Is Joy Possible?

Is Joy Possible?

Joy is in abundance through and because of Jesus Christ

I want to thank Pastor Trent for giving me the opportunity to stand before you this morning and deliver God’s Word.

It seems like we have been in the Christmas season since about July. It seems like earlier and earlier the Christmas season starts up. There’s no way to avoid it. It seems inevitable. You go to the store, and you’re going to hear Christmas music, and you’re going to hear a repeat of the same 3 songs maybe by 15,000 different artists.  But you can’t get away from it. No matter how hard you try, you cannot get away from the Christmas season.

And whenever we go and see those decorations in the stores, inevitably, we’re going to come across something that references the word “joy.” Right, we always see those decorations that say “joy.” Now for the music lovers in the congregation, maybe your mind goes to Joy to the World. Now for the classic rockers in the congregation, maybe you go to a little Three Dog Night. Now for those of you that are having flashbacks to your childhood church days, maybe you’ve got the joy where? Down in your heart – absolutely.

So, we’ve all got this idea and this imagery of joy, but I would be willing to bet that if we were to turn on the TV, turn on the radio, scroll through our social media feeds, we’d probably find anything but joy, and I think we would be safe to say that the world could use a little bit more joy than what we have today.  So, I want you to think to yourself, how do you define joy? How would you characterize joy in your life?

Blogger Maria Borla surveyed people between the ages of 3 and 93, pretty good wide range of ages, to see how they defined joy.

A 5-year-old said, “Joy is chocolate milk in my tummy.”

An 8-year-old said, “Joy is playing with my puppy.”

A 20-year-old, they’re kind of going into young adult age, said, “Joy is feeling connected to the world and those within it, but also feeling connected to oneself. True joy is finding your version of happiness.”

A 21-year-old, who I think was born in the wrong generation, said, “Joy is love, whatever version that takes.”

A 45-year-old said, “Joy is fresh air, farm animals, and open fields, the views from a mountain, good food. Joy is peace, harmony, good music and dancing.”

I think me and Bub can relate to this one. An 83-year-old said, “Joy is a cup of coffee while playing a game of chess.”  I can ignore the chess, but I do like a good cup of coffee.

But I think all of us would probably agree more with this five-year-old.  He said, “Joy is I just don’t know.” And I think that’s really where most of us actually are. We don’t really know what true joy is.

Some of those definitions made us laugh and chuckle. Some of them actually left me scratching my head like I don’t really understand what they mean, so I looked it up in the dictionary and joy is defined as this.

It is the emotion evoked by wellbeing, success or good fortune, or by the prospect of possessing what one desires, to experience, great pleasure, or delight.

So, if we use those definitions, how would you rate your own joy?  Well, I think the reality is that it would be hard to define because it’s going to be very circumstantial and it’s going to be very short lived. And I think that’s where the problem comes in is we’ve got this vision of joy that seems really kind of passerby. So this morning, I want us to look and explore and answer the question: is true everlasting Joy possible and is it something that is much more long term than these things? Just like the five-year-old, how long is that chocolate milk going to last? Well for me, it’ll last a long time because I don’t like chocolate milk, but for a young child it may only be temporary.

So, I want to start out with a foundational statement which is going to give us a lens to view everything that we talk about this morning, and it is found in 2 Corinthians 1:20.  This is what we find:

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NLT) – For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” ascends to God for His glory.

You see, all the promises of God to His people in the Old Testament have been fulfilled, and they were pointing to the coming of the Messiah and that’s what we just celebrated at Christmas. We celebrated the coming of the Savior, born in a stable at Christmas, and that’s what we celebrate.  And that’s what Paul was talking about in Corinthians that all of those promises of the Old Testament are fulfilled in the coming of Christ.  Pastor Trent just finished his series in Ruth, the coming of the Messiah, the King is coming, and that is what has happened. The Messiah has come. Jesus has come. The Atoning Sacrifice has come.

