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Be joyful always;  pray continually;  give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.    I  Thessalonians 5:16

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Phillipians 4:4

 

Stumbling Blocks to having Joy in Our Lives

bulletSin - How important is it for a Christian to have joy in his life?  Let's look at David's (the king of Israel) state of being as recorded in Psalm 51:12 - Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.  David's condition sounds pretty desperate doesn't it.  What caused this mighty king of Israel to fall into such deep despair?  Psalm 51 was written after the prophet Nathan had confronted David concerning the fact that David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.   Let's look at the verses concerning this event in 2 Samuel 12:1 thru 10 - The LORD sent Nathan to David.  When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought.  He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children.  It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms.  It was like a daughter to him.  Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him.  Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him."  David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!  He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity."  Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man!  This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says:  I anointed you king of Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.  I gave your master's house to you, and your master's wives into your arms.  I gave you the house of Israel and Judah.  And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.  Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes.  You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own.  You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.  Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own."  Sin is a terrible thing and it robs us of our joy.  Sin also affects our Christian walk and can even damage our testimony.  Let's look at David's response and Nathan's final words relative to this episode in 2 Samuel 12:13 & 14 - Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."  Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin.  You are not going to die.  But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die."  These verses clearly state that God forgave David's sin, but there where consequences as a direct result of the sin that David committed.  David's testimony had been damaged and the son conceived as a result of this act of adultery was going to die.  Sin had robbed David of his joy in the Lord.  Sin is the first stumbling block to having real joy in our lives.

 

bulletMisplaced Confidence - Now let's look at another area that can rob us of our joy in the Lord, "misplaced confidence".  When we put confidence in the flesh we find ourselves anxious, tense, struggling, tired and disappointed.  We need to be contented, we must realize that God is in total control of our lives including our jobs, our families, our finances, etc.   Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. In order to be content and have joy, our confidence must be in Christ alone. 

 

bulletWrong Attitude towards God's Discipline - The third area where we can choke off joy is our attitude towards the chastening and discipline that God often administers to his children.  Hebrews 12:11 - No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  If we are only thinking about how painful the discipline is, we will get discouraged and resentful which will rob us of our joy.  We must set our sights on the intended result, the harvest of righteousness and peace.  The secret to joy during times of discipline is found in Hebrews 12:6 - "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

 

bulletGrowing Weary during Trials of Faith - The fourth area where we can suppress the joy of the Lord in our lives sometimes occurs when we experience "trials of faith".  The purpose of trials is to exercise our faith so that we can grow spiritually and become strong.  Trials are not the same as discipline.  Discipline deals with sin in our lives.   God allows trials to come into our lives for this purpose, to strengthen our faith and build character so that we can be used of God.  Many times we are like Job when a "trial of faith" comes into our lives, we start out strong.  Let's look at what Job said in Job 1:21 when he found out that he had  lost all of his earthly possessions as well as his children - "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.  The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away, may the name of the LORD be praised."   Job's response after having lost  all of his earthly possessions as well as his children is commendable, we could all hope that our faith would be as strong if a similar thing where to happen to us.  However, as the time of the trial wore on and false accusations were levied by his friends and the nagging of his spouse, Job's faith and patience gave out until he finally was reduced to saying in Job 34:9 - "It profits a man nothing when he tries to please God."  But even though Job gave up and seemingly lost faith and hope, God remained faithful and stayed with Job until Job learned of God's sovereignty.  Then God blessed Job with with twice as much as he had lost.   Job 42:10 - After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.

 

Stepping Stones to Joy

Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Know where the joy comes from, it comes from God.  We must be responsible to exhibit joy in our lives and to depend on the Holy Spirit for the power to exhibit the joy that God has given to us.

 

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Confess sin - In order to have joy in our lives, we should be willing to obey God and resist the temptation of sin.  However, when we fail and sin we must confess the sin as David did in order to have the joy restored.  Let's look at David's confession in Psalm 32:5 - Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD" - and you forgave the guilt of my sin.  After David confessed the sin we notice in Psalm 32:7 & 11 a peace and joy in David's life - You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance." Selah   Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

 

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Trust God - Look again at Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Now look at Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Now think about the Book of Job,  God never explained to Job the reason for his trial.  God worked in Job's life to bring him to a point where Job trusted in Him without any explanation.  Look at the last recorded words of Job in Job 42:1 thru 6 - Then Job replied to the LORD:  "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.  You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'  Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.  You said,  'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall  answer me.'  My ears had heard of you but my eyes have seen you.  Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."  God brought Job to a point where he totally trusted God without having to understand everything that God was allowing to happen in his life.  God wants to bring each of us to this point in our lives, a total trust and dependence on God's will for our lives whether we understand what God is doing or not.

 

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Grasp Hold of a Long Range View - The long range view is our eternal inheritance that awaits us in Jesus and the final revelation of His Glory.            I Peter 1:3 thru 9 -  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  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, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  Now look at              II Corinthians 4:18 - So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Hebrews 12:2 explains the long range view of Jesus as He looked to the cross - Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

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Give Thanks - Give thanks in all circumstances.  This does  not mean that you have to give thanks for the difficult circumstances but it does mean that you should raise a voice of thanksgiving to God for what He is going to do in your life as a result of the difficult circumstances that He has allowed to come into your life.  Let's look at Hebrews 8:37 & 38 - No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Summary

Stumbling Blocks to having Joy in Our Lives

bulletSin
bulletMisplaced Confidence
bulletWrong Attitude towards God's Discipline
bulletGrowing Weary during Trials of Faith

 

Stepping Stones to Joy

bulletConfess Sin
bulletTrust God
bulletGrasp Hold of a Long Range View
bulletGive Thanks

 

Conclusion:  We must be responsible to exhibit joy in our lives and to depend on the Holy Spirit for the power to exhibit the joy that God has given to us.  People around us notice when we exhibit true joy and the Spirit of God can work through us in the lives of other people that need to see the love of Jesus.

 

Bible verses referenced in this presentation
are from the following translation:
New International Version