Galatians 5:22, 23
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness faith 23Meekness temperance: against such there is no law.
It costs nothing but creates much good. It enriches those who receive it without impoverishing those who give it away. It happens in a flash but the memory of it can last forever. No one is so rich that he can get along without it and no one is too poor to feel rich when receiving it. It creates happiness in the home and fosters good will in the business. It is to the weary, rest. It is to the discouraged, daylight. It is sunshine to the soul, yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen for it is of no earthly good to anyone until it is given away willingly.
What is it? It’s a smile and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, folks aren’t smiling as much these days. These are difficult times in which we’re living. As I look around in the places I go, I see a lot of people who are sad but I recognize that not only are those that are sad in the world, but there are many that I see who seem to have caught the same disease in the church and they haven’t understood anything about the joy of the Lord which He has promised to all of us.
Our Lord’s statement of His desire for us is found in
John 15:11 (Jesus speaking)
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
It is the desire of the Lord Jesus Christ that every single one of us, who name His name in faith, know what it means to have full joy in our lives and Jesus describes that as His own joy. In reading the Scriptures you’ll find that the joy is the atmosphere in which the Christian lives his whole life. Paul, when he was writing to the Philippians, put it this way in
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
When he was writing to the Thessalonians, he said it this way:
I Thessalonians 5:16
I’ve discovered as I’ve read my Bible that joy is present in all of the major events of the Christian life. For instance, there is joy in salvation.
And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
This tells about Zacchaeus’ salvation when he surrendered his life to the Lord and tells about when Jesus came to his house that Zacchaeus “received him joyfully.”
There is also joy in baptism. In Acts 8:38 and 39 we have the story of the Ethiopian’s conversion and baptism.
Acts 8:38, 39
38And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
There is joy when we read the Word of God.
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
John 16:24 (Jesus speaking)
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
This verse tells us there is joy in prayer. In fact, the Christian joy is so unique. The Bible even teaches us that it comes even at times of discouragement.
James 1:2, 3
2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
It’s not easy at times when difficulty comes, but God’s Word is true.
And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
The apostles are standing before the council, and they’re being persecuted and they are being attacked by their enemies.
The Christian joy is so unique that it is even available to us when we’re dying.
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Paul looked forward to the end of his life and he realized that there was joy in that. No wonder he wrote “Rejoice evermore” and the other Scriptures he wrote on rejoicing. Paul understood the meaning of joy.
The joy that we’re studying is not known anyplace in the world except in the life of a person who knows Jesus Christ in a personal way. Now as we look at John 15:11, above, there are some things we can learn about joy. Think about the source of joy in your life. Jesus is speaking about His joy and our joy. The first thing we notice under this concept of the source of our joy is this, that the center of joy for the Christian is Christ. The joy that the born-again Christian has is simply the life of the Lord Jesus Christ being lived out in an individual.
Christian joy is Christ’s joy in a Christian. It is letting Christ live His life out through you so that what He is, you become. There are other places where you can find, momentarily, happiness but that soon vanishes away. Christ is the Source of joy.
Christ joy is full. It’s not incomplete. It’s not imperfect. It’s not almost joy but it is everything joy was intended to be. It’s joy 100%.
1 Peter 1:8
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Peter says you’ve never seen Him. You’ve never looked straight into His face in the physical sense, yet you have believed on Him and having believed on Him, the joy you have is unspeakable joy, full of glory.
I heard that someone had asked another person why he was always so happy, and the person said, “Joy is the flag that is flown from the castle of your heart when the King is in residence.” In other words, joy is determined by whether or not Jesus Christ is at home in your life and if He is, since He’s the source and center of joy, you can have His kind of joy.
Christ joy does not go away, but have you noticed how easily earthly joy can leave? Have you discovered how simple it is for your gladness of today to become your sorrow of tomorrow? Have you discovered how the people you thought were your friends today can become your enemies tomorrow? Have you discovered the wisdom you thought was so great yesterday is foolishness today?
