1. Rejoice that you now live under God's blessing and not sin's curse.
  2. - From the Holman New Testament Commentary - Galations 3 - pg. 41.
  3. Thank God that his "grace way" is the best way. - From the Holman New Testament Commentary - Galations 3 - pg. 41.
  4. Be grateful that God has forgiven your sin and given you eternal life. - From the Holman New Testament Commentary - Ephesians 1:18-23 - pg. 95.
  5. Joy is the virtue that corresponds in the Christian life to mere happiness. On the surface they are related. But happiness is dependent on circumstances—when fortunate circumstances are removed happiness is removed with them—while joy is not thus dependent. A Christian can be joyful, therefore, even in the midst of great suffering.  - From the commentary on John 14:16-18 from the Boice Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice.
  6. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (Jn. 15:11).
  7. In Christ, life or death is a win-win situation. - From the Holman New Testament Commentary - Philippians 1 - Pg 212.
  8. Only the followers of Christ can laugh in the face of persecution and death because they know that their present trouble isn't all there is.  They know that someday all will be right and joyful. - Heaven - by Randy Alcorn.
  9. By God's grace, we can laugh on Earth now, even under death's shadow.  God won't only wipe away all out tears, he'll fill our hearts with joy and our mouths with laughter. - Heaven - by Randy Alcorn.
  10. “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (Jn. 16:24).
  11. Joy is the serious business of Heaven. - Heaven - by Randy Alcorn.
  12. Our ship of happiness may not come in today - but it will certainly come in.  Meanwhile, laying claim to Christ's bought-and-paid-for happiness brings us joy today. - Heaven - by Randy Alcorn.
  13. Taken together, these verses show how a cheerful face and a cheerful heart go together.  When your heart is happy, it will produce a smile.  And when you have a cheerful look (literally bright eyes), it will encourage mot only your own spirit but the heart of those around you.  The most important factor in happiness is not our situation but our thoughts.  - From the Holman Old Testament Commentary - Proverbs 15:13,30; 17:22 - Pg 338.
  14. Our attitude is the single most important factor in confronting adversity.  A person with a strong, encouraged spirit can keep going in sickness, but when the spirit is crushed, your inner strength is gone, and there is little that medicine can do to overcome such a collapse.  - From the Holman Old Testament Commentary - Proverbs 18:14 - Pg 338.
  15. Hope is an essential part of the human mind..  In addition to earthly hope, place your hope in heaven, knowing that no matter how difficult life gets on earth, in the end, all will be well.  Help other people find hope too.  You will have a powerful influence on the lives of others if you do.  Hope is the basis for all joy. - From the Holman Old Testament Commentary - Proverbs  - Pg 340.
  16. John 15:11 - These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  This sentence speaks of the Christian’s joy in three senses: joy attained, joy abiding, and joy abounding. Joy is to be attained as a result of the things Jesus had been teaching. This is the reason why the Christian must abide in him, so that the views, outlook, and aspirations of the Master will be those of the disciples as well. This is the reason for the twofold repetition of the word “joy”—“my joy” and “your joy.” The joy of Jesus is to be the joy of the disciple. His joy was a wonderful thing, for it was not deterred by suffering or any other circumstance. In fact, it rejoiced in hardship; for we read that Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). Where did he find that joy? The answer is in his intense desire to do the will of his Father: “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices” (Ps. 16:8–9).  - From the commentary on John 15:11 from the Boice Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice.
  17. Eccl 11:7-8 - Enjoy life because every year of your life is to be celebrated and enjoyed (v. 8a). - For the sixth time in Ecclesiastes, Solomon exhorts us to enjoy life. The phrase “rejoice in them all” indicates that we can find unique, special joys in every stage and age of life. Childhood holds joys that can be found only in the minds and eyes of innocent, trusting, carefree children. Adolescence holds the joys of some newfound independence, an interest in the opposite sex, and a myriad of other firsts. Young adulthood enjoys the early years of marriage and having children, followed by the unparalleled joys of watching your children grow. In our senior years, we reap the good seeds sown earlier in life, and heaven is nearer and dearer than ever before. Life—all of it—is to be celebrated and enjoyed in all its wonderful phases!   - From the reading about Ecclesiastes 11:7-8 in the Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible Old and New Testament Commentary Set (44-Volumes) - by Alpha-Omega Ministries, Publisher: Leadership Ministries Worldwide
  18. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  - From the Maxwell Leadership Bible I Thessalonians 5:16.
  19. Be joyful always.  The key is the word "always."  Christian joy is not bound by circumstances or hindered by difficulties.  - From the Holman New Testament Commentary - I Thessalonians 5:16  pg. 74. 
  20. “And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (Jn. 17:13).
  21. The Biblical view of things is resurrection—not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted. This means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater. - From the Kindle book   "The Reason for God:  Belief in an Age of Skepticism” by Timothy Keller - Location 712.
