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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - The Positive Power of Joy

Charles Stanley - The Positive Power of Joy

Charles Stanley - The Positive Power of Joy
Charles Stanley - The Positive Power of Joy
TOPICS: Joy, Timeless Truth

Is your life exciting or would you have to say like many people say, Not really, I don't really have any real joy in my life, any real happiness in my life. Would you have to say that life has become more of a drudgery than a delight? More of a jumbled mess than some joyous journey that the Bible talks about. Would you be able to say or would you have to say, Sometimes I just want to throw in the towel and quit. My marriage is a disappointment. My work has lost its challenge and, I'm so tired. In fact, I'm tired all the time. I'd just like to walk away from it all. And to make matters worse, you're a Christian. And you have these expectations of happiness and joy and peace and contentment and you don't feel any of that.

There was a time in your life when you felt some sense of joy but somewhere along the way you lost it. And it's had an effect upon your life. In fact, it's affected every aspect of your life. And so what we want to ask is, What does the Word of God say about this all-empowering emotion of joy? Most of us will have to admit, We don't see a lot of people who really are full of joy. We see them sometimes having some seasons of happiness. But what's the difference between happiness and joy? And besides that, does God really expect us to have joy in our heart when we're going through difficulty, hardship, trial, and suffering? When we're hurting because of those whom we love, when we see them hurting and sorrowing. Does God really and truly expect me to have joy?

Well, let's see what He says. And I want you to turn if you will to Philippians chapter four. Philippians chapter four, remembering that in this book of Philippians, only four chapters, hundred and four verses. Fifteen times at least he mentions joy or rejoicing, which means about every seven verses Paul, writing from a prison cell, chained to a Roman soldier more than likely, he talks about joy and rejoicing in the Lord. How in the world could he talk about joy and rejoicing in the Lord, at the same time being in a prison, unless he knows something we don't know or unless he's trying to fake these Philippians out? Well, one thing for certain, he writes four chapters to them. It's full of joy, it's full of rejoicing.

And if you'll notice in the fourth verse of this fourth chapter, he says, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice"! Then he says... now in case you wonder what I'm saying, he says, I'm telling you again, rejoice. Now the issue is, how is it? How is it that a man undergoing suffering and pain and threatened with death, cause he knew that he could possibly lose his life as a result of being in that prison. And yet, here he is talking about rejoicing in the Lord always. And he says in First Thessalonians, the fifth chapter and sixteenth verse, "Rejoice always". And so here is a book filled with joy and rejoicing, penned by a man who is in a Roman dungeon.

How is it that it could be true? Well, what is joy in the first place? Well, joy is gladness. Joy is a sense of, of cheerfulness. It is a sense of delight. That is, joy is really to take pleasure in something. That is, if I'm joyous about something, I'm pleased with that. So, when we talk about rejoicing, we're talking about taking pleasure in. When we're rejoicing, we are delighting in. When we're rejoicing, we are cheerful about something. And so, when the Bible says, "Rejoice in the Lord always," notice he says, "Rejoice in the Lord". Be delighted with Him. Well, most of us know that passage we love to quote in the thirty-seventh Psalm says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart". Be joyful because of your relationship to Him. He says He will give you the desires of your heart.

Now, Nehemiah says, It is this joy of the Lord that is one of these empowering emotions. That is, when a person is able to experience the joy of the Lord, there is strength, there is power to endure, to enable us to face any and every kind of circumstance in life. Now, somebody says, Well what's the difference between joy and happiness? Well, here's the difference: Joy is a result of something that goes on within us. Joy has an internal, an internal cause. Happiness has an external cause. That is, people are happy when their circumstances are delightful to them. That is, when things are going their way, they have enough of this, they can go here, do that and relate in a proper way. So they have moments or seasons of happiness. But joy is an abiding, listen, it is an abiding emotion that God gives to His children that is a result of something internal and not external. Which means that a person who is not a believer, they may have seasons of happiness but they cannot have the joy of the Lord because the joy of the Lord is not something that you and I muster up.

