walk in the word
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy because of your partnership in the gospel. Philippians 1:3-5
For the next several weeks on the broadcast we’re going to be zeroing in on something so great that only God could be at the center of it. The bull’s eye is joy—something the world knows nothing about. We’re going verse by verse through the book of Philippians in a series called “I Choose Joy.”
Let’s get a definition of joy on the table. Joy is “supernatural delight.” You can’t get yourself joyful. The Bible talks about the “joy of the Lord.” God is the one who gives joy. You can do a lot of things to reduce joy, but you can’t do anything to well it up. You can plug it, but you can’t flow it. Only God can give joy.
Supernatural what? It’s a supernatural delight in three things:
#1: In the person of God. Have you ever looked at a person who had so much joy in the Lord and you were like, “Where did they get that?” I’m telling you, they got it from God.
#2: In the purposes of God. As you think about what you want your life to be all about and where you’re going to find the peace and satisfaction and fulfillment every heart longs for, let me just tell you it’s here: joy comes from connecting with God’s purposes. God’s going to do some great things in the coming months. Do you want to be part of those things? And not just from the sidelines or the stands, man. Like me, do you want to be on the field, participating in the purposes of God? More about this later.
#3: In the people of God. When you go to work on the purposes of God and start connecting with the people of God, I’m telling you, get ready for the joy to knock you down. Nothing is better in this world.
Now you may have been thinking to yourself, “Hey, James, you say I need to choose joy, but then you say it’s supernatural. So which is it—from God or from me?” I’m glad you asked. The joy comes from the Spirit of God witnessing the reality of Jesus in your heart. Let’s build on this thought. Jesus Christ is eternally and unalterably joyful. Did you know that? He’s never been in a bad mood. He’s never been upset about anything. He travails and grieves over situations in the world, but His purposes are being advanced in a phenomenal way. The things that He wants to happen in the world are happening, perfectly and in His timing. He’s never stymied. He’s never caught off guard. So He delights in His purposes. Then He delights in the people through which He is accomplishing those purposes. That’s us! Zephaniah 3:17 says that Jesus rejoices over us with singing. It’s a thrilling thing.
So “is it from Him or is it something I choose?”—here’s the answer. Because Jesus Christ Himself is unalterably and eternally joyful, when I allow Him to reign and rule in my heart, when His thoughts are my thoughts, when I give Him complete control of everything, I have the joy of the Lord. It’s my choice. I can choose to let Him rule, I can choose to let Him reign, so the joy that is Jesus Christ Himself overflows in my heart. I choose His joy.
Next week in the “Weekly Walk,” I’ll give you four ways you can keep from losing your joy. But before we close, I’ve got one last thing on my mind. I want to echo Paul’s greeting in Philippians 1:3-4. He writes: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy . . .”
Every so often I walk through our worship center when nobody’s there, placing my hand on the chairs and seeing in my mind’s eye each of the people whom God has brought to our church to worship and serve Him. I’ve broadened my vision now to include you reading at your computers or listening in your cars or at your kitchen tables to Walk in the Word. Like Paul said in his prayer, I thank God for you . How good it is that we pray for each other and remember each other before the Lord. But what was it that made Paul so joyful in these people? Why am I so fired up about you? Where’s that joy coming from? The answer is in verse 5: “because of your partnership in the gospel.” Get it? It’s the definition of joy all over again! Joy is the supernatural delight in the purposes and people of God—God’s gift to God’s people doing God’s work.
Don’t miss this point: There is a joy that God wants to give you today that you will neverhave until you are working for Jesus. Urgency is the name of the game. Joy is the banner flying overhead. So if you’re not already on the field working in some way for God’s kingdom, come out of the stands and get on the playing field. We’re having a blast down here!
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