Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas
Many people walk around daily with a sad, grumpy face. For some the words ‘Christian and ‘joy’ contradict each other. They feel that Christians have to look unhappy and some even look like they have been baptized with vinegar.
Joke: Once there was a large Pastor’s conference where pastors from across the nation came. All the pastors finished the Sunday worship in their churches and rushed to the convention, all were tired. During the break, several of the preachers ran across the street from the convention centre to purchase some snacks from a supermarket. The store bill man started checking out the pastors one by one – They are buying chips, gums, soft drinks, newspapers and so on. One man put a big bottle of cough syrup and some Vicks on the counter. The clerk very smilingly asked, “All pastors need some rest isn’t it? But where do you preach, sir? You not only are tired but look sick too.” The man with a bad look on his face said, “Come ‘on, I am not a preacher! I just look this way because I’m sick.”
This we are going to see how we can stay joyful in the Lord.
David said in Psalm 51:10 Restore to me the joy of your salvation. God gives joy or restores joy when someone accepts him as his personal saviour.
1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.
The joy that we receive at salvation is described as “unspeakable.” It is so wonderful that it cannot be described fully. Remember, this joy is only available to believers in Jesus Christ, so the first part to begin seeking joy is the presence of God. Anyone listening to me is seeking joy, peace, and life; the first step is to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your saviour. He is the source of all joy.
Now, God has given us unspeakable joy but the devil tries to steal our joy on a regular basis. You see, Satan does not want Christians to be joyful people, so he will keep bringing us things everyday to keep us unhappy. Jesus said in John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. In other words, Jesus is saying, “I came so that you can live life happily but beware the devil is there out to steal your joy.”
According to medical studies stress is the number one killer. Everyone has their own stress in life and we need to learn to cope up with them without losing our joy. Stress causes people to be irritable, short-tempered, sleepless etc and we need to learn to deal with stress.
Illustration: I heard the story of a man who got a Reader’s Digest award of 4 million dollars. His wife got the letter but was afraid to tell this good news to her husband because he was recovering from a massive heart attack and she feared that this news would stress him and cause another attack on him. So she decided to call their pastor and asked his advice because he had some experience in breaking stressful news to families. The pastor finally came and went into the room where this man was seeing TV. They had a nice chat for a few minutes. Then the Pastor leaned over and said, “Mike, I have a problem, I need your advice.” “I will be glad to,” Mike said. The pastor took a deep breath and said, “Suppose Mike you have found out that you won 4 million dollars, what would you first do will all of that money?” “That’s easy,” Mike replied. “I will give 2 million dollars to you, you are my pastor.” Upon hearing this, the pastor got a heart attack and he dropped down dead.
Stress both positive and negative can be disastrous, it can steal our joy. Many things can produce stress in us: Marriage, having a baby, marital problems, job promotion, overwork (The Israelite were overworked by Pharaoh in Egypt, their hearts became bitter and lost their joy), losing your job, illness, death of a loved one, retirement all things of life whether positive or negative can result in stress if not handled properly.
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Sadly, one of the most common joy stealers is people. All of us, at one time or another, have had our joy threatened because of people — what they are, what they say, and what they do.
Maybe someone misunderstood you, you are trying to clear your part but the other person is still not accepting you. Maybe someone is criticising you, they are always judgemental, finding your fault, and your joy is sapped out.
Illustration: I came across a sister who would get offended when they went to her husband’s family get-together. One particular lady in that family always would pick at her and she would come back sad, upset, and then they start fighting over this simple issue. This happened again and again and she dreaded to go to these family events. She said her husband, “You need to do something, she is your relative, and if you don’t speak I am not coming with you anywhere.” She expected her husband to stand by her. Instead he said, “I love you but I cannot speak to my family. They have every right to have their opinion about you, but you have every right to let it go and let it not offend you.” She could not understand why her husband would not talk straight to them. She got so upset that she started to avoid all outings and all the time she had trouble with her husband. All her focus was cantered on this relative of her husband that she kept losing her joy everyday of her life. Don’t lose your joy on what people speak about you.
Other way people can hurt you and take your joy is by being insensitive to your feelings.