A person cannot just say, Well, I'm just gonna be joyous today. A person may attempt in some way or the other, or if they get what they want, satisfies some desire, they may have those happy seasons. But joy is something deeper than that. Joy is much more, listen, much more lasting because of the very nature of it than happiness is. Now, so there is a distinction. So the question is, Well, where does it come from? That is, if, if external happiness comes from the events in my life and the things that we have and the circumstances that surround us. And you can look at the world. When you look at an unbeliever who is undergoing deep, dark circumstances, or going through trials and so forth, they're not happy about it. And so, they don't have any joy about it. But those of us who are believers have an edge on the world. In fact, we have a big edge on the world. Because you see, what is the source of joy? The source of joy is this, joy, joy is the result of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Look if you will in John chapter fifteen, verse eleven. In the fifteenth chapter of John, John makes this very clear. Fifteenth chapter, the eleventh verse. Then I want you to look at the fourteenth chapter and the twenty-seventh verse and compare these for just a moment. Notice what the scripture says in this eleventh verse. Jesus speaking, He says, "These things I have spoken to you," referring to what He said before, "that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full". He says, I'm saying these things to you, I'm teaching you these truths in order that you may have my joy and that your joy may be full. And the Bible talks about it being abiding joy. This isn't just a joy that, that comes and goes by its nature. Now we can lose our joy and we'll talk about that in a few moments. But we're talking about joy that He gives.

So, real genuine gladness that'll last and abides, that sense of contentment, that sense of peace. Look if you will in the fourteenth chapter, just a few verses above this one, and the twenty-seventh verse. Look what Jesus said here. He said, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful". He says, Now, the world has some sense of peace. But He says, "My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives". Theirs doesn't last and is not based on, it's not based on anything internal. He said, "My peace I give to you". Now He says here, "These things I've spoken to you that My joy may be in you". And He says "that your joy may be full".

So what is the source of our joy? The source of our joy, first of all is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A person who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ cannot have joy. They may have seasons of happiness, but not abiding joy. The second thing I want you to notice about its source is this. It is the result of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians chapter five, verse twenty-two. Most of you know that passage, but some of you may not so look at that if you will. In this fifth chapter of Galatians, when Paul is comparing the life of the believer, those without Christ without the Holy Spirit, and those who are believers, those who have the Spirit, here's what he says. Those without the Spirit, that is those who are just living by their naturalness, he says this is the way you'll see them. They're living in their flesh.

That is, he says in verse nineteen, They are, and you can find this in them, "Immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envyings, drunkenness, carousings". All these things, he says, I've warned you about. But, look if you will in verse twenty-two. "But the fruit of the Spirit," that is, without Christ, that's the natural normal way these things are gonna be found in a person's life. But when the Spirit of God comes to indwell, he says, "The fruit of the Spirit 'is love,'" what's the next one, "joy, peace," and so forth. And so the truth is, the source of our joy is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who, listen, who releases that joy into your life and my life, through us toward others, when we have received the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. So that when you and I are walking in submission to the Holy Spirit, it is natural and normal for us, listen now, to experience joy no matter what is going on in our life.

Now I know exactly what you're thinking. You're saying, "Now wait a minute. You're telling me that when I am in pain and I'm going through difficulty and hardship and all the rest that I can still have joy? You mean to tell me that the Spirit of God's gonna give me a sense of joy even when I feel that"? Yes, He certainly will. Now often times I get tested before I preach a message and if I don't get tested before, I get tested afterwards. Well, last Sunday I baptized about forty-five people and some of them were medium size, small size, and large size. And so, I probably strained my back a little bit. And so I was getting along fine and Wednesday, right in the middle of working on this message and being so excited about the joy of the Lord, I reached down and picked up something I should never have tried to do and all of a sudden I knew I had a problem.

