Choosing Joy

There is a major difference between happiness and joy.

Often in our cultural context: we can get the pursuit of happiness mixed up with the pursuit of JOY. Our country has the pursuit of happiness in it’s very fiber – the problem is that happiness in its simplest form, has a shelf-life to it. It lacks staying power.

Happiness is so often dependent on our circumstances producing a feeling of contentment and satisfaction.

Joy isn’t contingent on your circumstances…it can be anchored deep within and flows from all we’ve been given in Christ. Forever with us, not something we misplace, lose or something that abandons us.

Joy is anchored in our eternal HOPE – happiness is only anchored to our pleasant circumstances that can shift in a moment’s notice.

Happiness is circumstantial

Joy is positional (whose I am)

We’re called to embrace JOY and live it out: Joy is a command from a biblical perspective.

Philippians 4:4

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

(Q)        Where is the Apostle Paul when he writes this? = prison.

Paul is modeling: that JOY is available even when we feel held captive by circumstances.

Friends, there is an irrepressible theme of joy in the New Testament – despite the persecution against believers. How? It’s because followers of Christ are called to practice gratitude and celebration and these practices greatly shape us from the inside/out.

The interwoven themes of celebration/rejoicing and JOY are all throughout the Scriptures. The Practice of Celebration reminds us: the beauty of JOY beats the blandness of happiness.

Happiness is generic (it’s a white castle burger) 

Joy is gourmet (it’s Zinburger or Red Robin deliciousness)

Happiness is a human emotion – it’s fleeting; it sticks around as long as circumstances allow; but Joy is a divine reality that can be yours no matter what.

Happiness is actually weak because it lacks staying power…but the Bible says that the Joy of God – is actually STRENGTH!  (see Nehemiah 8)

Jesus talks about this kind of joy in one of his last conversations with his followers before the cross…

John 15:9, 11

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Jesus says this profound truth… my joy IN YOU – so yours will be complete.

Jesus is saying to his followers then and NOW…He’s where you find ultimate Joy! It’s not ultimately found in a full bank account, fancy vacation, or finishing an accomplishment. It can’t be found in something that you ALONE produce or achieve…it’s ultimately found IN HIM. He’s the one that can make OUR JOY COMPLETE.

Jesus is the source of Joy that we can continually draw from…

Joy is available through Christ that’s why it can transcend circumstances

Jesus can and may change your circumstances, but He always will change your heart & destiny…he gives us a hope and a future secure in Him and so JOY rests with Him.

Quote:  Joy is the serious business of Heaven.   ~ C.S. Lewis

I know too many followers of Jesus who are NOT caught up in God’s business. Joy seems to elude them…grumpiness seems to be their spiritual gift — and frankly, that’s just not listed as one.

The Scriptures tell us Jesus was a man familiar with sorrow and suffering, but you also can’t read through the gospel accounts of His life without being drawn by His delight, His love for life, His smile and His joy.

Which begs this question:

(Q)         Can you be a grumpy person and yet be someone whose life is intertwined with the grace, power and presence of Jesus?  

THINK: how much damage has been done by joy-lacking, grumpy Christians?

Jesus said you can have HIS JOY – so don’t settle for a happiness you have to chase down.

Quote: author Robert Hughes:

“We live in an age of melancholy and in a culture of complaint”

We all know people who seem stuck in the tractor-beam: of the culture of complaint…and we can get stuck there too, if we’re not proactive in re-anchoring to our eternal HOPE than can fuel OUR present joy in the Lord.    (see 1 Peter 1:3-8)

The Psalmist tells himself:

Psalm 43:5

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

THIS is the day the Lord has made – I will rejoice and be glad in it!

If we don’t rejoice today, we will not rejoice at all. If we wait until conditions are perfect, we’ll never stop waiting. If we are going to rejoice, it must be in this day.  ~John Ortberg   (The Life You’ve Always Wanted)

We need to make gratitude and celebration a practice of our lives! It will anchor us into God’s JOY.

So, go ahead and have a toast to all that Jesus has done for you and His activity in your life. Pause for a moment to celebrate the good gifts he’s bestowed upon you. Thank Him.

THIS is the day the Lord has made – I will rejoice and be glad in it! 

2 thoughts on “Choosing Joy

  1. Thank you for this beautiful description of joy and its vast difference from happiness. You are a gifted writer and I will print this out for my use.

    I have forwarded it to our ABF at Casas Church, Medium Rare Adults, and I know we will all love it. You are missed here but I know you are doing the Lord’s work beautifully at Elements Church.

    God bless you,
    Joanie Watkins

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