Count It All Joy www.axley.org   

 

COUNT IT ALL
JOY

By
Buddy Axley

FIRST PRINTING
2000

(All scriptures are taken from the Amplified Version of the Bible unless noted otherwise.)

 

Foreword

            Jesus says to us in John 16:33  “…In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration, but be of good cheer- take courage, be confident, certain,  undaunted- for I have overcome the world - I have deprived it of power to harm, have conquered it (for you).” This writing is an exhortation about the power of joy as we encounter the trials of life.  The question is not whether we will encounter trials, but it is how we will deal with them.  Remember, Jesus says,  “… but be of good cheer”. This means, “to be joyful”.  So the trials will surely come our way and when they come we can deal with them God’s way.

The Word of God tells us “Count it all joy” or “Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort, or fall into various temptations.”  (James 1:2). Please listen carefully.  It doesn’t matter what the source of the trial is.  “Any sort” of trial is what the Word says here.  What matters is to know that we have the force of joy available to go through the trial and overcome its effect on us.

                Divine joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and a supernatural force that God gives us to use and live by.  It comes from within the depths of our being (our spirit) and flows outwardly affecting the other parts of our being, which are our soul and body.  When we exercise our faith and yield to the Holy Spirit within us by allowing this joy to flow then we are facing and dealing with the trials of life God’s way.  The Word of God says to us: “Rejoice in the Lord always – delight, gladden yourselves in Him; again, I say rejoice.” (Phil 4:4).  “Always” is one of the key words here.  The Word of the Lord says,  “…be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold” (Nehemiah 8:10).  Even as I write these thoughts, I am facing, dealing and going through the trials of life.  God spoke to me years ago and said: “Don’t let the circumstances and situations of life affect your spiritual walk; let your spiritual walk affect the circumstances and situations of life.”  Let’s walk on together in the Spirit and in the victory that we have in Jesus Christ


Introduction

            Why should we “Count it all Joy” when we encounter trials?  To our natural mind and reasoning our trials are difficult, painful, and uncomfortable. But we need to see past all this to grasp and comprehend what the Word says in James 1:3.  “Be assured and understand that the trials and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.”  You see the trial is a trial of our faith in God.  Regardless of its source, it is a real life examination of our trust in the Lord.  “…whoever leans on, trusts and is confidant in the Lord, happy, blessed, and fortunate is he” (Prov. 16:20b).

            We can be happy and joyful because we believe He will bless us for our faith in Him.  We can rejoice because the proving of our faith in the midst of the trial will make us stronger, more steadfast, and more patient.  As these virtues are developed, we too are developed and become more perfected into the image of Jesus Christ our Lord. “But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be (people) perfectly and fully developed (with no defects), lacking in nothing.” (James 1:4).

            Wouldn’t it make us joyful, happy and cheerful to be fully developed with no defects and lacking in nothing?  Anyone could be rejoicing after the fact but the principle that God shows us here is that we are to rejoice before any results are seen with the natural eye.  This, of course, is what faith is.  Faith is surely not only what we hope for but also what we see already with the spiritual eye.  For this reason we are instructed to “count it all joy” when we first realize that our faith is being tried or tested.  We are challenged to see through the eye of faith the end result of the trial.  If we have ever climbed up a steep hill or mountain then we know that our goal is to reach the top.   We know the joy and gladness that lies ahead when through endurance, steadfastness, and patience we reach the peak. This highly motivates us to press on.  If this is true in the natural realm how much more so is it true in the spiritual realm. Let us press on together for the truest and best rewards that await us as God’s people. Paul encourages us with these words: “I have fought the good (worthy, honorable and noble) fight; I have finished the race; I have kept (firmly held) the faith.  (As to what remains) henceforth there is laid up for me the victor’s crown of righteousness…” (II Timothy 4:7-8a).

            Jesus counted it all joy!  His trials were greater than any we may encounter in our lives.  “…let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NAS).