First thing I thought about, Well, now Lord, now wait a minute. Just wait a minute. Do know what the title is Sunday, Lord? Yes, yes, I know what it is. So I had a good opportunity to test out whether I believe this or not. You say, Well, did you complain? Sure I complained. Were you happy about being, having a backache? No, I wasn't happy about it. Could you rejoice? Yes! Yes, I could. It was a good lesson for me to be able to say, yes, I can. Yes, I can rejoice in the Lord, though I was hurting, and though I had to go to the doctor every day and twice a couple of days. Yes, I could rejoice. And so you say, Well now wait a minute. You trying to fake us out? Is this some kind of fakey stuff? No, I want to explain to you why happiness and joy are not the same. Joy is the gift of God not based on our circumstances, whether we hurt or whether we are sorrowing or whether someone else is hurting or not. Joy is the gift of almighty God that is able to listen. The joy of the Lord is our strength. It is in the joy of the Lord that we are able to endure and persevere no matter what's going on in our life.

So it is a result first of all of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Secondly, it is the overflow of the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, in your life and my life when we're going through difficulty and hardship and pain and when we're not. Not only that, listen, the joy of the Lord is gonna be found in the person, listen, who has, listen, who places their faith in the Word of God and obeys that Word. There's no such thing as living in sin and having the joy of the Lord. There's no such thing as doubting the Word of God and having the joy of the Lord. This is why people who doubt their salvation, they don't have any joy.

People who say, "Well, I don't believe the Bible's true. I don't, I don't think all of that stuff is true about church and Jesus and resurrection and all those things", they have no joy in their life. They may run out to a ball game or something else and have some moments of happiness at that particular time, but there's no joy in their life because you see, the truth is joy is limited to those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ, one in whom the Holy Spirit is dwelling, one in whom the Holy Spirit is living through them the life of Christ. And, a person who's placed their faith, and, listen, their faith in the Bible and who is attempting to live by the teachings and the principles of the Word of God. That is what joy's all about. That is the source of joy. And so God has given us this awesome sense of a gift of joy.

Now, because He has and because it's something that's not dependent upon our circumstances, what we have to ask is this. That being the source of our joy, let's think for just a moment about it and just look at the scriptures because what I want you to see is it's the will of God that you and I be joyous. He says, "Rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord always". When you and I come in here on Sunday morning, it's an exciting thing to me every single Sunday. We come in and we begin to sing and rejoice in the Lord. What happens? Something happens to people's countenance. When you first walk out here, folk sitting sorta like this and we begin to sing and rejoice and praise the Lord. What happens? Something happens on the inside of you. What happens is, listen, you begin to change your attitude. What happens is when you begin to confess the Lord and sing to Him and praise to Him, the joy of the Lord begins, listen, it shows on your countenance. When you are rejoicing in the Lord, you are not down in the mouth, you're not complaining and moaning and groaning.

He says, listen, there is power, there is power in joy. The joy of the Lord is your strength, your energy. It empowers you, it enables you to persevere and to keep going and keep moving no matter what. Now when somebody says, Well, it can just get too tough to rejoice. No! It cannot. You say, But I don't understand how you can rejoice over the loss of loved ones. You don't rejoice over the loss of loved ones. You rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ who is your power and strength and enablement to walk through that loss and through that difficulty and through that hardship because, listen, you and I can rejoice over the fact, God, I don't have to walk through this alone. If I had to walk through this alone, God, I couldn't handle this. But because You're my savior, my Lord and my life. You're my strength, You're my joy. You said You would provide every single thing I need. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus".

Either He's who He says He is, He'll do what He says He'll do, or He will not. And get this in your heart. I did not say we're to rejoice over suffering and, listen, rejoice over the loss of someone. No! We rejoice in the Lord. We take joy in the Lord. Listen, especially when that person is saved, we can thank God that they're in heaven. There are many things that you and I can thank God for and rejoice over. Does that mean we're to be insensitive to people who are hurting and going through sorrow and loss? No, we're not insensitive. Not insensitive at all. But we know, we have, listen, we have an abiding, we have an abiding undergirding assurance and confidence that is absolutely unshakable no matter what happens that our God is sufficient and will be there with us no matter what.

That's the kind of God we serve. It's not being insensitive. It's just being who you are. It's being who we are amidst our tears, amidst our heartbreak, amidst our sorrow, amidst those things that rip our heart out. Deep down inside we can rejoice in the Lord. God, You're all I have at this moment in my life. I thank You for being everything You promised to be. Yes, we can. Look if you will in James chapter one. James chapter one. I've listened to messages on this passage and thought often times if I were just sitting out there, I would feel like, Well, what you do is you just stuff it and move on. No, you don't stuff it. You acknowledge it. Yes, I hurt. Yes, this is pain. God, it's hard for me to see someone whom I love suffer.