  22. His glory is another word for Heaven. Therefore, God has set aside a day on the calendar of human history to destroy with a terrible finality every proud barrier to the only true joy that exists for the human heart. The Lord alone will be exalted in that day. And this is the best news imaginable.”  - From location 576 in the Kindle Book -  Isaiah: God Loves Sinners 
  23. The worst that can happen to us is the loss of delight in the glory of God alone. And the best that can happen to us is to be awakened to his glory as our joy, even if we must be humbled to experience that awakening.    - From location 846 in the Kindle Book -  Isaiah: God Loves Sinners by Roy Ortlund.
  24. Money does not buy happiness, but what exactly does it buy?  What does preoccupation with material goodies get us?  Admittedly, a little more comfort.  Most certainly, a lot more headaches.  Without a doubt, loss in the life to come.  We all need to understand that contentment is not found in circumstances or stuff.  Peace of soul is found in pursuing godliness, in chasing after God. - From the Holman New Testament Commentary - 1 Timothy 6  pg. 239.
  25. Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  - 1 Timothy 6:6.  We should honor God and center our desires on him ("godliness," see Matthew 6:33), and we should be content with what God is doing in our lives (see Phiippians 4:11-13).  - Life Application Study Bible NIV Version - 1 Timothy 6 Note 6:6 - Pg 2195.    
  26. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Ro. 14:17 ).
  27. Our deepest joys and well-being are to be found in God's kingdom.  We are to be content with God - period.  Under the new covenant, Christians are priests unto God (1 Pet. 2:5). He alone is our inheritance.  The question comes back to us, "Will we be content with him?"  Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).  He was not talking about houses and lands, bank accounts or cars.  Though he is the giver of all good gifts (Jas. 1:17), his dearest gifts are of the soul. - From the Holman New Testament Commentary - 1 Timothy 6:9  ppg. 244-245.
  28. We are not just ordinary. Nothing is just ordinary. “The whole earth is full of his glory.”  - From location 1251 in the Kindle Book - Isaiah: God Loves Sinners.
  29. When we see God bending all his thought and will on our behalf, preparing a place for us, everything changes.  - From location 1903 in the Kindle Book - Isaiah: God Loves Sinners.
  30. To see God as our King of Grace, laboring to take us there despite what we deserve, makes the difference.  - From location 1911 in the Kindle Book - Isaiah: God Loves Sinners.
  31. “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).
  32. We need no more to make us happy, than to have the Lord Jesus Christ with our spirits; for in him all spiritual blessings are summed up. It is the best prayer we can offer for our friends, that the Lord Jesus Christ may be with their spirits, to sanctify and save them, and at last to receive them to himself.    - From 2 Timothy 4:19-22 of the Matthew Henry Commentary Concordance of the MacSword Software program
  33. Every day we should see God in his creation: in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the friendships we enjoy, and the pleasures of family, work, and hobbies. Yes, we must sometimes forgo secondary pleasures, and we should never let them eclipse God. And we should avoid opulence and waste when others are needy. But we should thank God for all of life’s joys, large and small, and allow them to draw us to him. That’s exactly what we’ll do in Heaven . . . so why not start now? - From location 3126 of the Kindle Book "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn 
  34. John 16:24 - Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.  - The promise of this passage concerns joy, for, says Jesus, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (v.24). How does prayer promote joy? One way is that when we get what we ask this naturally satisfies us and makes us conscious of the favor of God toward us. But this is only part of the story. The other part is that prayer makes God himself real so that, as we pray and receive what we asked for, God is actually there dispensing the gift and meeting with us on the personal level.  - From the commentary on John 16:24 from the Boice Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice.
  35. God doesn’t want to be replaced or depreciated. He wants to be recognized as the source of all our joys, and he wants us to draw closer to him through partaking of his creation. My taking pleasure in a good meal or a good book is taking pleasure in God. It’s not a substitute for God, nor is it a distraction from him. In the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, it’s what I was made for: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”  - From location 3131 of the Kindle Book "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn 
  36. “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Ps. 30:5).
