Joy beyond circumstances podcast notes
What was the greatest day you have ever experienced
Maybe it was the day you were born. You probably can’t remember it, but that was a pretty good day.
Maybe it was the day you took your first step. That day you became mobile. It changed your life forever. It also changed your mom’s life forever. I remember when Riley first walked. That was the day we put everything on a higher shelf
Maybe your greatest day was the day you spoke your first word
(Some of you started talking and haven’t come up for air since. Anyone know someone like that. I happen to be someone like that)
When you think of your greatest day, maybe you think of the day you met God. I’m sure you spiritual people said that one. I’m pretty sure Howie didn’t say that, but some of you did.
Maybe your best day was the day of your kiss or the day you fell in love.
I remember when I was dating my wife we set some pretty strict rules about our purity and I would pray that Jesus would not come back before my wedding night. I was looking forward to that day. It was pretty good. It was pretty obvious it was our first time, but it was pretty good.
To this point, what is the greatest day of your life. This morning I want to suggest that the greatest day of your life was not your birthday or your wedding day or the day you got your drivers license, or even your greatest Christmas. The greatest day of your life is this day. You can only live these 24 hours today. You can only experience life in this present moment. Today is your greatest day. It’s the only one you’ve got.
Psalm 118:24 puts it perfectly.
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it
If we don’t rejoice today, we will not rejoice at all. If we wait until conditions are perfect, we will still be waiting when we die. If we are going to rejoice, it must be this day. This is the day the Lord has made. (John Ortberg)
This is it. You’ve only got one. It is God’s intention that you enjoy it.
When my daughter Sterling was little, she woke up every single day of her life absolutely chock full of joy. I remember when she was in pre-school she’d wake up every day the same way. We’d wake her up and she’d say, “Do I have pre-school today?” and if we said “Yes, Sterling, you have pre-school today” she’d say “Yeah!” If we said, “No, Sterling, you don’t have pre-school today” she’d yeah. It didn’t matter what we said, the response was the same. “Yeah!” “Sterling, we’re going to the dentist today.” “Yeah” “Sterling we have to clean up after the dog today,” “Yeah.” “Sterling, we lost the ear thermometer and we’re going to have to use the rectal one,” “Yeah.” It didn’t matter, the response was always the same. Everyday was a “Yeah” day.
If I am going to be completely honest with you today, I’d have to say that I have too few “Yeah” days. People and circumstances and money problems can steal the “Yeah.”
3 principles on how to make today a “Yeah” day.
1) The “Why Settle For Less” principle
The world is forever telling us to not settle. You deserve the best. Treat yourself. You’re worth it.
God offers us something far greater than mediocre, fleeting joy. Look with me real quick at how the bible describes the joy God gives us. He gives us
“Overflowing joy” 2 Corinthians 8:2
“Complete joy” Deuteronomy 16:15
“Great joy” Nehemiah 8:12
“Jump out of your socks joy” Psalm 28:7 “My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”
“Everlasting joy” Isaiah 51:11
“Joy that knows no bounds” 2 Corinthians 7:4
We tend to settle for joy fixes.
Spend joy, Stuff joy, Material joy, Food joy, Alcohol joy
What kind of joy do you settle for?
2) The “Circumstantial Evidence” principle
Circumstantial evidence is evidence based on surrounding circumstances. Even if you aren’t a lawyer, we all know one thing about circumstantial evidence. It won’t hold up in court.
What is true in a courtroom is true of joy as well. If all you have is joy that is based on circumstances, then your joy will not hold up. It will break under cross examination.
Joy is an inner peace that God gives us that goes beyond circumstances.
And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 2 Corinthians 8:1,2
You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. Hebrews 10:34
3) The “Party Proximity” principle
What are the best seats you’ve had to an event?
It’s a well known fact, that the closer you get to the party, the more fun you are going to have. You have to be at the party, in the action, to have the most fun. You’ve got to be in the jump house, getting your face painted, and by the Piñata. Although not too close to the Piñata
What is true of a party is true of joy as well. Look with me at the following verses.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11
They ate and drank with great joy in the presence of the LORD that day. I Chronicles 29:22
You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence. Acts 2:28
Let me ask you an easy question. When you go to spaghetti factory, what are your expectations of what they will serve. Spaghetti.
What about Starbucks. If you and I were to go to a Starbucks, what would you expect we would get.
When you go to KFC, what are your expectations of what you will get there. Chicken, right. You might also be thinking “Weight gain.” What you will get at KFC is chicken. Same of El Pollo Loco. What does El Pollo Loco mean. The crazy chicken. Did I tell you about the time I went to El Pollo Loco and ordered an 8 piece meal and the lady said, “I’m sorry sir, we’re out of chicken.” How can you run out of chicken at El Pollo Loco?
If you are a Christ follower, it’s expected that you will have joy. It’s the natural, normal occurrence. To be a Christian and not experience joy is like going to El Pollo Loco and having them out of chicken.
The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing. Proverbs 10:28
Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right Psalm 97:11
Three ways we can get closer to God and find that joy we’re so desperate for.
1. Find a joy mentor.
Who’s your joy mentor?
2. Make finding joy a daily discipline
Because Children have abounding vitality , because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again;” and the grown up person does it again and again until he is nearly dead. For grown up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daises alike. It may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old and our Father is younger than we.
3. Seek God to do a 180 on your hard times
I’ve found in my life that joy is a moving target.
God is a master at changing our attitudes. He’s the king of finding joy in even the most difficult of circumstances.
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, Psalm 30:11
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice… Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:8,12
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. Psalm 94:19
I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. Jeremiah 31:13