In the first few verses of 1 Peter we're reminded that according to the mercy of God in which we've been born again:
- We have a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
- We have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading.
- We have a salvation that ought to cause us to rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory!
1. Do you best James Earl Jones impersonation. That is, read your Bible out loud. Try it! Get into character and add the emphasis where it should be. Feel the excitements, the sorrows, the tears, the warnings, the pleadings, the surprises, the hopes and the wonder. Hear the Lord speaking. Hear His compassion, His anger, His love. Be encouraged and strengthened in His promises. Remember His mighty acts of deliverance and salvation on behalf of His people. Where do you begin? Try any one of the Psalms. Maybe start with Psalm 33. Romans 8. 1 Corinthians 15. Read your Bible out loud and see if His word doesn't cause you to rejoice in Him.
2. Go to your room and shut the door. And pray. Pray for God's glory. Get down on your knees before your Father who is heaven, who sees what is done in secret, and pray like you've never prayed before. Refocus your praying from your own agenda onto God's agenda. Pour out your petitions before His throne knowing that He hears you. Cast your cares upon the Lord, for He cares for you. Pray in faith according to the will of God, believing that God will answer. See if the peace of God that passes all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus doesn't flood your soul with joy.
3. Jam along with Third Day in a song of praise. Sing along with Third Day or Chris Tomlin or the Gold City Quartet, or whatever your favorite group, in an offering of praise to the Lord. Or pick your favorite hymn or chorus and let 'er rip. Sing a new song. Sing it out loud. Sing it real loud! Dance if the Spirit moves! Raise your hands in the air or bow your knees to the ground. Let praise flow from your heart through your lips and up to heaven's throne.
4. Count to twenty. And name your blessings along the way. Write down twenty blessings you have received from the hand of God, and delight in the Father from whom all blessing flow. Give thanks to the Lord for His many blessings, for His goodness and His grace. Count them, name them one by one, and I bet you won't be able to stop at twenty.
5. Make your feet beautiful. That is, share the gospel with someone who needs to hear it. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news (Rom. 10:15). The message of salvation in Christ Jesus is the greatest news of all time! Don't keep it all to yourself - let it out! You may not only brighten someone's day, but deliver the word that will bring them to the light of everlasting life. See if the sharing of your faith in Christ doesn't bring joy to your own heart!
6. Bake cookies for your neighbors. Use your gifts in ministry. If baking's not your thing, then do your thing. Those with the gift of encouragement or mercy or service may find that baking cookies and taking them to cheer up or minister to a discouraged soul becomes an avenue of great blessing and joy. You use whatever gift you have recieved in the Spirit to build up the body of Christ. If it's in giving, then give with gusto. If it's teaching, then study and teach that message like there's no tomorrow. You will find great joy and fulfillment in using your God-given gifts for the building up of the church for the glory of God.
7. "Brace for impact." Those words spoken by the heroic pilot who carefully guided his powerless plane into the Hudson River and saved the lives of his passengers are helpful for us, as well. You know there's going to be hard times and trouble in this life. You know you will face suffering and pain. Christians are not immune from crash landings. Be ready for them and brace for impact, so that when the times of trials and testing come, you will not be caught off-guard and be shaken, but you will be able to stand firm in the faith. The glory that awaits on the others side far outweighs our light and momentary afflictions here. "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds" (James 1:2). "Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (1 Pet. 4:13).
OK, one more. Number 8 is this, if you want your joy to be full, spoken from the lips of Jesus: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." - John 15:9-11
May the joy of the Lord be yours in abundance!