Joyce Meyer - The Fruit of Joy
Well, thank you for joining me today on, "Enjoying Everyday Life". And today, we're actually gonna talk about, joy. Everyone wants to have joy, and they want to enjoy their life, and it's God's will for us to do that. John 10:10 says, "The thief", who is the devil, "Comes only to steal to kill and destroy". But Jesus said, "I came that you might have and enjoy your life, and have it in abundance to the full, until it overflows". Now, you know, joy is a little different than happiness. Happiness is based on what's happening, but joy is a Fruit of the Spirit.
And I find myself sometimes, maybe even when I'm having a big problem in my life, or in my flesh I'm upset about something, I'll find myself walking around the house and just humming, "Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm", and I've had to stop and think, "Now, why am I humming, I have a problem"? Well, you know why? Because inside of us, we have the fruit of joy. It's one of the Fruit of the Spirit. And the more joyful we are, the stronger we are. Actually, sadness makes you weak, it zaps your strength, can put you in a bad mood. And I know many times we like to think, "Well, I can't help it, you know. I wish that I felt joyful," or, "I wish I didn't feel sad". You know, there are choices that we can make. And we're gonna talk about those choices over the next few days. And also, there are things that will hinder, or block our joy that we need to avoid. So, I pray for everybody in Jesus' name, and when this is over, you're gonna feel more joyful than you have in a long, long time.
Now, I know a lot of people say, "Well, I've lost my joy". Well, it's not very hard to find it, because it's on the inside of you. Joy is defined as: a shout, a proclamation, singing, triumph, cheerfulness, cheerful. And one that I've heard that I really like, it's my favorite: it can be anything from extreme hilarity, to a calm delight. Now, when I say joy is defined as a shout, that doesn't mean that we all have to go around shouting all the time, in order to say that we have joy. I find a lot of times that I just live with a calm, quiet delight. Joy is not based on our circumstances. Happiness is based on, what's happening. But joy is something different. Joy is something that God puts inside of us, when we're born again. It's one of the Fruit of the Spirit, along with love, joy, peace, patience, and other things. They come into us as seeds, and the more we water them with the word, and the more we practice them, the stronger they get. Joy is like a deep, deep well, on the inside of us.
Let me say again, not based on our circumstances. While I was workin' on this message and putting it together, I had probably half of it done, and I was using my computer, of course, and I did something and lost the whole message, and never could find a way to get it back, and had to start all over. Well, I thought, "This is definitely a test". Here I am trying to put together a message on joy, and I lose my message on joy, but I didn't lose my joy. See, you can have a problem, and still not lose your joy. Because a lot of it is based on a decision that you make, about how you're going to look at a situation. And one of the things that always helps me, is to believe that God is in control. And that even though I don't understand it, there's a reason for everything. And that if I keep a good attitude, and that's a big IF.
If we keep a good attitude, remain thankful, because no matter what kind of problem you're having, there's always plenty to be thankful for, then God will cause everything to work out for our good. Joy is also based on having a right relationship with Jesus. A lot of people have a relationship with Jesus but it's not a right relationship. And what I mean by that is, they don't really know who they are in Christ. I'll tell you, if you feel bad about yourself, you don't like yourself, or you feel like God's not pleased with you, that he's mad at you, it's gonna hinder and block your joy. And it's very important for every Christian to understand, to learn, and to believe, that we're made right with God because of our faith in Jesus, not because we do everything right. Even when I do something wrong, I'm still in right relationship with God. I need to repent. I need to receive God's forgiveness, because if I have sin hidden in my heart, that can block my joy. But you need to understand that God loves you, that he's not mad at you, that he has a good plan for your life.
I spent so many years thinking God was mad at me most of the time. And that came from my childhood, because my dad was a very angry man. And it didn't take much at all to make him mad. And a lot of times he was just mad, and you didn't even know why. So, I assumed he was mad at me. And so, when I got into my relationship with God, I carried that over into that. And it took me a lot of years to realize that God was not only not mad at me, he was pleased with me. God is not pleased with us because we do everything right, but he's pleased with us because we have faith. In John chapter 6, some of the people that were listening to Jesus teach said, "What must we do to please God"? "What is the work that he requires of us"? And "Jesus said, 'this is the work that God requires of you, that you believe in the one whom he has sent'".
