The joy of the Lord is your strength,” said the prophet Nehemiah (Nehemiah 8:10).

It’s no wonder that Jesus emphasized to his disciples that he had come not only to secure their salvation through his sacrifice on the cross but also to equip them with the power of his joy.

You have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete,” he told them (John 16:24).

The joy of the Lord belongs to us; we just need to ask for it! Before his arrest, Jesus prayed for us: “I pray that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. May they experience my complete happiness in them, and may my delight fill and overflow in their hearts” (John 17:13 – paraphrased Bible).

Every born-again Christian knows that their salvation is a free gift; they are aware that they are born again by the Holy Spirit the moment they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior in faith. On the other hand, many Christians discover that God’s gift includes much more than just new birth. By faith, they also share in the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

However, very few of us seem to realize that Jesus has also given us the gift of his joy. Like the rest of the gift, it must be asked for and received in faith.

If the joy of the Lord is our strength, it is evident that it is not something acquired after a long spiritual journey, like a crown of whipped cream on top of a cake. It is something we need from the beginning of our Christian life to support and strengthen us in our mission of bearing the Good News to the world. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

When I come to you, I will not be able to add much to your faith, for I hope to see you and help you in your joy. I want to make you happy and not sad” (2 Corinthians 1:24).

Paul did not mean he would make them happy by bringing them nice gifts or improving their living conditions. He wanted to remind them of the joy that had already been given to them. He wanted them to train themselves to rejoice, cultivating the joy planted in them by the Holy Spirit. Paul knew that for an active Christian testifying to their faith, outer life would always be full of trials and suffering. Remaining in Christ is the source of their joy.

The Holy Spirit warns me in every city that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace...” Acts 20:23-24

If Jesus has already given us his joy, why do most Christians lead such sorrowful lives? Jesus prayed for his joy to be made perfect in us. What he means is that we cannot make ourselves joyful any more than we can save ourselves, fill ourselves with love or peace. What we can do is willingly accept and believe what Jesus has done for us and let him make his joy perfect in us.

In everyday life, this means deliberately practicing joy, regardless of our feelings, believing that God is at work transforming our sorrow into pure joy, as promised. Love, joy, peace are part of the fruit of the Spirit in us. Jesus explained to his disciples how they should cultivate this fruit.

I have loved you just as the Father has loved me. Live in my love. If you obey my commands, you will live in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and live in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:9-11).

We are joyful not because circumstances are happy, but because we know Jesus’ commands, practice them, and abide in Him. Jeremiah writes:

Your words were found, and I ate them. Your words became a joy to me and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16).

David had learned the secret of joy:

Rejoice with trembling,” he writes in Psalm 20:11.

Now my head will be lifted up above my enemies who surround me; I will offer sacrifices in his tent with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord” Psalm 27:6

For a long time, I believed I knew joy in satisfaction and well-being. I now realize that joy does not originate in feelings but is released by the will and is part of a life of praise.

Let the joy of all the righteous burst forth as praise to the Lord, for it is their privilege to praise him,” writes David in Psalm 33:1.

Joy, gratitude, and praise are inseparable. Our decision to thank and praise the Lord in all things is incomplete until we are also resolved to rejoice in all circumstances.

This text is an excerpt from the book “Power of praise ” written by Merlin R. Carothers.

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