Joyce Meyer - Stop Diluting Your Joy
Well, thank you for joining us today on "Enjoying Everyday Life". And we're talking about joy and enjoyment today. So I think it's going to be a fun and a happy day. I've actually titled this, "Stop diluting your joy". You know, we have joy. You might say well, I've lost my joy, or I wish I had more joy or God give me joy, but we have the Holy Spirit as believers, as children of God, the Holy Spirit lives on the inside of us, and all of the Fruit of the Spirit is in each and every one of us, but it does need to be developed. We need to choose to operate in the Fruit of the Spirit, and joy is one of those fruits of the Spirit. The Bible says in Psalm 100:2 and I love this, "Serve the Lord with gladness! Come before his presence with singing"!
I remember a single lady who was in her late forties and had never been married, matter of fact, she didn't even date that often and she was really beautiful, it had nothing to do with the way she looked, it just hadn't worked out for her yet. And she said that, God had told her to serve him with gladness. And I think that's so important, we find so many things to be sad about and so many things to be unhappy about, but I want you and I want to do the same thing, make a decision to serve the Lord with gladness. And you know, when we talk about joy, we're not talking about having to laugh all the time and go around with this huge grin on your face all the time. Joy is defined as anything from extreme hilarity to a calm delight. That's kind of a combination of different definitions I've seen over the years.
And I love the part about a calm delight, you know, that's the way I want to live. I wanna live with a calm delight, no matter what my circumstances are doing, I want to have that peace and quiet on the inside of me and that joy that only God can give. The Bible talks about joy unspeakable and I think that's the kind of joy that we have when there's no reason for us to have joy, but it's the joy that God gives us as the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I love this scripture too, this is a very interesting scripture. You know, joy is power. And that's one of the things I wanna get across to you today. Is that the more joyful you are, the more powerful you are and the more joyful you are, the more the enemy is afraid of you. Whereas he would like to make you afraid of him, I believe that he is afraid of us, he knows he can't defeat us if we hang on to our joy.
I heard one preacher say one time that God's not after... I mean, the devil's not after your stuff, he's after your joy. Why? Because the joy of the Lord is our strength, there's power in being joyful. And so Deuteronomy 28:47-48 says, "Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve your enemies". Wow! He said ok, "You wouldn't serve me joyfully, even when everything was going good," and you know, a lot of times we're like that, things can be going so good in our life, but we have a tendency maybe to look at or focus on the one or two things or maybe even four or five things that aren't going good and we fail to remember and to be thankful for all the things in our life that are going so good.
Perhaps, today, you're having a rough time emotionally and everything about your emotions feel down and you certainly wouldn't describe yourself as joyful today, but maybe, just maybe, it's because, yes, you might feel that way because you have a problem, but in the midst of the things that you wish God would change, are you also remembering and being thankful for all the many, many wonderful blessings of God in your life? I have to remind myself to do that sometimes, and I'm also reminding you today, to do the same thing. But let me share this scripture again, 'cause I think this is so powerful, "Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of your prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve your enemies". "The joy of the Lord is our strength".
Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that. Think about that. I think a good laugh makes you stronger. I was talking to my daughter this morning about just the power of laughter and you know, there's so much going on in our world, it seems like all the time and especially right now there seems to be a lot of things going on, and they're not all happy things, or not all things that you know, leave us feeling really great about the future but we can look to the Word of God and feel great about the future no matter what is going on in the world. When we're born-again, we're born-again into a living hope, the apostle Peter said. And hope is the expectation that something good is going to happen at any moment.
So the joy of the Lord is your strength and I'm encouraging you today not to let the devil steal your joy, and if you have given it over to him, then I encourage you to start taking it back and be as happy as you possibly can be. Who knows, laughing may very well be a weapon. You know, the Bible says that God laughs at his enemies. Well, that's not like a flippant, "Oh ha ha, the enemy's a big joke," no, he's actually very dangerous and we need to realize that and resist him and stand against him. But in the midst of it, do you know when you have a problem, the more joyful you can be, the more harmful it is to the enemy? I don't know why we think if we've got problems that we automatically have to be sad and be all down in the dumps. It's okay for you to enjoy yourself while God is working on your problem.
