Friends

Joy is essential to the Christian life! 

The Bible says that God created us to be joyful people beginning right now.  Some of you don’t feel like you are joyful because you don’t understand joy yet.  But for most of us joy is lacking in our lives because we don’t understand how God wants to bring it into our lives.

We know that even the most mature Christians experience periods of joylessness.  Let me share a list with you.  Job wished he had never been born (Job 3:11).  David prayed to be taken away to a place where he would not have to deal with reality (Psalm 55:6–8).  Elijah, even after defeating 450 prophets of Baal with fire called down from heaven (1 Kings 18:16–46), fled into the desert and asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19:3–5).  So how can we experience joy in the Christian life?

The first thing is to realize that joy is not the same as happiness.  Happiness is circumstantial and fleeting.  Joy is a heart posture.  The root word for joy in the Greek is chara, which is closely related with the Greek charis for “grace.”  Joy is both a gift of God as well as a response to the gifts of God.  Joy comes when we are aware of God’s grace and His favor.

It becomes evident that one way to experience joy is to focus on God.  Rather than dwelling on our difficulties or those things robbing our contentment, we can dwell on God.  This is not to say we should deny our discontent or stuff negative emotions.  As many of the psalmists patterned, we can pour out our hearts to God.  We can tell Him bluntly all the things that trouble us.  But then we submit those things to Him and remember who He is.  Take a moment and read Psalms 3, 13, 18, 43, and 103 for some good examples.

Our Heavenly Father created us with an ability to experience joy.  We know when we have it, and we know when we don't.  And even though we can receive enjoyment from our loved ones, activities, work or even material things, only the Lord gives us everlasting joy.  It comes through receiving all of Him, beginning with the joy of salvation and redemption.

The joy of Christ does not go away.  Have you noticed how easily earthly joy can leave? Have you discovered how simple it is for your gladness of today to become your sadness of tomorrow, for your sweetness of the morning to turn into the bitterness of the night?  

But the joy of Christ is a continual, never-ending, constant joy when we follow the principles of the Word of God.  This joy survives all the difficult times in life.  This joy is not hinged on happenings but on a Person.

In John 16:22 NIV, Jesus says, “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

Isn’t that something?  Jesus says the joy He wants to give every one of His children is the kind of joy you don’t have to lose.  Nobody can take it away from you!

That is why Jesus calls us to be His “witnesses.”  When some Christians hear this word, they worry that they need exceptional skill or charisma to share the good news with others.  Yet to witness is not to merely speak of the “plan of salvation” to someone.  The word literally means to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception; to testify; bear witness to; give or afford evidence of.  When John wrote that he was sharing what he had experienced first-hand, he was saying, I am full of joy because of the experience of knowing Jesus, and I want to invite you to share in that joy!”

When you are in love with someone, you are excited about the relationship and time spent together.  Likewise, when you are in love with Jesus, you cannot keep to yourself the joy that comes from knowing Him—it just spills over, bearing witness and strengthening other believers. In fact, as you give testimony of who God is and how He’s working in your life, it makes no difference whether you speak quietly or with great exuberance: in their spirit, Christians will pick up on the deep, genuine gladness in your heart that goes beyond natural happiness.  And people who don’t yet know the Lord will find themselves hungering for the relationship you have.  In that way, they will be drawn to His Spirit in you.

Witnessing is not a matter of eloquence or talent.  It’s an overflow of the personal relationship with Jesus Christ that is conforming you to His image.  As you allow the Holy Spirit to increasingly express His life and power through you, contagious joy will be the “fruit” of His indwelling presence.

But what if you have lost your joy?  I don’t know if that’s where you are today, but if you have ever gone through that period where you feel like you have lost the spark and you are not as close to God as you used to be and you are just going through the motions of life, you need to know that it’s quite easy to get your joy back, too.

So, how do you get your joy back?  The first step you need to do is admit you have lost it.

You simply look at your past and ask yourself a couple of questions:  Has there ever been a time in your life when you were closer to God than you are right now?  Has there ever been a time in your life when you were more joyful in the Lord than you are right now?

Now is the time to make the change.  But you have got to start by admitting that you have lost what you have had in the past.  You could ask God about it; He is waiting to help you.  David prayed this in Psalm 51:12 NIV “Restore to me the joy of your salvation…”

Make Every Day Count!

Barry

Come this Sunday and learn how to remain joyful in your walk with Christ!