  37. Psalm 1:2 - The psalmist does not speak here about the deadening effects of the law but of its life- giving aspects. Life responds to life, and spirit responds to spirit; so it is with the new life of the believer as he responds joyfully to the living God and to the Spirit who has inspired his word. The believer's delight is not only in knowing, studying, and memorizing the Word of God but especially in doing God's will, rather than being deceived by the wicked. C.S. Lewis incisively observed, "The Law's beauty, sweetness, or preciousness, arose from the contrast of the surrounding Paganism, we may soon find occasion to recover it. Christians increasingly live on a spiritual island" ("Sweeter than Honey," in Reflections on the Psalms, p. 64). "Delight" (hepso) expresses all that makes the man of God happy. The law is more than his delight; it is his chief desire. The fear of the Lord, as the beginning of wisdom, is expressed as a delight in God's law (112: 1; cf. Isa 58: 13- 14) and not only in pious words or a good feeling about God (cf. TWOT, 1: 148- 49).  In the wisdom literature the way of torah signifies the adherence to, as well as the enjoyment and application of, God's will to everyday life. The delight of the godly in doing God's will on earth (Matt 6: 10) is the result of a special relationship with the Lord.  - From the Expositor's Bible Commentary by Frank Gaebelein of the Olive Tree Bible Study App.
  38. God- given joy is vastly more important than all the food the world can give. It is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5: 22- 23) and therefore cannot be imitated.  - From Psalm 4:6-7 of the Expositor's Bible Commentary by Frank Gaebelein of the Olive Tree Bible Study App.
  39. John 15:11 - These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  This verse speaks of joy abiding—that “my joy may be [remain] in you.” The point of this phrase is that joy does not necessarily remain. Many things can destroy it. Sin can destroy it. So can disobedience or unbelief. David confessed this in the great fifty-first psalm, crying out to God, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (v.12). It was not that his salvation was lost, only that the joy had evaporated. This always happens when we become separated from Christ in the sense of having the fellowship that once was ours broken. In contrast to this, we must abide in him; for when we abide in him the joy abides also.  - From the commentary on John 15:11 from the Boice Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice.
  40. Notes from the Blackaby Study Bible:
    1. There is no greater joy than experiencing God’s favor. To sense God’s pleasure is to know the peace only He can give and to understand that He is blessing you for your faithfulness. (Num 6:25, 26)
    2. Jesus, declared that the words He spoke would create deep, abiding joy in the lives of the disciples (John 15:11).
    3. As you read Philippians, a book marked by continued teachings on joy, it is significant that Paul was in a Roman prison when he wrote the letter. This fact brought depth and strength to Paul’s words as he proclaimed the joy of Christ in the midst of his own harsh circumstances.
    4. When we experience God’s discipline our first desire ought to be to return to Him. Only a repentant, cleansed life can bring a halt to God’s judgment and restore the joy of our salvation.
    5. Joy
      1. There is deep satisfaction in serving the Lord when you know you have sought His will and followed His commands. Carefully adhering to God’s instructions brings freedom in the Christian’s life and leads to great joy. (1 Chron. 15:13).
    6. Thankfulness
      1. Take time to reflect on the numerous ways God has guided you and blessed your life. As you recall God’s goodness to you through the years, your heart will overflow with thanksgiving, worship, and the desire for others to know your God. (1 Chr.on 16:7)
      2. A promise from God is cause for great joy. Pray with confidence and thanksgiving even as God carries forth His plan, for you know He will complete what He has begun. (1 Chron. 17:23)
      3. Even in the face of God’s judgment, there is always a word of hope and restoration (2 Chr. 7:14). This hope of restoration can be a source of joy for Christians today who find themselves in difficult times due to their own selves in difficult times due to their own disobedience to God.
    7. Delighting in the Lord
      1. A person who truly knows the Lord will delight in Him. The mark of a vibrant walk with God is joy. Serving God is then not a duty but a source of tremendous pleasure. Walking with God becomes its own reward. (2 Chr. 17:6).
    8. Joy in God
      1. Pure joy comes from our love relationship with God. The greater our love for God, the greater will be our joy in Him. (Ps. 5:11), (Ps. 16:11)
    9. A Joyful Soul
      1. Those who understand what God delivered them from will experience exuberant joy. Salvation inspires gratitude, and gratitude generates joy. (Ps. 35:9, 37.4).
    10. Turning to God
      1. People turn to many things for happiness; the righteous turn to God for joy. There is no greater source of joy than God’s love. (Ps. 65:10).
    11. Seeking and Rejoicing
      1. God proves Himself to all those who pursue Him. Incredible joy comes in finding God to be exactly as His word said He would be. (Ps. 70:4).
    12. A Doorkeeper
      1. Indescribable joy is found in God’s presence. Our souls ought to long for it. (Ps. 84:10)
    13. A Joyful Shout
      1. Serving God is an exhilarating experience. Joy ought to bubble up within us as we fellowship with Him. (Ps. 100:1)
    14. Come Again Rejoicing
      1. The Lord can transform the worst situation from bad to good. His presence can turn tears to joy and sorrow into celebration. (Ps. 126.6).
    15. Happy Is He
      1. Perfect circumstances do not bring joy. Hope in the Lord does. With God there is always hope, there is a reason to rejoice in every situation. (Ps. 146:5-7).
    16. God Rewards the Good
      1. The Lord will give wisdom, knowledge and joy to those who love Him and serve Him. Those who lack these things should humbly seek them from God. (Eccl. 2:26).
    17. God Is in Control
