// J O Y //
What is the first thing you think of when joy comes to mind? (Seriously take two seconds to think of this).
For me, memories of joy are often the highest victory or the great reward of freedom.
Breakthrough brings joy.
If we really dig deeper, we realize that joy (like any emotion) often lies just beneath the surface until we give it power.
Read this short story about what the army of Israel did when approaching a daunting battle (whole chapter here). This is the pivotal moment in the battle!
“After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:
“Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!”
At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.”
WHAT! I don’t know about you but reading this sends chills through my body. The simple recognition of God’s faithfulness and love led to incredible victory!
We Serve A Living God
For the nation of Israel, their joy was in the recognition of a living God who was listening and moving on their behalf. So much so that when facing a great army, they sent singers and worshippers ahead to “give thanks” before the victory. No military strategy. No pep talks. Just worship.
This nation had their eyes fixed on the Lord. The battle was far too difficult for them to win on their own, but that didn’t matter because God, the living God, was on their side. It makes me think of a common lie the enemy puts in our heads when it comes to worship or prayer during tough times.
The enemy constantly wants us to believe that we have to win our battle before coming to the Lord or giving thanks. Yet this nation did not just thank God after the battle was won, they thanked God before the battle was won.
What lies would the enemy bring to your head as you come into prayer or worship? Have you been disqualifying yourself over and over when there is an opportunity for faith?
Joy Is A Response to Hope
This brings into question our world view and understanding of God. If we serve a God who is far off and judgmental then we are only permitted to worship in the good times. But if we truly serve a God who is present and able to fulfill his promises, our hope is everything.
In worship we have freedom to enter with thanksgiving and songs of praise no matter where we are because our hope is secure in Jesus. And we certainly have evidence for this hope. Jesus tells his disciples in John 16:33, “But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Instead of waiting for joy to hit us after a victory, the bible gives us a better plan. To choose joy through our conviction of hope.
Joy Is The Language of Freedom
“Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for joy (Proverbs 29:6 NLT).” For a people that live in freedom, joy is an essential element of life. In fact, there is no other way to a joyful life but through freedom. Oh there are plenty of life situations that seem to imprison whether literal, financial, social, any number of things. But there can be an inner freedom that is greater than any earthy cage.
So we ask these questions often and I’ll ask them again: What would it take for you to live in complete freedom? What would your life look like if you lived in joy?