There is a fundamental difference between the joy of the world and our joy as believers. Webster describes joy as an emotion caused by a sense of well-being; a great pleasure; something you want; or a desired accomplished. I'm not against emotions that are good and positive. But the joy that we have as born-again believers comes from within not from without.
"Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." (Is. 12:3)
Beloved friends, salvation, the New Birth is in us. The way we draw it out is with joy. If we are truly believing God there will be an inexpressible joy (1 Pt. 1:8).
We have a joy that comes from the inside. We have a joy that comes from Christ.
"But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (Jn. 4:14)
Joy is not just something we have as believers when everything is going right and when we feel good. Joy is something that we have all of the time as believers. We can can live in joy when everything is going wrong in the outward realm.
Beloved friends, we must understand that Jesus is living on the inside of us. We are believing God. Therefore, our joy is far different than the world. The world does not understand the joy that we operate in.
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life." (Prov. 13:12)
Our hope is not in a natural world. Our hope is in God. Our hope is in Christ, His Word and all of His Promises. When we become born-again, the Spirit of Christ lives on the inside of us.
Therefore, since the Spirit of Christ lives on the inside of us (Gal. 5:22-23), we have the love of God on the inside of us. The fruit of the Spirit is singular. And one of the the first attributes of love and a relationship with God is joy. Joy is the fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, joy comes from the inside not just the outside, not just an emotion.
Joy is the delight and pleasure we have in our relationship with God.
"Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!" (Ps. 144:15)
Beloved friends, you can have joy despite what is coming against you. Why?
Jesus is living on the inside of you and you have hope in God!
The joy that we have is the fruit of the Spirit.
"For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Rom. 14:17)
When you believe on Jesus you are right with God. We have right standing with God and we have peace that comes from the inside. Peace is the fruit of the Spirit.
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." (Is. 26:3)
Joy is of the Holy Spirit, Who is on the inside of you. When you have the Spirit of Christ on the inside of you, the Spirit of Christ is joy. You have the Kingdom of God on the inside of you and the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. You have the nature of God on the inside of you. Therefore in Christ you have His life, you have His love, you have His peace and you have His joy!
Beloved friends, you don't have a lack of joy as a believer. You have the joy of the Lord. The joy of the Lord will supersede any natural circumstances, situations, problem or difficulties. Your joy as a believer is completely opposite of what the world has.
"He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." (Is. 53:3-5)
Grief is an overwhelming sense of loss. Jesus took our grief on the cross. Jesus was the Man of Sorrow on the cross. Therefore, as born-again believers we do not have to act like the world acts.
"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus." (1 Th. 4:13-14).
Beloved friends, we are not to sorrow like the world who has no hope. Because our hope is in Jesus! If someone we love passes away, and they are a believer, we miss them sure, but we can celebrate their life and the fact that they are with Jesus experiencing the fullness of joy!
Joy is the fruit of the Spirit.
Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit living on the inside of you. You can go through very difficult problems and still operate in joy. Joy is the nature of Jesus Christ Who is living on the inside of you. Jesus helps you operate in joy.
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." (Jn. 15:4)
If you are going to bring forth the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the nature of Jesus in your life as a disciple and follower of, you can't do that on your own.
You have to abide in Jesus.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (Jn. 15:5)
The life that is in the Vine is also in the branches. As a believer, you have the nature of God on the inside of you. You have to abide in Him. The same brings forth much fruit. Your fruit is connected to Jesus. If you are in Jesus and He is in you--you should be bringing forth much fruit. If you are not, you have not stayed connected to the vine. You haven't let Jesus' Spirit fill you. For without Him you can do nothing.
Beloved friends, we are completely dependent on Jesus. The more mature that you are in Christ, the more you have completely realized you are completely and totally dependent on Him. For without Him you can do nothing.
"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned." (Jn. 15:6)
"If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." (Jn. 15:6, KJV)
I want you to notice what Jesus said here, "Men will gather them..." This is not talking about hell. Man has no authority to cast anyone into hell. This is talking about your productivity on the earth. If you don't stay connected to Jesus and allow His Spirit to continually fill you and strengthen you, you will not bring forth the fruit of the Spirit and man will gather you (not God).
In other words, if we are not abiding in Him and His Spirit is not flowing in and through us, we will not have a fruitful life.
Stay connected to Jesus so you can make a difference in the world.
"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." (Jn. 15:7)
What do you want? Jesus is saying, if you are abiding in Me. If you have taken up residence in Christ and His Words abide in you, you can ask what you want and it will be done unto you. That is so awesome!
Beloved friends, there are some things that you desire. Some of those desires are from God (Ps. 37:4-5). Abide in Him, let His Word abide in you, ask what you want and it is yours.
"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." (Jn. 15:8)
God is glorified that you are bearing much fruit!
This is what brings glory to God -- when we bring forth much fruit. And the fruit of His Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The nature of Christ is a nature of joy!
"He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision." (Ps. 2:4)
Beloved friends, as believers we need to learn to be happy. Sometimes we get so worked up on the most trivial things.
Enjoy the Lord and your relationship with Him!
Personally, if I could not be happy in church, I would never be happy, I am always in church. My joy in not conditioned on how well I am doing. My joy is conditioned on Jesus.
"These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." (Jn. 15:11)
Beloved friends, it is important that we hear these words of Jesus. Jesus said that He spoke these things so "...that His joy would remain in us and that our joy may be full."
In context, Jesus was getting ready to leave His disciples. So in other words, Jesus was telling His disciples:
"I'm saying these things so that you can operate in joy even though I am gone. I'm saying these things so that your joy may be full."
The fullness of joy does not come from our outward circumstances.
The fullness of joy comes from our relationship with God in Christ.