      1. Every simple pleasure and delightful experience is a gift from God. God puts blessings and joy in our path, and these remind us that He loves us. Apart from His grace, life would be dreary and meaningless. (Eccl. 2:26, 3:13).
    18. Joy
      1. The inevitable result of genuine salvation is joy. The joy found in Christ is like an inexhaustible well, satisfying the most desperate thirst. It refreshes and invigorates, giving life to the driest soul. Draw deeply from the well of joy. (Is. 12:3).
    19. Joyful in God
      1. Irrepressible joy comes from knowing God. The closer you walk with Him, the more joyful your soul becomes. Joy is not found apart from God; it is found in God. (Is. 61:10).
    20. Joy
      1. God’s word can bring joy even in the midst of heartache and suffering. Our circumstances can become dismal in an instant, but God’s word to us is a source of strength and unquenchable joy. (Jer.1 5:16).
      2. When God restores a person from a life of sin, that restoration is complete. Being a child of God carries both great responsibility and great blessing. When God chooses to dwell among believers, He brings abundant life and joy to all who encounter Him.
    21. It Is Finished
      1. There can be no better satisfaction than successfully completing an assignment God has given. God’s will is expressed in many forms throughout our lives. The completion of tasks given by God brings exhilarating joy. (Jn. 19:30).
      2. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (1:8). God wants to fill you too with the Holy Spirit. He wants you to take the gospel with you into your world, to endure persecution with joy, and to be faithful to the end no matter what the circumstances. In this book of new beginnings, God will share a number of life changing truths that the Holy Spirit is ready to apply to your life. (Jn. 1:8)
    22. The Joy of Salvation
      1. External circumstances do not determine our joy; joy comes from within, from a relationship with Christ. A Spirit- filled life is characterized by unwavering joy. Joy comes in knowing we have been forgiven of sin, born into the family of God, and we have a personal relationship with the Heavenly Father. Irrespective of circumstances, salvation alone is cause for great rejoicing. (Acts 16:25)
    23. Realizing God’s Purpose
      1. Every Christian has a special purpose within God’s plan. Joy comes when you recognize it, adjust to it, and set about doing it in the power of the Holy Spirit. Trials along the way are insignificant when your eyes are set on the goal. Consider the joy of looking into the eyes of the Lord and hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Acts:20:24)
      2. The evidence of a close walk with God is contentment and joy. The Holy Spirit bestowed those qualities on Paul in prison and likewise they are available to you. The Holy Spirit brings joy from within, despite life’s circumstances. Be encouraged to know God is at work in your life. Your challenge is to walk with Him and release your life to His will. (Phi.).
    24. Prepared for Eternity
      1. That which has been your joy in life will be your reward in eternity. If you found pleasure in God, you will dwell with Him eternally. If you chose sin, you will live perpetually in darkness. Your passion on earth determines your experience in eternity. The hope of God’s people is sure to come. (1 Thess. 4:13).
    25. Prepared for Eternity
      1. That which has been your joy in life will be your reward in eternity. If you found pleasure in God, you will dwell with Him eternally. If you chose sin, you will live perpetually in darkness. Your passion on earth determines your experience in eternity. The hope of God’s people is sure to come. (Rev. 2:4).
      2. Jam. 1:2 - Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
  41. From Zondervan's Bible Encyclopedia - 
    1. Under definition of Joy:
      1. The mighty redemptive works of God, especially the coming of his Son (Lk. 2:10), and the resurrection of Christ (24:41), were causes of joy. Joy in the NT is not merely an emotion, but a characteristic of the Christian. It is a fruit produced by the inner working of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22), being dynamic rather than static. It is not affected by circumstances, however adverse and painful; in fact, joy may be the outcome of suffering for Christ’s sake (Col. 1:24).
      2. The mighty redemptive works of God, especially the coming of his Son (Lk. 2:10), and the resurrection of Christ (24:41), were causes of joy. Joy in the NT is not merely an emotion, but a characteristic of the Christian. It is a fruit produced by the inner working of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22), being dynamic rather than static. It is not affected by circumstances, however adverse and painful; in fact, joy may be the outcome of suffering for Christ’s sake (Col. 1:24).
  42. Let me say something about circumstances, which we often think are so bad. Circumstances refer to things that are without. The word itself is based on two Latin words: circum, which means “around” (as in the word “circumference”), and stare, which means “to stand.” So circumstances are the things that are standing around us. They are external. But where is the Lord in this picture? Is he without? No, he is within. It is a case of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). So why worry about what is without if Christ is within? To know that he is within and that he is directing us moment by moment, day by day, is the secret of that supernatural joy that is our rightful birthmark as God’s children. - From the commentary on John 15:13 from the Boice Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice.