You know, one of the amazing things about all of our lives is as we walk along together in the human pathway is that nothing ever seems to be too stable in the world. You can’t really count on too much anymore, but I want to tell you that the joy of Christ of which we study is a continually never-ending, absolutely continually never-ending, absolutely constant joy when we follow the principles of God’s Word.
The joy in Christ survives all the difficult times in life. It is not hinged on happiness, but it is hinged on a Person. Look at John 16:22, below. Jesus again is speaking. He is preparing his disciples for the fact that He will soon be leaving, and they won’t have Him anymore and now He’s talking about what’s going to happen and He says this to them.
John 16:22 (Jesus speaking)
And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.
Isn’t that something?! Jesus says that the kind of joy that He wants to give every one of His children is the kind of joy that you don’t have to lose. No one can take it away from you. Jesus’ joy not only survives the crisis, it almost seems to flourish in the midst of it.
1 Peter 4:14
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
The next verse says in 1 Peter 4:15
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
He puts being a busybody right down there with a murderer and a thief. We must check our life daily to see if as Christians we measure up to God’s Word.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
Glory in tribulation?!! That’s what Jesus said.
One of my favorite Scriptures: Paul and Silas when they were put into jail.
Acts 16:25, 26
25And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.
They had been beaten and they were hurting and who knows what might happen next! You know, the kind of “joy” that can get you happy in jail while your life is in danger. That’s the kind of “joy” I want. That is available to us.
Joy makes it possible for you and me to accept even the hardest things in life because we know that there’s a deep abiding presence that is much more eternal than the fleeting happenings of our life’s circumstances.
One author wrote a song that says, “Never a day so dreary. There’s never a night so long but the soul that is trusting Jesus will somewhere find a song.”
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
The joy of the Lord begins when you surrender your life to Jesus Christ. That is the secret of joy.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.
Joy comes when Christ comes to live within your heart and if we’re to possess joy then first of all we have to possess Jesus Christ. You don’t have the joy of Christ unless you possess the Christ of joy.
As the song goes, “If you want joy, joy, joy, let Jesus come into your heart.” To have joy we have to study the Word of God. John is writing to his beloved and he said in
1 John 1:4
And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
The Word of God is the truth from God and when we study it and understand it and put it into operation, the result is joy. You can tell when people come to church and they’re hungry for the Word of God and they’ve got the right attitude. It just show right up on their faces. You can tell when people are locked into the Word of God as a source of joy. There is a glad response to it. There’s a desire to understand that which is being taught, because the Word of God has become the joy of their life.
John 17:13 (Jesus speaking)
And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
The things Jesus said to His disciples, we now know, are the words of God. If we are to know the joy that the Lord wants us to have, then we not only have to surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to the control of the Holy Spirit, but we have to study God’s Word and apply it.
You see, the Word of God is what the Holy Spirit of God uses to direct our lives and if we don’t cooperate with the Holy Spirit by the intake of God’s Word, then we short-change the Holy Spirit and He doesn’t have anything to work with when He wants to work in guiding us.
It is also obvious that we need to spend time in prayer.
John 16:24 (Jesus speaking)
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
We also read in the Old Testament about fellowship with God as it results in fullness of joy.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
There is a definite need to spend time in prayer!
The Holy Spirit comes to indwell the believer. The Holy Spirit of God glorifies Christ through the believer. With the Holy Spirit in one’s life, He will magnify Christ, because the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is that He glorify Christ and make Jesus Christ known in the heart and life of each Christian, teaching and giving understanding, teaching him truth from God’s Word.
From Genesis to Revelation there’s only one basic theme of this Book we call the Bible, and it is Jesus Christ and His crucifixion and resurrection and His return to the earth in the future. In the Old Testament the truth is proclaimed. In the New Testament it is recorded and explained and whenever you read the New Testament and read it carefully, Jesus Christ is referenced on every page.
The whole purpose of the Word of God is to bring us face to face with the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, not literally face to face, but rather with revealed Truth about God, Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit. Awesome, indeed!
Have you prayed to your Heavenly Father today? Have you read your Bible today?