“…but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast…”
Proverbs 15:15 is one of those verses in the Bible which, after reading and pondering its meaning, could easily bring the believer to his/her knees and require of the Lord, “By all means, at all costs, give me a glad heart!” Indeed, this verse gave the incentive for this particular post: “All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and foreboding], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of the circumstances].” The question undoubtedly then will arise in many believing hearts, “How do I get and maintain a glad heart?”
“Your words…a joy and the rejoicing of my heart…”
We find one aspect of the Source of this joy in Jeremiah 15:16: “Your words were found, and I ate them; and your words were to me a joy and the rejoicing of my heart, for I am called by Your Name, O Lord God of hosts.” It’s interesting to note that the words simply found didn’t rejoice the prophet’s heart; he ate them once he discovered them. In other words, he stepped out in faith, trusting the Nature (Name) of the Author of these words, and found Him faithful to do just as He had promised.
But he wasn’t just gladdened by the proof of God’s faithfulness to back up His Word. In daring to believe and apply God’s promises, Jeremiah realized, experientially, that he was indeed called by God’s Name, His very Nature. We, as Finished Work believers in the 21st century, might say it this way: “We are as You are ” (I John 4:17b), members of Your family (Romans 8:15,16; Ephesians 4:6) and of Your Body” (Ephesians 4:12; 5:30; I Cor.16:19). Actually, Jesus Himself defined the privilege of being called by His Name.
“…in My Name…ask…that your joy may be full…”
Do we truly dare to “eat” this promise?! “Up to this time you have not asked a single thing in My Name [as presenting all that I AM]; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy ( gladness, delight) may be full” (John 16:24). Are we children enough in our approach to our Father that we would ask ANYTHING in His Name, according to His Nature, Word and Will (I John 5:14,15), and then perseveringly believe that He has heard and given us that petition? This, when practiced, becomes a joy-filled lifestyle, as we let the Lord reveal – through our stepping out on His promises with confidence – His faithfulness to do exactly as He has said. The following words of Paul are written only once in the Word of God, but I think we can safely say that he declared them silently or verbally many times in his walk with Christ: “…I believe God that it shall be exactly as it was told me.” (Acts 27:25)
“…joy and peace in believing…”
Again, these are the believing apostle Paul’s words expressing his desire for others to experience what he himself had experienced in finding and eating God’s Word: “May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing…” (Romans 15:13). And in fact, it was this very “God of your hope” Who had declared to His first disciples why day after day He gave them instructions and taught them His Father’s commandments, revealing His Father’s Heart, urging them to abide in what they had learned of Him: “I have told you these things that My joy and delight may be in you and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and … overflowing.” (John 15:11)
“In Your Presence there is fullness of joy…” (Psalm 16:11a)
This promise – which I personally have been acquainted with for some 40 years – now takes on a new, exciting significance: we already have this fullness of joy because He has set us in His Presence forever (Psalm 41:12), uniting us inextricably to Himself – forever, which is true for right now! So when the enemy comes in like a flood we raise up the standard of God’s Finished Work and promises against him (Isaiah 59:19); we reckon on His Presence (Ecclesiastes 8:12b, Amplified), and begin to “eat” the promise of His joy already in us, as our own! When everything seems like it’s against us and our going forward, as happened to Habakkuk in Habakkuk 3:16-17, we can choose “to rejoice in the Lord…”(v.18a) and to keep on rejoicing (Philippians 4:4).
“…the joy of the Lord is my strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10b)
Therefore, even when situations arise that hold the potential of rendering us grieved and depressed, we do not have to be. His Grace is enough to enable us to choose to believe God to give us just what we need when we need it (Psalm 46:1), trusting the Holy Spirit to recall promises to us that we can eat and be sustained and strengthened with. And it seems that as often as we might practice this, we are repeatedly surprised by joy – the joy of seeing Him come to our rescue yet once more, knowing that He always will because He “is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
“…joy unspeakable and full of glory…”
This joy is what enabled the Lord Jesus Christ to endure the Cross and the suffering leading up to it and to despise the shame of all the indignities to which He was exposed (Hebrews 1:2), the joy of knowing that we would be united to Him, in His Name, through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.
And now we have the opportunity to trust Him as He trusted the Father, stepping out on faith and “eating” His promises, and then to experience for ourselves “inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, Heavenly) JOY” ! (I Peter 1:8b)