What is joy anyway?

got joy

Have you ever spent time studying a diamond?  If you have you will know there are dozens of facets on each stone. This is also a good analogy of what it is like to study an attribute of God, so many facets. And many times, an attribute is easier to understand when we look at the effect of it. That is what we are going to do with the examination of joy. It is a quality of God, but it is helpful to see it in action.

Description of Joy:

I am going to attempt to explain something from a biological viewpoint so don’t go to sleep on me.

The following information is from a book titled, “Joy Starts Here,” by, Jim Wilder, Ed Khouri, Chris Coursey and Sheila Sutton. This group of pastors, counselors and scientists have presented a wonderful exploration of joy.

There is an interesting field of science that is developing called Neuroscience. With the invention of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) equipment, scientists are able to study the activity in certain places of the brain. As a child’s brain develops research shows that an experience of joy releases neuro-transmitters that aid in the growth of the higher places of the brain, those that make us different from the animals. This experience they refer to as joy, is the sensation that someone is glad to be with us, a twinkle in the parent’s eyes. This continues through the development of the child and every experience of joy is registered in moving up to the “higher” places of the brain, helping the child grow beyond the primal development of fight or flight, into using reason and choice.

Okay, so that is quite a mouthful, but I think you will start to understand why that information is helpful in our relationship with God. You see the same can be said for our growth and development as God’s kids. When we are really aware and experience that He is glad to be with us (Zep 3:17) we experience joy and it increases our learning and growing. Some of us have distorted images of God that need to be challenged.

Scriptures tell us clearly that God is always present with us and always has been. Our life memories are incomplete when we lack the awareness of God’s presence. Without this awareness our interpretations of life are distorted, bring pain and rob our peace. Recalling memories of times when we had a close interactions with God are like open windows for seeing God’s active presence again in the present. From these memories we can better explore those times where we do not perceive God’s presence.

This week we are going to look at how we feel God sees us. Not the theological, “for God so loved the world,” but the tangible and yes emotional component of our relationship with God. We may have had an experience like the psalmist in the psalm we are studying, or we may still be waiting. Either way, let’s look at what it teaches us about joy.

Scripture:  Psalm 16 Read the Psalm out loud and discuss the questions below. (Remember there is no wrong or right answer, this is a time to think about God and experience His love.)

Psalm 16:5-11 New International Version (NIV)

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.

You make known to me the path of life;

You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.

 

  1. Discuss the various times of together-ness described in this psalm.

 

  1. What is God doing that the psalmist is responding to?  Are they circumstantial or eternal?

 

  1. According to the psalmist what is the relationship between God’s presence and joy?

 

 

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