This verse is important for us to understand as we look at our passage in Psalms, because what it helps us understand is that there are no gaps between God’s promises and what He said He’s going to do, and that should give us great encouragement, and that should give us great hope because how would it be if God promised something and then there’s a gap. Because where do you fill that gap in? I’ve heard it said that the space between the promise of God and the fulfillment of God is filled with faith and obedience. And that’s where we find ourselves because we find ourselves oftentimes in that wilderness, waiting for God to fulfill that promise. And we must take those steps of faith in relying on who He is.

So, if you have your Bibles, I would like for you to turn to Psalm 16. Now, our focus first is going to be verse 11, but we need some contextual verses to help us get to that point. So, we’re going to start out by looking at verses one and two.

Psalm 16:1-2 (ESV):  Preserve me, O God, for in You I take refuge. 2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You.”

Now the psalmist, which is David in this particular psalm, he’s crying out to God – preserve me, O God, preserve me. He’s pleading with God to protect him, to watch over him, to stay close to him. He’s wanting to stay in close contact and in close fellowship with God. He doesn’t want God to be very far away from him. David says it’s in You that I find my hope. Because of You and who You are, I am going to take refuge in You. I’m going to put my trust in You.

So, this morning I want us to look at three foundational truths that come out of this Psalm to help us answer the question: is joy possible? The first truth I want us to remember is this:

1 – Remember Who God is.

Now that seems simple, especially in a church setting. We would think that’s pretty much fundamental and basic. Remember Who God is, but let me ask this question. Have you been down in the trenches? Have you been fighting those battles? Have you been going through those difficult times? Have you been going through the wilderness, and it seems like you have no idea Who God is, much less where He is. And it’s in those times where we must think back. We must remember Who God is, and that’s what David is actually doing here.

You know, oftentimes we use the word God, Lord, Jesus. We use all of those interchangeably, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s perfectly fine. But in this passage, if we’re not careful, we’re going to overlook some of the power of what King David says when he addresses God.

First off, he says preserve me, O God, and this is the Hebrew name El, and this name is identifying God as the strong one, the omnipotent one, the all-powerful one. Do you need God to show up in powerful ways in your life? That’s what David is doing – calling on God, and saying all powerful one, I am calling on You. So verse one could be summarized as saying, please keep me close to You, the strong and all powerful One. Because of You and Who You are, I put my trust in You. Because of Who You are, I put my trust in You.

You know, trust is a very fragile thing. It may take years and years and decades to build up, but how quick does it take to shatter it? Just like that. And what David is saying is I put my trust in You, because I know Who You are. I know who you are.

And then David continues on and says because I know of that, he goes into verse two and says I call on the name of the Lord. Now, if you’ll notice in your scriptures the name of the LORD is in small caps and anytime you see that in the Old Testament, that is the covenant name of God, Yahweh. It is the one true God, so David is calling on the covenant name of God, the one true God, the holy one.

And then he says, you are my Lord. Now, you’ll notice that that “Lord” looks a little bit different. And David is calling on God, my Lord, my Yahweh. And then he says, you are my Lord. This is Adonai, which means my master or the one who has power and authority. It would be like us, saying Jesus is our Lord and our Savior.

So, we could summarize verse 2 like this or the first part: You are my Strength, my Master and the One True God.

Now, I think as we are in the busyness of Christmas, there’s a lot of things combating for our attention. And there’s a lot of things that honestly can take that place of God. And we need to take a step back and remember Who God is and the position that He takes in our life.

David then concludes and says everything that is good is from You and You alone. Nothing in me is good. Pastor John Piper says this about David’s statement. “God is my highest treasure.” And I think each of us needs to kind of reorient ourselves to recognize God is our highest treasure, and nothing that we have to offer to God is going to give Him any more goodness.

God is good because He is God. Nothing that we can bring will do anything about that. It is only because of God and God alone. Corrie Ten Boom said this. “There are no ifs in God’s world and no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety. Let us pray that we always know that.”

