Monday, October 19, 2015

The Joy of Knowing the Lord Jesus Christ

“I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (John 15:11 HCSB).

Vision of Joy Gone Sour

In our message this week, the Lord highlighted the importance of having joy as a Christian. While it is true Christians are faced with many challenges that are competing to destroy our faith and confidence in the Lord, we must remember that the Presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is equally real and He cannot be influenced by our moods (Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:22). It is true when a Christian displays a foul mood in the assembly of the brethren, they have allowed that mood of negative energy to possess them (1 Peter 1:6).

On Friday, October 16, 2015, the Lord gave Charis a short but powerful vision as a rebuke to someone in our ministry. He also used it as a message to emphasize the importance of joy in a believer’s life. In the vision, Charis saw me (Glenn) standing in our bedroom, and the Lord spoke to me (she could not see Him) saying, My daughter Grace (not real name) used to be jolly and full of energy when she came to the home church worship services but lately, she has lost her joy and her coming serves no purpose.

Brethren, this is a very serious message from the Lord. As you may recall, just last week, we were warned that the condition of our hearts must always be right before the Lord and at any given moment of time (Acts 8:21; Jeremiah 17:10). Indeed, the message the Lord gave above is true, because the negative energy of silence and withdrawal from the sister affects others in the assembly. When we give praise and worship to the Lord, it must flow from a spirit of great joy and jubilation, just like the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:8-10; Psalm 149:1-2). As it is, such an attitude contradicts the purpose of our gathering, which is to rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 4:4).

As an experience and in addition to the above vision, we had a sister who would also come to our meetings in a very sad mood. Her facial gestures and mannerisms displayed her dislike of the brethren, and that coming to our worship session was a burden to her. This was evident in her moods. She was thus always uptight. This was a disturbing trend and the Lord rebuked her for having such a spirit. The Bible tells us that there is freedom, joy and peace in the Presence of the Lord, and that we must consider how we ought to encourage one another. We must not come to our gatherings to destroy the joy and faith of others (2 Corinthians 3:17; Psalm 16:11; Hebrews 10:24-25; Galatians 5:13-15).

Joy is a Manifestation of the Holy Spirit

In a rebuke to me some time ago, the Lord told me that whatever things we do in His name enjoys  equal importance, and our humility must be evident in reverence to Him. In my observation of Christians in general, the spirit of joy is evident mostly when we hear or receive something good, but generally, our moods are affected and controlled by worries for other things more than our whole-being in Christ. We cannot ignore the importance of joy in a Christian’s life, for this is showing our hope of salvation to others who don't have a relationship with the Lord (Romans 15:13). Since joy flows from the Holy Spirit, it would be safe to say that a joyless Christian either ignores or stifles the Holy Spirit from expressing Himself through them. The Lord has given all born-again believers the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we are urged to walk in the Spirit–not in the flesh (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Galatians 5:16). According to the Bible, we are identified as children of God through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Romans 8:9-11). He is a serious Partner that we shouldn't lose sight of (Ephesians 4:30). Therefore, His manifestation is seen in our lives through the fruits of holiness which we exude (John 15:8).

Often, people are naturally attracted by powerful revelations from the Holy Spirit and these are considered manifestations and rightfully so. However, when Christ came, He repeatedly emphasized the love He had for us, and the Father expressing this in great joy through His actions (John 15:9; Hebrews 12:2). Like today, many people are attracted to others by the ‘powers’ they have, either through some position or worldly wealth. Christ’ command to us, however, is to give love, thus allowing His joy to flow from that love (John 15:11-12). As it is, joy is closely linked to hope and good-will and biblically God is that JOY our souls must yearn for.

Hindrances to Our Joy

Prior to Job’s trials, the Bible tells us that he led a prosperous and peaceful life (Job 1:1-3) and his devotion to God was unquestionable (Job 1:4-5). However, seemingly out of nowhere, his troubles suddenly started and he cursed the day of his birth (Job 3:1-8). This preceding Scripture highlights the sadness in Job’s heart, and with that his joy was gone, making room for more complaining (Job 21:4). Now, we know Job was a man greatly loved and approved by our Heavenly Father, and his patience and faith in God was unshaken (Job 1:22). He certainly lost his joy because his soul was bitter within him (Job 7:11), and through his discourses he came to terms with his situation, acknowledging and charging that only God was his joy (Job 19:25-27).

Having said this, the Lord is teaching us that we will have His joy to help and carry us through our moments of hardship. We should therefore not allow life’s trying situations to harden our hearts, neither should we permit sadness and the worries of life to trouble us (Mark 4:19; Colossians 1:24; Matthew 6:25-34). I’m sure many of you have experienced that the competing worries of life (school, career, parenting, etc.) serve as the greatest thief of our joy. Sadly there are many wounded Christian who are falling prey to this device of Satan. In this ministry, we have witnessed the joy of many brethren who rejoiced in the Lord for the blessings He imparted upon them, and the power of God they experienced in their lives. Even though with all good things from God comes a test (Genesis 22:1-2; Acts 9:16), it is the joy fuelled by love that must remain, not a bitter heart. In other words, the Joy of the Lord must counteract sadness, for our sadness often concerns worldly things. We must not substitute our joy in Christ for the benefit of things that bring suffering (Matthew 19:21-23). When we worry and focus on the object of our suffering, instead of focusing on Christ, our peace will be disturbed (Psalm 42:5).

Presently, as a ministry and family, we are facing some trying situations. The Lord showed us that Satan is using these trials as weapons to steal, control and manipulate our feelings. By encouraging us, He told us just to pray and hope in Him and use His joy as our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). No doubt, the devil attempts to use the cares and concern of things to steal our joy and embitter us against the Lord, leading us to complaining. We are resolute in our commitment, and through it all, we have His joy as a real combatant against worrisome feelings, and with that we retain peace.

A few years ago, a good friend of mine who was unemployed had financial challenges, but his joy and worryless attitude in Christ gave me great courage. Despite his challenges, God provided for him and helped him; he lacked neither food nor money to pay for his rent. I can truthfully testify that even to this day, that brother is still enjoying the fruits of his faith in the Lord, having received everything he owns by faith, and sharing it freely because he refused to abandon the joy of the Lord. Brethren, we must remember that we have a choice to either exercise joy or be handicapped by feelings of worry. Choosing the latter shows that we are weak and walking in the flesh, as opposed to being strong and choosing life in the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16).

Restoring Our Joy

As children of God, we have not been called to complain, grumble, or argue (Philippians 2:14-15). Rather, since the Lord has been pleased to call us His children, we are called to be thankful (Ephesians 5:20; Hebrews 12:28).  If we at least have the basics of food, shelter, and clothing, let us give thanks and serve the Lord joyfully(1 Timothy 6:8; Philippians 4:11; Deuteronomy 28:47). Although it is not always easy, we are called to rejoice in our trials and consider it pure joy (James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6). The Lord blesses and shows Himself to be full of love and faithfulness when we fast and pray by faith during our trials (Philippians 4:6-7). As the Jews in the time of Esther, we can only have joy when we see the Lord's deliverance after having obeyed, sought, and trusted Him (Esther 8:15-17). Also, when we wrong others in any way, it creates a lack of peace and division which hinders our joy. With humility and having a repentant heart towards those we have wronged and forgiving those who have wronged us, our joy is restored (James 4:6).

If you would like the joy of the Lord restored in your heart, pray for it as King David did when he said “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:12); and the Lord is faithful to give you this good gift (Matthew 7:11). To begin a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, please begin by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Peaceful love and joy to in Christ Jesus,

Brother Glenn and Preparing for The Kingdom Ministry Team.