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Rom. 15:13)
Beloved friends, God will fill you with joy. He will fill you with peace. As you believe Him that you may abound in hope. When you have faith you have hope.
Our lives should be completely different from the world. Our joy is not dependent on how well things are on the outside. We have the Holy Spirit on the inside of us. Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Our joy is dependent on our relationship with Jesus.
"Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believe and the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 13:48-52)
After the disciples received persecution for preaching the Gospel, Luke says they were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. In contrast, some of us, when one person gets upset with us, it just ruins our day.
It can be somewhat easy when the world rejects us. But it becomes harder when someone we loved, mentored, poured ourselves into and became best friends with, suddenly betrays us and mistreats us.
Our joy needs to be in the Lord.
Not only is joy the fruit of the Spirit.
Joy comes from the Presence of the Lord.
"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Ps. 16:11)
When you are in God's Presence you should be happy. When you come to the Lord in prayer, don't magnify the problem or difficulty you wish you could change -- magnify and glorify God! Rest and be happy in the Lord. Your joy is not in your spouse, your family, your parents, your kids, your pastor or your friends. Only in His Presence is there fullness of joy.
Now sometimes our mentality needs to change before our physical reality changes. Nonetheless our joy is not conditioned on others and what they think of us. Our joy is only conditioned on what Jesus thinks of us. Based on the Word of God, I know that Jesus has a good opinion of me.
"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Ps. 16:11)
Beloved friends, you should be enjoying Jesus in church. If you are really spending time in the Presence of the Lord, you ought to be very happy! When you get your eyes off the problems and fix your eyes on Jesus, what He has done and all of the Promises of God, it has to bring you joy!
In Acts 2:28, Peter at Pentecost quotes from Psalm 16:11. In other words, Peter was preaching to the Church as it was born: "You ought to be happy because Jesus is alive! He has been risen from the dead!"
Beloved friends, as born-again, spirit-filled believers, the Spirit of God, the Nature of God and the Presence of God is on the inside of you. Therefore, we ought to be the most happiest people on the planet! Jesus our Resurrected Lord of Eternity has taken up residence on the inside of us! When we understand this with the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him (Eph. 1:17), you cannot help but explode with joy!
The 3 Cheers of Jesus
1. Be of Good Cheer -- your sins are forgiven.
"Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.'” (Mt. 9:2)
If we are not full of joy that our sins are forgiven. Then we need a fresh revelation of Jesus and His Gospel. We do not understand the finished work of the cross. The greatest miracle and news of all time is that Jesus became our sin, crucified our sin in Himself so that we can become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). This is the Message that the Gospel of Christ reveals (Rom. 1:16-17).
2. Be of Good Cheer -- it is I, do not be afraid.
"For they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, 'Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.'" (Mk. 6:50)
Perhaps you are in a storm. It may be the greatest trial of your life. Be not afraid, Jesus is here. Jesus has never left you or forsaken you. He is with you always. He is on your side. He cares about you.
3. Be of Good Cheer - I have overcome the world.
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33)
Jesus says that in this world we will have tribulation. But do you know why you have troubles? You are in the world. This world has been affected by sin and Satan. Sin has messed this place up. Sometimes the reason we go through so much junk is not because we did anything bad or wrong. Sometimes it is simply because we are in this world.
However, it is wrong to blame God for your problems. God is good and He can do no evil (Zeph. 1:12; 3:15). God has good desire and plan for your life (Jer. 29:11; Ps. 37:4). So, cheer up because Jesus has overcome the world.
"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith." (1 Jn. 5:4)
Beloved friends, you can can live an overcoming life, because you put your faith in Jesus. Joy is the fruit of the Spirit. Joy comes from the Presence of the Lord. No matter what kind of difficulty or problems you face, you can experience the Presence of God.
"Then he said to them, 'Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'” (Neh. 8:10)
Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem after the Israel was in exile. Upon the completion of this task, he then set up government leadership, spiritual leadership and family leadership. When he set up the spiritual leadership and the priests began to read the law, the people began to weep (Neh. 8:9).
It was here that Nehemiah told them: "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those who are in need. Stop crying. for the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10).
You see, if the devil can steal your joy, he can steal your goods. So he told them to enjoy the good things God has given them and share them with those in need. "...eat the fat, drink the sweet and send portions to those who have none. Do not sorrow. Realize the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10).
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were praying about where they should go. The Holy Spirit kept them from going to the province of Asia (Acts 16:6). They tried to Bithynia but the Spirit of Jesus would not let them go there (Acts 16:7). Then the Lord gave Paul a dream about a man in Macedonia, begging for him to come to help them.
Then in Macedonia, they led one person to the Lord and set a demon-possessed girl free. In response they were beaten, stripped naked and put into stocks in the innermost part of the prison.
Now if this happened to most of us, this is what our response would be:
"Why me?! I don't understand! I wanted to go to Asia but you wouldn't let me go. Then I want to go to Bithynia but you wouldn't let me go. I just felt the check of the Holy Spirit. Then I had a dream. So, I came here. And this is what I get? Only one woman saved, beaten, stripped and thrown into prison!
Instead this was their response:
"But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them." (Acts 16:25)
Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God! They were joyful that they were worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus! A strong earthquake shook the prison, causing their chains to fall off and the prison doors to open. Then they had the divine opportunity to preach the Gospel of Christ to the jailer where he and his entire household received salvation, including many others in the community!
Likewise, Stephen when he was being stoned for preaching the Gospel. He joyfully prayed that God would not hold their sins against them as He blissfully saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God! Saul (who later became Paul) witnessed Stephen's response.
Our joy is in Jesus and our relationship with Him!
The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is living in us. His life is flowing through us. When we are joyful in difficult times, it is a witness to the world, of the joy of the Lord that is in us.
Praise God. Selah.