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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

Ode to Joy … rejoice, always, in Jesus

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Philippians 4:4

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
earth and heav'n reflect Thy rays,
stars and angels sing around Thee,
center of unbroken praise:
—Henry Van Dyke, Hymn to Joy, 1907

Ah, joy! Where does it come from? Does everyone have it? What do we do with it? Suppose we return to our poetic or symphonic analogy. Who wrote the poem? Who composed the music? The poet and the composer, of course. In the case of joy, the poet or composer clearly is the Lord.

Are we born with joy in our heart? You know very well that some of your friends are naturally more joyful than others. But is that really joy? Strictly speaking, joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). While we may be born with the propensity for joy, real joy has to be ripened in us by the Holy Spirit.

Which of course means, you have to be a child of God to have the Holy Spirit in you to ripen the fruit called joy. No wonder Paul repeatedly told his friends in Philippi: rejoice in the Lord! (Philippians 3:1, 4:4, 4:10).

Peterson (MSG introduction) identifies joy as a “spilling out’ quality of Christ’s life”. Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27), accounts for the reason you have joy. Without such hope, where would real joy come from?

Jesus confirmed the importance of remaining in Him: “so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). He sincerely wished that we have the full measure of (His) joy within (us) (John 17:13). Joy, for Jesus, was future: who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). We have His joy in us now.

And so God spilled out Himself, as Christ, into humanity. Christ spilled out Himself in life, and on the cross, into mankind. The Holy Spirit in man lives to spill out joy-fruit for others to view, to the glory of God.

If you know Jesus ladies, sing with me: I’ve got the joy-joy-joy-joy down in my heart

Nancy P

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