20170802

9 Ways True Joy Will Grow Your Faith

Here are some truths about joy we can ask God to sew into the fabric of our souls. The quotes are from He Restores My Soul and the rest is me processing it out loud with you.

1. True Joy is Christ-Centered 
“True joy is so Christ-centered that earthly success can neither add to it or diminish it.” My earthly success may ebb and flow. But Jesus cemented my heavenly success. In God’s kingdom, I am clean, and whole. We have access to the Father and His unlimited love, power and resources.

2. True Joy is One of the Marks of Authentic Faith 
“Joy marks the life of a person whose heart belongs exclusively to the Father.” If I lack joy, my heart is clinging to something other than God.

3. True Joy is a Measure of Our Focus and Dependence on Christ 
“The joy that Spirit-led Christians experience is the very joy of the indwelling Christ being expressed through their souls.” The fruit of the spirit is joy. So, Christ is joy and He is one with God, so God is joy too. He is Immanuel, God who is joy, with me. If my soul is not expressing joy, then my eyes and heart must be fixed on something other than God.

4. It is God’s Will for You that You Should Have True Joy 
In John 17:13, Jesus said, “Father let My followers be filled to the brim and overflowing with the joy that I possess. I will be in them pouring my own joy in their hearts.” (According to Jennifer Kennedy Dean, this is how the verse reads with nuances of the original Greek.) Jesus, who lived in total agreement with His Father’s will, prayed that I would be filled and overflowing with joy – His joy. He prayed it for you too.

“Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.” 1 John 5:14-15 HCSB

Jesus asked, therefore, I have it and you do too.

5. True Joy Must Be Fought For 
“The heart that has passed through crucifixion and is continually sloughing away flesh is able to receive the river of joy flowing through it. The flesh’s earthbound perspective interrupts the flow of joy.”

To help me understand this concept, God gave me a vision of the bayou near my mom’s house. The bayou often gets cluttered with kudzu vine. This vine takes over, creeping out over the water until even a canoe would have trouble passing through. On a recent visit home, mom pointed out that the neighbors cleared the kudzu and the bayou was once again a beautiful body of water.

When I keep my eyes on things of this earth – what is wrong, what is missing, and the what-ifs, I choke out the river of joy that is waiting to flow through me. When I apply the real truth – the reality of God’s kingdom reign in my life, His generous love for me, His abundance to meet all my needs – I the river of joy is free to flow through me.

6. True Joy Leads to a Heart that Overflows with Thankfulness 
“Joy expresses itself in praise … the spontaneous and natural outflow of the inflow of His life. When my soul is satisfied as if it had feasted on the richest of foods, when my soul is flooded with His life, the praise spills over.” (See Psalm 63:5)

I’ve learned to start praising God with songs when I am feeling low. Sometimes I just have to listen to them and say, “yes” in my heart to the truth I am hearing. If I remain in an atmosphere of praise for at least 15 to 30 minutes, my heart catches up to the reality of joy (Sometimes it takes hours). Eventually, I feel refreshed by the Truth and I can begin to speak the praise with my mouth. I intentionally allowed my soul to feast on what is pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8)

How do you combat the blues and intentionally pursue the joy of Jesus?

7. True Joy Relies on God 
Because God has set “eternity in the hearts of men,” nothing less than eternity – nothing temporal – will satisfy.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

We were created for a world ruled by God. We do not physically live there — yet. So we should expect longings for more. We need to trust that it will come and rely on God’s Spirit of perseverance to enable us to wait for that day. Until then, we fight the battle against our sinful natures to be vessels of joy – unhindered by the desires of our flesh.

8. True Joy Fills Us with Life 
“God’s says, ‘I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied with my goodness.’ (Jeremiah 31:14) The word translated “fill” means to “saturate.” He will saturate our souls (we are priests according to 1 Peter 2:5,9) with His abundance and it will satisfy us. His abundance will satiate that soul-craving that is born in us.”

I had an amazing encounter with God while studying this material. I was meditating on the description of God as the “river of life.” Then, in my mind, Jesus and I were standing together at this river. He pointed to the river and said to me, “All of this, the abundance of life God has to give is yours. I made sure you had access to it. You now have my righteousness and my name, Jennifer, so you have access to all the spiritual blessings that flow from God, the river of life.”

Can you see yourself there at the river with Jesus? Can you see the river teeming with life? It is packed with the life that resurrects, the life that restores, the life that fills in the gaps for our weaknesses.

[written by Jennifer O. White]