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Joy of the Lord

by Tom Brown

One of the most popular passages in the Bible is Nehemiah 8:10: "Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

Why is joy important? Because the "joy of the Lord is your strength!" Joy produces strength. And strength is needed to fight. You are called to "fight the good fight of faith" (1 Timothy 6:12). I sense in my spirit that many people in the body of Christ are tired of fighting the good fight of faith. They are struggling to fight because they have lost their joy.

Perhaps you are tired of fighting for your marriage. You are fed up with your spouse. You think that he doesn't love you any more, so why fight for his love. You are ready to throw in the towel.

Maybe you're sick and tired of being sick and tired. You have been sick for so long that you don't remember what it's like to be healthy. At one time, you battled this sickness, but the sickness seems to be winning. So you think, What's the use, I might as well accept this sickness and learn to live with it. I'm never going to get well.

Possibly you once waged war against your financial debts. But things haven't changed much, and you're beginning to get discouraged. You think that you are never going to get out from under all your bills.

You might be having trouble with your children. You wonder if they are ever going to straighten up. You are exhausted from their rebellion. Is God ever going to change them? you wonder.

EVERYONE HAS TROUBLES

I know how you feel. As a pastor, I face many trials every day. I do my best to be a good pastor. I teach the word of God, counsel the distraught, visit the sick, etc. Yet there are always people who are never happy with my performance. People complain:

"I don't get fed spiritually." "The pastor didn't visit me in the hospital." "The pastor was not available to counsel me when I needed him to." "I'm not going to church because brother X is a hypocrite." "I didn't go to church because the Dallas Cowboys were playing an early game." "The people at church are not friendly." "The church is not open for me to use my gifts." "Nobody cares about me at church."

After experiencing these and many other trials, I too want to give up. I lament over my troubles, What's the use of trying to be a good pastor. They don't appreciate me. I want to say, "Forget them!" Of course that's my flesh talking, not my heart.

My heart says, "They don't know what they are doing. They are simply frustrated themselves. They don't mean to hurt me. I'm going to rejoice." This is what you need to do: Rejoice!

REJOICE ALWAYS

Philippians 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" How often are you to rejoice? You know the answer, Always! You are to rejoice always, because "joy" is the easiest fruit to lose. You can't live off of the joy you had yesterday. Joy can give you strength only when you possess it.

If you had joy last week, that joy will not give you strength today. Joy can only give you strength today, if you have it today. This is why you must rejoice always.

You might say, "I don't feel like rejoicing." God didn't say, "Rejoice, only if you feel like it." No! He said, "Rejoice always." Obviously, God knows that you don't feel like rejoicing always. Yet you need to rejoice always because if you don't then you lose the strength to fight.

James 1:2 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds." Pure joy is not happiness. "Happiness" comes from the word "happen." Happiness, therefore, is based on what is happening. If something good is happening, then you are happy. However, God says that pure joy occurs even in the midst of trials--even when the car breaks down, or when the kids get sick, or when the boss cuts your hours, or when your spouse is in a bad mood, etc.

Why is James telling us to count it pure joy whenever we face trials? Because joy gives you strength to fight your trials, and if you'll fight the trials, you will overcome. James continues, "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (v. 4). You see, James has in mind "victory over trials", not "acceptance of his trials." So by rejoicing, you overcome your trials.

YET I WILL REJOICE

I love the verse in Habakkuk 3:17:

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls..." (Sounds like this fellow has problems.) Look at the next verse:

"Yet...Yet...Yet...Yet...Yet."

Notice, he is not going to surrender to his problems. He is going to do something about his problems.

He says, "Yet I will REJOICE IN THE LORD, I will be JOYFUL IN GOD MY SAVIOR" (v. 18).

He is going to REJOICE because, "The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights" (v. 19).

You see, Habakkuk had no intention of staying defeated. He may look defeated, but he is not going to stay defeated. The difference between the person who is defeated and the person who is victorious is their attitude.

An attitude of gratitude will put you over in life. This is the kind of attitude that this prophet had. Even though nothing good was happening in his life--no fruit, no crops, no sheep, no cattle--yet he rejoiced.

In our modern world, Habakkuk might have said it this way:

"Though there is no food in the refrigerator, and there is no money in the account, though the sickness gets worse, and the pain persist, though my children are on drugs, and my spouse does not appreciate me, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."

Regardless of the circumstances, you can rejoice!

WELLS OF SALVATION

Let's look at one last verse of scripture: "`Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.' WITH JOY YOU WILL DRAW WATER FROM THE WELLS OF SALVATION" (Isaiah 12:2-3).

Did you know that there are "wells" (plural) of salvation? When you got saved, you inherited many wells. Each well contains a unique blessing:

One well has a sign on it that reads: HEALING. Another well says: PROSPERITY. Still another well says: SOUND MIND. As you look around at all the wells, you notice another one with a emblem saying: FAMILY RESTORATION.

The more you look at the wells you inherited, the more your heart rejoices.

Notice that this scripture says that with joy you will draw from the wells of salvation. You need muscles--strength--to draw water from wells. Without strength you can't draw from the wells. This is why Isaiah says, "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." It takes joy to draw from the wells of healing, prosperity, soundness of mind and family restoration. Without joy, you can't draw water from these wonderful wells.

Joy keeps you strong and enables you to draw from the wells of salvation.

You may be facing sickness. Yet God has provided the well of "healing." But only through joy can you draw from this well. So rejoice despite your sickness.

You may be experiencing poverty. But through joy you can draw from the well named "prosperity."

You may be tormented with fear, worry and depression. However, you can draw the water called "sound mind"--through joy!

Don't get down. Don't get discouraged.

The devil may be able to attack you (after all, he is the god of this age) but he has no power to steal your joy. Joy is a spiritual force inside your human spirit. Satan can touch your body, finances and family as the book of Job teaches, but he can't touch your spirit. Your spirit is off limits to the devil. And since he can't touch your spirit, he can't rob you of your joy.

Satan can not steal your joy since it is spiritual. If you lost your joy it is because you gave it away. However, if you will keep your joy, Satan has to release your blessings.

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