And what she’s saying is I always want to be in the center of God’s will, no matter what kind of chaos is going on around me. No matter what kind of difficulties I face, I always want to be in the center of God’s will. So, we could summarize verse 2 this way: You are my Strength, my Master and the One True God. You are the Author and Provider of all good things. It’s not from me.

James 1:17 echoes it this way. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights with Whom there is no variation for shadow due to change.” God does not change. Everything good comes from God and God alone. Remember, our foundational passage talks about Jesus being the fulfillment of all of those promises, and we certainly know that everything good comes from God.

Now in the next section of verses, verses 3 through 7, David talks about how he is not going to follow other idols. He’s not even going to utter their names because he wants everything about him to be about God. He wants to pursue God. He wants to remain close to God. He wants to remain in close fellowship with God because he knows that is where he needs to be in order to have the fellowship and the sustaining power, in order to tackle the things that come from this world.

So, then we come to verses 8 and 9 as we approach our focal passage. In verses 8 and 9, we read this.

Psalm 16:8-9 (ESV):  I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.  9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

This brings us to our second truth.

2 – Remember what God has done.

Because of Who God is, David is able to say with confidence that he will not be shaken. Have you ever found yourself in battles where it feels like you’re just rattled to the utter core? That it is like everything around you is falling? Everything around you is collapsing? You really don’t know which way to turn.

Now, David didn’t always make the right choices. David didn’t always go the right way, but David knows and he can say with assurance that because of what God has done, how God has been with him, he can say with confidence that I will not be shaken because I know Who is with me. I know Who is walking by my side. David is confident in what God has done because he knows Who God is. He knows that God has not left him. He knows how God has taken every step with him.

There’s an interesting word in the middle of verse nine. It says, “therefore.” It begins to transition David’s thought, and it begins to go down a path of where we’re headed, to peel the layers back of understanding what this true joy is that we are trying to identify.

Some of your translations may say at the end of verse nine that “my flesh shall rest in hope.” During this Christmas season, can any of you say you would really like some rest? Now, maybe outside of Christmas season, may any of you say I really could use some rest? Now I’m not talking about taking a nap. I’m actually talking about finding rest in your soul because there’s so many things going on around you. You find yourself in the midst of a battle that you really have nowhere to turn. You feel almost paralyzed by fear. But yet, we can still find hope in Christ, and we can rest securely in Him.

Now watch this in verse 10. “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol or to the grave or let your holy one see corruption.”

Now, because of the confidence that that David had in God’s presence here on Earth, David knew that God was going to be with him as he walked through death’s door. Now an interesting thing happens. It says at the end of that verse, “or let your holy one see corruption.” Now don’t let that word “corruption” kind of trip you up, because the corruption he is talking about is the decaying of the body or rotting in the grave. So David is saying you will not abandon my soul in the grave. You will not let your holy one see corruption.

Now, is David considered a holy one? Was David considered flawless? No, I don’t think he was, and I think certainly David had his issues. Did David’s body decay in the grave? Absolutely, it did. So, what in the world could David be talking about here? Well, over in the book of Acts at Pentecost, Peter was preaching his sermon. You remember the powerful sermon of Peter, and as he was preaching, thousands of people came to know Christ as Lord and Savior. Peter says in Acts 2:25-28, he actually quotes these verses in Psalms, and he said that David was actually pointing to the coming of the Messiah, the coming of Christ as being the Holy One. So David is actually talking about Christ, and this Psalm is actually considered a messianic Psalm as it points to Jesus. So what David is saying is you will not abandon me in Sheol. You will not leave me in the grave. You will not leave me as I walk through death’s door. You are still going to remain with me.

Remember when Christ died on the cross? Did he stay in the grave? This is not an Easter sermon, but it’s what we talk about at Easter. No, what did Christ do from the grave? He arose. He is no longer in the grave. He defeated death’s door and that’s what David is talking about. Because Christ defeated death, Christ will walk us through death’s door. It’s not something that we have to be afraid of. It’s not something that we have to be fearful of.

