"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . . Our Website is UNDER CONSTRUCTION, please be patient!

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Sunday, October 11, 2020

The JOY of the LORD is OUR STRENGTH

~ by James Fire

We finished only a few weeks ago the ON THE BRINK Prophecy Conference and it was a blessing wasn’t it (We'll have a series of articles accompanying the videos of this coming soon!)?

Always, whenever we look at the signs of the times, how they are beginning to come to pass we look up, for our redemption draws near, and we’ll be seeing JESUS soon! And that is the ultimate reason for our joy!

There are those who avoid prophecy conferences – because it’s all “doom and gloom” they say. Not for the Christian, really: because these signs reveal He is coming back, any day now, and the anticipation is thrilling!

For those who are lost; or playing some cheap plastic Jesus game, sure: these things are full of doom and gloom, because what’s about to happen, and what will be happening in the not too distant future is going to be terrifying.
Even for us Christians – we don’t know the time of the rapture, and so we could, potentially speaking, experience a great deal of these times of trial and tribulation (not the Great Tribulation) but times of trouble and persecution. The LORD told us that any who intend to live godly, to expect such things, right?
We have a great enemy, and his kingdom of darkness that rules this world, and he wants to vanquish us, the church, in this war.
In wartime, in modern military campaigns, nations have employed something called Psy-Ops (that’s short for psychological operations); it’s used to confuse, demoralize, overwhelm, and discourage the enemy; to rob them of strength, determination and personal power.
There is the military doctrine known as “shock and awe” that can accomplish these objectives. The idea is to so pound the enemy from every side, pummel them from every direction, assault them with every conceivable weapon, that they just want to lay down and give up! 

Satan is a master at this sort of military doctrine; he has used such tactics on the church since the beginning. What is the Christian soldier’s answer for this? What is it, tactically speaking, we can employ as an effective counter-attack? We need to know, because I believe, if the rapture happens later, rather than sooner, we’ll be experiencing some satanic ‘shock and awe’!

In NEHEMIAH 8:10c, it says:
. . . for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Get the picture: Nehemiah was busy about rebuilding the city of Jerusalem; since the time when the nation of Israel was defeated in war by Babylon, and their long captivity, and the time when they were allowed to go back to Israel and restore Jerusalem was more than 70 years. In all that time, they dreamed and hoped to be able to return to their homeland. When the time finally came and they returned, and rebuilt the city, it was almost two generations that the Jews had read from the Holy Scriptures.

In NEHEMIAH 8:8-10 it states the following:
8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. 9 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people,
This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength
.

There was weeping, I’m sure over their realization of how far they had drifted from the GOD Who loves them, Who watched over them and cared for them; weeping for how they’ve let their relationship with the LORD get so stale and cold, that they resembled spiritually, what Jerusalem looked like physically when it was destroyed:

Desolate, dark, disheveled and loathsome and lonely. They no doubt were convicted of their sin when after 70 years, they heard the Word of the LORD read to them by Ezra the priest. It was probably something like King Josiah*, the great, great grandson of King David, when he heard the Word of the LORD for the first time in his life. But the LORD was restoring His people to the land, Jerusalem was being rebuilt; in the days of Haggai the temple was being raised up once again (HAGGAI 2).

Yes, there was weeping and repentance for the spiritually dark condition that Israel let herself fall into by worshiping false gods in the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah, but with these things behind them, the people experienced a new dawn of rejoicing (EZRA 3:13)!

PSALM 30:5b
. . . weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

I always thought it strange when I first read that “the joy of the LORD” would be your strength. I can see the power of the LORD will be your strength, or the Spirit of the LORD, or even the Word of the LORD would be our strength, but joy?

That’s what the Scripture says, “the joy of the LORD will be [our] strength.” Note that: it isn’t our joy; it’s the joy of the LORD – not only the joy that GOD expresses towards us His children: this was expressed no more greatly than when He hung on a rough-hewn, blood stained cross outside of Jerusalem:

HEBREWS 12:2a
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him* endured the cross, despising the shame
. . . 

* (MATT 13:44: He ‘sold’ all He had to purchase this world (“the field”))
This is the joy that GOD experienced when He redeemed us from sin, death and eternal hell, knowing full well what He was sparing all of us, and securing for us the eternal bond of love-based fellowship with GOD as our Father, the blessed safety and bliss on heaven’s eternal shores! 

. . . but not only the joy of the LORD Himself, but the joy that the LORD gives to us His children, which is also Himself!
It’s like the joy you experience when someone you love gives you a wonderful gift, but you also have joy not just for the sake of the gift, but because of the one you love that gave that gift to you!

This joy that the LORD gives us, this is our strength, which enables us to endure any hardships, trials, attacks by the enemy.
Let’s look at some passages that reveal this truth to us:

PSALM 16:11
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore
Being in the presence of JESUS, as we are here today – when two or three are gathered together in His Name, He is in our midst (MATT 18:20). The “right hand” speaks of approval, and we have joy when we are walking in obedience and pleasing in His sight. The day in which we leave this world, and enter into heaven’s domain and be in the fullness of the presence of the LORD, that will be a joy beyond any comparison!

