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.

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.

Paul wrote Philippians just before his beheading while in a Roman dungeon. In that letter, written under discouraging times and difficult circumstances, he uses the words joy and rejoicing 18 times in its four short chapters. To many Christians, such joy in the midst of such trial is incomprehensible.

What robs us of our joy? Why is our joy so dependent upon circumstances? Why are we so up and down like a yo-yo?

The answer is very simple: We lose our joy when we fill up with the wrong fuel (unless sin is the issue).

Illus. – Let me illustrate what I mean: I used to own a car that ran on LEADED GAS. As long as it was filled with a good grade of leaded gas, it ran just fine. However, if I were to put the wrong kind of fuel in, I was headed for trouble.

If I were to fill it with UNLEADED GAS, it would have run for a while, but the car was made to run on leaded fuel. After a while, the motor would began making a knocking noise that would get worse and worse until finally I would eventually have a breakdown. It might take awhile, but eventually it would ruin the engine.

Now, I could speed the process up by filling it with DIESEL FUEL. I’m told that a non-diesel car will run on diesel fuel—for a tank or two. But very quickly, the car would break down.

Now I could REALLY speed things up by pouring SUGAR WATER in the gas tank! I probably wouldn’t get five miles down the road! The pistons would lock, the head gaskets would blow, and I would be calling a tow truck and heading to the used car lot.

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