David knew that the promises of God were fulfilled in Christ. And that actually brings us to our third foundational truth in this Psalm, and that is

3 – Remember why Christ came.

Now we just celebrated Christmas yesterday, and the previous weeks and the previous months. We celebrated Christmas for a while, but yesterday was the day we celebrate Christmas, the coming of Jesus, Jesus’ birth. But now I want you to listen and read verse 11.

Psalm 16:11 (ESV) – You make known to me the path of life. In Your presence there is fullness of joy. At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

David is saying three things in this one verse. Remember in John, the Gospel of John, Jesus says I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father, but through Me, so we know the relationship with Christ is very important and it leads to everlasting life. And we know that Christ is the path to life, and we know that to be true when we pass from this life to the next, that our bodies will physically die, but we will be forever in the presence of God.

While in Psalm 16:11, it is pointing to that time where we will walk through death’s door, and we will be forever in the presence of God, I think it is also talking about our time here on Earth as well – of being in the presence of Christ through his Holy Spirit.

But did you hear it? Did you hear what was in that passage? Did you hear what it said? In Your presence, there is what? Fullness of joy. There it is. There is the ingredient to joy – remaining in the presence of God.

David tells us in Psalm 105 that we are to seek the Lord’s presence and to seek His face continually. James 4:8 tells us to draw near to God, and He will draw near to us. If we pursue after God, He is not going to turn away from us. If we desire to be in His presence, He will not deny us or He will not reject us. But did you notice that when we are in His presence, not only do we receive joy, what do we receive? Fullness of joy, abundance of joy, more than we can contain.

So, what are we supposed to do with all of that extra joy? Do we save it up for those non-joyful days? Are they like rollover minutes that we can just kind of hold them until we need them later? Now, what are we supposed to do with that abundance of joy? Share it! We give it to other people, because when it overflows, we cannot contain it. We can give it to others.

Do you know some people that need some joy?  Reed, I bet there’s some people you work with that could use some joy. Paul, I bet there’s some people you work with that could use some joy. Hannah, I bet there’s some people you work with that can use some joy. And maybe you’re the only one that can give them that joy. Maybe they don’t have anybody else in their life that has a relationship with Christ, and you are there for that specific purpose to give them the joy and the hope that is found in Christ.

Now I know what you may be thinking – Chad, this is the Old Testament. This doesn’t count. This is not the New Testament. This is all before Christ came. Do you remember in John when he was talking about I am the vine; you are the branches? In John Chapter 15, verse five, we read this: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit. Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” But let’s go to verse 11 and watch this. “These things have I spoken to you that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.”

See, it’s not just an Old Testament concept. How can Jesus’ joy be inside of us? Because of the Holy Spirit. When we come into a relationship with Him, we have God living inside of us through the Holy Spirit. And because of that, our joy is full. Jesus confirms what David has spoken about in the Psalms.

Pastor Chuck Swindoll said, “Joy is an attitude of the heart determined by confidence in God.”

Author Mel Walker said, “Real genuine joy is a byproduct of having a strong and intimate relationship with Christ, choosing to respond to external circumstances with an inner contentment and satisfaction because we know that God will use these experiences to accomplish His work in our lives.”

So let me ask you a question. Is joy possible? The answer is a resounding YES! Not only is joy possible, but joy is also attainable. Joy is sustainable. Joy is in abundance through and because of Jesus Christ, but don’t overlook the first part of that – being in His presence.

When we are in a tough situation, what is it easy to do? It’s easy to focus on what? The situation. It’s going to take a shifting of our mind that in the midst of those difficult times, we seek after His face. In the midst of those unknown, uncertain circumstances, seek His face. In the midst of difficult decisions that we don’t know what to do, seek His face. Allow the circumstances and the situations to help us ask the question – Lord, what are you trying to teach me in this situation? Lord, what are you trying to show me about Yourself in this situation? Lord, how can I glorify You in this situation?

