Overwhelming Joy! (Part 1)

Overwhelming Joy (Part 1)

Overwhelming Joy!

Part 1

Those of us who read our Bibles, with sincerity and a sensitivity of conscience, constantly come upon verses that speak of joy. We know that these passages are scattered throughout the Scriptures, both in the New Testament as well as the Old Testament.

“Bible Gateway” says that there are 211 instances of “joy” to be found in Scripture. What about “rejoice”? There are 191 verses with this term in them. Of course, other translations would be somewhat different (I use the NASB) and other terms could be checked as well. But this does show that there are many cases of joy and rejoice in Scripture.

If you are like me, you may wonder why your own life is not filled to overflowing with joy like this. There may be many reasons for this lack, but obviously the first place to check would be the Scriptures themselves.

Let’s examine Scripture and see some of the places where this is overwhelming joy mentioned.  Obviously, if we were to check 402 different verses in our inspection, this would require a massive study, so let’s just limit our view of this to places that mention great, abundant, or overwhelming joy. We’ll limit this further to the New Testament. This will stimulate us to strive to experience such joy in our life.

We do know that each of us has pain, sorrow, disappointment, rejection, and suffering. Some have this more than others. But all of us are able to experience a joy in the Lord to some degree. In fact, some people who know the greatest amount of pain and suffering may have more joy than others (Matthew 5:11-12). Let’s look at the Word of God and see what we can learn about this interesting and important topic.

  1. When the angel visited the shepherds at the birth of Jesus, he announced, “I bring you good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10). Do we consider it a matter of “great joy” that Jesus was born into the world—the very Son of God Himself?
  1. The magi “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” when they saw the star that took them to the place where they saw the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:10). Do we have joy like this in light of God’s working in our life?
  1. We remember that before His departure, in the upper room, the Lord spoke to His apostles for the last time. He told them, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that Your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). When you and I read these words from Christ’s last recorded teaching before His death, do we experience Christ’s own joy? And is our joy made full?
  1. In that last teaching before His death, Jesus said that His followers would pray to God in His name, then He declared, “Ask and you will receive so that your joy may be made full” (John 16:24). When you consider the privilege of prayer, do you experience a fullness of joy? Do we even pray as we should?
  1. We all are aware of the Lord’s long and blessed prayer to God His Father before He was arrested which led to His crucifixion. In that prayer, Jesus said, “I come to You and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves” (John 17:13). Our Lord spoke these significant words so that you and I might have His joy “made full.” Do you know what this means?
  1. The women who visited the tomb of Christ and found it empty, left the tomb with “fear and great joy” (Matthew 28:8). Do we have such joy when we consider the miracle of Christ’s resurrection and what it means to us and the world? We have the privilege of knowing Christ and knowing His resurrection life. How do we respond to this?
  1. When our Lord ascended back to God in heaven, the apostles watched and worshipped Him, then “returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:52). When we consider our Lord’s departure and our privilege of going to be with Him, do we experience “great joy”?

When we consider only this many verses, we at once are impressed with the amount of joy associated with the Lord Jesus, from His birth to His return. Do you experience this much joy? Do you have “great joy” and a “fullness” of joy? Do you participate in our Savior’s own joy? In other words, do you have the joy of the Lord Jesus in your heart?

If we have this amount of joy, won’t it be seen in our words, our countenance, and in our heart? While we will continue to experience pain, sorrow, suffering, and persecution, even in the midst of this we can also know this spiritual joy that knows no limit.

Look up joy in your song book. Look it up in your Bible concordance. Ask yourself if this is the quality of your own joy. Do we rejoice in this way? If not, perhaps we are missing something very basic in life. Just know this: God wants you to have joy, and this joy is a “great” joy. It is your birthright if you are truly God’s child.

(By God’s grace, we hope to add to this study on overwhelming joy in the next installment.)

–Richard Hollerman

 

 

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