What Jesus Said about Joy

June 3, 2012

Does anyone remember Balki’s “Dance of
Joy”?  A few people, does anyone remember
Balki and his cousin Larry?  The sitcom
“Perfect Strangers”?   Does anyone know
what I’m talking about?  I feel so old.  And so for all of you who missed this great
theatre from yesteryear, here is the dance of Joy in its purest form?
Here we are, week four of our series
“What Jesus said About Our Emotions”. 
Since the beginning of May we have looked at what Jesus said about Love,
Hate and Fear.  This morning I want to
look at what Jesus said about being “Happy” about being joyful. 
And I know that sometimes, especially
in church we try and separate those things and we say that happiness is tied to
our outward circumstances while joy is an inward condition.  Even to the point while I was putting this
message together that one commentator I read stated that the root of Happy is
“Hap” the same as “happen” which shows that it is a result of what happens in
our life. I rolled my eyes, decided that I wouldn’t embarrass him by posting
his name and picture.   
But for most of us that’s a really hard
distinction.  If we don’t feel happy we
find it difficult to say that we are actually experiencing joy at that
particular point in our lives.  “I am so
miserable, but deep down I am full of joy.”  
I have met people through the years so have testified to having the “Joy
filled life” but they look like they fell out of the cranky tree and then got
beat with a grumpy stick.  They don’t
look like happy people and most people wouldn’t say that they were filled with
joy either. 
And I know the line; well I’m just not
very demonstrative, that’s just the way I am, I’m smiling on the inside.  Perhaps some of you who were brought up in
Sunday School are familiar with the song “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands,
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands, If you are happy and you know
it and you really want to show it, if you are happy and you know it clap your
hands.”  I’m not sure that we need
to walk around clapping or doing the Dance of Joy, but on the other hand I
don’t think that Christians should go through life in a permanent grump,
looking like they’ve been sucking on lemons.  If you are happy at some point it might be a
good idea to notify your face.
Jesus told his followers there should
be times they “Leap for Joy”, he said they should be “Filled with Joy”, that “Their
sadness would be turned to joy”.  He said
they would have “Abundant Joy” and that nobody would be able to “Steal their
joy”.   And time after time Jesus told those who chose
to follow him to be happy. Not just joyful but to be happy.  And he seemed to indicate that it was
something that we could control, that it was a choice we could make. 
So
what is happy?  It was Abraham Lincoln
who said “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
But
what does it mean to be happy?  I guess
it depends on who you ask.  British
Author Joseph
Addison said “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are
something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”  Which was repeated by Tom Boddett
when he said “They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world.
Someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” 
Ingrid Berman said “Happiness is
good health and a bad memory.”  Daniel
Boone said “All you need for happiness is a good gun, a good horse, and a good
wife.”  And Alan Alda said “It isn’t
necessary to be rich and famous to be happy. It’s only necessary to be rich.”  It was William Lyon Phelps who said  “If happiness truly consisted in physical ease and
freedom from care, than the happiest individual would not be either man or
woman, it would be, I think, an American cow”
But
however you define happiness you need to understand that happy is something you
can decide to be.  Remember you will
either control your emotions or your emotions will control you.  It was Leo Buscaglia 
who wrote “Happiness and love are just a choice away.”
So why should
we be happy? Well Jesus said in John 15:11 I
have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your
joy will overflow! So I guess the short answer is that
it Being Happy is What Jesus Desires for
You. 
Apparently Jesus wanted his
followers to be happy, he said that he taught us what he taught us so that we
would be not only be filled with joy but that our joy would overflow and affect
other people.  Wow!  Stop and chew on that for a while.  Your joy will overflow, you will not be able
to contain your joy, people will think of you as a happy joy filled
person.  It’s unfortunate that if you
asked people outside the church to describe Christians that joy probably
wouldn’t be the first thing that sprung too mind.
Mark Twain once
gave a description  of a gentleman he
knew.  And it fits t a T some Christians
that I’ve met since I’ve been in the ministry. 
None of them here.  Now if’n you
haven’t smiled in 30 years and have the disposition of a hound dog nuzzling a
porcupine I’m really not talking about you, and if you think this description
fits someone you know don’t look around because someone might be staring at
you!  Twain described the man as “A solemn,
unsmiling, sanctimonious old iceberg that looked like he was waiting for a
vacancy on the Trinity.”          
Some Christians
look like they fell off a church.  You
ever see the gargoyles that hang in Churches in Europe? But that isn’t what
Jesus wanted for his followers.    
When Jesus was
praying in the Garden, just hours before his betrayal, his arrest and his execution
this was part of his prayer.   John 17:13 “Now
I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world
so they would be filled with my joy.”  One
of the last things on Jesus mind before he would go to the cross was his desire
for us to be filled with joy. And that should be
reason enough. But in case you need more here are some other reasons why we
should be happy.
Being Happy Will Give You a Better Life  Don’t discount this.  Do you believe that opportunities and
encouragement come into your life through people?  Andy Andrews writes “People want to be around happy
people—not whiners, moaners and groaners. 
Happy people get more opportunities because opportunities come from
people, and people are attracted by happy people.”
If
you are happy, people will like you more and want to be in your company and
that will provide you with more opportunities to be successful.  Doubtful?  
If you were an employer and had to hire someone and you had two
candidates who were equal in every way except one was grumpy and negative and
hard to get along with and the other one was happy and positive and easy to get
along with, which one would you hire?
If
you were a call centre service rep who would you go out of your way to please
the customer on the other end of the phone who is being a jerk or the happy
positive polite person?  If you want good
customer service then be polite and be happy.

