Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: rejoice

Joy

Martin and Gracia Burnham were kidnapped by terrorists and held in the Philippine jungle for more than a year. Hours before their captivity ended, they chatted about Psalm 100, knowing that they may not leave the jungle alive but wanting to serve the Lord with gladness and come into His presence with singing.

Joy: the ability to praise God in a dark place.

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It’s different to happiness because that’s dependent on circumstances. Joy is supernatural, given by God.

I first discovered joy during my illness six years ago. Like Martin and Gracia, I wondered how to serve God when simply breathing took the majority of my energy and concentration. The Holy Spirit brought these verses to my attention:

‘Count in all joy’ when you go through trials. Why? Because there is a reward if you do.

I was so comforted, knowing I could still serve God when I couldn’t do anything. Each afternoon, I breathily and tunelessly sang praises to God for a few seconds. That was my sole activity for the day. Yet I knew that God heard me and valued my sacrifice of praise.

The seed of joy that God planted in my heart has grown as I’ve cultivated it by practicing joy.

That’s not to say I always feel like praising God. I have days when I’m more miserable than joyful, when patients get on my nerves, things go wrong, or I’m hormonal and tired. Sometimes I text my friend Ali to let her know I’m struggling. She always texts back that she’s praying and reminds me to get back to praising God. I do the same for her. We both find that we usually feel tonnes better if we take a few minutes to praise God in tongues if we can’t find the words in English.

Jesus knew all about joy in dark places too. He urged people who are persecuted for their faith to ‘rejoice’ and ‘leap for joy’. What? Sounds heartless. But Jesus saw things from an eternal perspective and He thinks it’s worth it for the reward. God the Son promised a great reward for those who are persecuted because they love Him.

Jesus Himself went through the crucifixion because of the joy He was looking forward to afterwards: the joy of having you and me as His friends.

Linking up with Little Things Thursday.

 

Joy

I rolled around on the floor laughing till my stomach ached. Adi looked on bemused. We were at a prayer meeting and there I was, belly-laughing on the floor.

A couple of days earlier God had delivered me from a spirit of fear that had been rooted deep inside since childhood. The Holy Spirit kept whispering the word joy to me. And then in the prayer meeting, His joy flooded me until it gushed out in peels of laughter – filling up and healing all those inner places where fear had reigned in my life.

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
He has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.

Zechariah 3:14-15

My word for 2015 is JOY.

I have tasted God’s joy in the last eighteen months and it’s intoxicating, strengthening, healing. It is part of the inheritance Jesus died to give me, and I am keen to enjoy more of my inheritance in Him.

Sing aloud, shout, rejoice, exult (show triumphant elation/jubilation) – this is about emotion being fully engaged. I used to be conservative, even disapproving of Christians who showed any kind of emotion in worship.

We sing and shout over what we’re truly passionate about. When Jessica Ennis was running for gold in the 2012 Olympics, for all I was quiet, shy and unconfident, I stood yelling my head off for her while watching a big screen at Trent Embankment with several hundred other people – and I jumped up and down celebrating for her when she crossed the finish line. What about football supporters at a match? They sing, they shout, they put their hands in the air, they hug.

Showing such emotion makes you vulnerable. People see what is really in your heart.

Sing aloud, shout, rejoice, exult with all your heart – this is a command. Yet His commandments aren’t burdensome. God created us with emotions and He meant for us to use them.

Why should we be glad and rejoice in God?

I rejoice in Him because He has taken away my condemnation. I deserved judgment and death for rebelling against Him and going my own way. But because Jesus took the punishment I deserved, God does not condemn me.

God lives inside me. My Father has generously given me His Holy Spirit so that I can understand the things that are important to God, to prove that I’m His adopted daughter, and as a guarantee of everything He has promised me for the future.

God has cleared away my enemies. I used to be trapped in an invisible prison, the walls of which were lies and deceit, shame and defeat. But God has rescued me from the domain of darkness and brought me into His own Kingdom. The evil one has no legal right to me anymore because I’m in a new Kingdom now. He is powerless to hurt and trap me while ever I choose to believe Truth. Jesus has set me free and I don’t need to be afraid of evil. If demonic nightmares try to break in on my sleep, the name of Jesus is powerful enough to send them packing.

In these two verses, God twice calls me His daughter. That makes me so secure because to be a daughter of God is to be accepted and beloved and precious.

So I refuse to be conservative in worship. The more I comprehend what God has done for me, the more I must give him whole-hearted, emotions-fully-engaged worship. He deserves nothing less. What can I say? He has rescued me and set me free, and I love Him with every fibre of my being. That doesn’t make me perfect, but it does fill me with joy.

Joy is contagious. When Adi and I were visiting Hampton Court Palace in the autumn, I was struck by this fountain. It gushed exuberantly high into the air, scattering droplets in a pebble effect and showering us with spray. That is what the joy of the Lord is like – my prayer is that He will fill me until I overflow with His joy, and that as others see His joy in me, they will want to know Him for themselves. Because He is the most amazing and wonderful God. My Father, My Deliverer, My Hero.

© 2019 Mandy Baker Johnson

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