A holy city pitched as a tent among men and women and children. In that tent – the new Jerusalem – dwells the living God. He looks like us because we look like Him. With His own hand, he wipes away all sorrow from every heart. All come to His dwelling in perfect joy, to sit at His feet and listen to His voice, the voice that changes wilderness to paradise.
And I, John, saw in my vision that holy city which is the new Jerusalem, being sent down by God from heaven, all clothed in readiness, like a bride who has adorned herself to meet her husband. I heard, too, a voice which cried aloud from the throne, Here is God’s tabernacle pitched among men; he will dwell with them, and they will be his own people, and he will be among them, their own God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, or mourning, or cries of distress, no more sorrow; those old things have passed away.
The author of your hope – if you are a Christian – is God. He fills you with joy and peace “in your believing.” He desires for you to “hope in abundance.” You must recognize your hope comes “through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Perhaps you try to generate this joy and peace and hope through sheer will-power. Stop trying so hard. Jesus says, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He says, “I have come that you may have life, and that abundantly.” He promises, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again. If it were not so, I would have told you.”
Therefore, Paul prays:
May God, the author of our hope, fill you with all joy and peace in your believing; so that you may have hope in abundance, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I wish I could say that people come up to me and ask me the reason for my “faith and hope.” I can’t. I can tell you people often comment on how happy I am – they do this because at work in the hospital as I walk between seeing patients, I sing or hum. People, as they pass, comment, “My you’re happy this morning.” And my response, most often, is: “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was singing out loud” or “I am happy, thanks.” Sometimes, if I’m not bubbling with true joy, I respond, “Might as well be happy.” I say this because for me happiness is a choice. I do choose to be happy. Life is too hard and too short not to make the very best of it. I admit I’d get a real kick if someone would actually stop and ask me why I am happy, why I have faith and hope as if that someone could see that in my demeanor. I know exactly what I’d say.
But hallow ye the Lord Christ in your hearts, and evermore be ye ready to [do] satisfaction to each man asking you reason of that faith and hope that is in you, but with mildness and dread,
You’ve heard it before – there is a wall a distance runner hits that hurts considerably, then as that wall is breached, the pain dissipates. People who exercise every day know the adage well: “no pain, no gain.”
James reminds us that we work under a similar adage:
“Consider yourselves happy indeed, my brethren, when you encounter trials of every sort, as men who know well enough that the testing of their faith breeds endurance.”
As we live through ‘trials of every sort,’ we are asked to consider these as opportunities for growth. As a matter of fact the only difference between our trials and those of the rest of humanity is that we have faith. Our faith is strengthened as we face the tribulations which are common to all human beings.
Therefore, we may as well be happy. For our happiness is not dependent upon our circumstances, but upon the victory won by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Delight! Take great pleasure in, be joyful over! When I think of being joyful, of being grateful, of taking great pleasure in something, I imagine my son on Christmas morning. He’s 9 months old, and I carry him into the living room. On the floor of my parents’ house in Indiana, toys are arranged on the carpeted floor near the Christmas tree. Santa has come to visit! The joy my son expresses is a squeal. When I put him down on the floor, he kicks his feet happily and claps. Even at 9 months of age, he understands these toys are for him and they bring him great pleasure!
“Delight thou in the Lord; and He shall give to thee the askings of thine heart.”
I wonder if we delight in the Lord in the same manner a child thrills to know Christmas toys belong to him.
“Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
God tells us to “give thanks in everything.” Sometimes this seems impossible! But note : God doesn’t say give thanks for everything; instead He commands us to be grateful in everything! You may not rejoice that you are unemployed or unhealthy, but you can give thanks while you are without a job or in poor health. Your attitude makes the difference between defeat and victory in Christ!
The main idea is that God wills you to rejoice always in Christ, who is your ultimate circumstance! As you live in Him, gratitude naturally flows from your heart. Be victorious because He is your victory!
“23And in that day ye shall not ask Me any thing; truly, truly, I say to you, if ye ask the Father any thing in My Name, He shall give [it] to you. 24 Till now ye asked nothing in My Name; ask ye, and ye shall take, that your joy be full.”
Jesus says His disciples do not ask Him for any thing in that day — the day of His resurrection, a day in which their joy is complete. They have no need of any thing. From that point forward, Jesus tells us, we are to ask God the Father directly for whatever we need to be joyful. And we are to take whatever it is we need directly from God, who gives us all good things for the sake of His Son, Jesus.
Jesus reminds us God loves us because we love and believe in His Son. We believe the Son comes from the Father; and we know to listen to and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who emanates from the Son and the Father.
Jesus implies what we ask for should complete our joy.
Through His Holy Spirit, God “gives endurance and encouragement.” (Romans 15:5) “The God of hope fills [us] with all joy and peace as [we] trust in Him.” (Romans 15:13) “[We] overflow with hope.” (Romans 15:13) “To the [people] who do not work but trust God who justifies the wicked, [our] faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5) “Therefore, [we] glory in Christ Jesus in [our] service to God. [We] do not venture to speak of anything except what Christ accomplishes through [us] in leading [others] to obey God by what [we] say and do — through the power of the Spirit.” (Romans 15:17-19)
Notice we begin with God and end with Him as well — His Holy Spirit encourages us and enables us to endure; giving us hope, joy and peace. We find our glory in Jesus Christ and our power through His Holy Spirit. “Since we are now justified by His blood, how much more are we saved from God’s wrath through Him!” (Romans 5:9)
So, continue to trust God. Through trust in Him, we overflow with hope.
“But I sing of Your strength, and celebrate Your love when morning comes; for You are my strong tower and a sure retreat in days of trouble.”
“In [God’s] anger is disquiet, in His favour there is life. Tears may linger at nightfall, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) Therefore, when morning comes, leave behind your sorrow. Abandon it; for God’s anger toward His children lasts but a moment whereas His love for us is eternal — guaranteed by His Son’s sacrifice and sealed with His Holy Spirit. God “turns [our] laments into dancing; [He] strips off [our] sackcloth and clothes [us] with joy, that [our] spirits may sing psalms to [Him] and never cease.” (Psalm 30:11,12)
God is “[our] strong tower.” He is “a sure retreat in days of trouble.” He “makes [His] face shine upon [His] servants; [He] saves [us] in His unfailing love.” (Psalms 31:16) How is it that we do not celebrate God’s amazing love?
Rejoice! “Exult and shout for joy and do [God] homage!” (Revelation 19:7)