Instead of searching for the feeling of joy, search for God. Anyone who has a relationship with God will experience true and lasting joy.

Scriptures:

  • Ecclesiastes 2:1-11
  • Psalm 27:4-5
  • Psalm 119:1-2
  • Psalm 22:26
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • Psalm 16:11

What you want determines your joy!

What is your goal in life? What is your goal with God? Those two things will tell you a lot about the level of joy you are experiencing! When what you want and what you seek most is to be close to God, then God can give you a joy that is not circumstantial. Simply being close to him will produce a joy (because you have found what you most desire) that remains as long as you remain close to him.

A joy that remains even in the midst of trial, heartache and disappointment. When our motives become to ‘feel’ a certain way (i.e. to ‘feel’ happy) – as quickly as you attain that feeling (from a special moment, vacation, etc.) is as quickly as it can be taken away.

[1] I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. [2] So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?” [3] After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world. [4] I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. [5] I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. [6] I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. [7] I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. [8] I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! [9] So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. [10] Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. [11] But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 (NLT)

4 The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. 5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. [6] Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music.

Psalm 27:4-5 (NLT)

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. 2 Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.

Psalm 119:1-2 (NLT)

The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the Lord will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.

Psalm 22:26 (NLT)

Finding joy in God is completely relational! The more God knows who you really are, what you feel/think/have done/desire, the more he will know you and the closer you can to him. The harder you search and seek for God (to understand who he is, what he feels, and what he wants), the more you will know him and be drawn to him.

I have continually tried to find joy in life outside of a relationship with God. I’ve wanted a vacation, financial security, praise, and attention to bring me happiness and satisfaction. However, it has only ended in bitterness toward my husband and other relationships; empty striving for someone to say “good job” – only to strive again for the same comment down the road; or the constant desire for another vacation. What I have wanted is to feel a certain way in life – I have wanted to feel good and happy – which can only come and last for a moment when the circumstances are right.

Your closeness to God determines your joy!

Joy is the barometer of your closeness to God! Someone who says they are close to God – but doesn’t experience joy – is missing true intimacy with God.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 13 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Psalm 16:11 (NLT)

Over the past month I have been fighting harder than ever before to develop an intimate relationship with God. To tell God everything, to search everyday to understand him, and for God to be all I need. Even though life circumstances have not changed – some have only gotten more challenging – I am much more joyful and satisfied.

Questions/Application

  • How joyful of a person are you? How quickly can your joy be taken away OR how long is it sustained?
  • Is your goal to experience a positive feeling – or to develop a close and intimate relationship with God? How does this affect your joy?
  • What are areas of your heart that you’ve withheld from God? (Sins/desires/fears, etc) What can you do this week to be more known and honest with God in prayer?
  • What are qualities about God that you can study out, that can draw you closer to him?
  • How will a joy that is based on your relationship with God – change how you view the circumstances in your life?

Prayer Ideas: Take some time to pray through what you appreciate about God. Not simply what God has given you, but who he is (what he loves, how he cares) and what inspires you about his friendship.

Additional Reading

Scriptures:

  • Job 20:4-5 (nlt) 4 “Don’t you realize that from the beginning of time, ever since people were first placed on the earth, 5 the triumph of the wicked has been short lived and the joy of the godless has been only temporary?

  • Nehemiah 8:12 (nlt) So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.

  • Psalm 1:1-3 (nlt) 1 Oh, the joys of those who do not  follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. 2 But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.  3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.  Their leaves never wither,and they prosper in all they do.

  • Psalm 9:2 (nlt) I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.

  • Psalm 34:5 (nlt) Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

  • Psalm 63:4-5 (nlt) 4 I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.  5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast.  I will praise you with songs of joy.

  • Psalm 90:14 (nlt) Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.

  • Acts 2:28 (nlt) You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’

  • Romans 4:7-8  (nlt) “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. 8Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.”

  • Hebrews 1:9 (nlt) You love justice and hate evil. Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.”

Books of the Bible:

  • Philippians

  • Genesis 37-46 – Joseph had a relationship with God that enabled him to maintain joy and purpose through severe trials.

  • Psalm 32 – The joy that comes from an honest/mercy filled relationship with God.

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