Extreme Joy

The Lord your God is living among you; He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your  fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. —Zephaniah 3:17

This verse describes the  heart of Jesus bursting with divine celebration…over you, if you know Him as your Savior.

Of this verse, author Steve Fry explains in his book I Am: The Unveiling of God: “God’s joy knows no bounds…the word ‘joy’ here is a pretty animated word. In the Hebrew, it literally means: to become excited to the point of dancing in a whirlwind…He gets so excited about you and me that He exhibits the kind of joy that can only be captured in the imagery of a whirling dance.”

Does that not take your breath away? To know that you are the recipient of such divine passion and joy?  Jesus is your joy and, you are His joy!

If you are a Christ follower, Jude 1:24 assures us that there is coming a day when Jesus will “present you faultless before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exaltation (with unspeakable, ecstatic delight).

When you are finally in the physical presence of Jesus, He will be filled with ecstasy…rapturous delight, overpowering exaltation, intense feeling! Did you know that He longs for that day? In John 17, He expresses His heart to God the Father when He prayed, ” I desire that they…may be with Me where I am, to see My glory.”

In the original language, the word for this type of  joy means: “exceeding joy, exultation, extreme joy…to leap.”

This is joy getting physical. This is the joy that Jesus exhibits over you.

And He wants you to have and experience that very same joy!

Jesus Himself said that it is His desire “that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11). Jesus wants you to be filled to the brim with joy, to be thoroughly permeated and saturated with His very own joy! 

The closer you are to Him, the deeper your joy.

How do you get closer to Him? Read His love letter to you, which is the Bible. The more you know His Word, the easier it will be for you to recognize His Voice.  See His extraordinary artistic creativity in the beauty of the world around you. Observe His attentive care for your physical needs. Revel in the tender  healing touch He brings to your heart as you begin to apply His precious promises to the places that hurt the most. Live in gratitude for all the blessings you have been given, no matter how small.  Listen to the pure joy in the laughter of a child.

This day—and every day—you are invited into the joy of Jesus.

We see this clearly in Zephaniah 3.  In verse 14, we are encouraged to sing aloud and rejoice and exult with all our hearts to our God. Then in v. 17, we see Jesus doing the same over us! It is a beautiful give-and-take…you enjoying Jesus and Jesus enjoying you!   Bliss!

One morning last week, I awoke with worries threatening to overwhelm my mind.  As I opened my Bible for my devotions, I was led to verse after verse about Jesus’ exultant joy over us. Then, I read about that same  joy in the book I am currently reading. And finally, I heard Beth Moore speak about His joy for us as I listened to one of her DVDs. At that point, it finally dawned on me that Jesus was trying to get my attention! He was encouraging me to see past the cares of this world and take a concentrated look into His delightful heart where Peace and Joy reign.

He was inviting me to fully enter into His joy that was mine for the taking.

I accepted…and a day that had begun gray and cloudy became radiant with the bright colors of joy and hope.

And today, He extends that same invitation to you.

Will you accept?

“The threefold joy of the Lord (is): His joy in ransoming us, His joy dwelling within us as our Savior and His joy in possessing us, as His bride and His delight; it is the consciousness of this joy which is our real strength. Our joy in Him may be a flucuating thing; His joy in us knows no change.”–James Hudson Taylor

(If you are interested in checking out the Scripture references where this kind of joy (agalliao) is mentioned, you can find them at the following addresses: Matthew 5:12, Luke 1:47, Luke 10:21, John 5:35, John 8:56, Acts 2:26, Acts 16:34, I Peter 1:6,8, I Peter 4:13, Revelation 19:7)



Filed under Joy

10 responses to “Extreme Joy

  1. The Elaine

    Susan–you are part of my daily devotional! Love you to bits.

  2. I *love* that verse in Zephaniah! However, I always struggle with viewing Old Testament verses as “to me” because they were specifically spoken to the Israelites (or someone else). You sound like you’re fairly familiar with scripture so I wanted to ask you: how can we be assured that the OT verses also apply to us? How do we discern which ones do and which ones don’t?

    This was a very inspiring post! I have been “accidentally” discovering joy these last few months– something I’ve been trying to do on purpose for several years!! It’s been very neat. 🙂

    • Hi Chasy!
      You pose an excellent question!

      We have God’s permission to claim an OT promise if we can find a NT counterpart. For example, yes, Zephaniah 3:17 was spoken by the prophet to Israel at that time. The church is not Israel…but…Galatians 3:29 tells us that we are the spiritual seed of Abraham (see also Romans 4).

