Fullness of Joy and Rivers of Pleasure
By Chris Jordan
There’s something missing in the church today. It’s called JOY. God wants us to experience fullness of joy and rivers of pleasure.
“What happened to your joy?” The Apostle Paul asked that penetrating question to a group of believers in Galatians 4:15. I want to ask that same question to you today. I’ve been in churches before where you have to look long and hard before you find anyone who is joyful. Some people say, “My joy is on the inside. I have the joy by faith; I just don’t like to express it on the outside. It’s an inner joy.” If you’ve got an inner joy, then let it out. Let your face know about it!
What is JOY? Joy is a topic that is mentioned in the Bible over 650 times. It talks about joy, rejoice, rejoicing, glad, gladness, and delight. Some people might say that joy isn’t important, and that we should preach about faith or prayer or Bible study, because those are important topics. When the Bible talks about a certain topic over 650 times, that tells me it’s important. Here’s just a sampling of some of those Scriptures, and what the Bible has to say about joy:
- Psalm 5:11: God wants us to rejoice, shout for joy, and be joyful in Him! God wants us to shout, not whisper for joy.
- Psalm 43:4: The Psalmist calls God His “Exceeding Joy.” Some people say, “I don’t need all that joy stuff, I’m just serving Jesus.” Let me tell you something about this God you’re serving. He IS exceeding joy! That’s His name, and that’s His nature. If you get around God, you’re going to get some joy in your life, whether you like it or not.
- Job 8:21: Do you know what the book of Job is about? It’s about a man who suffered and went through the trials and dark storms of life. In this book of the Bible, joy is surprisingly mentioned five times. It says that God will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. In the book of Job of all places!
- Isaiah 9:3: This Scripture says God’s people rejoice according to the joy of the harvest. When we see people get saved and give their lives to Jesus, that’s worth rejoicing.
- Isaiah 12:3: The prophet tells us to draw out water from the wells of salvation with joy. He’s saying that when you get saved and give your life to Jesus, you should be experiencing joy. It’s fun being saved! There is joy in Jesus.
- Matt. 25:21: To those of you who say, “I don’t need all that joy stuff,” guess what? Heaven is called “the joy of the Lord.” When we stand before King Jesus on the day we enter eternity, He will say, “Enter into the joy of the Lord.” You better get used to joy down here on the earth, because there’s going to be a whole lot of it in heaven.
- Luke 2:10: In the familiar Christmas story, the angels appeared to the shepherds and announced the birth of the Savior Jesus as good tidings of great joy. They said, “This is good news and great joy!”
- Acts 13:52: The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
- Rom. 14:17: The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The kingdom of God is all about joy.
- Galatians 5:22: Joy is the fruit of the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, we will experience joy.
I once read of a little boy who used to escape his bedroom after being punished. He would crawl out of his bedroom window down an old fruit tree to the ground. One day, his father told him that he was going to chop down the fruit tree, because it hadn’t borne any fruit for a number of years. That evening, the boy and his friend bought a bushel of apples, and during the night, tied those apples on the barren branches. The next morning, the man couldn’t believe his eyes. He said to his wife, “Honey, I can’t believe it! That old tree hasn’t yielded any fruit for years, and now it’s covered with apples. And, the most amazing thing is that it’s a pear tree!”
Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life, and you can’t fake it! You know if you have the joy or not. When you see apples hanging on a pear tree, you know that’s not real fruit. You don’t have to put on a mask and pretend that you’re all right when you’re not. If you don’t have the joy that God intends for us to have, then find out where you can get it, and go for it.
WHAT IS JOY?
The Old Testament word for joy speaks of gladness, dancing, leaping or spinning around in pleasure or intense motion. It’s not just a deep feeling of joy deep down on the inside – it’s going to come out. But some would say, “That’s a little bit too radical for me. Leaping? Twirling? That’s not very dignified!” That’s the idea. Who said anything about joy being dignified? The New Testament word for joy speaks of a celebration.
