Biblical Joy 201
Last week we saw three core truths about joy:
1) Biblical joy is finding emotional pleasure in God and his goodness to us.
2) We experience joy in our minds. The word "heart" literally means "mind" in the Bible.
3) God wants us to rejoice in him because it honors all he has done for us.
The Bible doesn’t end the discussion on joy at that point. It also tells how we access the joy God offers. I did my best to pull together an exhaustive list from Scripture.
1. Trusting in Jesus. Committing your life to Jesus Christ fills you with joy because it restores you to the most fundamental thing we need, closeness with God. There is also massive joy in learning that other people have trusted their lives to Jesus. (Acts 8:39; 15:3; 1 Peter 1:8)
2. Meditating on the truths in the Bible. Left to our own judgment, life can seem hopeless. But when we allow God’s words to captivate our minds, we see his goodness more clearly. We can also make sense of difficult matters in the light of God’s perspective. The Psalms teach that we can access joy by meditating on God’s teaching (Psalm 1:2; 119:14; 119:24; 119:70), his salvation (Psalm 35:27), his consolations (94:19), his commandments (19:8; 112:1; 119:16; 119:35; 119:47; 119:92; 119:143; 119:174) and his works (111:2).
3. Singing. As you seek joy in God, a crucial part of that is giving expression to that joy. The Bible is filled with admonition to sing joyfully to the Lord according to the truths about who he is and what he has done. A Christian who doesn’t sing is like a fan who doesn’t cheer. They can’t experience the fulness of their joy. (Psalm 5:11; 20:5; 27:6; 30:5; 32:11; 33:1; 35:27; 42:4; 47:1; 63:7; 65:8; 67:4; 71:23; 81:1; 84:2; 89:12; 89:15; 90:14; 92:4; 95:1; 96:12; 98:4, 8; 126:5, 6; 132:9; 132:16; 149:5; Proverbs 29:6)
4. Knowing other Christians who are serving Christ faithfully. For the apostle John, his joy was made full by hearing about the pure, righteous devotion of his brothers and sisters in Christ. The same can be true for us. (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20; 2 Corinthians 1:24; 7:13; Philippians 2:17-18; 2:29; 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:4; 1 John 1:4; 2 John 12; 3 John 4)
5. Hearing others teach God’s word. This is different from meditating on the word. Hearing sermons, Scripture readings, and songs from the Bible cause the heart to be filled with joy. (John 15:11; Acts 13:48; 1 Thessalonians 1:6)
6. Childrearing. God’s blessing of being entrusted to bear and raise a child is often described in Scripture. This joy can be shared by those who carry the responsibility of raising children, even when they haven’t given birth to them. (1 Samuel 2; Ruth 4:13-17; Psalm 113:9; Luke 1:39-55; John 16:21; 1 Timothy 2:15)
7. Suffering persecution for the sake of Jesus. You’d think suffering for Jesus would generate sorrow. But that’s not what the disciples experienced. Quite the contrary. (Luke 6:23; Acts 5:41; 13:52; 2 Corinthians 7:4; Hebrews 10:34)
8. Mourning in response to God’s discipline. When you genuinely grieve over your sins, you come to grips with God’s grace all the more. This sets the stage for massive joy as you receive his forgiveness and restoration. (Psalm 126:5; Matthew 5:4)
9. Working with your hands. Spiritual life isn’t just about what we think or how we feel. God designed the universe so that working hard, whether in the church, the home, or the workplace, can be gratifying. (Psalm 90:17; Proverbs 31:13; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Acts 20:35; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; Ephesians 4:28; Colossians 3:23)
10. Working together with other Christian’s for Jesus’s sake. Participating together as Christ’s body fills us with gratitude as we enjoy all the unique characteristics and giftings of other Christians. (2 Corinthians 1:24; Hebrews 13:17)
11. Praying. As you pray for other Christians, the Holy Spirit cultivates joy within you. This happens as you see God answer your prayers for them and conform them to the image of his son, Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:4)
12. The trials of life. Don’t forget that even in the hard or the bad times, God is working in and through you to accomplish his purpose and sanctify you. Christians who guard their thoughts enough to realize what’s really going on in their hardship can enjoy that process, even when the events themselves are not enjoyable. (Romans 5:1-5; James 1:2)