Listen to what James says, beginning in this first chapter, verse two: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials". Now, does that mean that I'm gonna have some horrible difficulty, hardship, pain or loss or suffering and I'm to say, Praise the Lord, hallelujah, I'm suffering! Glory to God, I have another trial, another problem, another trial. No. Listen to this passage. This is why you have to read a whole passage and not just take it out of context. Listen. "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith," which is what all these trials do to us, it "produces endurance. Let endurance have its perfect," or mature result, what is that "that you and I may be perfect mature and complete, lacking in nothing".

What is it I am to rejoice over? Listen carefully. I am to rejoice in the Lord. That in this difficulty and trial, that He can strengthen my faith, that He can teach me to endure, that He can teach me perseverance, that He can teach me to walk through this in spite of what I may feel and what I may hurt, and how I may be treated. God, thank You that You can teach me. This is Your opportunity to demonstrate, God, that You are who You say You are. This is Your opportunity. I rejoice in the fact You cannot fail me because You're faithful. You see the key is where is my focus? Is my focus on my pain? Then I'm gonna have a hard time. Is my focus on the suffering of someone else? No, it has to be on Him. That while I get under the load with someone else and feel what they feel and hurt with them, I can still rejoice that I can get under the load with them and help them through those times.

Somebody says, All right, now. Okay, so, you're saying to me that I can go through these difficulties and hardships and trials and tribulations and of course, it's not gonna be like the Apostle Paul. And so we're not, we're not worried about getting beaten with rods and all the things that happened to people. But what we have to ask is this is, How are we to respond? More than likely everybody in here has something to deal with in life. You'd be a very fortunate person, very unusual if you don't have something in your life you have to deal with. Either in your family, your finances, your friends, loved ones, work, whatever it might be. All of us have things to deal with in life. How are we to deal with 'em?

Honestly, openly, face it like it is, tell it like it is, don't deny it, don't try to stuff it. Well, what are we to do? In spite of what is going on in our life, we are to rejoice in the Lord. Now listen, not in the suffering itself, not in the event, not in the circumstance, but in the Lord. Which means we are expressing our, listen, we are expressing our confidence in Him. We are expressing our trust in Him. And you see, expressing our trust and our confidence in Him, we know He's gonna see us through it. Listen, does He not say, "I'll never leave you. I will never leave you nor forsake you". Never, never, never.

You know what? As long as I know that He will never leave me no matter what I'm going through, I can have a sense of joy deep down inside. So what can you and I rejoice over when we're going through a hardship? Think about this. That you've been saved by the grace of Almighty God. Your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. That the heavenly Father who saved you by the death of His Son Jesus loves you absolutely unconditionally. You can thank Him that He's living on the inside of you, indwelling you every moment, every day. You can thank Him that He's promised to provide every single thing that you need. You can, you can thank Him and praise Him. You can rejoice over the fact that the Lord who has saved you and is walking with you has promised to meet every single need of your life and who loves you unconditionally. That He understands fully what you and I face. He understands our hurts and our, and our sorrows. We can rejoice.

And you see the issue is the focus. Am I focusing upon the Lord in whom I am to rejoice? Or upon what I feel, or the circumstances that surround me? And so therefore when he said, "Rejoice always, rejoice evermore," he meant exactly what he said. So here's the difference. You see, if you're not, if you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, listen, you don't have a personal relationship with Him. You don't have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of you. You're not putting your faith in the Word of God. You're not trusting in His Word and walking obediently to Him, so therefore you don't have any joy. Now, somebody says, Well, now when I first got saved, I had lots of joy, but somewhere along the way, I've lost it. And a lot of people lose their joy. Many Christians lose their joy. When we lose our joy, we have a terrible testimony.

