Yesterday, we looked at the first part of three keys to experiencing fullness of joy in our lives: Pick the Pathway of Life. Today, we will look at the final two…
II. PURSUE THE PRESENCE OF JOY:
“In Your presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11b).
How do we get into the place where joy is? The Bible says that fullness of joy is found in God’s presence. Therefore, if you want to experience joy, you need to get into God’s presence. But how do we get there? The answer is found in another Scripture:
“But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises ofIsrael.” (Psalm 22:3). God’s presence is found in praise and worship. When we worship God, it brings us into His presence. This is what Psalm 100:4 says: “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.” As we worship God, we walk through the doorway into the presence of God, and in His presence, there is fullness of joy. Joy is important for us as Christians because “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10). There are so many weak and defeated Christians because they don’t have the joy of the Lord to give them strength.
When troubles come and we experience pain and suffering in our lives, we need the joy that comes from being in His presence, which comes from worshipping Him! We literally need to dance for joy! As we worship and praise the Lord, we come into His presence where there is fullness of joy, and the joy of the Lord gives us strength.
Jesus said: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing…These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:5,11). When we spend time with God on a daily basis through reading His Word and abiding in Jesus in prayer, we can experience His presence.
If we want to experience the joy of the Lord, you can’t just come to church on Sundays and think, “I’ll just press in in worship with all of my heart, and I’ll just soak up and listen to all of the teaching from the pastor, and that will prepare me to go through the week.” Our lives are like a plastic cup, and when we enter into the presence of the Lord, it’s like filling up that cup (our lives) with cool, refreshing water. When we immerse our lives in the presence of God, we are refreshed, and we experience joy. Our problem is that we don’t stay in the presence of the Lord. When we leave the presence of the Lord, we leak. Our lives are like cups with a hole in the bottom of them. We’re leaky containers. I wonder if this isn’t why Paul exhorted us to, “Rejoice always, Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17). It’s only when we pray without ceasing – when we abide in the tangible presence of God – that we can rejoice always.
III. PARTICIPATE IN RIVERS OF PLEASURE!
“At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11c).
God wants us to participate in rivers of pleasure. Take a minute to meditate on the awesome truths contained in this next Scripture:
“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.” (Ps. 36:7-8)
People put their trust in the Lord because of the preciousness of His lovingkindness. It’s the goodness of God that draws people to repentance. Those who trust in God’s lovingkindness are abundantly satisfied, and this is what everyone is looking for. They are searching for something in life that will completely satisfy them. This is why people turn to drugs and alcohol and other worldly things. They are looking for something that will satisfy. But there is only one thing in this life that will truly satisfy the deep longings of our hearts – the presence of the living God. Religion won’t do it. The reason people aren’t going to church is because religion doesn’t do it. People in our nation are hungry for God and spiritual things, but they don’t like the church, because there’s too much religion and tradition there. They want God, but they want something real. We need to give it to them.
If we could just allow the presence of God to transform us into people of joy, we would literally draw people to Christ by the joy that’s in us. They would say, “What do you have, and how do I get it?” That’s how I came to Jesus. Before my friend Jerrold ever preached the Gospel to me, I noticed something different about him. There was something that he had that I didn’t have. He was fun, funny and filled with joy, and yet it was different from my other friends, because it was clean and sober fun. I said, “How can he have as much fun as I am without getting drunk?” It was the joy of Jesus.
The Psalmist wrote: “And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.” We need to learn to drink from God’s rivers of pleasure. Are you thirsty for God’s new wine?
Look at the Bible story of the prodigal son. This young man said to his father, “Dad, I wish you were dead. I want my share of the inheritance now.” He went out and wasted it all on wild and riotous living and finally came to the end. He had tried looking for joy and pleasures in sin, but he couldn’t find it. When he finally came to his senses, here’s what happened:
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ’Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ’Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.” (Luke 15:20-25).
Jesus tells us that they began to be merry. Can I put that in modern language for you? They had a big party! The father said, “We’re gonna throw the fatted calf on the BBQ, we’re gonna eat, drink and party!” ThekingdomofGodis a party. There’s joy. It’s fun being saved! But listen to this. When the older son came near the house and heard the music and dancing, “he was angry and would not go in.” (v.28). He was angry because of the party. Too many people in the church today don’t like the party. “There’s too much joy. The music’s too loud. There’s too much dancing and celebrating. We need to be more serious.” We need to get rid of that mentality and learn to celebrate more freely.
The Bible says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (Phil. 4:4). This verb is in the imperative tense. That means it’s a commandment. Do you want to obey the Lord? Rejoice – it’s a choice! “Well, I don’t feel very happy today.” We’re not talking about happiness; we’re talking about rejoicing in the Lord. It’s a commandment. God doesn’t command us to do something we can’t do. In the presence of the Lord there’s fullness of joy. Jesus said, “Your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” (John 16:22). Nothing has the power to steal your joy, unless you let them.
There’s an Old Testament Bible story that says: “Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City ofDavidwith gladness. And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep. Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house ofIsraelbrought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City ofDavid, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.” (2 Samuel 6:12-16).
David was a man after God’s own heart, and I want to be a man after God’s own heart. I want to be like David. Anytime there was a party in the Bible, there was always someone there who didn’t like the party. But God loves it when His children are set free to experience His joy. One last Scripture to convince you that God wants you to have joy. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God in your midst… will rejoice over you with gladness… He will rejoice over you with singing.” Can you picture God as being joyful and singing? If that doesn’t seem like the God you know, then maybe you’ll meet Him today. It’s time for the people of God to be set free to dance for joy.
Father, right now I thank you for those reading these words. You see the need for joy and freedom, and those who are going through difficult trials in their lives that need the joy of the Lord. I pray for a breakthrough of joy, that there would not be one miserable, depressed, downcast person. Pour out your joy upon those reading this today, in Jesus’ name, amen. Receive the joy!
Pastor Chris Jordan
This is a sample chapter from The Beausejour Pulpit.
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