Summary: Looking to people, places or possessions to give you the joy only God is meant to give us is like running a car on the wrong fuel. You'll go some distance, but eventually you'll break down. Looking to God for fulfillment is the only way to lasting joy.

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Running on the Wrong Fuel: Life's Joy Robbers

July 14, 2012

TEXT: John 15:11 – “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

Illus. – Mark Twain was a professional humorist whose lectures and writings made people around the world laugh and, for a short time, forget their troubles. Yet Mark Twain himself was, in private, a man whose life was broken by sorrow. When his daughter Jean died suddenly of an epileptic seizure, Twain, too ill to go to the funeral, said to a friend, “I have never greatly envied anyone but the dead. I always envy the dead.”

Contrast that with Jesus Christ, who the Bible says was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Yet He possessed a deep, irrepressible joy. As He faced the cruel death of Calvary in just a few short hours, Jesus said to His followers here in John 15:11 – “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

Jesus, as God, knew full well what lay ahead for Him: Ahead lay betrayal; desertion and denial by his own disciples; a mock trial; agony and suffering; God’s wrath poured upon Jesus when He would bear our sins on the cross. And yet here in John 15, when He spoke to His disciples, He expressed hope that they might experience the same joy HE experienced, and that their joy might be full. He says, “that MY joy might remain in you…”

What we see in the life of Jesus was an ABIDING joy. That is, it was not a joy that came and went. It was a joy that never left Him. In the cheerful, happy times of His life—Jesus had joy. – For instance: When the disciples made progress in their spiritual growth, when Mary honored Him by washing His feet with costly perfume and her hair, when the throngs praised Him as He entered the streets of Jerusalem—Jesus had joy. These are all instances where it would be natural to have joy.

But unlike us, Jesus never lost His joy in the bad times: When the disciples bickered like immature children—Jesus had joy. When they lacked faith—He never lost His joy. When the Pharisees hounded him day after day—He STILL had an abiding joy. Even on the cross He did not lose His joy, for Hebrews 12:2 says: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross…” This same joy that Jesus had, He says in verse 11 that He wanted us to experience. Look at the verse again: John 15:11 – “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might REMAIN in you, and that your joy might be FULL.”

Sadly, few Christians actually experience this abiding joy on a regular, consistent basis. They live under a cloud of disappointment and negativism when they could be walking in the sunshine of joy. They’re up and down—on the mountaintop today; in the valley of despair tomorrow. They find such commands as 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – “Rejoice evermore” impossible to imagine as a reality in their own lives.

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