PSALM 51:12
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit
.

It’s a blessing to know that when we really blow it and we fall hard, and think GOD is done with us, that He can restore to us – not our salvation, because IF we are saved, then we ARE saved and have ETERNAL life – no, this is speaking of the JOY of our salvation! David fell hard when he committed adultery and murder – that’s what his prayer is all about in PSALM 51, a cry to GOD for mercy, and GOD heard him and restored the joy of his salvation!

PSALM 81:1
Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob
.

The joy of the LORD is sometimes so potent, so overflowing, so overwhelming that you can’t help but scream, to shout and “make a joyful noise”! GOD is Himself our strength, because His joy is our strength; you really can’t separate the two!

PSALM 126:5
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy
.

There is a time for sorrow, especially the tears we shed in our prayers for our loved ones and this lost world that needs JESUS. We have here a promise, that when we sow in tears, we will reap in joy. I’ve experienced, as I’m sure you have, this many times!

ISAIAH 12:3
Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation
.

We don’t draw out this joy from a cup, or a puddle, or a pond – but from the depths of the wells of salvation. Note: “wells” – plural; GOD’s resources of salvation are never ending, all drawn from the LORD Jesus! These wells will never run dry! And these waters are available for any and all who will draw them out from these wells!

ISAIAH 35:10
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away
(ISAIAH 51:11). 
This joy is everlasting; and like those wells that will never run dry, we can experience this joy that is not fleeting, or dependent on our emotions and happiness, but based on the truth that we are ransomed of the LORD – redeemed, purchased by His blood; therefore we belong to Him, to His eternal kingdom. This joy is as everlasting as GOD and His kingdom – and sorrows we experience or will experience shall be long forgotten! We see in these next two verses the same idea:

ISAIAH 61:10
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels
.

ROMANS 5:11
And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement
.

JAMES 1:2
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into various temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing
.

As mentioned from this pulpit innumerable times: “trials are good for us!” They don’t feel good, we may not understand the reasons why we go through trials, but GOD brings them into our lives as tools to help in purifying us as it states in 1 PET 1:7; 4:13. Trials, says the apostle Peter, develops in us saints the fortitude of patience, endurance, continuation and by so doing, we see GOD’s finished work that results from trials (if not in this life, then in the next without a doubt!) so that we have want of nothing to experience victorious joy!

1 PETER 1:8
Whom having not seen*, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory
:

*What did the LORD Jesus have to say about this?

JOHN 20:29
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed
.

This is joy unspeakable; time spent with JESUS in the Word, in prayer, in the company of spiritually-minded saints, grows in us an unexplainable, indescribable joy that must be experienced to understand. It truly is full of glory, when all you can do is bask in this joy – which among other definitions means: a quiet gladness, a faith-based exuberance, a fountain springing up from the Spirit of GOD, from our hearts. This joy is spiritual, not emotional. It can and does affect our emotions, but it’s not based on our emotions that emanate from the soul and these come and go. This is why our joy can be steadfast and continual, becomes it flows from the fountain of the eternal Spirit of GOD!
~ ~
There are times when I talk to a disciple of Christ and by their expression and body language, I can tell, they’re really going through a heavy and burdensome trial, and I ask them how they’re doing. They tell me,
“Well, I’m hanging in there . . .” And I say,
“Perfect!! That’s exactly what a branch is supposed to do!” And they sometimes look at me puzzled until I show them JOHN 15. Let’s check this out: I’m going to cherry pick verses from this chapter:

JOHN 15:1-4
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit
.
What kind of fruit are we talking about here?
GALATIANS 5:22-23a
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance
...
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

Abiding, dwelling, hanging out – or “hanging in there” exactly what a branch is supposed to do with the Vine. We draw from the True Vine that is JESUS, everything we need as we patiently wait and receive, just as Peter stated, as we abide in Him: we do this as we read, study, meditate and obey His Word; spend that quiet, undistracted time of one on One fellowship with the LORD in prayer, and the godly fellowship with the saints. 

That’s abiding in Christ. He abides in us because we are born again, and have the indwelling Spirit living in our hearts! But to experience this joy is impossible if we don’t abide in Christ, even though He abides in us.
So the question is, Do you have this joy? Do you want this joy? Then are you abiding in Christ?

JOHN 15:5,8
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples
.

Again, if you’re born again, then the LORD is abiding in you, dwelling in your heart, but there is this other part: abiding in Him as we just discussed. Both are necessary for spiritual growth to occur.
Anything you can expect in your Christian experience: the love of GOD, His peace, His joy, His wisdom, His power – none of this can you nor should you expect to draw these things from your own resources. Zero! GOD doesn’t expect you to succeed in your Christian life depending on yourself. 