      One of the NT counterparts to Zephaniah 3:17 would be Jude 24.

      A good way to research a NT promise that corresponds to an OT one is to check out a concordance on the subject. A good study Bible is also helpful. You may already know this but http://www.lifeway.com. has an online Bible and http://www.biblegateway.com is also an excellent resource.

      Thanks so much for the feedback…I’m so happy to hear you were inspired ! I looked at your blog and I love your sense of humor…I will be checking in again! 🙂

      Have a blessed day!

  3. margaret

    Hi Susan,

    In response to Chasy you said we have God’s permission to claim an OT promise if we can find a NT counterpart. Would you give Scripture to me to back that up? Thank you.


  4. Hi Margaret,
    I would be happy to try to answer your request.

    Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Every page is saturated with Him and every book points to Him.

    *2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “No matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘yes!’ in Christ.” My ESV study Bible commentary declares: “God’s promises find their fulfillment in Christ, indicating that the OT Scriptures should be read as pointing to Christ.”

    *Galatians 3:29: “if you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s seed and spiritual heirs according to the promises.” Theologian John Walvoord writes in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ” Chist is the Seed of Abraham; therefore being in Christ makes a believer part of that seed and an heir to the promise to Abraham…there is a spiritual seed of Abraham who are not Jews. These are the Gentiles who believe and become Abraham’s spiritual seed. They inherit the promise of justification by faith…however, they do NOT inherit the national promises given to the believing Jewish remnant…the church does not supplant the nation of Israel.”

    *Romans 11:17: “…you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree.” My ESV study Bible says, “Gentiles, as wild shoots, were grafted into the olive tree and now share in the root (the promises made to the patriarchs).”

    *A good example is found in I Peter 2:9, where “Peter picks up what is said about Israel in Ex. 19:5-6 and applies it to the church.” —ESV Study Bible.

    Beth Moore expounds on this subject in her excellent study “Believing God”…specifically week 3. You can find the download of that session at http://www.lifeway.com.

    I hope this helps! 🙂

  5. Hi again! 🙂

    I just wanted to add a P.S. to your question, Margaret.

    First of all, I apologize for giving you the Lifeway link for the Believing God study. You can actually find it and download all the lessons and homework at http://www.believinggod.com. Beth speaks to this particular issue in session 3.

    I also wanted to refer you to Acts 10, where God sent Peter to visit the home of Cornelius, who was a Gentile. The Lord gave Peter a vision that made it clear that the gospel was open to Gentiles as well, so he went. Consequently, Peter stated, “God does not show favoritism but accepts from EVERY nation the one who fears Him and does what is right.” (v. 34) Peter goes on to say, “…EVERYONE who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His Name.” (v. 43). Theologian Richard Longenecker writes of this passage from the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ” This reference…seems to have broken through the traditional barrier between Jews and Gentiles and to have encouraged (Gentiles) to be bold enough to think that they, together with the Jews, could receive the blessings promised to Israel.”

    In the OT times, Israel was referred to by God as His treasured possession. The Jews were meant to show a watching world that Almighty God was Creator and Sustainer through a people He had set apart as His own. However, once Jesus came, was crucified and rose again, ALL people who believe on His Name, whether Jew or Gentile, became His treasured possession (as mentioned in I Pe. 2:9) and inherit all the promises of relationship. In Ro. 8:15 and Gal. 4:6, God invites all of us who know Him as Lord to call Him “Abba” which means Daddy. Those types of promises in the OT is what we can claim.

    What is not for us as the Church today to claim are the specific promises made to the nation of Israel. The Church is not national Israel. Those promises take center stage during the Tribulation and the Millenium.

    Hope that is helpful! 🙂

  6. margaret

    Hi Susan,

    My response to all that you wrote is going to be somewhat choppy. I starred my points and didn’t do much elaborating on them:

    *My Nelson Study Bible commentary says: “All of God’s promises concerning Christ are true and trustworthy” in regards to 2 Cor. 1:20. That excludes any general promises not concerning Christ specifically or any promises spoken to individuals that aren’t about Christ specifically.

    *When the Bible talks about us being heirs of the promises, I’ve always understood that to be referring to the promises regarding being children of God in general. We will have eternal life, Christ died for us as well as the Jews, etc.

    *You quoted your ESV study Bible as saying “root” refers to “the promises made to the patriarchs”. How does one make that connection?

