Today’s Thought and Text of Encouragement:
“Under utterly hopeless circumstances he hopefully believed.”
Romans 4: 18
“When God is going to do something wonderful, He begins with a difficulty. If it is going to be something very wonderful, He begins with an impossibility.”
“O God of the impossible,
When we no hope can see,
Grant us the faith that still believes
All possible to Thee!”
Today’s Study Text:
“Now I am coming to you; I say these things while I am still in the world, so that My joy may be made full and complete and perfect in them that they may experience My delight fulfilled in them, that My enjoyment may be perfected in their own souls, that they may have My gladness within them, filling their hearts” (John 17: 13, Amplified Bible).
“Learning To Pray Like Jesus” – Part 6
“That Your Joy Will Be Fulfilled”
“God created us to enjoy Him because joy is the clearest witness to the worth of what we enjoy. It’s the deepest reverberation in the heart of man (or woman) of the value of God’s glory.”
In what ways is God’s glory reflected through the joy I express in my life?
If I am a joyless, unhappy person, and then I exhort others to obey God, what power do my words have in relationship to the attitude I express?
“Happiness is when you are happy. Joy is when God has done so much in your life that you will bring happiness to others.”
“Joy is more than a feeling; it is a deep peace, blended together with a solid hope that God has not left us. Joy is a delight in knowing there will be a better day. Can we have joy as our companion even when the road gets bumpy? Absolutely!”
When I was a young girl, one summer at a local Vacation Bible School I learned a song called, “I Have the Joy.” Maybe some of you are familiar with this little tune:
“I have the joy, joy, joy, joy -
Down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart,
I have the joy, joy, joy, joy -
Down in my heart, down in my heart to stay.”
As I hummed this tune today, it was the phrase, “down in my heart to stay,” that really set me to thinking about how “joy,” in our modern world, seems to have a rather fleeting nature to it. If you are wondering what I mean, just think of the times in your own life when it seemed as if the spirit of joy was snatched away -- taken from your life by a myriad of hardships that really put the damper on a joy that is supposed to be “down in your heart to stay.”
It appears to me that in my younger years, I was truly singing about a joy that was meant to take permanent residency in my heart. This was a joy which is referred to by author and poet Robert Louis Stevenson as, “the royalty of inward happiness.” In fact, we find the Apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Thessalonica, encouraging them to, “be joyful always” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16, NIV). Just to make certain we are clear as to what “always” meant when Paul penned these words, I checked the Greek and the words used in this passage of Scripture in the King James Version are, “rejoice evermore,” which means to be calmly cheerful at all times or in all manner of occasions -- anytime, anywhere.
I don’t know about you, but I do know “Dorothy” quite well, and I can honestly tell you that on many occasions, when trouble struck my life, my first response was not “rejoicing evermore.” Nor was I “calmly cheerful.” One example that immediately flooded my memory was the never-to-be-forgotten night when my mother called to inform me that my dad had just dropped over dead. My response wasn’t anything close to rejoicing. In fact, it was the absolute opposite. For many of you who have faced the unexpected hand of death or a diagnosis of rapidly progressing cancer or a sudden financial failure or the heartache of a wayward child – you may also be asking yourself, ”How in the world do the words ‘rejoice evermore’ have anything in the world to do with my experience?” Believe me, this is a fair question to ask. In fact, I think it would show a lack of insight on our part if we didn’t say, “What does it mean to have the joy of heaven down in my heart to stay?”
This is where Jesus’ prayer to His Father removes the scales from our eyes as well as opening our hearts to the gift our heavenly Father intends to give every one of His children – a heavenly joy that nothing can take away.
As we look again at today’s study text, John 17: 13, we find Jesus talking with His “Dad.” And don’t forget, these words were spoken just a few hours before an angry mob disrupted the quiet, prayerful setting in the Garden of Gethsemane.
With trouble looming and death approaching, as Jesus fellowshipped with His closest friends, He raised His eyes to heaven and said to His Father, “I’m speaking to You while I am here on earth. While I’m facing an unknown future. When things are the most desperate, I want those closest to me to know that right in the heart of all the trouble, while the winds of turmoil blow, they can experience the same joy that You and I have.” To better comprehend what Jesus was telling His Father, I took some time to study two words used by Jesus. They are “joy” and “fulfilled.” The exact phrase in the King James Version is “that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves.” In the Greek, the expanded meaning, which I found extremely enlightening, was: “That their cheerful, calm delight – their feeling on the inside of being satisfied, will cram them with a perfect supply that furnishes them with wholeness.” In other words, in our everyday language, Jesus told His Father that He wanted these on earth, whom He loved and held close, to be completely leveled-up, feeling totally and wholly accomplished. Why? Because when any of us feels as though we are living purposeful lives, accomplishing all that God has for us to do, we will be calmly peaceful. We will be rejoicing always for we know we are walking God’s path. And nowhere else, will I find true satisfaction and complete joy than when I’m doing what God has given me to do.
As difficult as Jesus’ life was on earth, there is no question that He had, “the joy, joy, joy, down in His heart.” Not only did His life exemplify the truth expressed in the words to this song I shared with you, but indeed, when Jesus talked to His Father in prayer, He longed for the joy they shared to be the same joy you and I share with our Father, too.
The Psalmist David came to understand this principle in his own life when he wrote, “Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16: 11, K.J.V.) In the words of Matthew Henry: “Christ is a Christian’s joy…Joy in the world is withering; joy in Christ is everlasting, like Him!”
I haven’t found any words by contemporary authors which express as well, not only the meaning of joy, but the way the heavenly spirit of joy can fill our daily lives, than these penned by Mother Teresa:
“Joy is prayer – Joy is strength – Joy is love by which you can catch souls. She gives most who gives with joy. The best way to show our gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love. We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in heaven with Him right now – to be happy with Him at this very moment. But being happy with Him now means: loving as He loves, helping as He helps, giving as He gives, serving as He serves, rescuing as He rescues, being with Him for all the twenty-four hours, touching Him in His distressing disguise.”
“How lovely are all the places of your dwelling. El Shaddai!
My soul faints with longing for the beauty of your presence.
My whole being shouts for joy to You, O living God!
Even the sparrow finds a home in Your presence,
and the swallow finds a place to build a nest for herself,
where she may also lay her young – on Your very altars, El Shaddai!
Blessed are all creatures who dwell in Your presence
always singing your praise!
And blessed are all the women who find their strength in You,
whose hearts are Your houses of worship.
As they go through the valley of weeping,
they turn it into a place of wellsprings.
Blessings shower on them like the spring rain.
Because they are able to see Your holiness everywhere,
they go onward from strength to strength.
A day in your presence, O God,
is better than a thousand far from You.
I would rather serve You in small and humble ways
than live in luxury and power among the wicked.
You are a God of grace and glory shielding and enlightening us.
You withhold nothing good from those who act justly.
El Shaddai, blessed is the woman who relies completely on You!”
Paraphrase of Psalm 84,
Marchiene Vroon Rienstra
“All praise to Him who now hath turned My fears to joys my sighs to song, My tears to smiles, my sad to glad. AMEN.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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