A question that I am often asked is, “How do you maintain your joy — especially in a world that is difficult and replete with problems? My answer is my joy does not come from the world but from God.
So what does that mean? Well, to best answer that question let’s define the kind of joy that I am talking about. Joy is a condition that is produced when we believe God is in CONTROL, and He is working EVERYTHING out for good. Joy is a strong sense of well-being, and it is not produced by circumstances or situations of life. Joy is produced by God, as He works through circumstances.
For example let’s say we are dealing with a very difficult and disagreeable person. We can ask God to give us joy for that situation, and He will do that. I don’t know how He does it, but He always does, and at the same time He works the situation out for good. Most of the time we don’t know how or when He will do it, but He always does. Romans 8:28 says,
“And we know that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the GOOD of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
OK, so who are these people who love God and are called according to His purpose? We are talking about Christians. Christians love God — maybe not perfectly — but they do, and they are called by Him to fulfill a purpose. So when Christians put their faith in this promise, they can be joyful, because they know that the circumstances they are dealing with (even though they may be bad) are going to turn out for good.
Now this kind of joy is different from ordinary, everyday happiness. Ordinary, everyday happiness is short-lived, whereas the joy produced by the Lord is not. Ordinary happiness is based on what happens at the moment — current circumstances. For example we buy a new car, and that makes us happy. But if circumstances change, happiness can change. If we get into an accident with our new car and it gets totaled, we can lose our happiness. Every day, ordinary happiness is an up and down system at best.
Romans 14:17 says:
“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink (that’s a description of daily life), but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
Notice the words “goodness,” “peace,” and “joy,”. These words define the kind of life God wants us to live, and He wants to help us achieve it. When God’s children lose their joy, it makes God look bad. Cranky Christians are bad witnesses. They often look like they’ve just been baptized in vinegar. They seldom smile, they are always serious, they focus on the dark side, and that makes God look bad.
Now I know reality can be tough, and it can make us lose our joy very quickly. I don’t know if that’s where you are today. Maybe you are feel like you’ve lost your spark. Maybe you feel you are not where you used to be. Maybe you feel like God is far away from you. Maybe everything seems routine and humdrum.
Well there’s some good news. We can recover our joy and God tells us how to do it in the Scriptures. In this blog and in the next several ones we are going to look at four biblical steps to recovering our joy. Today we are going to look at the first one.
The first step in recovering our joy is admit we have lost it.
As obvious as that may sound, that is the proper starting place. We can’t recover something until we know we lost it. There is an easy way to find out. We simply look at our recent past and ask three questions:
- When was the last time I experienced true joy in the Lord?
- What were the circumstances?
- What happened that made me lose it?
Now, let me caution you, don’t overlook this step. We have to know what we’ve lost.
Once we know that, we can ask God to help us get it back. David did this in Psalm 51:12. He said,
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Psalms 51:12
David didn’t ask God to restore his salvation, because he hadn’t lost that (once we have salvation, we never lose it). So instead of salvation David asked for what he called the “joy of salvation”. “Joy of salvation” is the pinnacle of joy — it’s the ultimate joy.
It’s activated by understanding the prospect of eternity future. In eternity future we will be with God forever — in a perfect place — doing perfect things — perfectly. We will never have a bad day or a bad thought. There will be no more pain and no more tears. We will be doing fascinating stuff with God forever. Our lives will be in a state of constant exhilaration and thrill. That’s called the “joy of salvation”, and that’s what David wanted back.
Now if you are not sure that you have this kind of salvation, but you want it — you can go to God right now and ask for it. You can pray a simple prayer like the following:
Dear Lord Jesus, I don’t understand it all, but I realize that you love me, and I need to learn about Your love. I don’t understand all about the cross, but I want to accept what you did for me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for dying for me. I ask you to forgive all my sins. I ask you to come into my life and make me a new person. Please help me to understand it all as I follow you. In your name I pray. Amen.
If you took a moment and sincerely prayed that prayer, God has granted you salvation with all the benefits listed above. I say congratulations. That’s the best decision you have ever made!
See you next week……………..