Choose Joy

How Do We Embrace The Incredible Gift Of Joy That Is Found In Jesus?

Tim Lundy
Dec 19, 2021    44m
Learn how to unwrap and embrace the incredible gift of joy that is in only found Jesus. Lean in as we give action steps to unleash this joy in our lives. I would hope that we could unwrap this gift that came because of Christmas, because of Christ, and experience the kind of joy, and be the kind of people that we could choose this joy, that it becomes our default setting, it makes all the difference in life. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: [00:00:41] Hey Venture, Christmas is less than a week away, and I want to make sure that you know, you need to come to our Christmas Eve services. We're going to have four Christmas Eve services, one of them is on the twenty-third at seven o'clock, and then three on Christmas Eve, at two, four, and six o'clock. And you're going to want to come to this service because it's not the kind of thing that you can do online. It's more than just the message for that service, it's the candle lighting, it's the carols, it's all of the experience together, and it's a great opportunity for you to invite someone if you've got a neighbor or friend. You know, we're talking about joy and the reason for joy and specifically on that service, and on that Christmas Eve, we will really focus on the joy that only Jesus Christ can bring into the world and bring it to a person's life. And so I want to encourage you, make sure you come, go online, see the times, set it now, and invite someone, and we'll look forward to celebrating that together.

Tim Lundy: [00:01:43] You know, this weekend, we want to continue on with just this theme of joy. Over the last couple of weeks, I've talked to you about one, speaking joy how do we share the good news of Christ? And then last week we talked about giving joy, and how joy and generosity and our giving are so intertwined. And if you didn't hear those, I'd encourage you, go back and listen to those messages. As we think about joy, one of my goals is that this whole theme of joy would go beyond just Christmas time. We don't want to joy that just happens because of the season, because frankly, that really wouldn't be defined as joy. Happiness is what happens because of our circumstances, happiness comes in a season. Joy is something much deeper, in fact, I think it's this wonderful gift that comes from God that we often don't take full advantage of.

Tim Lundy: [00:02:40] I don't know if you've ever had this experience as a parent, where you have a child, they asked for a Christmas present, sometimes it's an expensive present, a present they've been dying for. Christmas Day comes, they unwrap the present, they're so excited about it. But then you look over and maybe that day they play with it a little bit, and, you know, soon you look in the room, it's always in the corner of the room, or it's made its way to the closet. Sometimes I look at it and go, why did we ever even buy this present if you're not going to use it? Now, I wish I could say it was only the kids that had this problem, there's been many a thing, a gadget, a toy, maybe exercise equipment, that I've looked at and I thought, you know, be great to have that, and before you know it, it's out in the garage and nobody ever touches it. I think we can all do that, we have things that we want or things that are given, that we really never take advantage of.

Tim Lundy: [00:03:32] You know, we've been talking about joy, and especially the joy of this season, the joy that comes because Jesus came into the world. And in a lot of ways, I think Joy is one of those gifts from God that he gives to his children, that we don't really unwrap, we don't take full advantage of. Oh, maybe it'll spike here and there, but we don't really embrace, we don't choose joy, fully the way scripture calls us to. And when I talk about joy, I am talking about something different than happiness. Maybe if you're watching this and you don't have a relationship with Christ, I think happiness can be experienced in so many ways around the world, but when the Bible's using this joy, it's talking about a specific joy that only comes from having a relationship with Jesus.

Tim Lundy: [00:04:21] That's why Christmas, when the angels announce to the shepherds, "The angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.", he was telling the shepherds where Jesus was born. He says, I've got this good news, I've got this gospel message, I've got this news that is going to change literally everybody on the planet. It's going to change your relationship with God because you're going to have forgiveness with him. It's going to change your relationship with each other, you're going to have peace with people, you're going to experience a depth of relationship that's never been experienced before, that only comes through Christ. It's actually going to change your relationship with yourself, that you can be forgiven, that you can experience who he made you to be. And so when I'm using this joy, I'm not just using it as a synonym for happiness, I'm talking about what the angels promised. I'm talking about what Jesus promised his disciples. Jesus when he was with the disciples the night before he's crucified, and John, we've got this section of John that he talks about that conversation there. Look what Jesus says to them, "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." Jesus literally wants a joy that can only come from him, that's in us, and he wants us to experience it fully.