  43. From the New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible - 
    1. Under Definition of Joy:
      1. People find joy in ordinary daily life:the love of a spouse (Prov 5:18; Eccl 9:9), wise children (Prov 10:1; 15:20; 23:24- 25), good meals (Eccl 10:19; Ps 104:15), harvest time (Isa 9:3 [Heb. 9:2]; Ps 126:5- 6), the fruit of one’s labors (Eccl 3:22), an “apt answer” (Prov 12:20; 15:23), and good news (1 Sam 11:9).
      2. More often, however, joy occurs in theological contexts that celebrate who God is and what God does. Those who have experienced deliverance (Ps 21:1; Isa 25:9; Hab 3:18), protection (Ps 4:7), steadfast love (Ps 21:6- 7; 31:7; 90:14), forgiveness and restoration (Ps 30:5; 51:8, 12), righteousness judgments (Ps 48:11; 67:4; 96:11- 13), rejoice in God, not only in thanksgiving for past deliverance but also in anticipation of future salvation (Ps 40:17; Isa 30:29; 35:10; 55:12; 61:7; Jer 31:12- 13). The psalmist declares that there is “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” whenever one is in the presence of God (Ps 16:9- 11).
      3. Paul, too, finds the ultimate source of joy “in Christ” (Phil 3:1; 4:4) and in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17; 15:13; Gal 5:22; 1 Thess 1:6). Moreover, Paul’s joy is bound up with his apostolic work. He rejoices repeatedly in the progress of the gospel and the growth of the church. The inclusion of the Gentiles is a significant occasion for joy in the book of Acts also (8:3, 39; 11:23; 13:48; 15:3). Shared joy is an essential mark of Christian fellowship (Rom 12:15; 15:32; 2 Cor 2:3; Phil 2:28; 4:1; 1 Thess 2:19); the verb synchairo (συγχαιρω, “rejoice with”) alongside chairo (“rejoice”) and chara (“joy”) underscores the mutuality of rejoicing (Phil 2:17- 18).
      4. The joy of the believer endures in and through suffering and persecution, not only because of the promise of a future reward (Matt 5:12; Luke 6:23), but because trials test faith and enable growth (Jas 1:2- 4). Moreover, suffering for the sake of Christ is a sharing in the suffering of Christ, which will eventuate in joy when he is exalted in glory (1 Pet 4:13). Thus Paul writes:“as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor 6:10). Finally, eschatological anticipation enables believers to rejoice in hope (Jude 24), until joy is finally consummated at the marriage of the Lamb, when Christ is exalted and multitudes sing “Hallelujah!... Let us rejoice” (Rev 19:6- 7). See HAPPINESS; SORROW.
  44. From Lucado Life Lesson Study Bible Notes:
    1. May I meddle for a moment? What is the one thing separating you from joy? How do you fill in this blank:“I will be happy when _______”? When I am healed. When I am promoted. When I am married. When I am single. When I am rich. How would you finish that statement?
    2. Now, with your answer firmly in mind, answer this. If your ship never comes in, if your dream never comes true, if the situation never changes, could you be happy? If not, then you are sleeping in the cold cell of discontent. You are in prison. And you need to know what you have in your Shepherd.
    3. You have a God who hears you, the power of love behind you, the Holy Spirit within you, and all of heaven ahead of you. If you have the Shepherd, you have grace for every sin, direction for every turn, a candle for every corner, and an anchor for every storm. You have everything you need.
    4. And who can take it from you? Can leukemia infect your salvation? Can bankruptcy impoverish your prayers? A tornado might take your earthly house, but will it touch your heavenly home?
    5. And look at your position. Why clamor for prestige and power? Are you not already privileged to be part of the greatest work in history?...
    6. Paul says that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). When we surrender to God the cumbersome sack of discontent, we don’t just give up something; we gain something. God replaces it with a lightweight, tailor- made, sorrow- resistant attaché of gratitude.
    7. What will you gain with contentment? You may gain your marriage. You may gain precious hours with your children. You may gain your self- respect. You may gain joy. You may gain the faith to say, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (From Traveling Light by Max Lucado).
  45. Joy - First, there is joy. This is important because, if we do not have joy, we can hardly commend the “good news” of salvation to anyone. Someone once said to Hannah Whitall Smith, author of The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, “You Christians seem to have a religion that makes you miserable. You are like a man with a headache. He does not want to get rid of his head, but it hurts him to keep it. You cannot expect outsiders to seek very earnestly for anything so uncomfortable.” This is true. So rather than being miserable all the time, we ought to find ourselves becoming increasingly like Jesus who, I am convinced, was the best of company and a joy to be with. Moreover, our joy should be contageous and unending. A former archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, is reported to have said just before he died, “The longer I live the more convinced I am that Christianity is one long shout of joy.   - From the commentary on John 17:17=18 from the Boice Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice.
  46. “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Ps. 126:5).
  47. The Grace of Thankfulness - Sermon I gave in Obuasi, Ghana, Africa in 2013
    First off, I am truly honored to have the opportunity to be here among you my brothers and sisters in Christ. 

