The JOY of the LORD is my strength, the JOY of the LORD is my strength

In the darkness I’ll dance,

In the shadows I’ll sing,

The JOY of the LORD is my strength! [1]

We sang this song this past Sunday. Have you heard it? It’s actually a staple in our worship team’s repertoire, but for some reason…this Sunday…it caused me to pause. It sunk into my soul at another level. Has that ever happened to you? Something you’ve heard over and over just touches you in a new way?

I know that the joy of the Lord is my strength, but I began to see it with an evangelistic eye.  In my mind, I began to ponder the idea of JOY and how JOY is actually part of our testimony as believers. When you see a joyful person, how does it make you feel? Doesn’t it make you smile a bit inside? You might even think the thought that you wish your life was as carefree as theirs. How can they be so joyful? In today’s world we are so focused on schedules and to-do lists, stresses and struggles, that sometimes we forget to tell our faces to smile and reflect joy. I know, in my younger days, I have had people walk up to me and ask if I was OK because I had such an intense and sometimes angry expression on my face. It wasn’t that I was angry, but I was so “in my head” that I had forgotten to tell my face to smile.  I was wearing my stress and struggles on my face.

Paul tells us in Phil 4:4, “Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice.”

What??? You might now be saying, “But you don’t understand my life…it’s insane…I’m struggling….depressed…sick…broke…addicted…lonely…someone hurt me badly…how do you expect me to be joyful in these circumstances?”

But he gives us the “how” immediately after the exhortation to be JOYFUL. “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERY SITUATION, by prayer and petition, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to GOD. “7 And the peace of GOD, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This is our STRENGTH. While the world is busy being anxious, stressed and struggling emotionally, we are to be the light. We are to be offering a different way – a SOLUTION. If we aren’t offering a solution to a need, if we aren’t showing the Christian walk as empowering and solution-based, then why would they want what we have? If you are living life in a place of defeat, depression and lack, who will be attracted to that? The world is already giving them that. If you are living life with JOY, they are going to at least be curious what you are up to. Curiosity many times leads to discussion, discussion can lead to relationship and relationship can change lives. Loving on people changes lives.

We all know that just being a Christian does not give you a free pass from hardships in life.  Christianity is not about having a problem-free life. It’s a solution for healthy living in a problem-filled life. How do we do this IN SPITE OF our circumstances? It’s all about what you focus on.

Have you heard the quote, “where your focus goes, your energy flows”? If you are focused on your problems and how nothing ever goes right for you then you will get more of that. You will only see what isn’t going right and how much life sucks. On the reverse, if you focus on GRATITUDE, THANKFULNESS and the GOODNESS of GOD, then you will get more of that because you will have a heightened sense of awareness for all things good in your life. We are to keep our focus on the TRUTH – He has your back! He tells us in John 8:31-32,“…’If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” Choosing to be JOYFUL and choosing what you focus on is not about ignoring your circumstances, hurts and hang-ups. It’s about no longer allowing them to control you and your emotions. I don’t know about you but when I do this, I feel like I have put on my superhero cape; I am now STRONG and it’s because of my JOY in the LORD.

Are you living life knowing He has your back? He…the Creator of the Universe…HAS YOUR BACK!!!!

“26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:26-34

As Christians, our JOY and THANKSGIVING should be rooted in the astounding love and goodness that our Creator bestows on us daily. He never forgets about us, even when we feel like He’s not paying any attention to our needs. Faith is a knowing the He’s still very much in love with us and our needs and that He hasn’t left us. Our JOY is an overflow of our FAITH.

Christianity is the ultimate healthy lifestyle solution. Through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the power of life transformation for ourselves and others…miracles, healings, knowledge, wisdom, giftings, the ability to transcend language barriers, financial abundance, eternal life. This is serious cause for JOY!!!

If you are a believer who is living in struggle and defeat, maybe it’s time to reach out to him. Ask for forgiveness for being so self-sufficient and reliant and not recognizing Him as the Lord of your life. He is GOD, we are not! Ask for wisdom. Ask for Him to show you His goodness. Ask for Him to increase your faith and joy.

Maybe you are really struggling today. Maybe you’ve been looking for a solution to get through this chaotic life with a bit more joy and grace. Are you curious yet? Are you wondering how you can access this healthy lifestyle solution?

It’s as easy as A-B-Cx2.

Admit that you are not perfect and incapable of being without sin. None of us can ever be good enough to earn our way into heaven.

Rom 3:23 “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of GOD.”

Rom 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of GOD is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Believe that Christ Jesus died as payment for our sins (past, present and future) and in 3 days rose again.

John 3:16 “For GOD so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For GOD did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of GOD, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that GOD raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 

Romans 10 “9 that if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that GOD raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved.”

Celebrate (Be joyful) that you have just made a life changing, life transforming decision. You have made a decision for a life of power. You have plugged into the ultimate power source EVER! Welcome to your new healthy lifestyle journey and welcome to the family.  

[1] Vale, Alliene (1971). The Joy of the Lord