And Being Happy Is Good For You.  Honest it is, and if you don’t believe me
then listen to what Solomon has to say in Proverbs
17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s
strength.

This
has actually been substantiated through scientific research.   Hey I mean Solomon knew it 3000 years  ago, but we had to prove it before we would
believe it was right.  They have proven
that laughter changes chemicals in our bodies and releases endorphins promoting
a feeling of well-being.  It doesn’t even
have to be genuine or spontaneous laughter, it can be forced of contrived
laughter and it will still work.  We’ve
known the opposite for years, after all what does worry produce?  Anxiety, sleeplessness, and large gaping
holes in your stomach

So the question has to be:  What are
some of the things that we need to do to become a happy person?

We Become Happy By Being Content.  In every situation that comes your way there
will be something to complain about, and whether you do or not will be your
choice.  Because complaining is an
activity,  just like watching TV is an
activity or going for a walk is an activity. 

So you ask yourself, “what am I going to do tonite?”  And you decide that you are going to watch
TV, so you settle down in your favourite chair and turn on the TV and decide
what you are going to watch.  And in the
same way you can say, “What am I going to do?” 
And then you decide you are going to complain about things.   Here is the great secret if complaining is
an activity than like any other activity it is a choice, a choice you make or
don’t make. 

If you want people to enjoy being around you and present you with
encouragement and opportunities than here is the secret, you ready, get a pen
and write it down because it is important: 
Quit your whining.  Francis Jeffrey said  “The tendency to whining and complaining may
be taken as the surest sign symptom of little souls and inferior intellects.”

Too many of us echo the words of Joe Walsh in his song “Life’s been good to
Me” when he writes.  “I can’t
complain, but sometimes I do.” 

You know as well as I do that the more you complain about something the
worse it seems to get.  It’s like the
tough piece of meat that the more you chew it the bigger it gets until it’s too
big to swallow and too big to spit out and you don’t know what to do with it.

If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the
time to do something about it.  It is
time we all learned the lesson that Paul speaks about in Philippians 4:11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have
learned how to be content with whatever I have.   And remember: don’t complain that you aren’t
getting what you want,  just be thankful
you’re not getting what you deserve.

We
Become Happy By being Thankful 
This
is the opposite of the first point.  And
like complaining gratefulness is an activity. 
It is something you choose to do, you look around you at what you have
in your life and you can either choose to be grateful or not to be grateful,
it’s as simple as that.  Going back to
the words of Paul again the Bible tells us in 
Ephesians 5:20 And give thanks for everything to
God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As a matter of fact almost every
complaint can be turned into an opportunity to give thanks.  Car won’t start? You should be thankful that
you have a car that starts most of the time. Service slow in the restaurant?  How about being thankful that you can afford
to go to a restaurant in the first place. 

