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John 5:11, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full”

1 John 1:4, “These things we write to you that your joy may be full”
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Do you remember those yellow round happy-face stickers that showed up frequently on stationery and postcards? They were often accompanied by the one-word message, “Smile.” They implied that you could put a smile on your face as easily as you can put a hat on your head. In a sense, that is very true. Even a good actor or actress can look happy even when their heart is breaking inside. Favorable circumstances can also produce smiles, such as good health, an adequate income, and a nice house finds it easy to look happy. However, the smile, though, comes naturally from within. It reflects a joy that remains even when a person has few of life’s material blessings. It comes from knowing God, believing and obeying His precious Word, being assured of sins forgiven, possessing eternal life, and anticipating the glories of heaven. The believer who depends on God for these blessings can smile despite adversity.

A good example of this was in the life of Fanny Crosby who lost her sight when she was only 6 weeks old. She lived into her nineties, composing thousands of beloved hymns. On her 92nd birthday she cheerfully said, “If in all the world you can find a happier person than I am, do bring him to me. I should like very much to shake his hand.” So, what enabled Fanny Crosby to experience such joy in the face of what many would term a “great tragedy”? Well, at an early age she chose to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). In fact, Fanny carried out a resolution she made when she was only 8 years old: “How many blessings I enjoy that other people don’t. To weep and sigh because I’m blind, I cannot and I won’t.” I was reminded of the prophet Habakkuk who declared triumphantly, “I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18). Even if everything were taken from him, the Lord would be his strength. He didn’t need to “put on” a smile, because the joy of his heart would do it for him.
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Further reflection:

The writer of Psalm 98 had the joy of the LORD and a song in his heart. He called on others to join him in singing “to the LORD a new song! For He has done marvelous things”. He praised God for His salvation, His righteousness, His mercy, and His faithfulness. The psalmist’s heart was so overflowing with praise and joy that he called on the earth to break forth in song, the rivers to clap their hands, and the hills to be joyful. My brethren, if you know Christ as Savior, you have much to be thankful for as well; God’s good gifts of family friends, and His daily supply for our needs. He faithfully cares for us, His precious children. At all times remember, “The joy of the LORD is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). We can also take great comfort in the teachings of Jesus, who in John 15:11 said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” We may not be able to sing very well (like me); however, when we recall all that God is to us and all that He has done for us, we can’t help but “break forth in song” and declared “the joy of the LORD”. So, do you have the Joy of the Lord in your life?
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Joy comes from the LORD who lives within us, not from what’s happening around us.

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