Joel Osteen — Continual Joy
I want to talk to you today about having continual joy. We all face difficulties in life, challenges at work, people that are hard to get along with. Disappointments. If we're not careful, we'll let the pressures of life weigh us down. It's easy to complain, talk about our problems, become negative, discouraged. But we weren't created to endure life, we were created to enjoy life. We can't control what happens on the outside, but we can control what happens on the inside. And happiness for a lot of people is based on their circumstances.
It's the weekend, I'm happy. My spouse is treating me better, I'm happy. Traffic wasn't too bad, I'm happy. But joy is not dependent on what's happening around you. Joy is deep down within you. It doesn't mean we'll be jumping up and down every day, but there's a calm delight. You're content, you're at peace. You know God's fighting your battles. You could be upset, but you have a smile on your face. Things are tough, but you're not complaining. Your attitude is life is good. I'm thankful to be alive.
When you live like that, you're tapping into the joy John chapter 4, Jesus said to the woman at the well, "If you drink of this water, you'll thirst again. But I will give you living water". He described it in verse 14. It says, "This water will become a spring, welling up, within you". There is a well of joy in you right now, a spring that's supposed to bubble up and continually flow. Why don't we all have joy? There's something Ephesians 5 says, "Be ever filled with the spirit".
Notice you don't get filled one time and then you're done. This means on a regular basis, we have to keep how do we do it? The next verse says, "By speaking to yourself in songs, making melody in your heart, and by being thankful". Is to keep a song of praise in your heart. All through the day, on the inside, we should be singing. This means in our attitude, we're grateful.
In our thoughts, we're always thinking about God's goodness. Cooking dinner, you're humming the tune to a song. Mowing the lawn, you're whistling as you go along. Driving to work, "This is going to be a great day. Lord, I'm excited about my future". In some way, you're always making melody in your heart, thinking about God's goodness, thanking him for your life, your family, your job.
Every time you do this, something is happening. You're not just being positive, just having a good attitude. You're being filled back up. God is pouring into you peace, strength, favor, victory.
See, life takes things disappointments, traffic. We have to develop this habit of being ever filled. "Well, Joel, I went to church on sunday. I got filled up for the week". That's good, but one time is not going to last all week. When you get stuck in a coworker aggravates you monday afternoon, your child gets on your nerves monday evening, all that was poured into you on sunday is going to be used up.
If you're not making melody in your heart throughout the day, keeping this song of praise on the inside, then the pressures of life are going to push you down and steal your joy. It's like a helium balloon. If you've ever gotten one for your birthday, the first few days, the balloon flies high, and it goes to the end of the string.
In fact, if you went outside and let it go, it will go way up into the air. But in a few days, the balloon starts to sink down a little, get a little smaller. Day after day, it goes lower and lower. Eventually, it's on the ground, it won't rise at all. There's nothing wrong with the balloon, it's just out of helium. If you were to refill it, it would be just as good as it was when it was new.
In the same way, every time we complain, we're leaking. Every time we get stressed out, we're leaking. Every time we worry, we're leaking. Before long, we have no joy, no passion. That's why we have to become ever filled.
Next time you get stuck in traffic, try a new approach. Instead of complaining, "Lord, I want to thank you that you're directing my steps. I believe I'm at the right place at the right time". Instead of leaking, you just got filled back up. You got stronger. Maybe your child is causing you trouble. Instead of worrying, thinking about how it's never going to work out, all through the day, "Lord, thank you. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Lord, you said the seed of the righteous, my children, will be mighty in the land".
What could deflate you instead will inflate you. Perhaps the medical report wasn't good. You could easily be depressed, live in self-pity. But instead, in your thoughts, you're constantly thinking, thank you that you're my healer. Thank you that nothing can snatch me out of your hands".