Jesus said, it's recorded in John 16:33, "In the world, you will have tribulation. But cheer up! I have overcome the world". And the Amplified Bible says, it amplifies that and says, "I have deprived it of the power to harm you and I have conquered it for you". This is not a promise that the enemy won't come against us, it's a promise that he will, "In the world you will have tribulation. But cheer up", because the end is always gonna work out good, "All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose".
Now in Philippians 4:4, Paul said this while in prison, he wasn't having good circumstances, he wasn't in a good place, he wasn't being treated justly or fairly and he said, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again, I say rejoice". I think if something is said once in the Bible, we should pay attention, but if it's twice, we really need to perk up and pay attention. Joy and enjoyment is God's will for you. I want you to get this, joy and enjoyment is God's will for you. Now, I don't know about you, but I had a sad upbringing and we didn't have much joy in our house, matter of fact, we didn't have hardly any, and unless my father was in a good mood, he didn't want anybody else to be in a good mood. I can actually remember getting in trouble for laughing and I know that sounds ridiculous, but he was just an unhappy man, and so other people's joy aggravated him.
And so, I was always a hard worker but I didn't know much about enjoying life and I even would feel guilty about it sometimes, like I should always be trying to solve some kind of a problem. And so John 10:10, which is the scripture that this program is based on, has been very important to me because Jesus said, it says in the book of John, that Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy," but Jesus said, "I came," I love those two words. I'm so thankful that he came aren't you? "I came that you might have and enjoy your life". Have and enjoy your life, "And have it in abundance (to the full, until it overflows)".
You know what, I believe our joy is a large part of our witness to those that are lost. Some Christians, especially real legalistic, religious ones, are just very sour and somber and deep, and I don't think it's a great witness to the rest of the world. They need to see us having maybe the same kind of problems they're having, yet being joyful in the midst of those problems. I want you to take a quick inventory. How joyful are you on a regular basis? Would you say you're joyful 25% of the time, 50% of the time, 75% of the time or have you matured spiritually to the point where you can be joyful in any kind of a situation because you know that God loves you and he's gonna take care of you and work it out for good. He has deprived it of the power to harm you. You may go through but thank God you're going through and you're gonna come out on the other side victorious.
So, there are so many scriptures, especially, in the book of John about this joy, and I just want to make sure that you realize that joy is God's will for you. So, listen to this, I just read you John 10:10. John 16:24, "Until now you've not asked for anything in my name. Ask, and you will receive, and your joy will be full". So what's he talkin' about? Why is my joy gonna be full because I asked? Well, a lot of times we try to do things our self. We try to change the people around us, we try to change ourselves, we try to promote ourselves in life, we try to make our ministries grow, or our businesses grow, seems like we're always trying to do something and God wants us to believe. Yes, there's an effort that we make but it's an effort in the Holy Spirit and not an effort in the flesh.
And so Jesus is letting us know that if you will ask, instead of trying to do everything all by yourself, remember apart from him we can do nothing, but it takes us a long time to understand that, if you'll ask, "And receive my help your joy is going to increase". John 15:11, he said, "I've told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete". Well, if you read verses 1-10 before you get to 11, he's talking about abiding in him and abiding in his love. Remind yourself everyday that God, the Creator of the universe loves you, and he has his eye on you, and you're the apple of his eye. And he's chosen you. When you think about what God has done for you, it's gonna bring joy into your life.
