We often quote Psalms 16:11, "in His presence there is fullness of joy, and at His right hand, there are pleasures forevermore; but did anyone really stop to look at what was this joy that the Psalmist was making reference to?"
The biblical definition of joy describes it as; "a feeling of good pleasure and happiness that is dependent on who Jesus is, rather than on who we are or what is happening around us. Joy comes from the Holy Spirit, being surrounded by Him in God's presence, and from hope in His Word".
The joy of the Lord is very fundamental in your relationship and walk with Jesus Christ because God wants you to be dependent upon Him only. What sense would it make for you to be a grumpy Christian when the freedom of joy can be found in Jesus Christ?" The big problem is that the enemy is really trying to hold you hostage in depression and sadness when you can instead choose to be in the presence of God all the time. God gave us a chance to redeem and receive joy again after it was stolen through Adam and Eve's disobedience, but redemption came through His Son Jesus Christ. He died on the cross for my sin and for your sins too; to make it possible for us to have that joy that the Psalmist experienced when He was in the presence of God. You too can experience that same joy of being in His presence.
In Nehemiah eight, it depicts the story of how the children of Israel had just been rescued from exile. God would ever so often allow other nations to oppress His people because their weakness was idol worshipping. They were always led away into captivity for worshipping gods of other nations. God was clear that there was only one God and that was Him; and He oftentimes would allow the nations of the very gods they served to take them into captivity, even up to eighty years at a time and oppress them deeply, but His grace would always allow Him to restore them.
When they returned to Jerusalem, Ezra the Bible Teacher, and the Levite Priests led by Nehemiah the Governor; read the laws of God to the people of Israel; to remind them of what God required of them, so that they would be sure not to fall back into the same situation they were coming out of. They became so greatly overwhelmed with condemnation from the law that was being read to them, that they began to weep with sorrow. They had long stopped living their lives according to how God had instructed them to in His laws and decrees and they were instantly bought to tears when they realized how far they had strayed from God. This is the same for you and I today. If you do not read the Word of God; and follow it's instructions; and live according to how God asked you live, then you will find yourself in a similar position as God's people. They were far from His presence.
In Nehemiah eight verse ten it says, "Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the Priest and Teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
They were His chosen and beloved nation, but they had been long separated from Him through their choice of a sinful lifestyle. They chose to be away from His presence; despite God's warnings through His prophets. God had placed them in exile for many years because of their disobedience in worshipping other strange gods above Him. They began to feel condemned when they were being reminded of the laws of God, and what God expected of them. When they saw what they had done and how far they had gone from God's presence they wept. This is what the Word of God will do when you walk off course. The Holy Spirit will remind you of what God says you are to do in His Word, where you are to be, and even how to get there.
Nehemiah who had just rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem under God's instructions had been appointed Governor. He was trying to restore God's spiritual order to Jerusalem, and He knew that God was happy that their hearts had changed, and they had returned to Him; so Nehemiah told them to quit weeping and crying, and go enjoy the best foods they had.
Nehemiah even asked them to share their best foods with those who didn't have any because it was a holy day unto the Lord. His people had returned unto Him. God's heart was filled with joy. It is the same reaction God experiences today when someone walks away from His presence and return unto Him with sorrow and a repentant heart. Remember David explained the kind of heart God was looking for in Psalms 54:17. "A broken and a contrite one".
Oh how miserable and tormented they must have felt when God stopped talking to them through His prophets, and even locked His ears for decades to their cry in their sufferings, but He was their only hope, and He wanted them to understand that He really loved them. God was determined, He wanted them to get to a place where their heart would be broken to receive and follow His Word as they should. This was not to force them, but because He loved them and He wanted to have a relationship with them to restore and renew them in His presence.
It is in the presence of the Lord that you will really find the joy of the Lord; which automatically gives you the strength to persevere in your walk daily with Him; and not drift away from His presence, as His beloved people had done in Israel. This was where the children of Israel, would now find the strength to once again be circumspect in their walk, according to the laws and decrees that God had set for them to follow. The same laws that He had set for them to follow through His prophet hundreds of years earlier, and happiness was once again be restored to them.
The joy of the Lord is found only in the presence of the Lord, which is really where you will find the grace to walk with Jesus Christ in happiness even in your trials. Isaiah 12:3 says, "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation". This is simply because Jesus Christ is the living water from the wells of salvation.
Dear Lord, I pray that you will help me to stay in your presence. I thank you for granting me the grace to be in your presence so that I can receive your joy to walk circumspectly before you Lord. Help me up in the areas where I fall short. I pray that you will help me to drink the spiritual water from the wells of salvation, so that I can refresh my spirit, heart and mind as I grow more in you in Jesus name Amen!