The Called to Joy booklet

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Called to Joy

Called To Joy is one of the booklets I wrote born out of a traumatic time in my life in 1992 and 1993. It is my hope that it conveys the importance of joy in life, and the demand of it regardless of life circumstances.


“Oh, I’ve got joy down in my heart!”


“Down in my heart!”

“Well, how did you get it down in there? I’d like to have some of it. Look at you... bouncing around like you don’t have good sense. Quick, tell me where I can go get some of that stuff!”

“You can get it from Jesus.”

“Jesus!? What...!?”

“You must love Him, spend time with Him reading the Bible and talking with Him. Then He will give you His joy just as He has given it to me.”

“I am a Christian—I know Jesus—but He has never given me His joy. I think it’s just your nature to be merry all the time—you were probably born smiling.”

“No way! It was when I made an effort to read His Word and pray every day, and as I began to praise Him... that is when He filled me with joy. Don’t you spend time with Jesus?”

“Well, no... not like you’re talking about. I don’t have time to do that stuff. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I need to do. Why are you frowning at me?’

“Because you are in danger.”


“God says in His Word that if we don’t serve Him joyfully and gladly, things won’t go well with us.”1

“You see, we are called to joy. It isn’t an option. Joy has nothing to do with life being perfect; it is a by-product of going into the presence of God. And where there is joy, there is praise, because joy can’t be separated from praise.”

“Eternal life is knowing God and Jesus His Son, and we know Them by spending time with the Father. If we spend time with Him, we will have joy. So, you see, if you belong to Jesus and live after His heart, you will do what pleases the Father... which means you will have joy down in your heart.”

“Oh, I see. Well, excuse me... I’ve just rearranged my schedule. See you later; I’m going to get to know my God and get some of that joy.”

The Oil of Joy

Joy is a mighty force from the very heart of God, given to those who choose to know Him. Even in life’s most dire circumstances—when grief abounds, Jesus will give the “oil of joy,” a special touch of delight overflowing into our lives to help us cope emotionally.2

This writer walked in constant grief, turmoil and emotional pain for 23 years because of physical deformities. Yet the Holy Spirit manifest the “oil of joy for mourning” in my life so I could cope until the day in 1990 when He healed my broken heart. Because of my joy, others were not aware of my emotional grief. Joy is indeed a mighty force.

Joy, in all its various forms, increased in my life as I came before my Father God in the name of Jesus to spend time studying His Word, talking with Him, and praising Him. Joy and praise cannot truly be separated... so once joy comes we praise; and when we praise, more joy comes. It is wonderful indeed!

A Call To Intimacy

The call to joy is a call to praise and worship... a call to intimacy with God . It is a call to life. Jesus says in John 15 that if we abide in Him, then His joy will remain in us and be full. Joy can actually take full possession of the heart.

The joy of which Jesus speaks in John 15:11 is one part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.3 The fruit of the Holy Spirit describes the character of our Father God—which He desires to see in our lives.

A prayer in Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Again we see that joy in our lives comes from being in God’s presence. He longs to overflow us with His joy, and to satisfy us with a rejoicing heart.

The type of joy of which Jesus speaks here and in John 15:11 is a calm, abiding joy. This type of joy causes our hearts to be merry—full of mirth—and it remains within us even when things are going wrong around us. The only limits to joy in our lives are the ones we impose upon ourselves.

The Tea Party

I again share an experience in my life to illustrate the abiding qualify of joy in the hour of greatest need. As I write this, I expect deliverance from an affliction which, in the natural physical order, would cause the premature death of my body. My spine presses against my lungs, leaving my lungs with only 11% of normal functional capability. When I have any respiratory irritation, that is reduced even more, but I have learned to function within those limitations. Doctors say I could lose this 11% at any time, and when it is gone... that is it. They have also told me a respiratory infection would kill me.

A virus affecting my respiratory system did come; and one night when I was almost completely well, something suddenly happened in my body and I was convinced the end was upon me. I do not know what caused it, but I lost almost all breathing function—and I was alone.

When I saw my reflection in a mirror—my head held back, teeth clenched, neck tendons popping out from the strain and struggle to breathe, and a wild look in my eyes—I laughed within. Instead of fear rising in my heart, I found the situation humorous. I thought to myself, a little sarcastically, “I’ll fix myself a cup of tea, and my God and I will have us a tea party.”

I went to the kitchen to put on the water for tea. My body was fighting to breathe, and my inner man was struggling with my situation. I was in constant communion with God as His Spirit dealt with me severely, to bring me to the place it was imperative for me to be in order to come through in victory.

By the time the tea was ready, my sarcasm was replaced with peace and much joy. I went to my bedroom, got situated, and continued in fellowship with my Father God. I knew He wanted me to sing praises to Him. It was easy for my inner man to obey, though harder physically. There is such joy in His presence—and joy fosters praise.

My body was making all sorts of racket from the struggle to survive, and I was going to sing praise songs! “This should be fun Lord,” I said to Him silently. I began, able only to croak out one to three words at a time; but by the time I had finished with the third song... the breathing capacity at which I had been functioning had returned.

Joy has become a part of my character—it is there all the time. Joy did not leave just because I was convinced my body was going to quit. Joy and praise go hand in hand. If one is a natural part of our life, the other will be also, no matter what the circumstances.4

What was in my Father God’s presence, but more joy? If anything, joy increased at the very time of life which most of us dread... the point of death. Joy... what force could be mightier?

