Summary: Joy is a gift from God. Our joy is a witness to others as to the "great things God has done for us."
A. What do you think is the average person’s concept of a Christian?
There was a man waiting in line at a CHECK-OUT STAND. He seemed AGITATED and IMPATIENT and had a very SOLEMN and GLOOMY look on his face. When the CHEERY young woman at the check-out said, “Good morning!” the man just GRUNTED. The woman was trying to loosen the man up by JOKING with him, but it was quite OBVIOUS that he wasn’t in a JOKING mood.
Finally, the young woman said, “Sir, can I ask you a question?” The man sighed and said, “What?” “Are you a PREACHER?” “No,” the man replied, “why do you ask?” “Well, no offense, but you seem MISERABLE.” “I am!” said the man. “I’ve had the FLUE for 3 days.”
B. Someone once said, “The RELIGION that makes a man look SICK, certainly won’t cure the world.”
Sadly, many people have the same view of PREACHERS and Christians in general as does this young woman. Their concept of Christianity is that of being DEPRIVED of the GOOD THINGS of this LIFE. Now, granted, many of the things that the WORLD calls “GOOD,” we, as Christians, should want no part of. Even so, there are those who feel that Christians can’t have FUN of any kind.
1. One reason many people think that Christians can’t ENJOY LIFE is because of the way that some of us ACT.
a. Sadly, many Christians go through life ENDURING their Christianity instead of ENJOYING it.
An elder friend of mine used to say, “We act as if we were BAPTIZED in VINEGAR!”
b. Many of God’s people haven’t come to UNDERSTAND that one of the characteristics of a spirit-filled life is that of “JOY.”
There was a man living in the hills of Arkansas who was brought to Christ. He was known as “Mr. Moonshine” because of the many LIQUOR STILLS that he had hidden away back in the HILLS. After becoming a Christian, his life CHANGED dramatically. He DESTROYED all of his STILLS and POURED out all of MOONSHINE he had STORED away.
One of his favorite expressions, whether in WORSHIP or just casually talking with a friend was “HALLELUJAH!” He would “HALLELUJAH” this and “HALLELUJAH” that. One day someone asked, “What does the word ‘HALLELUJAH’ mean, anyway?” He LAUGHED and said, “I really don’t know. But I think it’s a Hebrew word for ‘HOT DOG! THIS IS IT!’”
2. I believe that’s the kind of JOY we should have.
“HOT DOG we’ve found it!” “PRAISE THE LORD, we’re saved!”
We need to change the way that people look at Christians and Christianity in general. They see so many of us as MISERABLE PEOPLE instead of JOYFUL PEOPLE indwelled by the Spirit of God. People need to see in us a JOY in Christ that cannot be QUENCHED by the STRESSES and HARDSHIPS of LIFE.
We have so much for which to REJOICE, and we should never be AFRAID to EXPRESS our JOY wherever we are. This morning I want us to take a look at from where our JOY comes and what our JOY does.
I. OUR JOY IS GOD-GIVEN
A. When I talk about our JOY in Christ, I’m not referring to a FRIVOLOUS JOY.
This is not a SHALLOW JOY. This is not simply a JOY that one might experience at DISNEY WORLD or “TELL A JOKE and get a SMILE on your face” type JOY.
This is a JOY that comes only from ABOVE. It is God DIRECTED and Spirit FILLED. It is a JOY that is not DEPENDENT upon OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES, nor is it DEPLETED by OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES.
1. Jesus wants us to be JOYFUL PEOPLE!
a. John 15:11- “I have told you this so that my JOY may be in you and that your JOY may be complete.”
b. John 17:13- “I am coming to you (Father) now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they (disciples) may have the full measure of my JOY within them.”
In just a few hours Jesus will be HANGING on a CROSS—what was there for Him to be HAPPY about? Jesus wasn’t THRILLED about being CRUCIFIED. His prayer at Gethsemane REVEALS that. The JOY that Jesus had was from the Father. It was a JOY that could not be
DIMINISHED by the CROSS!
c. Hebrews 12:2- “...for the JOY set before Him, Jesus endured the cross, scorning the shame...”
The JOY of providing a way by which man can be SAVED, the JOY of FULFILLING His purpose on earth, the JOY of RETURNING HOME to the Father—far outweighed the SHAME and the PAIN of the CROSS. It’s this JOY that Jesus wants us to HAVE to its fullest in our lives.