Summary: This message on reclaiming joy in your life deals with the sources of joy as well as paths toward recovering joy in your life.

- When we’re stressed and distressed by the state of our lives, we find ourselves in pathetic condition:

- we’re irritated by even the smallest inconveniences and problems,

- we rarely laugh,

- we’re quick to snap at people,

- we flop into bed each night, exhausted,

- we have no joy in our lives.

- It is this last matter that is of particular concern to us this morning, because I believe there is a

close relationship between the presence of stress in our lives and the absence of joy in our lives.

- Many Christians have given up on joy in their lives and presumed a dry religious ritual is the most they can hope for. What would Jesus say to those whose well has run dry?

- Our first concern is. . .

What Does Joy Have To Do With Following Jesus?

1. The Christian life is not supposed to be a long-faced, double-portion-of-prunes existence.

- Many have an image of the “serious Christian” as a never-smiling Puritan whose lack of humor is evidence of his piety. In reality, Paul said that joy was one of the evidences that the Spirit is active in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).

2. Jesus was the life of the party (which is another way to say that Jesus was full of joy).

- Jesus was a person that sinners actually wanted at their parties. How many modern-day preachers can you say that about? How many modern-day Christians can you say that about?

- Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:39, and Luke 19:7 are a few examples of the desire sinners had to be around Him.

- Further, consider that the first miracle Jesus did was one to keep the celebration going (John 2:1-10). (Also consider that, in Jesus’ story of the prodigal son, the first thing the Father did at the prodigal’s return was to throw a party (Luke 15:22-24).)

3. Although not without troubles, the normal Christian life is to be brimming with joy.

- Luke 2:10, Matthew 13:44, and John 17:33 are a few examples of the joy Jesus desires to impart into our lives. There is also, of course, the Galatians 5 passage.

Where Does That Kind Of Joy Come From?

1. Deeper joy is not found in power, position, or possessions, but rather in relationships.

- My favorite time of the day is late in the evening, when the kids are asleep and I just get to lay there and talk to my best friend (my wife). Conversely, when she and the kids are gone, however busy I stay doesn’t change the fact that I am mostly just feeling lonely.

2. We don’t relate to God through a religion, but rather through a relationship.

- In John 15 (see especially v. 11), Jesus shares the simple but profound idea that a life of joy and

fruitfulness comes by abiding in Him. That is, it is the closeness of the relationship that matters most.

- His relationship with His Father was Jesus’ primary source of joy (He even referred to it as His “bread”).

- Therefore, our greatest source of joy is a relationship. . . with God.

3. Jesus’ second greatest source of joy came from giving Himself away for those around Him.

- If Jesus’ primary joy was His relationship with His Father, next in line was His relationships with those around Him.

- The only time Jesus is described in the gospels as “full of joy” (NIV) is in Luke 10:21. The

occasion? The disciples’ first attempt at doing Kingdom work on their own. Jesus was full of joy at their victory (which He, of course, had made possible).

- Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him.” What joy is that? The joy of being able to be eternally in relationship with us.

How Can I Have That Deeper Kind Of Joy In My Life?

1. Decide if you’re satisfied where you are or if you want your saucer full.

- There’s a great old song that says, “I’m drinking from my saucer, ‘cause my cup has overflowed.” Do you want to live a life of overflowing joy?

- Psalm 51:12 contains a prayer for you to pray.

- You’ll never get to that deeper joy unless you decide you’re dissatisfied with where you’re at right now.

2. Recognize that joy increases the closer you get to God.

- You cannot be distant from God or preoccupied with other priorities in your life and still expect to enjoy a deeper joy.

- Getting closer to God is not about being “religious;” it’s about abiding in the fullness of the joy of the Lord. It’s about receiving the abundant life He wants to give (John 10:10).

3. Search for ways to make those around you happy.

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