We live in a blessed country, and the things we complain about the most are
some of our greatest blessings, our health care, our roads, our politicians and
the taxes we pay.  Benjamin
Franklin  “Constant complaint is the
poorest sort of pay for all the comforts we enjoy.”  And if you don’t believe me than plan
on travelling with me to West Africa next January.

Matthew Henry was
a Bible Scholar from the 1700’s who once was accosted by thieves and relieved
of his wallet.  This is what he wrote in
his diary concerning the entire incident, “Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second,
because, although they took my wallet, they did not take my life; third,
because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because, it
was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

And don’t just have a grateful heart, have a grateful mouth as well.  Take time to thank people for the things they
do in your life and not just the “big” things. 
Don’t forget to thank the person at Tims who pours your coffee, or the
person at Sobey’s who bags your groceries. 
When was the last time you thanked your garbage man?  Do you realize what a mess we’d live in if it
wasn’t for our garbage collection? 

And show your gratitude to your family, your spouse and your kids.  Thank them for what they do.

The last point is by far the simplest to implement and yet I think it’s the
one that will benefit us the most, both internally and externally.

We Become Happy By Being Happy

 You understand the power of
a smile, right?  A smile actually has the
power to make you feel better.  Medical
research has shown that smiling causes the brain to release endorphins, which
is the chemical in our bodies that gives us a feeling of wellness and fights
pain.  As well research tells us that
smiling increase your blood flow, reduces your blood pressure and lowers
stress.  And it doesn’t even have to be a
real smile, you can trick your body simply by smiling. 
You say, “what if I don’t feel like
smiling?”  Smile anyway; my philosophy
when it comes to smiling is “Fake it til you make it.” If I’m not happy I still
try to smile when I’m around people.    
And you realize the power of your smile? 
Smiles are contagious so when you smile others smile and that release
endorphins in them, making them feel better. 
You literally have the power to change someone’s day and that may change
their life.
That’s part of why I use humour
when I preach, I want people to feel better when they leave church than when
they arrived and if I can get you to laugh and smile you will. 
I think Jesus smiled a lot,
why?  Because people wanted to be around
him, because little kids wanted to be around him and I don’t think that would
be the case if he had of been a scowler. 
Andy Andrews says “Your smile is
your calling card.  It is the most potent
weapon you have.  With your smile, you
can forge bonds, break ice, and calm storms. 
Use your smile constantly.  The
power of who you are is revealed when you smile.”
So where are you at today?  Are you ready to choose to be happy?  You say but I don’t feel very joyful.  I believe that joy is a conscience
decision.  It is something deliberate
that we decide “I will have joy.”  We all
know that when we are happy on the inside that it causes us to smile. But
social scientists have discovered something really neat, they have discovered
that if we smile that it makes us happy on the inside.  Try it, smile, you are feeling better all
ready.
I’m not trying
to put anyone on a guilt trip about their emotions, I know that we go through
seasons in our life where being joyful is very difficult if not
impossible.  Jesus wasn’t happy all the
time, we are told that there were times that he cried in grief, there were
times he was angry, there were times he was frustrated but those can’t be the
emotions that control our lives. 
Things may be
tough right now but it will pass, honest. 
Every night has a dawn, every storm has an end, every mountain has a
crest.  King David struggled with
depression throughout his life, just read the psalms, but he also had a grip on
this joy thing.  Listen to what he wrote
in Psalm 30:5 Weeping
may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.   In the scripture that was read earlier
Jesus told his disciples John 16:22 “So
you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no
one can rob you of that joy.”  There
will be times in your life that won’t be joyful, happy times, and God never
intended for you to put on your happy face during those times.  When Lazarus died, Jesus wept.  Solomon wrote in the Ecclesiastes 3:1& 4 For
everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.  . . A time to cry and a
time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.
Let each one of us learn to laugh,
learn to rejoice always and remember when you’re laughing to learn to laugh at
yourself, because as John Powell “Learn to laugh
at yourself and you’ll never ceased to be amused.” If your joy is
based on circumstances this morning then you need to give your life over to the
Lord and let Him place His joy within. 
Remember, When you were born, you cried
and everybody else was happy. The only question that matters is this: When you
die, will YOU be happy when everybody else is crying?” 
Here is your
promise for today, Romans 4:7-8 “Oh, what joy for those whose
disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for
those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin.”