside, and what you see on the outside is just the overflow.

The world says, “Put on a happy face.” The Spirit-filled Christian will have a happy heart.

Look at the fruit of the Spirit. This has to do with our conduct towards others. It isn’t any wonder that all Christians seem to wish they had the fruit of the Spirit, because they are wonderful things. If we are filled with the Spirit, we will not only have a beautiful spirit within but will also be showing the fruit to others around us.

The fruits of the Spirit also have to do with character. A Spirit-filled Christian will be seen as a person of faith. Others looking at him will put this down as a character description. He is a person of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. .

We all would like to change our world, but are we willing to take the steps necessary in order to accomplish this. God gave you the fruit of the Spirit. All you have to do is use it and grow it.

Have you ever been in a true revival? I had often heard of revival being like a forest fire (burning at will, where the wind drove it.) Some years ago in revival I’ve seen the Holy Spirit moving like a forest fire from Christian to Christian convicting of sin. People repented of sin and their self-will, then the Spirit of God filled them. No one could tell where He was going to work next. In fact He often worked in several Christians at the same time. The Holy Spirit was at work and His power and working were awesome.

During that time there was tremendous honesty and tremendous love. So often we have little honesty and little love. All true Christians say that this is their part of their doctrine, but in everyday situations there often is very little evidence.

Do you see these in yourself; stubbornness, rebellion, arguing, etc.? When we repent of these things and learn to rest in the Lord, the exciting thing is that He forgives and begins a change in you.

Bible Study Joy

Experiencing Joy

Worldly Happiness is not Joy!

The world offers happiness that is a pale imitation of the true joy; that only God can give us. The happiness that unsaved people experience is temporary and comes and goes depending on the situation at the time. If things are going good, they are happy.  When things are hard, there is no happiness to be found.  In the book of Job, one of Job’s friends utters some insightful words:  You know that the joy of the wicked does not last long. That has been true a long time, ever since Adam was put on earth. Those who don’t know God are happy for only a short time.  (Job 20:5 ERV ).  There can be no true joy apart from God.

Wherever people know, love, and worship God, His love instills a joy, that only He can give, into the hearts of His worshipers

In The Old Testament, Joy Was Associated With The True Worship Of God

Joy is a prominent feature of the true worship of God in the Old Testament.  Wherever people know, love, and worship God, His love instills a joy, that only He can give, into the hearts of His worshipers (I Chronicles 15:16; Ezra 3:12, 6:16; Psalm 16:11, 32:11, 51:12 and many more).

In the times of King Hezekiah, the Israelites rededicated themselves to God and we read, “So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem” (II Chronicles 30:26 ESV).  The people’s renewed commitment to God reignited the joy in their hearts that only He can produce. Believers today can experience this same joy when he or she is dedicated to Jesus.

Joy Is A Gift From God

Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, who resides in the heart of the believer, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…  (Galatians 5:22 ESV).  God is the author of all these good things. When someone becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit gives these qualities to the believer.  Joy is also an integral part of the Kingdom of God and will exist wherever believers are present, For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17 ESV).

Doing God’s Will Increases Our Joy

As many Christians can tell you being involved in the spread of the Gospel brings joy to their heart.  Personally, when I see someone get saved or I know that someone has been encourage in their walk of faith, I cannot help but feel a sense of joy. Paul also experienced this often in his ministry (II Corinthians 1:24, 2:3; Philippians 1:4, 2:2; I Thessalonians 2:19, 20, 3:9; II Timothy 1:4; Philemon 1:7; and many other passages).  John experienced the joy of ministry, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4 ESV).

Circumstances Cannot Take Away Our Joy

In Second Corinthians 6:10, Paul says that Christians can even be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”.  This means that even when we are in the midst of a situation that legitimately brings us sorrow, our inner joy is never taken away.  The very core of our being can still rejoice in the fact that we are forgiven children of God who enjoy an intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe. Our joy is strengthened when we remember that, no matter what the circumstances, God is with us and He is above all.

We see this in the writings of several New Testament authors:

James says that we should, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” James 1:2-3.

Paul when he faced incredible hardships, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.  Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me” Philippians 2:17-18 .

Peter encourages us with, “…rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” 1 Peter 4: 13.

The Only Thing That Can Steal Our Joy Is Sin

Godly joy is a wonderful thing; it is a gift from God to every believer.  However, Sin can steal our joy.  It is difficult to experience the joy of our relationship with God when we have done something that damages that relationship.  Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit; when we grieve the Holy Spirit by our sin, we interfere with the flow of joy from God.  If we find that we are experiencing joy less and less, we may need to reevaluate our relationship with Jesus Christ to make sure we are living as we should.

Christians Should ‘Rejoice Always’

Rejoice means to feel joy or great delight. Paul writes 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.  This joy, prayer, and thanksgiving should characterize the life of the Christian.  It is God’s will for the believer; this is how God wants us to live.  “Rejoicing always” does not mean that we are to paste a fake smile on our faces no matter what is going on in our lives or the lives of those we love.  It means hat we are to remain steadfast in our knowledge that God is our strength and comfort, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves. If our relationship with Jesus is right, and we confess and repent of any sin, we will experience joy at all times…whether those times be good or bad.