Robert Murray McCheyne said, ‘The purest joy in the world is joy in Christ Jesus.’
In these posts, I want to share some reflections on joy and where, as Christians, we can find our joy.
Our Joyful God
25th January 2021
Often when we come to think of joy we jump right in to thinking about ourselves and whether we feel joyful or not. But it is not where I want us to start. I want us to begin with God.
I wonder what words you would use to describe our God.
Would joyful be one of the words that you would use? Would you describe the God of the Bible as the God who is filled with perfect and endless joy?
Our God is a joyful God, as King David declares,
'in your presence there is fullness of joy' (Psalm 16:11)
One of the defining characteristics of God’s people throughout the Bible is that they are a people of joy both in good times and in difficult. But why is this? Well, it is because our God is the God of joy.
Paul says that God is ‘the blessed and sovereign’ one (1 Timothy 6:15). Theologian Wayne Grudem writes that ‘God’s blessedness means that God delights fully in himself and in all that reflects his character’. It shows us that God is perfectly happy, perfectly satisfied, and that he has fullness of joy in himself.
We believe that God is independent (or self-existent), which means He is not dependent on anything or anyone. Therefore, in the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit enjoy perfect joy together. The reason that David says that there is fullness of joy in the presence of God is because God is full of joy. God lacks for nothing and just as perfect love exists within the Trinity, so too does perfect joy. His joy is not lacking nor is it dependent on anyone or anything. Our God is filled with perfect and endless joy.
God experiences perfect and endless joy within Himself and then, in His grace, shares that joy with His creation and His people.
'the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ (Nehemiah 8:10)
and Paul, picking up a similar theme says,
‘Rejoice in the Lord always.’ (Philippians 4:4)
These verses are written with the joy of the believer very much in mind but when we consider them carefully, they also show us the very source of our joy. We are able to experience joy because God shares His joy with us.
In John 15, Jesus teaches us to abide in Him so that His joy might be in us, and that our joy might be full. Notice that before anything else - Jesus is full of joy.
Jesus says this again while praying to His Father in John 17, when He prays that His followers would have ‘my joy fulfilled in themselves’. Jesus has a joy that is in Himself, He shares His joy with those who follow Him, and His joy is not in any way depleted as He shares it with us.
God rejoices over creation and rejoices over you!
After God made everything, He declared that it was very good and, in doing so, rejoiced over all that He has made. Proverbs 8 tells us that God rejoices over His creation and delights in His children. And Isaiah promises us that God will rejoice over us:
'As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.' (Isaiah 62:5)
With the many blessings that come with being a Christian – forgiveness, love, peace, eternal assurance to name just a few – there also comes the great truth that the joyful God rejoices over you as a husband rejoices over his bride. He does so because you are His creation, His workmanship made in His image, His church, and His bride.
Next week - "Be Joyful!"