What causes people to lose their joy? Well, I think there are lots of things and let me just mention a few. See if one of these happens to be where you may be if you've lost your joy. Sometimes people lose their joy because, listen, they can't get over the regrets of past mistakes and past failures. They just can't get beyond those past failures. And so regret clouds their life day by day. There's no joy because somehow they think, But, back yonder. But if I'd a, if I'd a this and if I'd a that. Everybody's got a whole list of "if I'd as". If I'd a done this and if I'd a done that and if I'd a been this and if I'd a given that and if I'd a done this. Everybody's got a bunch of those. You can't live with regrets. So first of all, if you've lost your joy over regrets, what you need to do is to thank God for His forgiveness. And remember what He said. He said where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. We all make mistakes and we all falter, we all fall. We don't live in regrets, we live in the grace of God.

Another reason is that some people say, some people are fearful of future failure. They're fearful of failure in their life about different, whether it's in their job, family, whatever it might be. Listen. If you try to live out in the future, where you don't know and you can't, listen, you can't manage and you can't control, you're gonna lose your joy. Listen, the Bible says, "We live by faith". And listen, that's daily faith. What did Jesus say? Ask. He said, "Give us today our daily bread". He wasn't just talking about wheat, he's talking about everything you and I need. He says we're to, we're to pray, we're to come to Him daily. God, I need strength today. If you're one of those persons who's living in the fear of future failure in some area of your life, you don't have to live like that. You just thank God for today. And you remember that our God who's taking care of today can take care of tomorrow.

Well, one of the primary reasons people lose their joy is sin. You cannot live in sin and have joy. You know what? It's total contradiction. You can't do it. You can't be living in disobedience to God and have joy, because where does it come from? A personal relationship with Him, the overflowing of the Holy Spirit who says, "The fruit of the spirit is joy, and faith and obedience in the Word of God". So therefore if I'm deliberately, willfully sinning against God, I can't have any joy. You may be able to fake up some happiness of brief moments but I'm telling you joy is not there. You can lose it by those, in those ways. And I simply say to you, You don't have to lose it. If you've lost it, you, listen, you can regain it. How do you regain it? If it's sin, you ask God to forgive you.

What did David say in the fifty-first Psalm? Having committed adultery with Bathsheba, repented of his sins, he said, listen to this carefully. He did not say, "Restore unto me my salvation" because he knew that he never lost it. He said, "Restore unto me the joy of my salvation. Restore unto me, God, the joy that once was mine when I was walking obediently according to Your Word". So therefore if it's sin, we repent of our sin. Most of those other areas that we mention, you get your focus upon the Lord. And what? It is His, listen, it is the will and purpose and plan of God that you and I be joyous and rejoicing in Him and praising Him and thanking Him, with peace in our heart and confidence in our soul. That our heavenly Father is more than adequate through every given situation in life. Thank God He's everything He says He is!

And so you say, Well, I'm not even a Christian. Then my friend, there's no way in the world for you to experience joy. It begins with accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. It begins with confessing your sins and telling Him you need His forgiveness and you want joy in your life and you want a change and you, you want a new sense of direction. You want God to work in your life. You ask Him to forgive you of your sins and tell Him that you're trusting His Son Jesus as your personal Savior. The moment you do that you're saved by His grace and goodness and love and mercy. And it may be that you're one of those persons who's lost your joy. Listen, stop for a moment and think where back yonder? What did I do, what was going on that caused me to lose my joy, that somewhere I've just been sorta struggling through life and every day is the day of survival. God, what caused me to lose my joy?

And at whatever point you discover where you lost it, you tell Him from this moment on, Father, I'm placing my trust in You as my joy. You're the source of my joy, not my circumstances. I'm not living by my circumstances any longer. I'm gonna live on the promise of Your joy. I'm going to rejoice in You no matter what I feel, no matter what my circumstances are. You said the strength, the empowering, the energy that I need is a result of my joy. And Your joy is abiding in me. You said that You prayed that Your joy would be my joy. And so I want to claim Your joy and I want to sing and praise You and worship You and adore You, not on the basis of my feelings but on the basis of what you said. You say, Now is that working up something? No, you know what it is? It's pulling the plug so what is within you can begin to flow. That's what it is. And listen, that's the gift of every single child of God. No matter who you are and where you are.
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