How can a person experience lasting joy in the world today? First you need to realize joy is not something that is given by this world. Joy is given by God and is maintained in the heart of the Christian to give strength for each day. Joy can be described as a happy feeling that is experienced when focusing upon the Creator…. God. John Piper describes joy like this: “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.” This time of year (Christmas), we sing songs like Joy to the World, in which the lyrics tell of the coming of Jesus into the world. Only when Jesus comes into the heart of a man or woman will they ever experience true joy. A person can experience happiness for a season, but joy is lasting and enduring and not dependent upon circumstances but rather the person God the Father, Jesus the Son and Holy Spirit. Delighting in the Lord and contemplating upon all his attributes and promises will induce the feeling and emotion of joy.
You make known to me the path of life; IN YOUR PRESENCE THERE IS FULLNESS OF JOY; at your right hand are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11 ESV
In the sixteenth Psalm, David expresses how he views God’s role in his life and the fact that God will never abandon him. For you will not abandon my soul (vs 10 ESV) It needs to be understood that God, to David, was not a mere acquaintance but a person Who had a presence in his life. David, throughout the Psalms, worshipped God, and in doing so, gives you a clear understanding that in his knowing of God was more than just a knowledge of God….. it was relational. The level of presence a person has in your life will determine the level of influence that a person will have. Does your knowing of God make you want to sing for joy because you recognize all that he has done for you? (Psalms 5:11, 63:7, 71:;23, 84:2, 92:4)
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I being you good news of GREAT JOY that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11-12 ESV
People who have great joy in Jesus are those who have experienced Him as Savior. David had a knowledge of God before the cross, but we have a knowledge of God in Christ Jesus because of the cross. The birth of Jesus created a different level of joy because it went from knowing about the presence of God to being in the presence of God. God had become human… flesh…. man, yet without sin. This is why I believe at the announcement of His birth, the angels said, “GREAT JOY” ….. which obviously is a whole new level of joy. If David sang with joy in the Old Testament, we should not be able to contain the joy. We have the Spirit of the living God not just moving on the face of the earth, but living in us, for we are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
And the disciples were filled with JOY and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:52 ESV
Joy and the Holy Spirit are both important in the life of the Christian. They give evidence of the new life a person has in Christ. Joy is not dependent upon our circumstances but upon the reality that the Savior who was born into the world is now born in you by the Holy Spirit. Joy isn’t just about what God can do for you, but what He has already done and is yet to do….. take you to where He is…. Heaven. God, in His Son Jesus, came and lived with us to make it possible for us to go and live with Him. There is no joy in hoping that you are good enough to go to heaven, for you will always live wondering and hoping that you have met the “good enough” standard, which, by the way, you can never achieve without Jesus. That is why Jesus was introduced as the Savior, and we are all in need of a Savior. A Savior that came to take away the consequence of our sin…… death. Joy comes when you know your debt of sin has been paid in full by Him who knew no sin. Knowledge of him is only turned to joy when you come to know him as Savior. This is why the disciples were described as having Joy and the Holy Spirit.
We have learned about hope and peace the past two Sundays, and now we have added joy to the mix. So let me close with a verse that includes all three, and it is my prayer for you today. May the God of HOPE fill you with all JOY and PEACE in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in HOPE. Romans 15:13 ESV
Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David