Because you see, as we pursue Him, the first part of Psalm 16, verse 11, says He will make our path known. You see, it’s in that pursuit of Him that we find the direction that He wants us to go, and we find the joy in the midst of those situations. And that is what He wants us to do. He wants us to seek His face and an all out pursuit of Who he is. It means asking God what are You trying to teach me? In His presence, there is fullness of joy. In his presence, there is peace. In His presence, there is hope.

You may be asking what does all this mean? I’ve tried everything I possibly can to try to find joy. I’ve done everything I can to attain joy. I bought a new house. I bought a new car. I got the job I wanted. I met this guy, this girl that I thought was it, but yet it has gone away. How can I obtain this type of joy?

Pastor Louie Giglio tells a story that I think summarizes it very, very well. He was coming home from a trip late at night. His wife was already in the bed. Like most husbands, he didn’t want to make a lot of noise to wake the wife up. Invariably, what happens? They make a lot of noise, but he didn’t want to wake his wife up. Well, when he got home, he realized that he didn’t have the key to his house. So, he didn’t want to ring the doorbell, cause that would certainly wake her up. He didn’t want to bang on the door because that would certainly wake her up. So, he said he remembered that he had a key at the office. Let me go get my key, so he drives to the office. He realized he couldn’t get into the office either, so he drives back to the house. He didn’t want to walk around to all the windows seeing if any are open, because that would look a little suspicious in the middle of the night. So he said, I was really out of ideas. I’ve tried every single thing that I could do to get into my house and be with my family. So he said, well, I said just sit there and I kind of propped my hand up on the door just to try to think of what else I could do, and he said when I propped my hand on the door, I heard the lock click and the door opened. The door was already open. All he had to do was walk through it.

You see, Christ came as a baby that we just celebrated. He left his throne in heaven to come down to Earth to live the perfect life that none of us can live. Grew up just like you and I. He had to have his diapers changed. He had to be fed. He had to grow. He had to mature. He had to go through those difficult relationships of teenage years. But He lived a perfect life without sin. But He came to die on the cross, to pay the price that you and I deserve to pay, which is death. He gave His life on the cross as the perfect atoning sacrifice for you and me so that there could be a way. There could be a door for us to enter into God’s family.

He died on the cross. He defeated death and the grave, and He showed His power through His resurrection. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding, praying for you and me. Did you know that every prayer you utter goes through Jesus Christ the Son? He has made a way. He has made a door available for you and me – direct access to God, the Father.

The door is opened. The way is made. It comes down to us admitting that we’re a sinful, wretched person deserving of death and hell. But because of what Christ has done on the cross, a way has been made by you placing your faith and trust in Who Jesus is and what He did on the cross, repenting of those sins, turning away from them, confessing them, and turning to God and saying, Lord, I want to place my faith and trust in You and make You my Lord and Savior – that you can enter in that relationship with God.

So, I’ll leave you with this. Do we live in a world that needs more joy? I think we could all say yes. If we have a relationship with Christ, we have that joy to share with those in a dark world. Satan will try to use the circumstances of your life to steal your joy. Jesus said no one can steal your joy. So, Satan will try to suppress it. He’ll try to push it deep, deep, deep down so you will focus on your surroundings. You’ll focus on your circumstances, so you will forget about what Christ did and why Christ came.

But I’ll leave you with this. The little kid song, I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart to stay. That’s right. When Christ comes in, He never leaves you. You’ve got the joy within you, in a relationship with Christ.

Let’s close in prayer. Most gracious God, I just thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ. I thank You for sending Him to die on the cross. I thank You that a way was made of forgiveness. Thank You for being our Redeemer. Thank You for loving us. Thank You for coming and dying on the cross for our sins. I pray if there’s anyone here today that doesn’t have that personal relationship with You, I pray that they will come to know You as Lord and Savior before they walk out of this door. I pray that they will come into that fullness of joy to share with others, and if there’s one here today that doesn’t have or has that relationship but has strayed away, I pray that today is the day that they repent of their sins and return to You.

Thank you, dear Lord, that there is fullness of joy found in You. In Christ’s Name we pray, Amen.