Sometimes we can't believe, that believing is all God really wants us to do. He wants us to believe, and you see, if we do believe, then we will begin to obey God more and more. And the closer you get to Jesus, the more you love him, the more you'll obey him. But you can't produce right behavior, if you don't have rightness in you. So, God gives that to us at the new birth as a gift. 2 Corinthians 5:21 is the proof for what I'm saying. "He that knew no sin", Jesus, "Became sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ". And 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away: and all things become brand new". Spending time with God, releases joy that's on the inside of you. The more you think about Jesus, the more joyful you'll get. The more you think about his word, and the promises that he's given you, the more joyful you will get. The more you think about your problems, or your enemies, the more it's gonna hinder and block that joy.
Psalm 16:11, in the Amplified translation says, "You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy, and at your right hand there are pleasures ever more". Spend time with God, and you'll find your joy increasing. You know, it's so important to be in the right atmosphere. And we have the privilege of hosting a lot of Bible conferences throughout the year. And I find that people just, they're more joyful in those conferences. I mean, I can always ask maybe, after a couple of sessions, "Well, how many of you felt pretty sad when you came in, and now you feel more joyful"? And well, all the hands will go up. Well, why is that? It's because they're in a good atmosphere. And if you wanna have joy in your life, it's very important that you place yourself in a right atmosphere.
Now, maybe, you have a situation in your home, where you have other people that are grouchy and cranky, and they don't wanna get along, and they're always arguing. Well, then you need to find a way to, at least, part of the time, be in an atmosphere where people are positive, where they love you, where they encourage you, and they're not grouchy and angry about something all the time. Our surroundings do affect us. So, choose an atmosphere, and choose people that are gonna increase your joy, and not those that are gonna decrease your joy. Some of you, right now, if you just think about it, if you would just get away from some of the people that you're friends with, it could change your whole attitude.
Romans 14:17 tells us that the Kingdom of God is righteousness. Well, first of all it says that it's not, "Meat and drink", so it's not things. The Kingdom of God is not just going to God and asking him for a new car, and a new this, "And I wanna get married," "And I want my kid to change," "I want my husband to change," and, "I need a new house". It's not all about things. If we seek God first, he'll add the things. So, we don't have to just constantly go to God asking him to give us some thing. What we need is more of him. So, it says, "The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but it is righteousness", having a right relationship with God. "Peace and joy in the Holy Spirit".
And so, when I read that, and understood it many, many years ago, I thought, "Well, you know, I'm not enjoying the Kingdom of God, because I felt guilty most of the time. I didn't have peace. I was always upset about something. And I didn't have joy". And I believe that they have to be worked out in our life in that order. I don't think I can have peace, if I'm not in right relationship with God. And I can't have joy, if I don't have peace. So, first thing, if you are not joyful, or like people say, "I've lost my joy," you need to make sure that your relationship with God is right. If there's something between you and the Lord, then you need to talk with him about it. You need to repent. You need to get it out in the open. Receive your forgiveness. Don't spend the rest of your time feeling guilty. And then, you'll have peace.
And then, work with the Holy Spirit to maintain that peace. Don't argue with people over petty stuff that doesn't make any sense. Stay out of strife. Stay out of all the gossip and junk at work. And just remain peaceful. When you have situations that are upsetting, trust God, keep your peace. And if you have that right relationship with God, you hang onto your peace, joy is gonna bubble up on the inside of you. And the Bible says that, "The joy of the Lord is our strength". Some of you have been praying for more strength. What you probably need is more joy. We cannot experience joy without peace, and we can't have peace without righteousness. It is impossible to sense joy, if you're under condemnation. And, you know, we really need to understand that when we ask God to forgive our sins, he not only forgives them, he forgets them and removes them. Imagine that, he forgets it. He forgets it, removes it as far as the east is from the west. The Bible says, "He remembers them no more".