Tim Lundy: [00:05:48] Now, he goes on in that same conversation and he starts describing the fact that he's about to leave, he's talking about his crucifixion, he's going to be buried. Look what Jesus says, "So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice." You are going to be sorrowful that I died, but then I am going to rise again. And look at this, "And no one will take your joy from you." A part of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, a part of his death and resurrection, he makes this promise to them, you're going to have the kind of joy in your life that no one can take from you. See, that's why it's different than happiness, happiness may come and go, the kind of joy that Jesus is promising, this gift that came from his coming, not only at Christmas time but Easter time, what he accomplished in it, it creates a joy nobody can take from us.

Tim Lundy: [00:06:42] And then if you are a Christian, and the Holy Spirit's leading your life, one of the fruits, one of the things that should show up in your life, look what Paul says in Galatians, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness." He lists all these things, look at the first ones though, the fruit in your life, and in love should be the most obvious, God is love, and so if God's leading our life and the Spirit's full in your life, yeah, of course, you're going to look more like him, you're going to have love. But notice what he picked second, is joy, this is how important it is.

Tim Lundy: [00:07:16] And I really want to address those of us who are Christians, those of us who would say, I've received that gift, I know what Christ has done, no one can take it away from me. Here's my question, have we unwrapped that gift that we would say, joy, is this fundamental part of our life? Would we really say we're joyful people? And as a say that, here's what I mean with it, because sometimes you can go, OK, Tim, are you trying to turn me into a happy person all the time, or a happy-clappy Christian? That's not what he's talking about, so how do you do this? Well, here's what I would say, choose joy as the default setting for your heart. You may say, what do you mean with that? Well, if you buy a computer, they've set it up in a way they think it works best, those are the default settings that you can return to, you come back to. Or maybe a better example of this would be the thermostat, I don't know if your households like mine as much as I try not to be the stereotypical dad, I don't want anybody touching the thermostat. I've got our programmed thermostat, I know exactly where I want it, and in the winter, I usually run it a little colder in the house than everybody else, and in summer, I want a little warmer because I'm trying to save some money. But see, I know the exact setting that I've programmed it to, and so when I walk by and I look at it, it's different, I immediately say, who touched the thermostat? Because there's a default setting, it's what I want it to go back to. Here's what scripture is teaching us about joy, it's the default setting of our heart as a Christian, it's the baseline that we should return to.

Tim Lundy: [00:09:01] That's why Paul says it in this passage in Philippians 4, he says, "Rejoice in the Lord." Again, this isn't just normal joy that you would have, this is that choosing joy in the Lord. "Again, I'll say it, he says, rejoice." In the rest of the passage, he tells us, don't be anxious, don't worry, everything in prayer and supplication. But look at this command, "Rejoice in the Lord..." And he puts that word in there, "...always." And here's his way of saying, this is the default setting of your life that you're choosing joy.

Tim Lundy: [00:09:35] Now, I say that phrase, choose joy, because it doesn't just happen. Henri Nouwen put it this way, he says, "Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day." Richard Foster describes it in a way that it's a discipline, it doesn't just fall on you, "It's the discipline of your life and of your heart that you're choosing joy." Now, as I say that, I want to give a few caveats here because anytime you preach on joy, people are coming from different places. For some of you, your personality type, you're more melancholic, you may be more pessimistic in life. That's how God made you, by the way, he likes how he made you, so we're not trying to turn everybody into optimists, or everybody into the same personality type. You know, when I think of that melancholic personality, I always think of Eeyore, remember Eeyore the little donkey in Winnie the Pooh, and he had this tail that was lost, and they had to use the kite tail. But just his whole personality, any time you read through Winnie the Pooh, he's got that same, Eeyore, I guess nobody likes me, kind of melancholic in it. Maybe that's you, now, hear me, if it is you, if you're more pessimistic, do not write off the sermon, God has joy for you, the scripture commands you to joy too. It's not going to look like other people, you're starting at a different place, but it's still a command for joy.

