June 18, 2021

The Journey of Joy

Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

—  Philippians 4:4

A group of Buddhist scholars considered the weighty question of whether the Buddha, their figure of supreme serenity and harmony, ever laughed. After carefully checking their holy books, they concluded that indeed the Buddha may have smiled on at least one occasion. Some religions lack an emphasis on joy, but there should be no doubt that Christians appreciate humor, laughter, and joy. Why? Because God himself is joyful.

In Nehemiah 8:10 we are re­minded, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” And I love the description of God in Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord . . . will take great delight in you . . . [and] will rejoice over you with singing.” Can you picture God singing for joy as he thinks about you and me?

Certainly the culmination of joy is the coming of Jesus. At Jesus’ birth the angel of the Lord proclaims, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10). Christ’s coming to bring salvation has brought exuberant joy into the world.

The Holy Spirit, who lives in us, makes the joy of God and Jesus our own. There is no longer any need to search for joy. The Christian can say, “I have found it!”

The apostle Paul explains that when we have the joy of the Lord, we have the peace of God as well—and that is the fruit we will look at tomorrow.

Lord, we live in a world that is missing deep joy because of disease, disaster, and emotional distress. We desperately need your joy. Holy Spirit, fill us with the joy of the Lord, we pray. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

About the author — Dean Deppe

Dean Deppe has been a pastor in inner-city, suburban, and rural ­churches. Currently he teaches New Testament theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. His courses include one on the parables of Jesus. He and his wife have four grown children.

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