A good friend of mine has this as a value in his life. He says, I choose joy every day. If you are a believer in Jesus and if you open your life to the Holy Spirit, you have a distinct advantage over the people that you know who don’t know Jesus. That advantage is called the fruit of the spirit joy. If you allow yourself to grow that fruit, I assure you that it will impact your relationships in a positive way. Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…”
I have a question for you to ponder as you read this article. Do fairy tale endings ever happen? How does a fairy tales end? Most of you know! And they all lived “happily ever after.” Most of us grew up listening to fairy tales that would conclude with that kind of delightful little ending. And implanted in the core of that myth is the philosophy. “Well, If I can just find the right person, I will live happily ever after.” After all, Cinderella had her prince. Snow White broke the spell of the witch with a kiss. How many of you have learned that “happily ever after” is fairy tale kind of language?
Some of you made friends in High School and thought this is great. You thought, I will be friends forever. But now you are in your twenties, life has moved on and you don’t even know them anymore. Somehow happily ever after didn’t happen.
Some of you walked down the aisle of your wedding thinking this is going to be happily ever after but you had a big surprise. At the wedding the sequence of events was aisle, altar, and then hymn. But after the wedding it just becomes. “I’ll alter him!” Some of you went from Ideal to ordeal to looking for a new deal. You went from the engagement ring, to the wedding ring, to the suffer ring or maybe even the boxing ring (hope not). Somehow happily ever after didn’t happen.
Some of you remember what it was like to look into the face of that sweet little baby, and now 24 years later, your scratching your head and saying, what happened to my baby? What happened to happily ever after. The point is every relationship goes through difficult times.
If you are relating to a human being then there is probability that you are going to go through some conflict because they are just like you, they are human beings. There is going to be an argument of a misunderstanding. There is going to be hurt and sometimes things just won’t go right. So even though the goal of every relationship is happily ever after and even though there is nothing wrong with happy.
I am here to say that there is something far better than happiness in your relationships.
IT IS CALLED THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT JOY
Joy is different from happiness. I don’t even promote happiness because it comes from happenings. It comes from the word “hap” and it means circumstance and luck. And we are not looking for luck. Because what happens is that if your luck changes, so does your happiness. Happiness is based on chance but Joy is based on who God is and what he has done and what he has promised.
I am going to ask you a simple question today. Do you have Joy?
Friedrich Nietzsche summarized his critique of the Christians of his time: “They would have to sing better songs to me that I might believe in their Redeemer: the disciple of Jesus would have to look more redeemed!” His critique stung and was to the point. Apparently, both their song and their faces did not reflect the joy of the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament testimonials, joy appears as the characteristic mark of distinction of those who were redeemed. But Nietzsche did not see it in the faces of those who claimed to serve Jesus in his day.
Let me ask you: If Nietzsche were still alive and observed you as you went about your week last week. If he had observed you in your house and workplace. What would he say? Would he have said that you have a joy that he wished he had or would he say that as one of Christ disciples that guy needs to look more redeemed. If he is redeemed his face doesn’t show it. He doesn’t look too joyful most of the time. He doesn’t have any joy in living. There is no joy in that house. In fact, he looks like he has been sucking on a lemon.
I am going to give you three steps so that you can have Joy in your life:
- GET FILLED UP WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD
Where does joy come from? Joy Comes from God! I think that there are many believers in the United States that have lost the joy that they once had. When a person gets saved and really experiences Gods love and forgiveness that get a dose of Joy. It is the first thing we receive from the Lord. The joy of our salvation. It is the first thing the enemy tries to steal.
I want to give you the number one sign that show you, that you have lost your joy. When you see this sign in you, you need to realize, that you need to come back to the fountain for some more joy in the Holy Spirit. The sign that you have lost your joy is a loss of strength! Here is why: Nehemiah 8:10 the latter part of the verse says, “…the joy of the LORD is your strength.” One of the enemy’s strategies against believers is Daniel 7:25 is to wear out the saints of the Most High. He doesn’t want you to have any strength. He wants you worn out. He wants you too tired to serve Jesus or your family and especially your neighbor.
Now I am not talking about a lessening of strength that comes because you are getting old. I am not talking about being tired at the end of the day. I am talking about something that is deeper. I am talking about a soul weariness that comes into your life when you are under the circumstances of your life. If you have the joy of the Lord, you have the strength to deal with stuff. A lack of joy zaps your strength. There is no spring in your step! There is no hope for the future, just the drudgery of the day lies before you.
We all know that Life happens to everyone. We have to have the strength to press through! We have to have the strength to make it! That is only possible if we have joy. What I am saying is that God has promised as part of your Christian life joy. Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” And so the question becomes, If that is part of the Kingdom, then why don’t I have it? Why do I sometimes look at my life and all I see is anger and brokenness and upset people? Why does it seem like I don’t have any joy?