And he also deals with the guilt. If the sin is gone, if it's forgiven and not remembered, and moved as far as the east is from the west, then if there's no sin, there's nothing to feel guilty about. And oh, my gosh, I wasted so many years being sad and downtrodden, because I felt guilty about something all the time. And here again, that came from my childhood. I felt guilty about my father sexually abusing me, even though it wasn't my fault. The devil, of course, lied to me and convinced me that there was something wrong with me, otherwise, he wouldn't want to do that to me. And so, the guilt that I carried for years, and years, and years, stole my joy. Right relationship with God requires facing our sin, and true repentance. Admit your sins, repent, and receive forgiveness.
In Psalm 32 the Psalmist, David, who had committed sin with Bathsheba, spent a year not repenting. I don't know what kind of excuses he was making to himself, or how he was covering that up, but he spent a whole year not facing truth. And you know what? The Bible says in John 8:32 that, "The truth will make us free". Well, it's not the truth about somebody else that will make you free, it's the truth about you that will make you free. And you know what? The Holy Spirit is sent into our life, to guide us into all truth. So, if you don't have joy, why don't you start by just asking God to reveal to you, why you don't have joy? I don't know, he might say, "You have a bad attitude". Or he might say, "You are selfish". Or he might say, "You have sin that you've not dealt with". Or there may be some things that you're doing, that are not things that you should be doing, and God wants you to eliminate those things.
I've found out that if I ask God questions, he usually answers me. And I don't always like the answer, but nonetheless, at least I've come face-to-face with the truth. I remember when I was unhappy as a Christian, there was no reason for me to be unhappy. I had a good ministry. I had a good family, good kids, good husband, didn't have any money problems. And I said, "God, why am I unhappy"? And it just came up in my spirit, "You're selfish". Wow! Well, that didn't feel very good, but it was the truth. And you know what? You can't be selfish and happy at the same time. God didn't create us to always be trying to get something. He created us to give out to other people, and to sow seeds and trust him to take care of us. So, David said, there's seven verses here in Psalm 32, "Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered".
Now, this is Old Testament. So, in the Old Testament sin was just covered. But thank God, in the New Testament, they're completely removed. We have a much better covenant than they did. "Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit, there is no deceit". That's so important, don't deceive your own self. "When I kept silent," David said, "My bones wasted away through my groaning all day long". Well, he sounds like a pretty miserable guy. "For day and night your hand was heavy on me", God was dealing with him. "My strength was sapped", he had no joy, so he had no strength. "As in the heat of summer". Now, listen. "Then I acknowledged my sin to you, I did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord'. And you forgave the guilt of my sin". One translation says, "And you instantly forgave the guilt of my sin".
Isn't that good news? God is so good. He is so good to us. Some of the things that we do, you would think that God just would never wanna have anything to do with us. But if we sincerely repent, I mean, we're really sorry. And that doesn't just mean you're sorry you did it, but it means that you're gonna turn away from that kind of behavior. You don't want to do that kind of behavior anymore. And you may need God's help, and maybe things you need to work through. But you sincerely want to live the way God wants you to live. Psalm 32:11, "Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you righteous: sing, all you who are upright in heart"! Psalm 33:1, "Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you righteous".
You see, it keeps telling us over, and over, that we have to be right with God, if we want to have joy. It's God's will that we have and express joy. I actually think, joy is our way of advertising Christianity. There's so many people in the world that are sad and sour, and they do nothing but complain and murmur. But if we have joy, if we're just pleasant, and happy, and are not complaining, and have a good attitude, people notice that. And it may not be long, and they'll ask you, "How can you be so stable and so happy all the time"? Well, then the door's wide open for you to tell them about Jesus.