The Apostle Paul, who endured and survived many dire circumstances in his life, admonished us to “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). Once when he was beaten and thrown into prison, his feet held fast in stocks, he and Silas prayed and sang praises to God at midnight—of all hours! They were delivered quite dramatically from their dire situation. (See Acts 16.) It was out of his own life experience that Paul tells us to “rejoice always.” Where there is a rejoicing heart, there is a praising heart... and much liberty.

Nothing Calm Here!

Football mania has nothing on our God! Biblical Hebrew contains at least ten words which express some sort of joy. When abiding joy becomes a part of our character, other forms of joy may manifest in our lives... vocally, emotionally, physically... and sometimes all at one time.

One of these is the “sound of joy”—an emotional expression of joy which we demonstrate by singing and shouting. Another one is the joyful outcry, a shout of joy which is just noise, no words. Both of these are illustrated in Psalm 149:5... “Let the saints by joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds.”

What would the neighborhood think if all the saints in a household let out a shout for joy when they went to bed? No problem! The neighbors would probably say, “The saints must have taped the Monday night football game—they’re watching it and getting a little excited! Alright!!”

Scripture shows us several expressions of joy which are even more physical, vigorous and enthusiastic than singing and shouting: leaping and dancing, twirling around and jumping for joy. All are intensely emotional expressions of our joy over God because He is so very wonderful... and all overflow into praise.

I Chronicles 15:16,28-29 illustrate, “And David spoke to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of music, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy. Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps. And it came to pass, as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David... David [was] dancing and playing...”

Strength And Joy In His Presence

In I Chronicles 16:9-11,27, we see David again praising God—a little calmer now, but still intense with emotion and love for His holy God. “Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him, talk ye of all His wondrous works. Glory ye in His holy name; let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord. Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually. Glory and honor are in His presence; strength and gladness are in His place.”

David’s life demonstrated joy and praise, and he called others to do the same. He knew from experience that strength and joy are in the presence of God. Nehemiah 8:10 says that “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” And the writer of Proverbs tells us, “A merry heart [abiding joy] does good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). With joy comes strength and health for body and soul.

There was a time in my life when I withdrew from the presence of God. I let the affairs of everyday living take first priority. I was too busy to spend time praying, reading the word and worshipping God. Even church took too much of my precious time. Because I neglected going before God and maintaining an intimate relationship with Him, I lost my joy—and my physical strength and health deteriorated.

Then, as I came back into His presence once again, joy returned... and with it came a return of the strength and overall health of my physical body. I then realized that the joy of the Lord maintained physical strength.

Our Father’s Heart of Joy

When our God calls us to joy, He calls us to His own heart beat. Look at what He tells us about Himself: “The Lord your God in the midst of you is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over you with joy. He will rest in His love, He will joy over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). Four different types of joy are represented in this scripture... from emotional exultation over us, to the abiding joy, to a physical display, to raising His voice in shouts of song... and He demonstrates all these from His heart because He loves us.

Jesus, the wisdom of God,5 was with the Father from the beginning.6 “Then was I by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth; and My delights were with the sons of men” (Proverbs 8:30,31). The word “rejoicing” in these two verses is the same Hebrew word used to describe David’s action in I Chronicles 15:29 in which he was “dancing and playing” before the ark of the Lord. It is no wonder our Father God took such delight in David, for David rejoiced in the Lord even as Jesus delights in the Father and in us. Can we comprehend the love our Father God has for us, that He so longs to delight in and rejoice over us that He sacrificed His Son?

Jesus endured the shame of the cross because of the joy which was set before Him. (See Hebrews 12:2.) He wanted joy—for us—and what a precious gift it is! Jesus gave His life so that we could come into the presence of the Father... therefore, not only could we have a life full of joy... He and the Father could rejoice over us. If we truly understand this, how can we not come into His presence and allow His joy to remain in us... if for no other reason than to give Him pleasure?

Our God calls us to partake of that holy, mighty force of joy which flows from His very heart. When we come into His presence to please Him, we reap priceless benefits, which enable us to cope with every situation arising in our lives.

Your call to joy is your call to fullness of life, to fellowship with the Mighty God of Israel. There is no one like Him. “You are glorious in holiness, O Lord, fearful in praises, and doing wonders. Yours is the greatness, and the power, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in heaven and in the earth is Yours; Yours is the Kingdom, and You are exalted above all.”

He calls you to know Him and rejoice before Him. Come! Enter into His presence!

¹“Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you” (Deuteronomy 28:47,48 NIV). return

²“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor... to comfort all who mourn, ...and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 51:1-3a NIV). return

³“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance...” (Galatians 5:22). return

4My decision not to call for help in the midst of this dire situation was based on a 25 year personal relationship with my God, not on formula derived from someone else’s experience. I do not advocate that all should follow my example. I was willing to depart my physical life, and I thought that I would. return

5“...Unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:24). return

6 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1,2). return

“Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favor My righteous cause; yes, let them say continuously, let the Lord be magnified, which has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant. And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness and of Your praise all the day long” (Psalm 35:27,28).

© 1992 by RANAN! Publishers of Gospel Literature, a Ministry of New Life Church in Thayer, Missouri | Written by Joan M. Williams

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