Could it be you need to come back to your Savior and get completely filled up with the joy of the Lord? Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Think of those words! May the God of Hope fill you with all joy! That tells me that there is a spiritual experience you can have with God where you say, Lord I need some joy! I need some peace! And the Spirit fills you with it! You aren’t going to have joy in your family unless you allow Spirit to overflow in your life!
As you read this article you might be thinking, “I want my family to laugh again. I want to get up in the morning again with strength, to love my children, to love my husband, to love my wife.” But I just don’t have joy anymore. I am declaring to you today that you can receive renewed strength. You can receive renewed joy. If you are willing to say Spirit of the Living God, flow in me and fill me up. You will receive and grow the fruit of the Spirit joy. And that joy you receive from the Lord will overflow in your relationships.
John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus is saying, I have come that you might have joy. Joy is a part of that abundant life.
DON’T LET SATAN STEAL YOUR JOY!
I want you to think for a few moments about the things the enemy uses to rob you of your joy. Sometimes it is the big things of life. Your house gets hit by a hurricane. Or you lose your job. But most of the time, the truth is that the enemy of our souls is effective in stealing our joy from us one little grape at a time. He steals our joy one moment at a time.
When that guy cuts you off in traffic, you are losing our joy.
When your wife wants to watch something different than you on tv…you lose your joy.
When the dog pees on the carpet, do you lose your joy?
When you don’t get the sale.
When you don’t get the raise.
When your car breaks down.
When you lose a client.
When someone else gets the bid.
When you are delayed.
When the company changes and you have to work longer and harder for the same amount of pay.
When your wife dies her hair red and you wanted her to be a blonde.
When gas is four dollars a gallon.
When all the 2% milk is gone in the shelf.
When the Captain Crunch Berries have been eaten up by the kids and you get stuck eating cheerios.
When the wind picks up the cart and you see it crashing into your car making a nice little dent.
How many of the little things in life steal our joy? And so consequently, we have believers that spend most of their life and they are anxious about all kinds of things. They are stressed out about all kinds of things. They are sad when they should be glad. Most of all the joy they should be experiencing with their family and with their kids and with their grandkids is gone. Because they have no joy.
My grandfather on my mother’s side was a Baptist preacher. However, he backslid and didn’t go to church for years. He died when I was about three or four. I only remember two impressions of him. Him telling me to be quiet while the news was on. Him instructing me to push my plate back so that my food falls on the table instead of my lap. He was a grump. He was mad. He was angry. He failed to produce the fruit of joy.
My grandmother on my mom’s side was the exact opposite. She had joy. She had a little poodle dog named Feisty. And she loved that dog. It brought her joy. I had to feed the dog and that dog got steak and chicken, while I ate hot dogs. My grandmother was a pianist. More than Feisty giving her joy, she got her joy from the Lord. My memories of her are that she would sit down and begin to play and she knew all the old hymns. And she would smile, and the grandkids would gather around and they would sing, “What a friend we have in Jesus.” She had joy. When I went to her house, she had orange sherbet for me. And when I shoveled the walk, she gave me a shiny quarter underneath my napkin. I think she had more joy in giving than I had in getting it!
Which do you want to be like?
Just take a stroll down memory lane this week. How many times did Satan steal your joy over just little stuff? The inconsequential things of life ruin our day. The inconsequential things of life rain on our parade. They throw us into a sour mood. We walk around with the feeling that life is a bummer. We walk around with the weight of the world on our shoulders.
I want to challenge you not to let Satan steal your joy! Get filled up with the Holy Spirit!
2. GET YOUR MIND MEDITATING ON ALL OF THE PROMISES OF GOD
The way you live your life on a daily basis is going to affect how much joy you have. We tend to want to participate in the world’s value system. We fill our mind with tv and we watch the news and if there is anything that will suck the joy right out of you, it is watching the news. And then we start wondering about all the issues of our life. And we worry. What if I get sick next year? Will I have enough to retire on? And we worry about the president and inflation.
Hear me today. Our God is in control. I have made up my mind to trust him. My source for my food, my housing, my well-being, my ministry, is not the government. It is not the world system. I belong to another kingdom. My citizenship is in heaven. This is not my home. I am just passing through. Get your eyes up off the troubles of the world and onto the promises of God.
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” We need to form our mind thinking about the good. God is good. All the time!
This is what I desire for you. Hebrews 1:9 “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” Do you know what that scripture says, the scripture says that if you adopt Gods values and you love righteousness and your heart is grieved by wickedness. God is going to change your life. You are going to be different than your companions. Your companions are going to be stressed out. God says, I am going to raise to higher level of living than those around. And the key characteristic to your life that will set you apart is that you will be anointed with the oil of joy. When you know the Word, it will make a difference in your life.
