Thursday, March 12, 2020

Joy and the Secret Place: What Heaven is Like

Live Joy Meeting

On Sunday, I spent some time focusing on the Lord in Worship. This often opens up a visit with Him in the Secret Place. When I closed my eyes, a disturbing vision played out in my mind:

I was standing a few feet away from the Lord, watching an image of myself laughing exuberantly. The scene reminded me of the times I had seen “holy laughter.”

“What is this?” I asked the Lord as the image of me kept laughing, “Why am I laughing? I don’t feel like doing that right now.” Usually what I feel inside plays out in the visions in the Secret Place, but this vision didn’t seem to match what I felt at that moment.


The Lord pointed to the center of my being, “This is the joy that is inside of you which allows you to enter into the Secret Place.” As He spoke, the feeling of contentment, peace and happiness that I carry inside, grew a little bit as it does every time I think of my Beloved.

“But that isn’t the same as what I feel when I laugh,” I grumbled, irritated by the display of the mirror image of myself.

He explained, “Have you not read that the joy of the Lord is your strength?” Now as the image laughed, I felt a strengthening inside my spiritual body that radiated out to my physical self.

At that moment, my husband entered. I had to leave the Secret Place, not really understanding what the Lord meant. Looking at the scripture in the Bible helped a little. Psalms 27 tells us that the Secret Place is where we run to for safety and to be strengthened. Therefore seeing joy there makes sense however, I was still puzzled by the experience. The verse the Lord quoted was spoken during the Feast of Tabernacles when the Israelites celebrated the time when the Lord dwelled with them.
...for the joy of the LORD is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
The word “strength” is the Hebrew word  ma`owz which according to Strong’s Concordance can mean metaphorical strength or literally “a place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold.” The Hebrew word Yĕhovah is translated “of the Lord” and could be stated, “God’s joy.” This means that it is God’s joy planted in us that is our strength. This confirms what Jesus said, that it is His joy that is given when we take Him as Lord. As that strength grows, we will learn to abide in the Secret Place for further strengthening.

A few days later I once again found myself in the Secret Place, this time dancing with the Lord as we normally do. Ducking my head in embarrassment, I said, “My Love, you once called your disciples dense, hard of understanding, I feel no better than that. I am afraid I still don’t understand why I was laughing at our last visit. Why is joy a key factor for entering the Secret Place?”

Jesus smiled and patiently began explaining, “You remember that the core of love is not a feeling. Love is devotion: a willingness to give to another. Many may experience tears or emotion, but true love is a willingness to do anything to please the other. This is why I said, those that love Me will keep My commandments.” I nodded and He continued, “Joy is not a desire to laugh, although a great deposit of joy from the Holy Spirit may make you laugh. This is joy,” Feelings begin to grow stronger in me so that I could identify them. Joy is pleasure deep down that appears when you focus on something or someone. When you think of them, a small smile often forms and a lightness comes that creates a core of stability to your entire being.

The Lord continued, “To those who accept Me as their Lord, the Holy Spirit brings My joy…”

Excited by the revelation forming in my thoughts, I interrupted. “That is the joy of the Lord! The Holy Spirit brings us joy as a gift from You!”

Jesus nods, “When you receive the Holy Spirit the seeds for the fruits are planted. It begins with love, being devoted to Me as Lord. If that is lacking, none of the rest will be fully developed. Joy is planted when understanding of the Gospel comes. When you water that seed by focusing on and learning about the grace provided, the fruit of the Spirit will emerge.”

“Why is that strength?” I asked. A scripture came into my mind:
...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross... (Hebrews 12:2)
Knowing the scripture was brought by the Holy Spirit, I followed His lead, “You were strengthened to withstand the torture of the cross because of joy and that is the ‘joy of the Lord’ we receive.”

He stared out as if seeing what occurred long ago, “Yes. It is My joy I give to you, just as it is My peace (John 14:27). It is something the world cannot understand. It will provide the strength to endure far more than you think possible.” Looking back to me He explains, “Joy isn’t only in here, it begins out there and is necessary if you want to come and visit often.”

I nodded, now realizing that I only entered into the Secret Place when I was resting in the joy of the Lord. If I focused on visiting Heaven, the door never opened. It was only when I would celebrate who He is and what He has done, that I would get to see Him. I had to be completely happy in the moment I was sharing with Him.

I left the Secret Place understanding more about joy and strength than I thought possible. Since then I have spent time meditating on the joy of the Lord. What was the joy that strengthened Him  in His time of need (Hebrews 12:2)?

It was a future with us, knowing all that He would accomplish on the cross. The Lord could have asked for angels to be sent to release Him from the abuse of the cross at any time, but He had the strength to take our punishment upon Himself for the joy that would come from it.

When I think about my Lord Jesus, I am glad and can smile because I know that He loved me so much that He did what was needed so that:

  • I have an eternity in Heaven with the greatest love of my life, Jesus.
  • I have received the Holy Spirit as a teacher and a guide.
  • My sins are blotted out by His blood, when I confess and turn from them so that the attacks of the enemy can be removed.
  • His blood cries out for mercy so that attacks from the enemy can be removed while I learn God’s ways.

Love is the beginning which brings joy, a genuine happiness that often causes an unconscious smile to turn up the corners of my lips. When I really think about all He has  done, emotion floods in and nearly has me undone. If these four things are all that I receive from my Lord, they are enough to bring joy that surpasses understanding even through the most trying circumstances.

If you don’t yet feel this joy, spend time meditating on what the Lord has done. It is by grace - the unmerited favor of God - that we are saved from the eternity of Hell. This life may seem long, but it is a blink of the eye compared to the time we will spend in Heaven. That is just the beginning, for there is much benefit in this life as well!

Remaining in Joy


The very first recorded letter written after Jesus left was from His biological brother, James. He had been elected head of the Christian church which was centered in Jerusalem. James is writing to the new  Jewish converts who are under severe persecution. He begins by speaking about joy:
Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. (James 1:2-3)
The Greek word hēgeomai is translated “Consider it” but more fully means “to consider, deem, account, think.” James is urging Christians to think about joy in trying times when circumstances are difficult. Trials increase the fruits of the spirit, specifically endurance (long-suffering), steadfastness (faithfulness), and patience.

Although joy is in us, we may have to focus on it, instead of the problems that face us. By purposefully doing this, we develop into a Christian who has the mature fruits of the Spirit as James continues to explain:
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)
There is no perfect life here on Earth. The Bible is clear that there will be tests and trials. We may not always see an immediate relief from difficulties in our life, but through the grace provided at the cross we have received love and joy which will help sustain us through trials and tests. Can we prepare for troubles we may have to walk through?

How to Increase Your Joy


This is the instructions of Paul to the Christians in Ephesus at a time when Christians were in peril of being crucified for their beliefs:
...be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ… (Ephesians 5:18-20)
Focusing on the goodness of what the Lord has done in this way will bring joy to strengthen you. We can see this from the Old Testament as well. King David started out as a shepherd. It was a long journey to achieve his destiny which we can learn much from. Saul, who reigned before David, was plagued by demons and often sent his armies to find and kill the man who was chosen to replace him.

How did David remain strong while hiding in the desert, often on the edge of starvation? Half of the book of Psalms are recorded songs and hymns written by the shepherd who would one day rule God’s people. Focusing on God as His answer and worshiping Him with song was surely a key to the strength of David. It can and should be the focus in our life as well.

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