The Fruit of Joy

            God desires to develop Christ-like character in each of us through the fruit of joy. Joy is fruit.  It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal.5:22).  Joy is apparent as it flows from our spirit in an outward manner to our soul (mind, will and emotions) and to our body (our physical being).  It will have definite effects in each one of these areas.  As we look further into what joy produces in us, we can readily see why God exhorts and admonishes us to be joyful.  Remember, to be joyful is an act of faith and obedience.  It will produce results that will bless God and will bless us by helping us through the challenges of life.

            Let’s look at what joy is and what some of its manifestations are according to the Word of God.  There are several scriptures that come quickly to mind such as “for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh 8:10).  Here we see that joy brings strength in place of weakness.  We have all experienced weakness due to stress, discouragement, depression, worry, anxiety, and the like, as we are dealing with the trials and tests of everyday life.  These conditions just mentioned drain our beings (spirit, soul, and body) of the resources of life.  God has therefore supplied us with the force and energy of joy which will strengthen, refresh, and restore our lives and give us the ability to function supernaturally no matter what is happening in or around us.

            Proverbs 17:22 says, “A happy heart is a good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries the bones….”  So we see that joy is a good medicine.  It is a prescription from the Great Physician that has been paid for in full.  Joy brings forth healing to our spirit, soul, and bones

            Some of the Hebrew and Greek definitions of joy are happiness, cheerfulness, gladness, merriment, delightful feelings, and to be in a good frame of mind.  We can easily see when there is an absence of joy in our lives because we are sad, gloomy, unhappy, feeling blue, and in a bad frame of mind.  These conditions keep us from experiencing Kingdom life.  “After all the Kingdom of God…is righteousness – that state which makes a person acceptable to God – and heart peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).  “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10).  The Spirit of the Lord has been given so that “The oil of joy will replace mourning and the garment of praise will replace heaviness….” ( See Isaiah 61:3). You see when we appropriate and obtain joy from our well of salvation, sorrow and frustration will flee. (Read Isaiah, Chapter 12).

            We need to understand that using the force of joy that is within us does not come about automatically.  We are created by God with an inner man called our spirit man.  It is here that the Holy Spirit resides in the life of every true believer in Jesus Christ.  We are instructed and encouraged by the Word of God to walk in the Spirit and live in the Spirit.  This means we are to yield to Him and allow all of His virtues to flow up and out of us.  Our minds, wills and emotions, however, do not always cooperate with the mind, will and emotions of God.  This means that we can decide as an act of our will to be sad, depressed, and discouraged. But if we know what the will of God is and decide to act on His will, having the mind of Christ, we will see our minds and our emotions change from sadness to gladness, discouragement to encouragement, unhappiness to happiness, etc.  Once again, this is an act of faith and obedience to God, not a formula nor a set of rules and regulations.  If we can only believe that this supernatural source of joy will produce a supernatural power force that will dominate the effects of the pressures of life, then we will gladly obey the Lord’s instructions such as: “count it all joy”, “ rejoice in the Lord always”, “ the joy of the Lord is your strength”, “shout for joy”,  “sing for joy”, “ leap for joy” and on and on.

            Maybe some would remember the spiritual song or chorus “The joy of the Lord is my strength”.  It has several verses such as, “If you want joy you can shout for it;  If you want joy you can sing for it;  If you want joy you can leap for it;  If you want joy you can laugh for it;  Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

            God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours are.  Amen 


Let’s let the joy flow!
 

The Trials of Life

            Whether we realize it or not, for us as Christians, all our trials are trials of our faith in God.  As I stated before, trials will come and when they come, regardless of the source or type, they are to be considered as opportunities to grow in faith and trust in our Lord.

            We know that in the face of a trial or in the midst of a test we don’t always consider it as an opportunity for growth.  When we fail to recognize the trial of our faith as an opportunity to grow in our faith, then we remain immature and inadequate and cannot experience God’s will and purpose in our lives to the fullest degree.  “Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience” (James 1:3).  The next verse tells us what the endurance, steadfastness, and patience will work in our lives.  “But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be (people) perfectly and fully developed (with no defects), lacking in nothing.”(Vs.4).