    Let's pray:  May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, oh Lord our strength and our redeemer.  Amen

    Today, I wanted to talk about the grace of thankfulness.   When you feel discouraged about your circumstances, do you count your blessings?  One might say that I don't have anything to be thankful for.  I think that maybe that this person has not taken a thorough inventory. 

    First, on the subject of health.  Can you see?  Can you hear?  Can you breathe? Can you walk? Do you know that you are truly a miracle made by God.  We need to thank Jesus every day for the health and the facilities that we do have.

    Just remember that God made you.  You are a child of God made in His own image.  You are endowed with gifts that he gave only to you.  He can use you just the way you are.  There are many stories of people who had what they considered lack of skills or some physical limitation but went on to be champions for God.  Because God uses what He has given to you.  God has a plan for you.  You just need to search for His gifts within yourself and ask God to reveal them to you.

    You might even start each day with thankfullness using the phrase:  "This is the day God made, I will  rejoice and be glad  in it."  Always remember to be thankful in all circumstances.  In James1:2  it says: "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  It is important to note that James did not say that a believer should be joyous “for” the trials but “in" the trials.  And seek God's wisdom on what he wants to teach you during this period of difficulty.  And what is meant by "joy?"  "Joy" here is defined as —the deep sense of well-being that comes from knowing that God is in control of everything in our lives.