Just like a lack of strength is a sign that you don’t have joy. Prayerlessness is also a sign you don’t have joy. I don’t know anyone who has a real prayer life that doesn’t have joy. Because prayer produces joy. John 16:24 “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” Meditate on that for a moment. Fill your mind with it. Let it soak in like a slow rain on hard soil. The fruit we need is joy.
When you pray there are two things that happen. The first thing is that spiritually speaking you enter the presence. I am not talking about the kind of prayer where you pray.
God bless me and my wife,
My son John and his wife,
Us four and no more.
I am talking about the seeking kind of prayer where you are like that little lady with the issue of blood. You are saying, “I am not stopping until I press in and I am going to touch the hem of his garment.” And you pour your soul out to God. What happens is that when you pray that way you enter the presence of God. Psalms 16:11 NKJV “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” And so you get joy even in the act of praying. I have been many a prayer meeting and suddenly a believer starts to praise and the joy fills there spirit. Do you know why? They are in the joy filled atmosphere of God’s presence. They are claiming the promises of God. They are standing on those promises.
But let me tell you when the joy really comes. It comes when you know you have prayed about something and you see the answer That is why it says. “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” It’s when you receive that your joy becomes complete.
How does this affect my family? When trouble comes, and situations arise and when the enemy attacks. When there is a need be it physical or be it spiritual. If you are praying, that praying will keep you filled up with joy because you are in his presence. You will have the strength to get through. And things don’t deteriorate.
Let me tell you what happens in families who don’t claim or don’t know the promises of God. They get angry with one another. They start blaming. “It’s your fault. You shouldn’t have done this.” And then they start actually expecting the worst in every situation. “If it’s bad now, just wait till next year. We are never going to make it.” And so with all that negative talk, fear comes. Tension rises. Because there is no meditating on the promises. Faith says that God is going to see us through. Claim the promises: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” And, “My God shall supply all of your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
And as you claim those promises and believe in him, you will grow the fruit of the spirit joy.
3. LIVE IN THE OVERFLOW OF JOY
The single most attractive aspect of Christianity to me is not the aspect of its power although that power is tremendous. It is not the organization of Christianity although many areas of Christianity are organized. It is not the theology although it is a correct theology. It is not the music although I love the music. It is not the preaching. The single most attractive thing about Christianity without a shadow of a doubt is the sense of community one receives when you are with people whom you love and those who love you are with you. Love produces joy. It is more comforting to have people you love around you than to have money. Love produces joy. Listen to Jesus words in John 15.
John 15:9-13 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
It is easy to skim over that passage, but it is phenomenal. It is basically the two great commandments. The first verses say Love God. The last verses say Love your neighbor, love each other. And in the middle of that sandwich you find the good stuff. The peanut butter and jelly. The middle of the passage tells us that Jesus is saying this so that His joy can be in us and our joy can be complete.
If you want to have joy. Stay in love with Jesus. Remain in his love. Obey him! And then love others. Some people don ‘t know the real secret behind churches. They come just enough to see a glimpse of this and a glimpse of that. Church to them is singing, putting money in the offering, hearing the sermon.
They never get close in enough to really experience what it is like to live in community. Just seeing people who are part of the family of God can bring joy. Paul wrote to Timothy. 2 Timothy 1:4 “Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.”
There are many Christians even in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches who theologically believe the tenets that are preached about. If you were to ask them, “Do you believe that God can restore the joy and bring spiritual renewal to someone?” They would say yes. But If you ask them. Have you ever sought God until you were filled with joy? Most would say, no. If you were to examine their life. You would see they lived stressed out all the time. They yell at the kids. They are frustrated at work. They escape by watching TV at night or going shopping to try to bring themselves a little happiness.
They come to church and even though the invitation is given. Even though Jesus the joy giver stands with out-stretched arms and invites them to come. They choose to walk out the door. When are we going to learn that there is more? That my friend is the one element that sets Spirit filled churches apart from denominational churches. I call it the more factor. They learn that if they press in there is more.
What do I do to press in? Luke 24:52 “Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” The key to learning how to press in…is to learn how to worship. You say, I thought worship is for God. It is. Worship is for an audience of one.
But here is what happens in a worship service. As people press in to worship and as they cry out. As they humble themselves it gets Gods attention. God begins to manifest his presence. He draws near. The worshipper is drawing near to God. God notices. It is a spiritual principal. If you draw near to God then He will draw near to you.
Now the key is this. In his presence is fullness of joy. They way to get your joy restored is go after God. God cannot be rushed. He is never in a hurry. He is never late. But he wants to be loved. How many need a restoration of joy in your life? Then go after Him. You will grow the fruit of the Spirit joy.