            Let’s review the sequence of growth that God desires in our lives as we heed and obey His Word.  We should “count it all joy” when we encounter trials of any sort by understanding that the trying and proving of our faith produces patience, endurance, and steadfastness.  These virtues, therefore, are doing a thorough work by producing in us more perfection (maturity) and completeness.

            Please listen carefully.  God knows that unless we have something to rejoice about we cannot muster up joy just for the sake of it.  The suffering of the moment in the face of the trial is not what we are glad about.  But when we know that there is a reward or prize set before us and that it can be obtained, we can endure with the force of joy, just as Jesus endured His cross for the joy that was set before Him. ( See Hebrews 12:2 once again).  Jesus has always given us the ultimate and highest example.

            Patience and steadfastness simply mean standing firm and having faith and trust in God no matter what.  That seems so simple to say, but it is just that simple.  We have thought that patience is seeing how long we can stand a situation.  We have probably all said at one time or another; “My patience is about to run out”.   Take note of the word we use here: “My patience”.  But God has put His Holy Spirit in us to produce the virtue of divine patience which is what causes us to rest, trust, rely, confide, and believe in Him in the midst of the storms of life.  Some have said that if our faith were never tested we would not know whether or not we have faith.  That may have a certain amount of truth to it, but knowing that you have faith by the mere fact that God has given to each of us a measure of faith is sufficient for all the trials of life.  For this reason our spiritual development is absolutely necessary if we are to run our race, finish our course, and “keep the faith”.  You see we can keep the faith by growing in faith or we can lose the faith by being of little faith.  Different amounts of pressure affect each one of us differently.  God has therefore given us the opportunity to “…. grow up unto all aspects into Him (Jesus Christ, Who is the Head), …that we might arrive at really mature manhood – the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection – the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, and the completeness found in Him”.   See Ephesians 4:13; 15.  This is what James 1:4 is saying. “…so that you may be (people) perfectly and fully developed (with no defects) lacking in nothing.”

            Let’s look at the verses that immediately follow:  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think he shall receive anything from the Lord.  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (Vs 5-8). Have you ever wondered why these thoughts were interjected when the Holy Spirit has been speaking of "counting it all joy" in trials and tests?  I believe it is because these times of pressure in our lives try to bring this doubt, fear, worry and instability to us.   We need to appropriate the wisdom from God, that will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and will surpass our own understanding so that we will continue to trust in our Lord and rejoice in our great salvation and deliverance through Him.  The above is the essence of the scripture found in Philippians 4: 6-7. (Please read).  See what follows: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be praise, think on these things.” (Vs. 8.)  Rather than asking, “Why am I having this trial or test?” we could be appropriating His virtue of joy and be lifting up praise for His faithfulness to us.  He is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and He is the Good Report.  Hallelujah!  “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say rejoice” (Phil 4:4).  You see, leaning to our own understanding or trying to figure out all the “whys and wherefores” of the trials or tests causes us to be double-minded and to be tossed to and fro like the waves of the sea in our attitudes and thoughts towards God.  It adversely affects our “attitude of gratitude” which is no less than the joy of the Lord made manifest in our lives.

            “Blessed, happy, to be envied is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved he will receive (the victor’s) crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).  This verse of scripture tells us many things we should consider.  If we want to be blessed and proven faithful by God we will stand firm through trials, temptations and testings.  If we want to be crowned with victory in this life we will love our God, rejoicing and praising Him in the midst of the storm.

            See what Peter says to us, “(You should) be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, so that (the genuineness) of your faith may be tested; (your faith) which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire.  (This proving of your faith is intended) to redound to (your) praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ the Messiah the Anointed One, is revealed.  Without having seen Him you love Him, though you do not (even) now see Him you believe in Him, and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy.  (At the same time) you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the salvation of our souls” (I Peter 1:6-9).