Illustration: A son went to visit his mother on her 80th birthday. Handing her a piece of cake he said out of the blue, “You know Mom, you’re probably going to die soon.” Seeing the utter shock on his mother’s face, he quickly added, “Mom I do not want you to die but if it happens before I meet you next I want to be prepared.” There was a long silence that followed, the mother shocked and the son curious to know what she was going to say. The son went on, “Mom, what I’m trying to say is, how do you want to go? I mean – do you have any wishes for your burial?” The mother replied, “Well, son, I don’t know. Why don’t you just surprise me after my death?” People are sometimes so insensitive that they do not what to talk when and where. Don’t let people steal your joy.
3. Past or future.
Sometimes we are haunted by the thoughts of either the past or the future. It may be regrettable events of the past; mistakes or the wrong decisions made in the past that can haunt us. Some people may have memories of good old days and are still longing for the former days of glory in their life. This constant thought about the past, good or bad, steals our present joy. Isaiah 43:18 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
Then there are some others who always worry about the future. They have no joy today because they are tensed about what is going to happen tomorrow. Ecclesiastes 7:14 When times are good be happy, but when times are bad consider God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future. Live in the present. Don’t let your past or your future, ruin your present.
Every day we come across circumstances that can steal our joy. Maybe somebody is rude to you, somebody cut you off in traffic, your child forgot the tiffin box and now you have to go back to school, you are already late to work. See, they are all asking your joy. You have a choice, you can either give it away, go around frustrated, upset, and angry or you can say, “I am not going to get upset, I am not going to be rude, and I will not be offended because of anything. I will not give away my joy.
Illustration: Once in our early years of marriage we went shopping. We locked the house, started the car, and Sam spilled the milk on his dress. We had to get back in, change his dress and start again. Now we are already 20 minutes late. Finally when we reached Commercial Street the parking was full. I took a full tour through the entire street looking for a parking slot but it was all packed. We took a full round and came back to the same spot but again no space. I became impatient, angry, frustrated, and shouting in my mind at every car. Suddenly I saw a driver approaching a parked car. I said, “Thank you Lord for your favour.” After taking his own sweet time and me waiting impatiently, that car moved. Soon, a car from the back overtook me and took the space cutting my way. Now, I lost my cool. My first inclination was to honk at him, go and shout at him. Then I realized that I am a pastor, I cannot do that. By now I was very disturbed and I lost joy for shopping. That day I not only spoiled my shopping but I ruined Glory’s shopping too. I picked at her at everything, whatever she likes, I would not like. We did not buy anything but ended up in a lot of argument and unpleasant situations back home. The next mooring when I went through what happened I understood I was foolish and wasted my evening just because I gave my joy away. I learnt my lesions now. 1. Don’t lose your cool if your son spoils his dress, it is his problem. 2. Do not get upset at traffic. 3. Don’t show your frustrations at your wife.
You see, I gave away my joy for what was not at all important. That day I missed out on the important job, shopping and the next day we had to go the whole way back to Commercials. Satan does not want us to live our life happily, so he sends out thieves to rob our Christian joy.
HOW CAN WE LIVE IN JOY?
1. Stay in God’s presence.
Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. In the presence of God is fullness of joy. When we get closer to God, God fills us with his joy. You will show me the path of life. Joy is found by following the path of life that God sets out for us. The Bible again and again reiterates that the closer we are to God, the more joyful we will be.Psalm 43:4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.
Even in economic hardship, when everything fails we can still rejoice if we are in the Lord. Habakkuk 3:17-18 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
2. Faithfully endure trials.
Many people lose their joy in trials. When the unexpected happens, when your dream fades away, when your breakthrough is getting long; we tend to lose our joy. Soon some give up Bible reading, prayers, and even church. The key when enduring trials is to keep your joy of salvation. Don’t stop anything to do with God which is the only source of our joy.
Psalm 30:5 – weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. When the trial passes, then joy comes to us as we experience the victory. Trials are momentary, so keep your joy intact in trails.
James 1:2-4 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Don’t lose your joy in your trials. Enjoy your life. Expect the best days ahead.
