What happened to that joy as we grew older? Why do many adult Christians not embody that song? Why do most churches resemble funerals rather than celebrations? Why don’t we have joy down in our heart?
There was once a young boy who went to spend the week with his grandfather on the farm. While walking around he noticed the chickens, they were scratching and playing around. The little lad said, “They ain’t got it”. Next he saw a colt in the field playing and kicking up its heel’s to which he replied, “He ain’t got it”. After examining all of the animals on his grandfather’s farm and see that none of them had “it”, this boy finally found the old donkey in the barn. When he saw the donkey’s long, frowning face and the way that the donkey just stood there he screamed for his grandfather to come quick. “I found it, I found it” the boy kept yelling. When his grandfather asked what he had found he said, “Pawpaw, I found an animal that has the same kind of religion that you have.”
This story is true of too many Christians. Joy is the attitude that despite my circumstances, I feel inner contentment and understand my purpose in life. A joyful person is one who is becoming a person of inner contentment and purpose in spite of the circumstances.
Jesus told His disciples to have joy in their life. He said….
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11
In this passage, I discovered three principles about joy…
Evidently Jesus had joy that was contagious. His disciples must have had joy. But Jesus preparing His followers for His death, so He wanted the joy to continue in His absence. Now that He is absent, He still wants His joy to be in us.
I love being around happy Christians. It’s exciting to be with someone who lightens the room. I think Jesus was this kind of person.
C. S. Lewis once said there is too much solemnity and intensity in dealing with sacred matters. He reminds us that joy is more than happiness. Joy is the enjoyment of God and the good things that come from the hand of God. He said it’s like our life in Christ is a piece of angel food cake and joy is the frosting. The Bible gives us the wonderful words of life but joy supplies the music. The way to Heaven is a narrow, steep climb but joy puts us in the chair lift.
So give yourself permission to smile and laugh. I’m sure Jesus did.
If you read closely, you will notice that Jesus says that an understanding of what He just said will result in joy. A brief reading of John 15:1-10 reveals several key words: Abide, Fruitful, Love, and Obedience. When you do these things, they will bring joy into your life. Joy is not something spontaneous. Joy is the result of certain actions.
Joy is the inevitable outcome of living the normal Christian life. Actually, the lack of joy reveals that something is wrong.
“If you have no joy in your religion, there’s a leak in your Christianity somewhere.” – Billy Sunday
Bruce Larson said: ‘Joy is the surest sign of the presence of God. The bottom line for you and me is simply this: grimness is not a Christian virtue. There are no sad saints. If God really is the center ozone’s life and being, joy is inevitable. If we have no joy, we have missed the heart of the Good News and our bodies as much as our souls will suffer the consequences.”
This whole process starts out the key word ‘abide.’Jesus encouraged His disciples to abide with Him. ‘Abide’ is simply to spend time with Jesus. For us, this involves personal prayer and Bible reading. So spend time every day with Jesus and you will discover a life of joy.
Jesus’ joy is full and complete. It has no holes. It is sufficient for every circumstance. It overcomes each crisis. Jesus’ joy was not deterred by suffering or any other circumstance. In fact, it rejoiced even in hardship; for we read that “for the joy that was before him He endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). Where did Jesus find joy? The answer is in His intense desire to do the full will of His Father. “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heat is glad, and my glory rejoiceth” (Ps. 16:8,9).
Norman Vincent Peale once visited a friend in the hospital. He had previously had one leg amputated and now he had lost his other one. Nevertheless, he seemed happy and enthusiastic. “Everyone tells me you are the happiest person in the hospital,” he said. “You are not putting it on, are you?” The man replied, “No, no, I am as happy as can be. Do you see that little book lying over there on the table?” the man replied, pointing to the Bible. “There is where I get my medicine. When I feel a little low, I just read that Book.”
Joy is possible. When you have Jesus, you have the source of joy. Joy is expected for Christians. Joy will show to others that Jesus is Lord of your life.
Charles Spurgeon, a famous English pastor once said to other pastors, “When you speak of heaven, you should let your face become bright, happy, alive! But when you speak of hell, well… your ordinary face will do.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)
What brings you joy? What do you do when you notice your joy is getting low?