A Thankful Heart is a Joy-Filled Heart

“These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:11

Did you know that a Christian without joy is a contradiction in terms? If you are right with God, you ought to have joy in your life---continual, conspicuous, and contagious joy. But there are many Christians who live as if they have lost their joy.

Why Is Joy Important?

Joy is important in a Christian’s life for many reasons. But one of the most important is in order to win the lost to Jesus. King David prayed in Psalm 51:12: “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.” If you’re not a joyful Christian, you’re not an effective soul winner. You can’t go around with a Bible under one arm and a tombstone under the other saying, “Don’t you want to be like I am?” Our best advertisement is the joy of the Lord.

You also need joy in order to have the strength to live the Christian life. God said to Nehemiah when he was building the walls around Jerusalem and the people were getting tired, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). You can’t live the Christian life without joy.

Joy is also essential in order to bear life’s burdens. We all have heartaches and difficulties, but joy is the lubricant of life. The joy of the Lord will remove the burdens from your heart.

What Is Joy?

We’re not just to have joy like His; we are to have His joy. What was this joy Jesus had and wanted us to have?

First, He had an abounding joy. He said, “…that your joy might be full.” His joy was not half-hearted joy, not maybe-so joy, but it was joy that was abounding and supernatural.

Not only an abounding joy, but Jesus also had an abundant joy. Abounding speaks of the quality of the joy, and abundant speaks of the amount of joy. Even through His tears and even through His agony, His was an abundant joy.

And He had an abiding joy. He said, “… that My joy might remain in you …” It was not joy that came and went. We need to realize that Jesus taught us this lesson about joy as He faced dark Calvary. We too are to have joy in the good times, the bad times, the nighttime, the daytime, the rainy day, and the sunny day. We’re to rejoice in the Lord always.

How to Have Joy

Jesus Himself tells us how to have this kind of joy. When you look again at verse 11, He said, “These things have I spoken unto you…,” so it only makes sense to see what He has just spoken. There, we will find the recipe for joy.

Earlier in John 15, Jesus spoke of Himself as a Vine and of us as branches. He tells us that the branch is to abide in the vine, and then there will be joy. Just what does it mean to abide?

To surrender — Look in John 15:4: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.” A branch makes a full surrender to the vine. It exists for only one purpose: the vine. We must totally, completely abide in the Vine in order to have joy.

To depend — The joy of Jesus is given when we depend upon the Lord. In John 15:5 Jesus says, “…He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.” What can a branch do without a vine? Nothing! When you think you are something, then God is not everything. And God cannot be everything until you become nothing.

To rest — In verse 9 Jesus says, “As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love.” That means to rest in His love. The Bible tells us in Galatians 5:22 that joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit. We cannot create joy; we must simply rest in the Vine.

To obey — Jesus says in verse 10: “If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love…” Jesus kept the commandments of His Father. We also must obey Him. There’s no way to have joy unless we obey.

To rejoice — We’ve come full circle. We’re back to verse eleven where we started. Jesus says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

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