Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20, NKJV)
We must remember to rejoice in the right things. Jesus had sent out seventy of His followers to the cities where He was about to go, giving them miraculous powers to accompany their preaching of the kingdom of God (Luke 10:1, 9). They returned with joy that “even the demons are subject to us in Your name” (Luke 10:17). Jesus rejoiced with them in seeing the power of Satan being overwhelmed by the power of God as they did His work (Luke 10:18-19). Then, He quickly turned their attention to why they should rejoice. By doing so, He turned their joy away from the potential of pride in themselves (“subject to us,” Luke 10:17) to the humble faith needed to do heaven’s work (“your names are written in heaven”). As you do the work of God and rejoice in the gospel’s power, remember you are not the source of your joy, God is. He is the One who makes your victory over Satan and sin possible. You do not write your name in heaven, God does that when you faithfully do the work He gives you to do (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 20:12, 15).
8 I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. 10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:8–11, NKJV)
The assurance of David’s faith was so strong that, even in the face of death, he rejoiced in the abiding presence and strength of the Lord. Hope sustained him, for he knew that in God’s plans for him did not end in the grave. In God’s presence is the path of life, joy and eternal pleasure. This great statement of faith is applied to Christ Jesus in Acts 2:25-31 as a prophecy of his resurrection from the death. Jesus died and was buried, and three days later his tomb was empty. The death of His saints is precious is the sight of the Lord (Psalm 116:15). Christians do not sorrow over death like those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). As you face daily forces designed to weaken and destroy your faith, remain faithful and true to the Lord. Be strengthened and rejoice in your hope of eternity, confident that the path of life given you by God leads to eternal joy.
9 As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9–11, NKJV)
The fruit of the Spirit includes joy (Galatians 5:22). Joy is the gladness and calm delight that results from being in harmony with God and His will. Full joy springs from keeping the commandments of Jesus, for by doing so, we abide in the love of God. Obeying Christ is living by the Spirit, which produces and sustains our joy. Combined with love, joy strengthens and secures our faith. Joy enables our long suffering (Colossians 1:11). Consider Paul’s letter to the Philippians, in which joy in Christ is thematic. Joy in Christ is exhibited in our prayers (1:4), in the progress of our faith (1:25), by our unity in Christ (2:2), by the sacrifice and service of our faith (2:17-18), in our fellowship with faithful workers for Christ (2:29-30), and in our brotherly affection (4:1). Christian friend, live a praise-filled life of joy. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. (James 5:13, NKJV)
Prayer and song. This couplet proves comforting and invigorating as we go through life’s storms and life’s calm. Suffering comes in many forms; physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Prayer is a balm for the weary, an assuring strength during times of tumult and uncertainty. And so, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Even as suffering leads to earnest prayer, happy times evoke praise of the Almighty. The Lord is the source of joy that no one can take from us – the joy of victory over sin and death (John 16:20-22, 33). When life brings good fortune, Christians raise up songs of praise to God. We remember that God is the Giver of every good blessing; we did not create our happiness without His good providence. And so, James gives us sound instruction for difficult and happy times. He reminds us to look to God through all of life’s joys and sorrows. The Lord “will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He will see you through.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8–10, NKJV)
Christians know that what pleases the Lord also brings joy and fulfillment in life. They “walk as children of light,” choosing the joy and confidence faithful living brings. You see, you do not have to sin in order to enjoy life. That is the devil’s lie. The path of sin may bring you momentary pleasure, but it always leads to spiritual darkness and eternal death. On the other hand, a life lived in goodness, righteousness and truth has God’s approval, and shows God’s light to the world. You get to choose whether to enjoy life in the joyful fulfillment of God’s approval, or to live in the darkness of sin and death. You must change your way of thinking in order to change from living in darkness to light. Faithful living results from transforming the way you think. Instead of thinking that sin is the way to happiness, think the way God thinks. Live in the light of truth, and show “what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2). Nothing is more fulfilling and joyful than knowing God accepts you. That assurance is real to all who “walk as children of light.”
4 The pangs of death surrounded me, and the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. 5 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears. (Psalm 18:4–6, NKJV)
Songwriters Frank E. Graeff and J. Lincoln Hall wrote, “Does Jesus Care?”, which begins, “Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth or song, as the burdens press, and the cares distress, and the way grows weary and long? Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief; When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.” Death enveloped David like a noose around his neck. His only relief was the Lord, to whom he cried. God heard him, and saved him from his enemies (Psa. 18:3, 16-19). Each of us will face death at some point. Perhaps you (or a loved one) are facing it now. Christians are confident that death does not defeat our faith, because our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered death! Yes, He cares when that robber of life comes with its sorrow and pain. But, Jesus gives us joyous hope beyond this land of parting and weeping – of the land of endless day and of His eternal love. Oh yes, He cares!
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2–4, NKJV)
The ability to endure the trials and pressures of life with joy and not be frustrated (or even become despondent) is a clear mark of spiritual maturity. When you are “having a bad day,” do not let it overwhelm you. Refocus your attention on the joy of being a child of God. Make a deliberate decision to be patient in the moment of trial. Choose hope over despair, and a growing, maturing faith instead of discouraging doubt. Meet the trials that challenge your faith with unyielding endurance. Allow your hope to anchor your soul in the hour of trial. Patience will work in you to complete your faith and embolden your joy.