Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

10/23/2019

Randall Caselman

 

Joy To The World

I have come that you may have life,

and have it more abundantly, life to the fullest.

(John 10.10)

 

  There's a difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is about what's happening to us, with us, around us. Happiness is dependent upon situation and circumstances. Joy, on-the-other-hand, is much bigger, deeper, richer, and rewarding. Biblical Joy is about relationships. God made us for relationships: A right relationship with Him and with one another. When these relationships are correct, Joy results. It's important that we understand that the source of Biblical Joy is God: "You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the Joy given by the Holy Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 1.6). "The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8.10). Here's something to ponder: When we try to produce our own joy, outside of God, we fail: Because...

 

• Joy is a heart condition resulting from our having a right relationship with God...

• Joy is a result of our obedience...

• Joy is knowing we're forgiven, sinless, guiltless...

• Joy is knowing we're heaven-bound...

• Joy is knowing that our Father God is in control and is working all things out to our good, benefit, betterment.

 

  Know this, Biblical Joy is the result of a clean conscience. Sometimes we find Joy eluding us, and can't figure out why; perhaps it’s because we're violating our conscience, violating our convictions. Joy is a result of knowing God's will and word, and our living out our convictions.

 

  As Americans, we are obsessed with being happy. Our Declaration of Independence gives us the right to pursue happiness, so we believe we deserve happiness. So, instead of a blessing, it's become an entitlement. Alexis de Tocqueville called it "a strange melancholy in the midst of abundance." Here are some revealing statistics: A worldwide study of ninety-thousand people showed that the ten richest countries had the highest rates of depression. The United States had the second-highest rate, exceeded only by France. Listen, if there's one country where people should be happy it's here in the United States. If there's a place in our country where happiness should rule, it is here in Bella Vista; yet anxiety disorders affect more than forty million of us, 18 percent of the population worldwide. In 2016, the New York Times reported that suicide rates in America had surged to their highest level in thirty years.

 

  Happiness is outside us, Joy originates inside us. So...

• We can have Joy and live on any street in town;

• We can have Joy driving a ten or fifteen year old automobile;

• We can have Joy and have no house or car at all;

• We can have Joy in pain;

• There can be Joy while living with cancer or a heart condition.

 

  The idea of Joy, even in suffering, is affirmed in Scripture: "... in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger... Through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." (2 Corinthians 6.4-10). "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance" (James 1.2-3). "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (1 Peter 4.12-13). Joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God in our suffering.


How do we bring this Joy into a reality in our own life?

 

1) By knowing and walking in God's will and word. It was David who wrote: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path... I preserve my life by Your word" (Psalm 119.105 & 107). Jeremiah gives us this key to Joy: "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty" (Jeremiah 15.16).

 

2) By prayer: "Ask and you shall receive." When was the last time we ask the Lord for Joy? "Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul" (Psalm 86.4).

 

  I like what S. D. Gordon said years ago: "Joy is distinctly a Christian word and a Christian thing. It is the reverse of happiness. Happiness is the result of what happens of an agreeable sort to us, with us, around us. Joy has its springs deep down inside. And that spring never runs dry, no matter what happens. Only Jesus gives that Joy. He had Joy, singing its music within, even under the shadow of the cross."

 

—Randall Caselman