            This scripture applies to us, when we are under pressure and suffering for His sake, or in other words for His righteousness sake.  In Chapter 4, Peter continues this thought.  “Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange – unusual and alien to you and your position – were befalling you.  But in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings rejoice, so that when His glory (full of radiance and splendor) is revealed you may also rejoice with triumph – exultantly…” (Vs 12,13).

            In Chapter 5:6-10, Peter admonishes us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God so He can lift us up and exalt us as we cast our cares on Him.  The word “cares” here signifies worries and anxieties.  Peter reminds us that we have an adversary who is the devil.  He is looking for ways to destroy, discourage, and defeat us so we must resist him by being firm in our faith.  You see we should never ever feel that we are the only ones being tried and tested. We are told in these passages of scripture that our brothers and sisters everywhere are having the same pressures and difficulties.  I especially like verse 10.  “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace – Who imparts all blessing and favor – Who has called you to His (own) eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen (and settle) you”.

Before we finish these thoughts on the trials, temptations, and tests of life we must be sure that we understand another virtue of our God’s character, and that is His unchangeableness.  He is Almighty God and is never double-minded and unstable as we sometimes are.  We must humble ourselves before the Lord and realize that we need His grace, which is no less than His power and ability to live our lives for His glory.  Therefore, if we blame Him or consider Him as the cause of some our trials and tests instead of realizing that our sins or unrighteous acts will open doors for self-inflicted trials and tests, we will struggle even more in the midst of our problems and difficulties. “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by (what is) evil and He Himself tempts no one.  But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).  Then the evil desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully matured brings forth death.  Do not be mislead, my beloved brethren.  Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all (that gives) light, in (the shining of) Whom there can be no variation (rising or setting) or shadow cast by His turning (as in an eclipse)” (James 1:13-17). It would be wise on our part if we would learn to be responsible and accountable for the trials and tests that we bring on ourselves and be quick to repent of our wrong concepts and bad attitudes towards our Lord, Who is our only Hope.  If we don’t see God our Father as He really is and as the Giver of every good and perfect gift from above and as One Who does not change, we will never be able to sincerely trust and rejoice in the Lord. When we repent, joyfully and earnestly, our God will never cause us to fail, fall or sin. He is a good God, who loves us, forgives us, and restores us. “So repent-change your mind and purpose; turn around and return (to God), that your sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing- of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air- may come from the presence of the Lord….” (Acts 3:18).   Praise Him,  Forever!

            In conclusion,  we must count it all joy when we encounter any trial or test regardless of its source whether it be an outright attack from satanic forces, or as a consequence of our own sin.  The same virtue and power of joy will bring us through, over, and out of the trial and give us the victory of our faith.  “And this is the victory that overcometh the world even our faith” (I John 5:4).

            Remember that it takes faith to “Count it all Joy”.  “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”  Rejoice!!


Be a Joyful and be a Blessed Witness

            As we finish the Holy Spirit’s great exhortation to “Count it all Joy”, we need to realize that by being joyful when we find ourselves in the midst of trials, tests, and tribulations, we will bring His blessing on us and on those around us.  What greater blessing is there, as a result of His joy, than to enjoy His presence which brings us His comfort, peace, strength, and restoration.  “Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulations” (II Cor. 7:4).  “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost….that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God; and may with you be refreshed” (Romans 15:13,32).

  As James Chapter 1 continues we also find some strong reproof from the Holy Spirit.  “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (Vs 19-20). When the pressure builds up as a result of trials, we need to listen quickly and attentively to the voice of the Lord through His Word.  Because when we become angry and frustrated, and begin to speak things negatively against the truth, or murmur and complain about the situations or circumstances, instead of rejoicing in the Lord, we work unrighteousness in our lives and only fall deeper into the pit of despair and destruction.  “Although the fig tree will not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail; and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  The Lord God is my strength; and He will make my feet like hinds feet; and He will make me to walk upon mine high places…” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

  I  especially like the Amplified Version of the following verses in James, Chapter 1.  “So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampart outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the word which implanted and rooted (in you hearts) contains the power to save your souls.  But – obey the message; be doers of the word, and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves (unto deception by reasoning contrary to the truth).  For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his (own) natural face in the mirror; for he thoughtfully observes himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like.  But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the (law) of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking unto it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer (who obeys) he shall be blessed in his doing – in his life of obedience” (Vs 21-25).

