Acts 13:52
And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.

These two things are not mutually exclusive.  We can’t have one without the other.  To be filled with the Holy Ghost is to know the fullest joy.  To be filled with joy is to know the presence of the Holy Ghost within our hearts, to feel His love inside us, to know we are forgiven.  It is not something that comes from an outside source or can be given to us in some other way.  But it springs out from the deep well within us placed there when the Holy Spirit came to abide with us.

This true joy cannot be manufactured or imitated.  It is always pure and genuine because it comes from such a pure source.  It cannot be taken from us, for it originates from the Spirit in us.  It cannot be used up because it is given to us abundantly from the source of joy Himself.  And it spreads to every aspect of our lives.  There is more joy in worship and praise to our Father.  There is joy in fellowship and the blessings of life each day.  There is even joy in work and suffering and tragedy because there is a foundation of strength that depends on God and not our circumstances.

The disciples were seeing God work in amazing ways.  They were seeing miracles and explosive growth of His church.  They were seeing the Gospel preached everywhere to everyone.  But they were also being attacked and persecuted.  There was opposition everywhere, too.  There were hostile people in every town.  But because their joy was not dependent on the works of their own hands or other people’s treatment of them, it could grow and blossom in the darkest places.

We can have that same joy in our lives.  God is still working in amazing ways.  Maybe we just don’t always see it or recognize it as such.  God is performing miracles and building His church.  There are still those who are faithful to Him, and there are still those who attack every chance they get.  But the Holy Spirit still dwells in men who trust Christ as their Savior, and with that as our source of joy, there is no reason to ever give up hope.

The privilege of a relationship with the divine creator of the universe is an amazing thought.  The realization that the Holy Spirit—the holy, pure essence of God—would come to dwell in our hearts is almost beyond comprehension.  To think that God fills us with Himself is truly a joyful thought.  Let’s allow ourselves to be filled to overflowing with the joy of the Lord.