Before I gave my life to Jesus, I had served sin and partied the world’s way, going to bars and getting drunk. I had always wanted to enjoy and experience life. There is nothing in the Bible that speaks of following Jesus as being boring. If God created us and loves us, wouldn’t He want us to experience joy and pleasure? Some people have the idea that pleasure is sin: we can’t experience pleasure, because pleasure is bad. They have this idea that God sat up in Heaven, and when He created the planet, He got out this big cosmic pen and wrote down a list of all the things that were fun and pleasure and said, “SIN!” They think they can’t do anything fun, and when they think this, they’ve missed the plan and purpose of God for our joy and pleasure.
What the world offers to us in sin is a counterfeit. The Bible says sin is pleasurable for a season, but it is always with consequences. Sin will always take you further than you want to go, it’ll keep you longer than you want to stay, and charge you more than you want to pay. It asks for very little in the beginning, but in the end it’ll bring about your destruction. The wages of sin is death. Don’t settle for the devil’s counterfeit – pursue the real thing.
Some people would argue, “Doesn’t the Bible talk about how we need to have times of mourning and sadness?” Well, here’s what the Bible says about sorrow: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). If you want to have sorrow, have it for a night, but in the morning, let’s have the fullness of joy and rivers of pleasure that God intends for us to experience.
I’m not saying that life isn’t hard, that we don’t go through difficult times and seasons of loss. But joy is different from happiness. Happiness is based on our circumstances. We feel happy when good things happen to us. I get a new job, I’m happy. I lose my job, I’m sad. I get a new house, I’m happy. I have to start fixing it up a year later, I’m sad. I get a new car, I’m happy. I realize I have to make payments on that car, the happiness is gone. Happy, sad, happy, sad. It comes and goes. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives that does not depend on our circumstances. It doesn’t matter how dark it gets or what negative things happen to us, if we have the joy of the Lord that comes from the presence of the Lord, nothing can take it away from us.
“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11).
There are three things we can do to experience God’s joy in our lives:
- Pick the pathway of life
- Pursue the presence of joy,
- Participate in rivers of pleasure!
I. PICK THE PATHWAY OF LIFE:
“You will show me the path of life…” (Psalm 16:11a).
What is the pathway of life? Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). We have an enemy who wants to steal, kill and destroy in our lives, but Jesus came so that we might have abundant life. If you read through the Scriptures and do a study on the topic of joy, it is always accompanied with adjectives – great joy, exceeding joy, joy unspeakable and full of glory. God wants us to have fullness of joy. In order to experience joy, we must pick the pathway of life.
God said, “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments…I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life.” (Deut. 30:15-19). To pick the pathway of life means to choose the Bible, to live our lives according to the Word of God. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11). Joy comes from living a life in obedience to the Word of God. Because God created this world and the rules that govern it, when we live in obedience to His Book – the Bible – then we can experience His abundant life.
Someone described the B.I.B.L.E. once in terms of this acronym: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. If you want to know how to live life to the fullest and experience abundant joy, pick the pathway of life.
Jesus came to give us life, but we also have an enemy who has come to steal, kill and destroy. The devil wants to steal our joy. This is where many of the negative circumstances in our lives come from. There are two main ways that the devil tries to steal our joy from us.
The first way the devil tries to steal our joy from us is through unconfessed sin. When we choose to disobey God and His commandments, we lose our joy. In Psalm 32:3-4, David said, “When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.” Because of his unconfessed sin, he lost his joy. Look what happened in verse five: “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” After David confessed his sin, his joy returned. “So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!” I’m not saying that we have to be perfect, because we all struggle with sin. But when we sin, we need to be quick to repent and confess it to God so we don’t lose our joy.
The second way the devil tries to steal our joy from us is through unresolved conflict. The Bible says, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” (Hebrews 12:14-15). When we get hurt or offended by someone and hang onto that offence, we can lose our joy. We need to choose to forgive! If you have a relationship where you’ve been hanging onto a grudge, let it go. It’s not worth losing your joy over. Conflict is going to happen in our lives: Jesus said that offences will come, and we can’t stop that, but after we get hurt, we can choose what we’re going to do with that hurt. We can either hang onto it and let a root of bitterness spring up, or we can choose to let it go, and forgive. Choose joy!
This is a sample chapter from The Beausejour Pulpit.
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