Illustration: When Sam was small we used to take him for periodic vaccinations. The paediatrician would always tell us that the next vaccination would bring fever so be careful. The doctor said this because she wanted us to buy the non-fever producing vaccinations which were priced 4 times the ordinary vaccine. The doctor’s word would be so heavy in my mind. I would tell Glory, “It is going to be tough, we cannot sleep for 2 nights, remember it is a fever vaccine.” Finally on the day of the dosage I would be ready to wake up all night. Sure enough Sam would not sleep; we had to carry him minute after minute through the night.
By the time Grace was born we were little more mature as parents and strong in the Lord. The same doctor would tell us that the next vaccination would bring fever. I would say, “Doctor, it is okay, we can manage.” I stopped feeling tensed about the fever that would come 2 months later. Finally, when she would take the injection we would pray, “Lord please let her sleep at night so that we too can sleep.” Sure enough God gave us all very good sleep.
It is just that we tune our mind to face the worst and what we fear becomes a reality. Job said Job 3:25-26 What I feared has come on me. What I worried about has happened to me. I don’t have any peace and quiet I can’t find any rest. All I have is trouble. So if you are going through hardships, don’t lose your joy, expect the best days ahead, rejoicing is coming your way.
3. Stay morally upright.
Sin is a big hole in the bucket of happiness. Committing sin is pleasurable, but it always leaves us sad, unhappy, and saps our joy. Psalm 32:11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart! See the word ‘upright and joy.’ It is only when we are upright, trying to do what is right can we have joy in our life.
We know about David. Whenever he sinned he lost his joy. See what David is crying to God in repentance after sinning with Bathsheba.
Psalm 51:8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Psalm 51:10 Restore to me the joy of your salvation.
Remember, sin robs us of joy but when we are cleansed God fills us back with his joy.
4. City Harvest brings joy.
One of the simplest ways to continue in joy is coming to City Harvest every week. We have the present of the Almighty God and lovely people out here and everyone goes back with their joy battery fully charged.
Psalm 42:4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.
Psalm 122:1 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” There is joy and happiness here. When we come together, worship the Lord and hear his word, spend time in fellowship, it gives the joy to sustain. Don’t miss City Harvest.
Now, we have gone over 4 tools the devil uses to steal our joy and 5 ways we can have joy. We need to identify the things that rob our joy and make a choice to not lose our joy over it.
John 14:27 AMP Peace I leave with you; My
] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
[Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.
Notice it is a choice. Jesus did not say I will take away everything that will cause your sorrow and frustration. He said in this world you will have trouble but if you have the right approach it does not have to upset you.
Every day will have to deal with circumstances, stress, people, delays etc. Change your approach. Every time you let them irritate you, all that you are doing is empowering them. The next time anything happens to you, do not give your away your joy. When people are rude, keep a smile on your face. When you miss your target, do not lose your patience. The devil will keep bringing those things to take your joy, but when you keep your peace you are taking away the devil’s power.
The psalmist says in Psalm 94:13 That you may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the pit of corruption is dug for the wicked. God knows that the wicked are around to steal our joy and if we pray he will give us the power to remain calm in times of adversity. People may not change, circumstances may not change, but you have the power to stay calm. You do not have to give away your joy.
Illustration: I remember going to a restaurant once. We were in a hurry but the restaurant was fully packed. We sat in a table but for the next 10 minutes no one attended us, finally it took a long time for us to get our starter. I got impatient, angry, agitated. When the waiter came to serve food I said, “I appreciate your attention now and by the way starter was excellent. Please tell the cook we have never tasted this item so good before.” The waiter went back and all of a sudden everyone’s approach to us changed. We got excellent service from them. They even gave us a compliment dish. Do you know when they finally gave us the bill they gave us 10% discount telling we are privileged costumer. We just chose to stay calm and not lose our joy.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
2 Timothy 4:5 As for you, be calm and cool and steady, accept and suffer unflinchingly every hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fully perform all the duties of your ministry.
Some of you are letting things affect you way too easily. Throughout life you will have lot of reasons to stay unhappy; be cool, calm and steady. Do not go the next 20 years allowing the same things to steal your joy. Change your approach. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength; let’s learn”’ to live in that joy. May God bless you!