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Joy is a powerful force in the lives of believers. In fact, one of its primary functions is to break the yoke of iron upon a believer's neck: "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations" (James 1:2).

"Count it all joy" is just as much a commandment as love thy neighbor. It is just as much a sin not to count it all joy during a trial as it is to hate a brother or sister in Christ.

To count it all joy does not mean to praise God at the outset of a trial and then from that point on to act and look discouraged until the fulfillment of the need is manifested. It means to praise God and be joyful throughout the trial—from beginning to end.

Joy Helps You Endure
Many believers are joyful over the short haul, but lack the strength and endurance to be joyful in the long, drawn-out trials. They may begin with joy, but after a while that joy seems to wear thin. It's not long before it has disappeared entirely. Once this happens, the yoke of iron is immediately imposed upon their necks. It is then only a matter of time before they fall under the weight of it.

It is easy to detect when a Christian's joy is about to go during a trial because he will begin asking such questions as: "How much longer must I endure?" "Why me?" "Do you realize how long I have been standing in faith for an answer to this situation?"

Questions such as these are a sure indication that joy is about to depart, for according to Proverbs 15:23, A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! As soon as joy withers from the tongue, it begins to wither from the heart.

Joy is not based on feelings or circumstances; joy is bestowed by God and resides in one's spirit. Psalm 105:37 refers to God bringing Israel out of bondage in the land of Egypt: He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes. The Hebrew word translated feeble is a root word meaning "to falter, stumble, faint or fall."

The source of these people's strength is revealed in Psalm 105:43: "And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness." God knew exactly what it would take to give His people strength to overcome the effect of their adverse circumstances. It took joy.

Overcoming Trials
Trials of adverse circumstances are going to increase in this world for us believers as we see the day approaching (Heb. 10:25). But we have the potential within our spirits not to be shaken by these approaching storms.

Although circumstances will become increasingly adverse and more and more people in the world will find themselves overcome by the cares of life, this need not happen to the children of God.

However, if we believers have not learned how to overcome our present trials, if we are already being shaken by what we are experiencing today, then as the trials of life intensify we will find them much more difficult—if not impossible—to endure.

It will only be through the fruit of joy that we will have the ability to overcome the trials which lie ahead of all of us. That's why it is imperative that we realize that the time to begin the process of cultivation of joy in our own individual lives is today.

Concerning that day of His coming, Jesus forewarned believers in Luke 21:34:
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
The word translated surfeiting is kraipale (krahee-pal'-ay) and refers to overindulging as with food or drink. It also refers to the disgust or nausea that results from overindulgence.

This is the problem with many Christians today; they are "overcharged with surfeiting." They are drinking so much of the cup of the cares of this life they are experiencing the discomfort brought on by living in a drunken, nauseated spiritual state. They are ignoring the Lord's warning to take heed to themselves.

Their minds have become so saturated with the cares of life—and so weary and drunken—that they do not have ears to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Church today. In addition, they are so nauseated with the trials of life that their vision is blurred so they are not even aware of the day and time in which they are living.

We believers need the fruit of joy in order to break the bondage of heaviness and to overcome the trials of life. Then we will have a sharp eye to see and a clear mind to understand the signs of the times, as well as an open ear to hear what the Spirit is speaking to the Church in these last days. Then we will know what our Lord is asking of the Church and what He is commanding it to do and to be.

As we perceive and take heed, we will be found ready at the coming of the Lord Jesus and will be delivered out of the "land of Egypt." Like Israel, we too will be brought forth with joy (Ps. 105:43).

Not All Are On Board
Many believers, however, are not concerned about preparing themselves for the coming of Jesus. This unconcern is evidence of their spiritual ignorance and apathy for if they were truly aware of the nearness of His coming, then they would not be living as they are.

They would be diligently preparing their hearts by spending more time on their knees and in the Word of God. They would be counting the cares and trials of this life for what they really are—wood, hay, and stubble (1 Cor. 3:12). Instead of being concerned for these temporal things, they would be seeking after gold, silver, and precious stones (1 Cor. 3:12)—things that will last for eternity.

Most Christians can quote the familiar passage of scripture in Romans 10:17: So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing the Word of God. Many, however, are not aware of the close relationship between joy, faith and the Word.

Jesus taught this principle to His disciples in John 15:11: These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. What He had spoken to them was the Word of God. The Apostle John, in turn, later wrote: And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full (1 John 1:4).

An appropriate question for us to ask ourselves when we are lacking joy is: "How much time do I spend in the Word of God?" If the answer is little or no time, then we can regain our lost joy by increasing the amount and quality of time we spend in the Word developing our faith.

And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith (Phil. 1:25). In this scripture, Paul states that there is joy in faith. Believers who cultivate faith by spending time in the Word will also be cultivating the fruit of joy. The three are inseparable, for not only does faith come by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, joy also comes the same way.

Just as there is no faith outside of the Word of God, likewise there is no faith outside of joy; and there is no joy outside of faith. A believer of weak faith is an individual of weak joy; whereas a believer of strong faith is an individual of strong joy. "Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand" (2 Cor. 1:24).

In other words, a Christian's faith will never rise above his joy, and his joy will never rise above his faith. Joy and faith stand together. When one is missing, the other will fall. Both faith and joy stand upon the solid foundation of the eternal Word of God.

Source: A Call For Character by Greg Zoschak
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Greg Zoschak
Web site: Greg Zoschak
Greg Zoschak's lifelong ambition was to become a professional football player, and became born again through the influence of his high school coach. Years later, Greg began to feel a call to the ministry, but football kept tugging at him as well. A motorcycle accident later on forced him to discontinue his pursuit of football; at that time, his ambitions began to change and pull him toward God.

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