Joy is something every person on earth longs for. Without joy the most successful person finds their achievements empty. But when the heart is full of joy even the most difficult circumstances seem miraculously transformed into opportunities. What is this mysterious emotion we call joy? Why is something so important to us so hard to define? And why is it so difficult to hold on to? Like a vapor it slips out of our grasp leaving us dutifully plodding through each day. Yet Jesus very clearly states that He wants His followers to be filled with joy. It should be a distinguishing mark on all believers. When people think of Christians, words like love, faith and joy should come to mind. Yet many of us, though we deeply believe in Him and love Him, find joy elusive. The challenges of life seem to drain away joy. But God has made it possible for us to live lives full of abundance, especially an abundance of joy. So lets open the Word and discover how.
A. Jesus wants us to have joy
These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full (Jn 15:11).
Abide, obey, bear fruit, love one another, pray in faith
Joy made full: He must increase, but I must decrease (Jn 3:26-30)
They may have My joy made full in themselves (Jn 17:13)
B. Joy is the feeling of being normal
We are not meant to live with moments of relief breaking into long seasons of quiet desperation.
We were made for Him and will always feel empty away from Him (Ge 3)
Sin has separated us and left us abnormal (naked)
C. Joy is being happy in God
Some say the Lords joy isnt happiness, it isnt an emotion. Then I say, What good is it? Joy without happiness is like salt without savor, like water that doesnt quench your thirst. I need an antidote for sadness.
The fact is the joy of the Lord is a happy emotion, but it differs from worldly joy because its not dependant upon conditions in this world. Its founded on spiritual realities, so its always available to us.
The unbelievers joy is found in Gods material blessings.
The believers joy is produced within by the Holy Spirit (Lk 10:21; Ro 14:17; Gal 5:22; 1Th 1:6).
D. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Ne 8:10)
The opposite of joy is depression
When we are joyful we have:
- Outgoing personalities
We clean the house, we repair things, we call people we havent talked to
E. We find Gods joy in ways that are opposite to the world
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospels will save it. (Mk 8:35)
Joy is what happens when I lose myself:
- In worshipping God
- In letting Gods love flow through me in service to others
- In being joined with Christ in His suffering
- In praying a seeing Gods miraculous answer
F. Losing myself in worship
Joy is a by-product of worship, not its goal
I stop looking at myself, stop seeking my own good
We yearn for unity with God
Worldly worship: doing things to make God happy so Hell bless me
Biblical worship: returning to the One who made me for Himself (in His image)
The practice of worship:
Awaken the body (praise): sing boldly what you dont feel, till you feel it.
Awaken the mind (thanks): remember what youve forgotten.
Awaken the heart (love): let your whole being be reunited with Him (in loving abandon we offer Him again the Lordship of our lives; Ro 12:1)
In the anointing (the tangible presence of God) we are transformed:
Strength (Isa 40:29-31)
Gladness (Isa 61:3)
Fullness (Psa 16:11)
Describe how you feel when you have the joy of the Lord.
How do you restore your joy when you feel low?