Good News & Great Joy
Kingdom Principle: Joy fills the heart of the Kingdom, prophets Rejoice sustaining its servants.
|Zephaniah 3:14-20||Isaiah 12:2-6||Philippians 4:4-7||Luke 3:7-18|
When the angel of the LORD appeared over the shepherd’s field he announced, “…I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people…” The church in general has been faithful about sharing the good news, but it has often come up very short when it comes to great joy. Much has been written about the difference between Joy and Happiness, but that is not the focus of this blog. In fact trying to define joy as deeper or in light of it being spiritual as opposed to temporal and psychological to happiness (in my opinion) has caused us to misunderstand joy all together.
- Joy is the fruit of Holiness. (John 16:20, 33; 17:13-19; Acts 13:49-51, 1 Peter 1:7-9, 2:1-3)
- Peace is the fruit of Righteousness (see last week)
Peace and Joy are “produced” and are expressed as “fruit” in the process of seeking the Kingdom and His Righteousness.
Righteousness & Holiness are more like seeds then fruit as they “positions” we hold (they hold us) and are fulfilled under the rule and reign of the King.
- As Ambassadors of Righteousness we are sent out into the world to be in relationships of reconciliation. This reveals our peace, which exists between ourselves and others.
- As Vessels of Holiness we are called to live our lives as an act of worship being set apart from the world. This reveals our joy, which exists and eludes from within our heart. (Ps. 33:20-21)
While we cannot earn or get more of Christ’s righteousness or holiness (He gave it all to us), we can however grow into the covering of grace which has been fully given to us in Christ. We have all of Christ’s righteousness and holiness, but as we grow, we surrender more of our lives unto Him.
Therefore we must seek to nurture and grow the Peace & Joy in our lives (like fruit), out of Righteousness and Holiness (seeds or roots of the Spirit) which we have been given.
Our Joy is not limited, therefore it is not always full or complete. This restriction is placed on us by ourselves depending on much of our identity is rooted in this world verses in the King of the Kingdom. (John 17, see vs. 13-14)
Some will say that happiness is temporal and emotional, and joy is deeper. Joy may be deeper yet it too is temporal and emotional as our identity is hijacked by the lies of the enemy. In this way we are to see ourselves as saints rather than sinner, for the joy is before us. Hebrews speaks of Jesus’ joy as being set before him as he endures the cross. We are to walk in the Holiness of Christ throwing off anything that entangles us, so that we do not lose heart – for it is in the heart that Joy resides.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb. 12:1-3)
The deeper aspect of Joy is that it is emotionally present in sorrow and pain. (happiness is left behind here) In this way when we mourn, we are comforted in the kingdom. (Matt 5:4) Further Paul makes it abundantly clear that Joy is not removed in suffering, but that rather it can and does live in our hearts, even when we are not at peace with others. (2 Cor. 7)
Here are a few other scriptures that highlight the reality of joy.
- God’s joy continues to flow through His people even during their suffering because of their rock-solid hope. They know that all suffering is limited to this short life, and the time will soon come when “there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying” (Revelation 21:4). They “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
- We have good reason to rejoice because of our trials we learn to place our trust in God’s redemptive power, transforming those trials to help us build godly character. “And we know that all things [even severe trials] work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
- More specifically, Paul wrote that “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
- James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” – perseverance draws up back to God remaining faithful. (James 1:2).
In this joy is to live within our hearts, regardless of the circumstance. When this is our reality, we have true expressions of peace between ourselves and others.
Building on last week – Hope looks backward and anchors our soul. Peace looks forward and builds bridges between ourselves and others. Joy is the pivot-place in-between Hope and Peace, which expresses faith in God’s Holiness and Righteousness to be our own.
- Joy is a filling within yourself, Peace is a filling within relationships (John 15:11, Phil. 2:2, 2 Tim 1:4)
- Joy is granted by the faith in Holiness of God, Peace is grown by faith in the Righteousness of God. (John 16:24, Acts 13:52, 1 Thess 1:6, Luke 10:21)
- Joy is rooted in the Heart, Hope is the anchor of your soul, Peace ever before you (Ps 19:8, Ps 97:11, Pr. 12:20, 27:11)
- Joy can be lacking or filled (often affected by circumstance), Peace can be lacking or harvested (often affected by others). (Matt. 2:10, 1 John 1:4, Ezra 6:22, Pr. 15:20, 23, Isa 24:11)
Having one without the other…
You can have Joy without Peace, but you cannot have Peace unless Joy is present in your heart. I am redefining Joy here to be an inward acceptance and embrace between oneself and God, a sort of peace between ourselves and the Spirit) In this way we can take joy into every circumstance. Peace will have an external expression and connecting point beyond you. If you are at peace with yourself – that is better called Joy. (when the circumstance is “happy” we have an easier time connecting this, but joy is having peace in your heart in the midst of sorrow.
Joy is not optional for believers – it is commanded. REJOICE, again I say REJOICE, this is emphatic by Paul as so much depends our this reality in our hearts. Christ’s Holiness is a gift given as salvation, it potentially lays latent or dormant within you until life springs forth. (Phil 2:14-18) Both Peace & Joy are fruit of the Spirit and Expression of the Kingdom of God. (Gal 5:22-23, Romans 14:17)