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Not long ago Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University published the World Happiness Report. The report showed that the United States, one of the world’s economically richest countries came in #15 on the Happiness Scale; and our level of happiness has gone down since 2005.
The findings from that report remind us of Jesus words in Luke 12, “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Followers of Christ understand that joy and happiness are not the same. Happiness is the feeling you get when things are going well; it’s based on your circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is a deep sense of pleasure, delight, gladness and well-being that is independent of circumstance. Joy flows from a deeply rooted conviction that not only does God cause all things to work together for the good of those who love Him; but inherent in joy is the sense of delight in God that can cause our heart to smile even if things on the outside seem to be falling apart. In all of life’s circumstances it’s valuable for us to ask ourselves, “Am I relying on my happiness, or does my strength come from the joy of the Lord?”
The word “joy” is used 93 times in the O.T. It’s a Hebrew word that means “glee” or “exceeding joy.” God wants you to be joyful! Perhaps, you feel as if you have lost your joy; how do you get your joy back?
10 principles that can help you walk in joy:
1. Joy is something God can restore
PSALM 51:12, Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (ESV)
God can cause our heart to smile even if things on the outside seem to be falling apart.
Do you remember when you got saved? You were filled with joy. That same joy is not only available to you today but is God’s will for your life. Every day His desire is that we would know His joy in our hearts in such a way that it becomes obvious to people around us… especially those who live with us!
2. Joy is found in God’s presence
PSALM 16:11, You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (ESV)
If you lack joy, make a determined effort to spend time in God’s presence. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, consider His incredible kindness, celebrate how great and powerful God is and you will experience His joy.
3. Joy is the result of righteousness
PSALM 97:11, Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right. (NLT)
ECCLESIASTES 2:26, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. (NLT)
If you have unaddressed sin in your lives, it will diminish your joy. On the other hand, when we are walking with God with a clear conscience, joy increases.
4. Joy is found in delighting in God’s Word
PSALM 119:111, Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. (NIV)
I like the way The Message reads, “I inherited your book on living…”
Some people wish they had a rich old aunt or uncle who would leave them a huge inheritance. Honestly, the best that kind inheritance can bring is a temporary happiness, but the Bible is an inheritance from the Lord; it is better than gold, diamonds, or rubies, and it has been passed down to you. When we see the Bible as treasure we have inherited, invariably, that mindset will lead to joy.
When our words are filled with wisdom, it produces joy.
5. Joy is the result of speaking with wisdom
PROVERBS 15:23, To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is! (ESV)
Have you ever experienced a time when you were involved in a conversation, and suddenly you realized that God had given you wisdom to speak and there was no other explanation other than God was speaking through you? God’s desire is that every one of us who walks with Him would speak life-giving words to the people around us. When our words are filled with wisdom, it produces joy.
6. Joy is produced by righteous hope
PROVERBS 10:28, The hope of the righteous brings joy… (ESV)
What is hope? For the Christian, hope is the anticipation that God will do something good! God has done good to us through His Son Jesus and He will continue to do good in more ways than we can count. Develop the habit of anticipating God’s goodness in your life, and you will have joy!
7. Joy is found in answered prayer
JOHN 16:24, Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (ESV)
Answered prayer brings joy, but you can’t have answered prayer if you don’t pray. And you won’t pray as much if you don’t have a prayer time! Making time to pray is key to making room for joy!
8. Joy is produced by the Holy Spirit
Hope is the anticipation that God will do something good!
GALATIANS 5:22, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy… (ESV)
GALATIANS 5:25, Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (NIV)
One measure of the Spirit’s working in your life is joy. If the Spirit is not producing joy in your life, then it’s important to consider that something in your life may, in fact, be blocking the work of the Spirit in you. Ask the Lord to identify that blockage and remove it so that His joy may flow in your heart.
9. Joy fills our heart as we remember the good things God has done through the people He has placed in our lives
PHILIPPIANS 1:3-5, I thank my God for you every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now. (GNT)
When I think about the people God has put in my life, who they are and what they’ve done, it brings me joy. Refuse to focus on the unkind words and hurts that have come to you from other people. Instead, spend your time thanking God for the people who have developed you, encouraged you, served with you, and you will have joy.
10. Joy comes when we trust the Lord
PSALM 40:4, Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord… (NLT)
Placing our trust in God brings joy. We have a God who loves us more than can we imagine, a God who is more powerful than we can comprehend, and who has promised to help us if we put our trust in Him. Settle it in your heart God wants to help you!