If we can obey His word and “count it all joy”, His word will accomplish its purpose and deliver us.  “So shall My Word be that goes forth out of my mouth; it shall not return to Me void – without producing any effect, useless – but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose; and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.  For you shall go out (from spiritual exile of sin and evil into the homeland) with joy, and be led forth (by your leader, the Lord Himself and His Word) with peace….” (Isaiah 55:11-12).  In II Corinthians 6:4-10, we find Paul and his companions being doers of the Word.  “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors…”(Vs 4-5).   Does all this sound like trials, tests and tribulations to you? It surely does to me.  Notice how they overcame these and other difficulties.  “In watchings, in fastings, by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the Word of Truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left…”(vs. 5-7).  In the following verses, we can see very clearly the contrast that exists between the carnal analysis of trials and tribulations versus the true spiritual analysis of the same.  “By honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers and yet true; as unknown and yet well-known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (Vs 8-10).

Because we are human beings and live here on the earth in the flesh we have the natural tendency to deal with problems in the human way.  As with Paul and many other witnesses that the Holy Spirit gives us through the Word, we must learn to use God’s supernatural ways and means to resolve our conflicts and problems. Satan and his cohorts, who are our enemies and the enemies of God, are supernatural in nature.  We, therefore, must appropriate the greater supernatural forces within us, such as  joy, to defeat and rise above these evil powers.

You see, being doers of His word makes us His witnesses and gives us a good testimony wherever we are.  As I shared before, Jesus is our supreme example.  He obeyed His Father thus completing His Father’s will and not His own.  He endured the cross “for the joy that was set before Him”.  He finished His course and purpose with joy, and we need to do the same.  Amen!

God is constantly working in us more so He may work through us more.  We are the ones that He has chosen to reach the people of this planet with the gospel.  It is His plan and it is His joy and it should be the same joy for us!

Paul exhorts us as he exhorted the elders of the church at Ephesus.  “And when they arrived, he said to them, You yourselves are well acquainted with my manner of living among you from the first day that I set foot in (the province of) Asia, and how I continued afterward, serving the Lord with all humility in tears and in the midst of adversity (affliction) and trials which befell me…..  But none of these things move me; neither do I esteem my life dear to myself, if only I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have obtained of (entrusted to my by) the Lord Jesus faithfully to attest the good news (Gospel) of God’s grace…” (Acts 20:18-24).  

Paul again exhorts us to joyfully walk worthy of the Lord.  “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience, and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks to the Father which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:9-12).

Let me leave you with this consideration.  I believe many times how we live daily around others is more important than what we say.  But what we say about the pressures of life certainly do influence people, for we know that death and life are in the power of the tongue.  Joyful expressions and communications, therefore, are part of our witness and testimony. “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.  Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.  For this same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.” “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice!” (Phil. 2:14-18; 4:4).


In Summary

            The power of joy that I have shared with you during this discourse has been the strength, deliverance and salvation of my life during this last year.  The trials of faith in the life of my wife and myself have also been some of the most difficult we have faced together up to this point.

We are grateful to our Lord, Who gives us the victory and restores us through His divine joy, peace, and love.  The word “gratitude” is a synonym of “joy”.  In the original Greek the following is what “being grateful” means.  Being grateful is to be divinely influenced in your heart, and to be thankful as you reflect on your life and find it acceptable and beneficial by experiencing God’s grace, favor, and liberality to its fullness.  “…in your presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalms 16:11).

            My desire for those of you who have read this booklet is for you to continually receive all of God’s benefits, especially His fullness of joy.


Love in Jesus,
Buddy Axley


March 15, 2000

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