Do you know of anyone who is not looking for happiness and joy in their lives?  If they are normal they are.  Then ask: “How many do you know who have found a lasting happiness?”  Happiness, joy and pleasures are usually a temporary state that we receive from favorable external situations.  Anytime these external situations become unfavorable we often become unhappy.

In sports we found that when we won we were happy but when losing we were unhappy.  We may become pleased when we receive recognition or a financial reward.  How long does that happiness last?  Ask those who have won the lottery or a large jackpot two or three years later?  We all know people who appear to have everything but always seem to be unhappy.

External situations change so often that many, wanting to remain happy will seek drugs, alcohol or overeating looking for ways to change their external surroundings.  The entire world is looking for happiness and joy in their lives.  Webster’s dictionary defines it as an emotional feeling of having good things, living a delightful life and generally having a feeling of gladness.  It may be a state of bliss or gaiety.  Many come to Las Vegas looking for that kind of happiness and pleasure.  How many find it and if they do how long will it last?

Most do not realize that there are two kinds of joy: worldly joy and spiritual joy.  It is unreasonable to think we will always be confronted with pleasant situations.  It isn’t unreasonable to expect and to always have joy.  There is a joy given by the Holy Spirit.  This joy is described as a “fruit” of the Spirit.  It is an inner spiritual joy that comes only from God.

James 1:2 – 4 – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Acts 13:52 – The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 14:17 – God fills your heart with joy.

John 16:22 – Jesus says, “No one will take away your joy.”

1 Peter 1:8 – (Commentary)  This spiritual joy possesses the radiance of God’s glory.  It is a joy that comes from heaven.  It is a joy that can only come from being in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The “fruit of joy” is always dependent upon living a vital relationship with Christ.  It cannot be fabricated for it is spiritual and comes from the heart.  Having this spiritual joy can keep you from seeking the world’s lusts and pleasures, which so many do.  Daily we must die out to this self-centered nature we all have.  Focus on Christ and ask the Holy Spirit to help each of us to totally surrender so that we can be filled with joy.

Do you know people who never seem to find the right career, who struggle meeting monthly expenses, who continually struggle wanting to find their purpose in life? Most people do not enjoy trials.  In fact, we may do almost anything to avoid the trials of life.  Yet, the Bible says we are to face trials with joy—pure joy.  We are then told that God wants to make us patient.  The more we wait on the Lord, God can do great things in our lives.  The only way the Lord can develop patience and character in our lives is through trials.  It is essential that we go through the difficulties of life, trust God and obey Him.  As we go through life’s external situations and face trials do we recognize that the Holy Spirit is guiding us through these circumstances?  Once we realize that God is allowing certain things to happen, to make us better or more spiritual, we sense the joy that the Bible illustrates.  Joy brings happiness and provides the pleasures that we are seeking.  This is the process to spiritual maturity.

The Apostle Paul says it was this inner joy that encouraged him during his times of imprisonment and his many trials.  It is this spiritual joy that encouraged Paul to press on and be enthusiastic toward the goal of living for Christ as he encountered difficult external circumstances. We can have the same joy that Paul had, a spiritual joy that keeps us positive through unhappy times.

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