Without [Him we] can do nothing” but with Him, we can do all things (PHIL 4:13) that’s according to His will (1 JOHN 5:14). The LORD promises that we will produce “much fruit” – the same fruit as we just read about in GAL 5. In a world such as this, that’s only getting darker, in this Satan-governed world in which he has terrible plans to overwhelm us to despair, who doesn’t need or want more of GOD’s love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness and faith, right?!

The growth of this fruit in our lives, this glorifies the Father! And for what He has done for us, in sending His only begotten Son to die for our sins, who doesn’t want to thank Him, by glorifying Him through our lives!? 

JOHN 15:9-11
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full
.

No one can obey the commandments of GOD except those in whom the Spirit of GOD dwells. So if you find yourself able to obey the commandments of GOD, again, it’s not through your own resources, but by GOD’s resources. His Spirit, His power, His will.

And if you are following the LORD in obedience to Him, out of a heart of love for Him, it’s because you know the love of GOD for you. How potent is this love? Consider the Holy and Perfect Father, and how perfectly, completely He loves the Holy and Perfect Son? That’s some potent love right there! Almighty, all-powerful love you could say. The LORD Jesus says that He loves us in this same way!

It’s impossible – absolutely impossible to know this kind of love and not experience joy! And the LORD intends that this joy stays with us, to the point of overflowing!

JOHN 15:12-15
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you
(The LORD said this previously in JOHN 13:34-35).
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

The LORD stated in vs. 16 that the fruit produced in our lives will remain – not wither, not rot, not be stolen – but remain! And in vs. 17 He commands that we love one another – and as we experience the quality of love that the Father has with His Son JESUS, that JESUS Himself gives to us, loving each other becomes easy! Even with the unloveable – because it’s GOD’s love not our own, flowing out of us!

This joy and this love is intermingled so it’s hard to see where one ends and the other begins, but both are ours to experience if we want them, just by abiding in Christ just as we abide in Him.
Doing so will prepare us, safeguard us, preserve us during Satan’s ‘shock and awe’ attacks when he unleashes this world on us in the persecution that is arriving soon:

JOHN 15:18-20
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also
.

The world is exhibiting greater and greater iniquity and wickedness, and it expects us the church of Jesus Christ to conform to their way of thinking. Out of humility the church does what it can to comply to the laws of the land, to show ourselves manageable, and submissive – but there are now laws and policies and those things that are considered ‘politically correct’ that we cannot submit to, because our GOD and His Word tell us that these things are sin.
Because JESUS is holy, and He testifies of the world’s evil, the world hates Him (JOHN 7:7).

Because He has “chosen [us] out of the world” to be a holy people, the light of Christ shines from our lives, and this world hates the light because they love their darkness (their sin; JOHN 3:20).
By the world’s expectations for us to fall in line, by their hatred for us – only because we love JESUS, by their persecution of us, the world will seek to cave in and conform. Let’s remember what the LORD tells us regarding this:

ROMANS 12:1-2
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God
.

To be conformed to this world – “conformed” here in the Greek refers to a mold-press, whereby pressure exerted on a substance, and by squeezing, that substance conforms to the shape that’s desired. It’s like a cast of metal or wax or what have you, that by the time the process is done, that metal, wax or whatever is the same shape as the mold.
That’s what the world wants to do, squeeze and mold you into such a shape that you look just like the world.

Conversely, we are to be transformed – this speaks of a supernatural metamorphosis, like the physiological metamorphosis that a caterpillar undergoes when it becomes a butterfly. In fact, the very Greek word used for “transformed” here in vs. 2 is:

metamorphóō (from 3326 /metá, "change after being with" and 3445 /morphóō, "changing the form in keeping with inner reality") – properly transformed, transfigured. It’s the kind of transformation that we read in MATTHEW 17 at the Mount of Transfiguration, when we witness Jesus changing on His outward to what He is in reality inwardly.

It’s within the genetic make-up of that caterpillar which brings about this remarkable change: no outward force or pressure does this, its from within this crawling creature’s own body’s DNA that refashions it into this colorful beauty on wings that no longer crawls in the dirt but soars in the sky!

This is what GOD calls us to: to deny the world it’s desire to change us into its own image, but rather be transformed so that what we truly are: the children of GOD, shows in our lives for all to see. To let the light shine, and not hide it under a basket (MATT 5:14-16).

And if the LORD tarries, and we experience what our brothers and sisters in Christ are experiencing this very moment then the joy of the LORD will be our strength until He takes us home, and once we are there – our joy will overflow in unimaginable ways and never be taken away by anything in this world! 

Understand that from the time you woke up this morning, to this point at the conclusion of this teaching, 4 Christians in this rebellious world were killed for their faith, and I am persuaded that not a single saint that was martyred wasn’t flooded to overflowing with the presence of the LORD, and experienced an intensity of joy that is GOD-sized!

JOHN 16:22
And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you
.

From the epistle whose theme is all about joy through suffering, the epistle of Paul the apostle to the Philippians we have this verse:

PHILIPPIANS 3:10-11
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead
.

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