    The apostle Paul wrote, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).  God is not the author of evil, suffering, or trials, but He has a wonderful capacity to use them for our good.  And why would God allow trials to happen to His children?  God intends that trials will drive believers to greater dependency on him, by showing them their own inadequacy.

    Trials, which test us as fire refines ore, lead to a more settled, stable Christian character; and as we continue taking a Christian viewpoint on trials, this perseverance will be able to finish its work of producing strong, mature, unshakable believers.  Whether the trials make sense or not, the solution is always the same. We need to turn to Jesus and trust Him for strength and wisdom and pure joy. He is to be trusted!

    One of the greatest promises regarding such trials or temptations is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13, where Paul writes, “No temptation (trial) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." It is with this kind of joy, hope, and optimism that we should face the trials of life.  Remember that God's thoughts, ways and timing are higher and superior to ours.  Also, in John 16:33 Jesus’ teaching when He said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but in Me you will have peace.” 

    And while this may seem obvious, don't forget to offer prayers of thanks in the times of plenty and when things are going well.  Sometimes it is easy to think it is us that are producing what results in good circumstances and slip into a more self-reliant comfort.  We are all a few steps away from having very difficult times.  We should live in the grace of thankfulness always.   We need to realize that God may be allowing difficult circumstance so as to help us grow in a certain area.  Be thankful even in difficult times, knowing that Jesus will deliver us safely.

    I have heard stories of people that lost a loved one tragically and are not bitter towards God for taking them before what we think was that person's appointed time, but instead are thankful to God for the time He gave them with their loved one.  It's all a matter of perspective.  Thankfulness is grace provided to us by God.

    To further illustrate my point regarding perspective, here is a saying I have heard:  "I had the blues because I had no shoes; until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet."  Sometimes changing your perspective makes all the difference.  Sometimes serving those who are in need or are in their difficult time helps better frame your situation to realize that your problems may not be as difficult as you might think.  Ask God for wisdom to help you see His vantage point in your circumstances.

    Remember that when Jesus left this earth to ascend into the heavens, he left us with the Holy Spirit and whosoever believes that Jesus died for our sins and accepts him as their Savior, inherits the Holy Spirit.  This means that as a Christian you are never all alone.   God is with you always.  And when it's only you and God together, that this always results in a majority, as God is bigger than any circumstance, person, crowd or any problems you may encounter.  He created heaven and earth,  scattering stars across the heavens, shut the mouth's of lions and has humbled Kings and empires, he can certainly help you in your time of need.  If God is for us, who can be against us?  And because of His deep love for you, he very much wants to help you and wants what is best for you as His child. 

    Have no fear of anything but fear of The Lord.  So in our times of difficulty, walk boldly and confidently, seeking His wisdom, as we are children of a loving, all powerful, all knowing God and have His blessing, because of our faith in Jesus Christ. 

    We are never alone.  God works tirelessly on our behalf, giving us power and strength to do what he calls us to do.  He is faithful when we trust him for salvation, for strength, for godliness...the list goes on and on.  And as part of a church, we are surrounded by people who demonstrate obedience and friendship with God - people who can help us along the way, and others whom we can help as well.  The righteous don't fear bad news as The Lord is taking care of them. 

    Give thanks in all circumstances.  It recognizes God's eminence in all events and requires trust in the sovereignty of Christ.  A thankful spirit does not come naturally to most of us.  The command to be thankful, no matter what happens, is possible only by God's grace.  When we can agree with God that he works all things out for good to those who love him and are committed to obedience (Rom 8:28), then we can thank him.

    When a potter bakes a pot, he checks its solidity by pulling it out of the oven and thumping it. If it “sings” it’s ready. If it “thuds,” it’s placed back in the oven. The character of a person is also checked by thumping which we refer to as difficulties.  Been thumped lately?  When you get thumped how do you respond?  Do you sing or do you thud and need to be put back in the oven?  There’s nothing like a good thump to reveal the nature of a heart. The true character of a person is seen not in momentary heroics, but in the thump-packed humdrum of day-to-day living.  Be thankful even in the midst of your difficulties.

    Aim at heaven, and you will get earth thrown in.  Aim at earth, and you will get neither.  And remember, be thankful always!    I am so very thankful for my time  here today with you!  May the Lord be with you all and bless each of you abundantly with the grace of thankfulness.  AMEN
  48. “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Is. 12:3).
  49. “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Is. 35:10).