Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Joy of the Lord is Your STRENGTH!

Hello, friends! 
I definitely have felt like the past week just flew by! How about you?
Between having to get over an illness and going through more emotional upheavals with family issues, I'm almost glad for a new start of a new week!!(Except, I'd love to skip tomorrow, as I have an appointment to have crown work done on my teeth! ) I definitely needed God's strength to get me through this past week.

Because of this, though, I have found myself digging into the Word and spending lots of time reading -- I've been currently working on getting through 2 different books.

The book I've been posting on at different times is called "Happiness" - I've been reading it to help me learn more about this subject, as it is my word for 2016.
I'm learning so much about the true meaning of happiness. As I read chapters 5 (What's the Difference Between Joy and Happiness?) and 6 (Modern Studies that Confirm Biblical Happiness), there are two things that grabbed me the hardest.
1. Most Christians have grossly mis-interpreted the meaning of happiness.
2. We so often miss out on great happiness because we think it is sinful, but is happiness really that much different than joy? A dictionary definition of joy...
Watch the video below, that is a summary of these chapters by author, Randy Alcorn:

Happiness or Joy? from Randy Alcorn on Vimeo.

Another Biblical teacher and author, John Piper, writes
“If you have nice little categories for ‘joy is what Christians have’ and ‘happiness is what the world has,’ you can scrap those when you go to the Bible, because the Bible is indiscriminate in its uses of the language of happiness and joy and contentment and satisfaction.”  source

The idea that “joy is not an emotion” (a statement that unbelievably  appears online more than 17,000 times) promotes an unbiblical myth, as seen in just a few examples of Scripture:

Psalms 126:5,6

"Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
 Esther 8:16 (NIV)
For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor.
Jeremiah 31:13 (HCSB)
I will turn their mourning intojoy. . . and bring happiness out of grief.
Nehemiah 8:10-11 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.
In a previous post I wrote back in 2012, I actually wrote that I even believed that there was a difference between happiness and joy:

“We can make a distinction between joy and happiness: happiness being dependent on external circumstances, while joy is internal, a result of being controlled by the Spirit. Some people consider happiness to be a feeling dependent on circumstances and usually restricted to moments when life is going well. Joy is an inner serenity of the soul, rooted not in circumstances but in a choice to trust God’s faithfulness, regardless of what is happening externally.”(Joy is a Choice and a Decision)
Since I have been reading this book and going through many Scriptures, I'm really seeing happiness in a whole different light. Happiness is not just for the "worldly" and unsaved to enjoy. God truly wants us, His people, to be happy in our lives.

What can we be happy about?

  1. We have the gospel (the good news!) of salvation through Christ.
  2. God created us not only to glorify Him, but to also have a personal relationship with Him that is deep, satisfying, and everlasting!
  3. When we put our faith in God and let Him lead us, we can experience a supernatural peace, the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and often have adventures that we would not seek on our own.
  4.   The human, God-given pleasures that God has provided for us here on earth - the beauty of nature, good and satisfying food to eat, the enjoyment of a loving spouse and family, fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ, and so much more!!
  5. Strength in Integrity (from God) - verses from a blog post by Randy Alcorn
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely.” (Proverbs 10:9) -- What is integrity? This Hebrew word suggests completeness, wholeness, fullness. So, no compromises, and no breaches or gaps or refusals in the face of duty, but rather, saying Yes to the Lord moment by moment. 
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. . . . Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:10-13) -- Walking in this integrity, I walk securely, fully armed against the schemes of the devil, entirely equipped to serve my family, my church, my community in a full-hearted way.
As I thought about the past week and how weak and tired I felt...I think I will remember to seek the 'Joy of the Lord' first next time, for it is written that this is our strength (Neh. 8:10)

Randy shares his biblical definition of happiness as: 
“A state of pleasure or joy experienced both by people and by God. . . . True happiness derives from a secure and settled knowledge of God and a rejoicing in His works and covenant faithfulness.”
Happy holiness is God’s ideal for us!!
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  1. Happiness will never last. But joy, when anchored in the Lord, lasts for eternity. So thankful that God is my strength. Blessings for your week ahead.

    1. To be joyful is also to be happy, when it is in our Lord and not the happiness the world offers.(Which is always temporary) I feel like it's so easy to differentiate these two words, but they truly go together when we read in Scripture that the Lord desires for His people to not only be full of joy, but to be happy in our lives, as well!! We miss out on so much that God has given us when we reject that kind of happiness in our lives.

  2. That's it! By both man AND God! God is pleased with me! Because of the blood of Jesus, the Father doesn't see my sin. He's happy with me! He wants to spend every second of every day with me! When I began to understand that it shook my world! I'm happy because the Creator of the Universe is madly in love with me and I'm madly in love with Him! Bad times don't change that and never will! I can choose to be happy because of what Jesus did for me!

    1. Yes, exactly, Judy! What more can be said than this!?! To have such a happy Creator who wants us to be full of joy and happiness in and through Him and to know all He did for me.... that is true happiness that can NEVER be moved!!! Thank you for your beautiful comment, sister!!

  3. Great perspective, Ann! It's great when someone is willing to dig through Scripture to find the truth. Thank you! May you be blessed with lots of joy and happiness today! :-)

    Linking up with you this Ash Wednesday at Intentionally Pursuing.


    1. Thanks, Linda. I really feel like I have learned and grown so much in my walk with the Lord, due to digging into His Word and seeking His truth more. It take time and effort, but is SO very worth it! May you also receive strength through the Lord's joy and happiness, as well.

  4. YES! I love this and have always heard that the two are different, too. But OF COURSE God wants us to be joyful and happy. When is He ever one to be stingy with His gifts? Thanks for this today!

  5. This is so good! I love Henri Nouwen's quote, "You have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day." When we choose joy, God is there to fill our heart.

  6. Hi Ann!

    No, we don't need to feel guilty if we are happy! Joy and happiness go hand in hand...and God wants His people to experience them. He gave those beautiful emotions to us as a gift. The question is, can we feel joy/happiness even when our world is falling apart? My answer is a resounding YES! I am fond of saying, "Happiness is a result of circumstances, but joy happens in spite of them". I use that phrase to differentiate between what is causing my joy in that moment. We feel happiness for so many reasons (many that you mentioned above). But, joy is also that same feeling. Your post brings up some great points! Even if I'm experiencing trials, I am happy because I am God's. I have joy because I am God's. When I have a sad mood I also feel joy because of God. So yes, God wants us to feel both happy and joyful. And, it is encouraging that even when we are having trouble, we can still be joyful because of our relationship with Him. In the infamous words of Bobby McFerrin, I am choosing to..."be happy!"

    Have a great Valentine's Day weekend!


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