And then John 17:13, and this is really like pretty amazing, I don't know how happy do you think Jesus was? I think he was probably pretty joyful, pretty joyful, he might have been on the side of extreme hilarity, I don't know. But I love it anytime I see a picture of Jesus where he's laughing. John 17:13, "And now I'm coming to you: I say these things while I'm still in the world, so that my joy may be made full and complete and perfect in them," he's praying to his father, "That they may experience my delight fulfilled in them, and that my enjoyment," not just any kind of enjoyment, but he's saying, "My enjoyment", the same kind of joy that I have, I want that kind of joy to be in you, "May it be perfected in your own souls and may you have my gladness filling your heart".
Well you say, "Joyce that's nice, but I'm just not experiencing that". Well, you know, maybe you're doing things to hinder the flow of joy in your life. Joy is in you, but maybe you're doing some things that water it down or dilute it, where you don't really experience that joy. So I'm gonna give you just a few things that perhaps you could change and then that joy will bubble out of you so much easier. First of all, stop trying to figure everything out in your life. Trusting God always means we're gonna have unanswered questions. Lay aside reasoning and all the figuring things out. When I get into reasoning and trying to figure out what's gonna happen in the future, I just get more and more confused and my life gets more and more complicated and I certainly don't feel joyful during those times.
The Bible says that in Proverbs 3, that we are to "Lean not to our own understanding, but in all, with all of your heart and mind you are to trust in God. He will guide your path". If you turn your situation that you have over to him. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding". Wow, somebody right now, has been trying to figure something out and you haven't been very joyful. Well, why not just tell God, "You know what I don't know and I trust you enough to believe that the outcome of this is going to be very good". 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul said, and I love this, "For I have resolved to know nothing when I was among you except Christ and him crucified". Wow, if we can just be satisfied with, "I don't know the answer to all these other things, I don't know what all is gonna happen in the world, I don't know when Jesus is coming back, I don't know what I'm gonna do about my financial situation, but I know the one who does know. Jesus knows, and I'm gonna be satisfied to know him".
Now get ready, because I don't mean this to sound rude, but another way that you can really increase your joy and actually the Bible says and you know I have to remind myself of that sometimes,too. And actually, the Bible says that we should do that. Sometimes we get a false sense of responsibility, and we want to solve everybody else's problems, and I know all about that because I had a big false sense of responsibility. You got a problem, I'll be happy to think about it and meditate on it and try to figure out what you should do and be happy to give you advice. Well, sometimes that's good if somebody really wants help, but a lot of times we're trying to tell people what to do and they don't even want us to tell them what to do. Be careful about getting entangled in all the affairs and the problems that other people have, because you got enough to deal with in your own life. Value peace enough to make sure that you hang on to yours.
Proverbs 18:2 says, "Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but they delight in airing their own opinions". How many times have we lost our peace and started strife in a relationship with somebody else because we got into their business and we're giving them our opinion, aggressively, I might add and they just don't want us to be involved in the situation. We would be so much better off to not ever really give anybody advice unless they ask for it, and sometimes even when people ask for it, they don't necessarily want it, don't meddle in the affairs of others. 1 Peter 4:15, "If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or a thief or any kind of criminal, don't even suffer as a result of being a meddler".
Second thing I would say is, don't make a big deal out of little things. Learn how to pick your battles. My goodness, I was trying to "Help somebody" yesterday and they were actually talking to me about something and they had taken this, what I believe was a pretty minor situation, and they were trying to figure it all out and have a plan for everything that was going to happen in the future. And you know what, I used to be like that and I can fall into that every once in a while now, but it doesn't take me long to turn around and get out of it because I lose my joy when I start doing that and I believe that you'll do the same thing. Forgive quickly. I can tell you, that if you have bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness in your heart right now, you are not experiencing the joy, the fruit of joy in your life.
So, learn how to forgive completely, quickly even as the Lord forgives us. And don't come back with, "Well, you don't know what they did to me," or "You don't know how hard it is". No, I don't, but I tell you what I do know, I do know that God never gives us anything to do, that we can't do. He's not gonna tell me to forgive and not make me able to do it. So, if God has told you, which he has in his word, then you can do it.
Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who is my strength". Here's a good one that will help you, oh this will increase your joy so much. Like yourself, love yourself in a balanced way, love your imperfect, messed up self. You know what, God's working in you, "He that has begun a good work in you, is well able to complete it and bring it to it's finish". And while God is working in your life, you can be joyful and enjoy yourself and enjoy your life. Oh, here's a big one. Stop feeling guilty about every little mistake that you've ever made, and every little mistake that you do make, and even people sometimes will try to put a guilt burden on you because you didn't do what they thought that you should do. And I'm just encouraging you to give up guilt.
And I wanna read a little story as we come to the conclusion of our teaching here today, that I think is cute but really makes a good point. It's called, "Leaving the City of Regret". This person says, "I had not really planned on taking a trip this time of the year and yet I found myself packing, rather hurriedly. The trip was gonna be unpleasant and I knew in advance that no real good would come of it. I'm talking to you about my annual guilt trip". Any of you ever take that trip, probably more than annually.
"I got tickets to fly there on 'Wish I Had Airlines'. It was an extremely short flight. I got my baggage which I could not check, I chose to carry it myself all the way. It was weighted down with a thousand memories of what might have been. No one greeted me as I entered the terminal to the 'Regret City International Airport'. I say international because people from all over the world come to this dismal little town. As I checked into the 'Last Resort Hotel', I noticed that they would be hosting this year's most important event, 'The Annual Pity Party'".
Oh my, how many pity parties did I attend in my life? How many days did I waste feeling sorry for myself and feeling guilty? What about you? Is that speaking to anyone that's watching right now?
"I wasn't gonna miss this great social occasion, many of the town's leading citizens would be there. You know first there would be the 'Done Family', you know, 'Should Have Done', 'Would Have Done', 'Could Have Done'. Then came the 'I Had' family, you probably know them, old 'Wish I Had' and his clan. Of course, the opportunities would be present, 'Missed and Lost'. The biggest family would be the 'Yesterday's', there's far too many of them to count but each one would have a very sad story to tell. Then 'Shattered Dreams' would surely make an appearance. And 'It's Their Fault' would also show up and regale us with their stories or excuses of how things had failed in their life. Each story would be loudly applauded by 'Don't Blame Me' and 'I Couldn't Help It'".
Are you getting this? "Well to make a long story short, I went to this depressing party knowing that there would be no real benefit in doing so". Have you finally figured out that it won't do you any good to spend the whole day feeling sorry for yourself? "And as usual, I became very depressed, but I thought about all the stories of failures brought back from the past and it occurred to me that the remainder of this trip and subsequent pity parties could be cancelled by me". You're the only one that can cancel the pity party that the enemy has invited you to, perhaps, even today.
"I started to truly realize that I did not have to be there, I did not have to be depressed. One thing kept going through my mind, I can't change yesterday, but I do have the power to make today a wonderful day"! You can't change what happened yesterday, but you can enjoy today. "I can be happy, joyous, fulfilled, encouraged as well as encouraging. Knowing this, I left the 'City of Regret' immediately and I left no forwarding address. And I'm sorry for the mistakes I've made in the past, but there is no physical way to undo them. So if you're planning a trip to the 'City of Regret', please cancel your reservation right now. Instead, take a trip to 'Starting Again', I liked it so much that I have now taken up permanent residence there".
You know what? That story tells it all. We're the only ones that can cancel the pity parties, and the depression parties and the discouragement parties that need to be cancelled in our lives. Now there's so much more that could be said about this, and I'm out of time today, but I do have a wonderful offer for you today. It's called, "Enjoying Your Journey" book. And we're offering this to you today for your gift to the ministry of any amount, and all the money that you send in today, all the finances that you give from your heart of generosity, we're going to use just to pay for the time that we have on television. It's not free, it costs and if everybody participates and gives something, it'll all be taken care of. So, thank you that you're here today and I want you to remember that God wants you to enjoy your life. God bless you.