September 17, 2023
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, How to Have Fullness of Joy.
The reason why some people do not have joy is that they are looking for it in the wrong place.
If you are a Christian walking in the Spirit, you are to have conspicuous, conscious, continual, contagious joy—the joy of the Lord.
One of your greatest tools for evangelism is joy. Most of the people you meet are not concerned about going to Heaven or Hell—they want to know how to hack it on Monday. If you “rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (see 1 Peter 1:8), you will make a difference.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.
You will not win people to Jesus if you go around looking like an advance agent for the undertaker. “Don’t you want to be a Christian so you can be as miserable as I am?” They will say, “No, thank you; I have enough problems.”
On one hand, the Christian life is simple. But you cannot do it without joy, and you cannot have joy without abiding in Christ.
When the Jews were rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem, Nehemiah said to them, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b).
You will not have effectiveness or longevity in your work if you do not let joy be your strength.
You may say, “If you knew the problems I have, you wouldn’t have the nerve to tell me I ought to have joy.”
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). Jesus said this as He was about to face the cross.
He said, “that My joy may remain in you…” His joy, in us. Here are three facts about His joy:
Jesus does not have halfway joy. The Book of Hebrews says of Jesus, “God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions” (Hebrews 1:9; Psalm 45:7). Nobody has joy like Jesus. The word gladness here is the same word that is translated as “exceeding joy” in Jude 1:24. It literally means leaping and dancing.
Jesus was “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (See Isaiah 53:3.) You can have joy in the midst of your grief. Rejoice in the Lord in the good times, and under life’s burdens; in youth, middle age, and old age. (See Philippians 4:4.)
Jesus said, “that My joy may remain in you.” (See John 15:11.) Jesus’ joy is lasting!
Happiness depends upon what happens. Unhappy things are going to come. Happiness is like a thermometer: it registers conditions.
Joy comes from the Lord. The only way you can “rejoice always” is to rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 4:4), because He never changes. Joy is like a thermostat: it controls conditions.
Happiness is cosmetic—most of us look better with a happy face. But you don’t have to always go around with a grin on your face. Jesus had sorrow, to the point of sweating blood in Gethsemane, but through it all He had joy.
Joy deals with inward character. When happiness sometimes goes away, joy is intensified because that is all you have, and you have to depend upon Jesus.
What does lasting joy look like?
Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.
Do you have tribulation? Of course, you do. That means you need joy. In a dismal prison, hungry, cold, suffering in the sewage on the floor, the Apostle Paul said…
I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.
You had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.
Suppose you go home and find your house burned to the ground. Your car wrecks, and you’ve let your insurance lapse. Tomorrow morning, you find you’ve made a bad investment and lost everything. Can you have joy?
If your goods are taken away, and you lose your joy, you were getting your joy in the wrong place.
Abounding, and abundant—what’s the difference? Abounding speaks of the quality of the joy. Abundant speaks of how much joy there is.
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11; emphasis added). The recipe for fullness of joy is to go back and see what Jesus spoke.
Look to the earlier part of John 15:
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
A branch has one concern: to stay connected with the vine. Your one overarching goal in life is to be totally, completely surrendered to Jesus Christ. You say, “What about making a living? Loving my family? Keeping my body in good condition?” Those are subsets of your main desire to surrender to Jesus Christ.
When you surrender, you must depend.
What can a branch do without a vine? Nothing! It’s a twig. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” (See John 15:5.) Nothing counts until you are dependent upon Christ.
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9). When you continue in His love, He is overshadowing you, taking care of you, and you can rest.
A branch is not concerned about needing moisture, putting out buds, or producing fruit. The vine takes care of these things.
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10).
The only part of the Bible that you really believe is the part you obey. The rest is just religious talk. Do you want Jesus to be real to you? Keep His commandments. (See John 14:21.)
Life is meaningless without joy. You cannot have joy until you abide, and you cannot abide until you obey.
How do you get started? Jesus said to the apostles, “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20b). When you receive Jesus Christ, you are in the family of God. A branch not connected to the vine cannot abide in it. How do you become connected to Christ? Trust Him as your Lord and Savior.
John 14:21, 15:4-5,9-11, 16:20; 1 Peter 1:8; Psalm 45:7, 51:12-13; Nehemiah 8:10; Hebrews 1:9, 10:34; Jude 1:24; Isaiah 53:3; Philippians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 7:4; Luke 10:20
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your judgments, he has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall see disaster no more.