Because you're making melody in your heart, you're going to stay encouraged. That well of joy will keep bubbling up, giving you the strength to fight the good fight of faith. But too many people have developed a habit of being negative, seeing the worst, worrying. You can develop this new habit of keeping a song in your heart. You have to look for ways in your everyday life, brushing your teeth in the morning, "Lord, thank you for this day". Getting dressed for work, "Lord, thank you that I'm healthy". Cooking breakfast, "Lord, thank you for my children". Driving to work, "Lord, thank you that I have a job". In your thoughts, you're always meditating on God's goodness.
It's easy to do just the opposite, focus on what's wrong. Doesn't take much effort to go toward the negative. "Well, Joel, I don't like my job. These people get on my nerves, and traffic was terrible today, and I don't feel like cooking dinner for my family. Nobody appreciates me". Can I tell you you're making yourself miserable? You're deflating your own balloon.
Turn it around and start making melody in your heart. You may not like your job, but why don't you thank God that at least you have a job? If you'll be grateful where you are, God will get you to where you're supposed to be. You may have some big obstacles, people, circumstances coming against you. But you don't have to live upset and worried. You can thank God that he's fighting your battles, thank him that he's making your crooked places straight. You can go through the day with expectancy, saying, "I don't see a way, but God, I know you have a way. You've done it for me in the past; I know you'll do it for me again". This is how you have continual joy. When you have joy, you have the strength you need to overcome the obstacle, to outlast the attack, to accomplish your dreams.
I learned this principle from my father. Everywhere he went, under his breath, he was always either singing, praying, or he would be whistling. He loved to whistle the tune I heard that hundreds and hundreds of times. You know, it wasn't anything spiritual, but he had a joyful attitude. When he was whistling, he was saying, "God, I love you. Thank you for what you've done in my life". That was his way of making melody in his heart.
Vacuuming the house, you can do it thinking, "I can't stand to clean this place". Or you can do it humming the tune to "I am a friend of God". Going to the grocery store, you can dread it, go there sour, or you can go there whistling with a song of praise in your heart. He comes in the back door of the church, I hear him whistling just like my father. He's never in tune, but he's happy.
My grandmother used to do the same thing. We'd go over to her house a lot growing up. And every time I saw her, she would be humming a tune real low. Unless you were right up to it, you couldn't hear it. But ironing the clothes, cooking us dinner, coming to church with my grandfather, she was always making melody in her heart.
I can't remember one time ever seeing my grandmother upset, worried, frustrated, even when things didn't go her way. She'd just kind of laugh it off. Her attitude was, "I'm not going to worry. I know everything's going to be all right".
One time, my grandparents came over to our house my grandmother forgot the turkey, the main dish. Didn't ruin her day. Did mine, not hers. But she just laughed and said, "Can you believe I did that"? Nothing took her song. No wonder she was always happy. No wonder she lived so long, so healthy. She was constantly making melody in her heart.
We'd enjoy life, how much longer and healthier we would live if we would do like her and keep that song of praise on the inside. I'm not talking about being musical, I'm talking about a lifestyle of being thankful, seeing the best, always thinking about what God has done, how blessed we are, how good things are in store. Even in difficulties, we're not complaining. We're thanking God that he's bigger than our problem. We're thanking him that what he started, at our house, we have a lot of birds on the outside, especially at certain times a year, cardinals, blue jays, robins. Usually about a half hour before sunrise, they start singing and singing.
It sounds like a symphony. There are so many different kinds of birds and different sounds. It's right outside our bedroom window. Many mornings, they are singing so loud that they wake me up. They are so full of joy, they're almost annoying. As I listen to those birds singing back and forth, filling our backyards with beautiful music, those birds don't seem like they have a care in the world.
Don't they know the price of oil has gone down, cost of living has gone up, traffic has gotten worse, trouble in the middle east? They just sing like life is good, like everything is going to be all right, like their creator is watching after them.