    *I read 1 Peter 2:9 and Exodus 19:5, 6 and didn’t see where Peter was quoting Exodus 19:5, 6. My study Bible makes no connection either.

    *I didn’t check out the Beth Moore link because I am not registered on that site and didn’t want to go through that step. I do believe I did her study before, though, and don’t recall coming away from it with the knowledge that as long as we find a NT counterpart, we can claim an OT promise. (Obviously if I had, I wouldn’t have asked you that question! :o) )

    *I wish I could say that all that you wrote convinced me but I can’t. This is something I have wondered about for a long time. I don’t want to claim any promise that isn’t meant for me and I don’t want to encourage anyone else to claim any promises not meant for them either.

    *Jeremiah 29:11 is a popular verse that people quote as an encouraging promise we can claim but I am not so sure it is one we can claim. It was said to the Israelite captives. (In trying to find the reference for that verse just now I learned that the wording in the NKJV is different than is typically quoted. Here is the NKJV “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”)

    On the one hand, since we know God is love and God is good, it does seem like a promise we can claim. But on the other hand…it was written to Israelite captives specifically.

    *Referring to your PS above, you wrote: “This reference…seems to have broken through the traditional barrier between Jews and Gentiles and to have encouraged (Gentiles) to be bold enough to think that they, together with the Jews, could receive the blessings promised to Israel.” I agree that it is telling us will receive the blessings promised to Israel…but only the blessings specific to Jesus Christ in regards to our eternal life. ie: forgiveness of sins etc. Telling us we will receive the blessings is different than giving us permission to claim various promises.

    *I agree that we are invited to call God “Abba” but I don’t make the connection with what you said after that. You wrote: “Those types of promises in the OT is what we can claim.” I’m sorry…I don’t know what “those types of promises” refers to. I’ve lost your train of thought or something. :o(

    *In looking into this matter just a few weeks ago myself, I found this site: http://www.gotquestions.org/God-promises.html very helpful. I think it offers some sound guidelines.

    *So, even though I’ve come away from this discussion still not convinced that “we have God’s permission to claim an OT promise if we can find a NT counterpart”, I sincerely appreciate the time you put in to trying to show me how you came to that conclusion!

    I truly enjoy reading your writings. Your heart for God radiates through all of them.


  7. Hi Margaret,
    I am always thrilled to see people digging into Scripture and I love that you are doing just that!

    However, I am not a Bible scholar and that isn’t the purpose of my blog. I write about my personal experience with Jesus and that experience has its foundation on the doctrinally sound teaching I have been blessed to sit under through the years.

    I would suggest speaking further about this subject with your pastor, as well as doing further research. (on my Books I Love page, I have Bible references that you may find helpful).

    I also would direct you to studying about the New Covenant, which is key to understanding how all the pieces of the Bible fit into a whole under Christ.(Kay Arthur has an excellent book called “Our Covenant God”).

    The Bible is not two separate books…it is one and it is for all time and for all peoples. I liked what Augustine said: “The New Testament is in the Old concealed; the Old Testament is in the New revealed.”

    God is a a God of relationship and He never changes. (Hebrews 13:8; Malachi 3:6). All the promises of relationship made to His own people are ours to claim.

    I would love to discuss this further at co-op, so I’m availiable anytime! Thanks again for all your encouragement! 🙂 You are always a blessing!

  8. margaret

    Great suggestions! I will continue to do more research until I have come to a firm conclusion.

    When I first asked the question, I did so because I thought there was an easy answer that I had somehow missed over the years. Your answering notes made it abundantly clear that there wasn’t an easy answer. And as I said above, I really appreciate the time you took to try to explain it to me! I certainly do not expect you to take up any more of your time trying to share with me all that brought you to your conclusions. Since there is no easy answer, I will just have to keep on researching this on my own. The book by Kay Arthur sounds like it might be a good place to go from here.

    That quote from Augustine is wonderful! I’m a firm believer that the Bible has to be taken as a whole and that its truths are always current. I’m definitely a Scripture-digger and rely first and foremost on that…ever wary of any human’s interpretation of it. In other words, just because a person has a big name and is a well-respected scholar, I won’t swallow everything he/she says hook, line and sinker…it must line up with Scripture. Based on what I know of you, I believe you are the same and can totally relate. 🙂

    So…I’ll keep on digging.

    Thank you for your time and grace! All is greatly appreciated!

  9. Margaret, you are so wise! We can never just take anything a Bible teacher says at face value…we must always see that it lines up with Scripture! I’m so glad you are doing that! Keep digging and let me know what you find! 🙂

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