I already quoted John 10:10, but it's such a great scripture let's hear it again. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy", but Jesus said, "I came", thank God Jesus came, "That they may have life and have it to the full". The Amplified says, "Have and enjoy life". And I like that, I spent a lot of years not enjoying my life. You know, we might enjoy some segments of our lives, but God wants us to enjoy all of our life. We can learn to enjoy every phase of life. I mean, you can enjoy your work. You can enjoy going to the grocery store. You can enjoy cleaning house. You can enjoy everything you have to do, if you stay in contact with Jesus, and he's the center of your life.
In John 15, about the first 11 verses, Jesus talks about abiding in him and how a branch abides or stays on the vine, and it will produce fruit without any effort, if it just stays there. And Jesus says, he's the vine and we're the branches, and that if we abide in him, there's a couple of really great promises. "If you abide in me, and my word abides in you, you can ask what you will, and I'll do it". Now, obviously, it needs to be God's will also. But if you abide in him, you're gonna know his word, your gonna know his will. And he also says, "If you abide in me, you will bear much fruit". And one of those fruit is joy. Well, what does it mean to abide? It means to live, dwell, and remain in.
You know, so many people think that being a Christian is just goin' to church on Sunday morning, or once a week whenever you go, and that, that's all there is to it. I mean, I don't like it when I ask people, "Are you a Christian"? And they tell me what church they go to. There's so much more to being a Christian than just going to church. We go to church to fellowship with other people, and to learn the Word of God. But then we should take that back out with us, into our lives and live it out in front of people. And so, if you abide in him, you will bear much fruit. But that doesn't mean a little 35 or 40 minute visit on Sunday morning. Jesus wants to be involved in every area of your life.
"Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will direct your path". Talk to him all throughout the day. You don't have to be on your knees with your hands folded to pray. Prayer is just talking to God. Include him in everything that you do. So often, you hear people say, "When I pray, I'll pray about that". Well, you know, just pray about it right now. You don't have to wait until sometime when you think that you're gonna be in a certain posture to pray. Learn how to abide in him, and let Jesus be your best friend, be involved in everything that you do. As believers, we are full of, so many good things, that God puts in us at the new birth. But we have to let those things develop, by letting the Holy Spirit work in us.
John 16:24 says, "Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Now, ask and you will receive, and your joy will be full". You know what we do a lot of times? Instead of asking God to help us with something, we work at it and try, and try, and try, and try, and try to work something out ourselves. We try to change ourselves, instead of asking God to change us. We try to change the people in our lives. We try to figure out our problems, and try all these things that don't work. And many times we just forget about prayer. Prayer is the greatest privilege that you have, and it is the most powerful thing. It is the most powerful privilege and gift that God has given us. Ask and receive by faith, that your joy might be full. And then Jesus says in John 17:13, this just is amazing, "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I'm still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them". In the Amplified, it even brings it out more clearly. He says, "I want my joy, the joy that I have to be filling your souls".
Well, you know what? I don't know how joyful Jesus is, but I have a feeling it's pretty joyful. And I would love to participate in that joy. 'cause I tell you, there's nothing worse than spending a day just being sad, and mad, and discouraged, and depressed, and downtrodden. Joy is wonderful! You know, I'm gonna use the word happy, although happy is based on what's happening, and it's not really what I'm talking about. But, so often, we think just about being happy. And I can remember as a young woman in my twenties, just praying, "God, someday I just wanna be happy". I think really when you get right down to it, that's what people want. They may think they're gonna get that through buying something, or through doing this, or doing that, or doing something else. But really, we just wanna be happy. We wanna enjoy our lives.
Nehemiah 8:10 says, "Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength". You know, in Deuteronomy and in numbers, we read about, the journey that the Israelites made through the wilderness. And it was really, pretty pathetic. It took them 40 years, to make what could have been an 11-day journey. And the biggest reason why they spent so much time out there, was they just kept complaining, and murmuring, and grumbling, and always finding fault with Moses and Aaron, and even with God. And we need to have better attitudes, be more thankful, let the joy of the Lord bubble out of you, and let it be your strength. You know, no matter what kind of problem you have right now, you've got a lot to be joyful about.