The other morning, there was this big storm. Lightning, thunder, the rain was coming in bed listening to it all, thinking, "Boy, this is a good time to be sleeping". About that time, outside my window, I heard those birds start to sing. I thought, "You have got to be kidding". I wanted to say, you're getting wet? It's storming, there's lightning. You're supposed to be miserable. Why are you singing in the midst of this turmoil"?
See, nobody told the birds to quit singing when it rains, to be depressed when they have a bad break, to be sour when they just sing like they don't care. If we were birds, we would think, "It's sprinkling today. I'm taking the day off. No singing for me. My nest got a little wet, I'm out for 3 months".
We need to learn a lesson from the birds. Don't complain when it storms. Don't be sour when things don't go your way. Just keep singing. Keep making melody. Keep being grateful. It may be rough on the outside, but stay full of joy on the inside. Keep that song of praise in your heart.
Paul said in Philippians, "Do all things without complaining". That means do the dishes without complaining. Drive in traffic sit where the ushers asked you to sit without complaining. Watch the texans without complaining.
Sometimes, we complain about the very thing that we asked God for and he gave it to us. You prayed for that bigger house, don't complain you prayed for that wife, don't complain that you have to work seven jobs to afford her. You prayed for that baby, don't complain that you have to get up sometimes in the middle of the night.
For 3 1/2 years, we prayed and believed for this place, the former compaq center. When God gave it to us, it was a dream come true. First year we were here, they showed me the utility cost for a year, $1 million. I thought, "God, can we go back to our old place"? It's easy to complain. There's always some reason to be sour, upset, and complain about the traffic, complain about the city, complain about the church. "I didn't get anything out of that message today". We complain about a message on complaining.
Here's a good phrase to remember. When you complain, you remain. But when you praise, you'll be raised. When you have that song in your heart, you're always thinking about God's goodness, you're going to rise higher. You're going to see more of God's favor.
One time, victoria and I were at an amusement park when our children were small. And we'd been waiting in life for about 45 minutes it was a beautiful day, and we were enjoying our time together. This lady came off the ride with her two children. She was headed towards the rest of her family. They were in line right behind us. Before she even got close, she started saying, "It wasn't worth it. They didn't let us sit together. That's not right. I can't believe we waited an hour".
On and on, complaining so loud after a couple of minutes, when she finally stopped, I just kind of joking and having fun, I said, "Well, was there anything good about the ride"? She looked at me and said, "Are you that guy on TV"? I said, "No, ma'am, I'm a dentist". I wasn't about to tell her, she'd have lit into me. But forgive me, Lord, for lying, but here's my point. Here it was a beautiful day. She's at the amusement park with her family, her kids were healthy and strong, but she found some reason to complain.
We create much of our own unhappiness, how we respond to negative things, how we approach life. When you develop this habit of seeing the good and meditating on God's goodness, making melody, life goes so much better. That's how you have continual joy, joy despite what's happening around you.
After hurricane Katrina, I saw a news report where they were interviewing people that had made it through, and person after person came up and told their story, and most of them were very negative, upset, discouraged, blaming others. Then this one lady came up, and you could tell there was something different about her. She had a smile on her face. She was radiating joy, the reporter asked her almost sarcastically, "Okay, tell us your story. Tell us what's wrong".
She said, "Nothing's wrong. I'm not here to complain. I'm here to thank God that I made it out alive. I'm here to thank God that my children and I are still healthy and whole". This reporter was taken aback, everyone had been complaining about having no power, no air conditioning, and how hot it was.
He asked her, "What about you? Do you have your power, do you have your air conditioning"? She said, "No, I not only don't have air conditioning, I don't have my house. It was blown away in the storm". But she said, "I'll tell you what I do have," she pulled out this little pocket Bible. She said, "I have my hope. I have my joy. I have my God".
Jesus said, "No man can take your joy". No storm, no bad break, no traffic, no disappointment. There is a well in you that will never run dry. When you keep this song of praise, making melody, focusing on what's right, then that well of joy is going to keep bubbling up, keeping you strong, keeping you encouraged.