Tim Lundy: [00:11:14] Now, let me say this as well, because no matter what your personality type, some of you are going through a really hard season or a sorrowful season, and you're grieving, you're sad. And again, this passage and this message, it's not trying to talk to you out of your sadness, there's a place to be sad, there's a place to weep. Jesus was a man of sorrows; he was acquainted with grief. Ecclesiastes says there's a time to laugh, but there's also a time to cry. Here's what I'd say to you, though, we go through those seasons of grief and those seasons of sorrow, but you don't want it to turn into the default setting of your life and heart, and that's why even in the hard times you're called the joy.

Tim Lundy: [00:12:05] Look how Paul describes his life, he describes himself, he's saying, I am sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. I'm always living out, even in the sorrow of my life. And if you know Paul's life, you went through a lot of hard times, he went through a lot of sorrow. But he said I've made this choice that even in the sorrow, I'm not going to live there, I'm going to go back to the default setting that I'm called to count it as joy, I'm called to rejoice, I'm called to choose joy, even in the sorrow.

Tim Lundy: [00:12:41] The third caveat I'd give, that there's some of you, you're at a place right now that it's beyond sorrowful, maybe you're depressed, maybe you're sad at a level that you can't even choose to get out of it. And sometimes we struggle with our mental health in a way, and some struggle with it more than others. And I would say to you, I'm not preaching this to beat you up, sometimes it can feel that way when you're depressed, when you can't get out from under it. I'm preaching to those who are not where you are because you need them to be joyful, and you need them to be strong, to maybe give the help that you need right now. I love how Galatians puts it, it says we're to bear one another's burdens, and the word for burden there literally is a crushing load. That sometimes in life, sometimes there are choices, and sometimes it's not our fault at all, and maybe where you are, it's probably not your fault, but you feel crushed by it, and you can't get up and you can't get out of it. And that's why scripture says, we bear those burdens, we help lift that load so that somebody in their strength can give you the hand that you need, can give you the encouragement that you need. Maybe the community, and maybe the medical help you need, it might be a case of seeing a doctor or getting on some medicine. God's given us these wonderful gifts to help us when we can't get up. So even as I'm preaching a message that maybe you hear right now and you just go, Tim, I don't have the strength to live out what you're calling everyone to. Hear me again. you need those who are not where you are to be able to live out in strength so they can help you bear that burden; you need them to experience it.

Tim Lundy: [00:14:39] In fact, as a church, that's why this principle is so important. Folks, we need joy, we need joyful people. We need people who have set the thermostats of their hearts with the kind of joy that Jesus describes that he says no one can take away from you. Now, nobody can take it away, but I think often we can choose kind of like those presents, to not access it the way that Jesus offers, to not fully unwrap it, to not set our hearts to set that thermostat to what he's calling us to.

Tim Lundy: [00:15:16] And so over the next part of this message, I'm going to ask you to choose joy, and I've picked some of the categories that I think we choose instead of setting our hearts to joy, instead of setting the default to that, I think there are some other categories we set it on. Let me show you some of the ones.

Tim Lundy: [00:15:34] One, I ask you to choose joy over worry, choose Joy over worry. Paul puts these together a lot, in that passage we saw earlier he says, "Rejoice, always." And then he follows it right up and he says, "Don't be anxious about anything." Because it's very easy as you face something in life to choose to worry about it, instead of in that moment going, OK, I'm going to trust God with this and I'm actually going to choose joy. Worry is one of those devastating things that, as you think about it, it usually comes at night for a lot of people. And maybe you find yourself, maybe you have this scenario, where it's nighttime and you start thinking about what could happen and what could come, and then that worry train just kind of takes off.

Tim Lundy: [00:16:23] In fact, I read how one professor, Lucas LaFreniere he's a Ph.D., he's a researcher, he says, "This is what breaks my heart about worry, it makes you miserable and the present moment to try and prevent misery in the future.". So you're trying to stay away from misery, but you're just now miserable in this moment. "For chronic warriors, this process leads them to be continually distressed all of their lives in order to avoid later events that never happened. Worry sucks the joy out of the here and now." And so they did a study with a group of chronic worriers, they had them at night, at a certain time of night, write down what is it that you're worrying about? They did this for almost a month, every day, tell us your worries. And then they tracked it over the next several months, here's an interesting thing that came out of that, the good news, LaFreniere said in his study, is that worrisome people in their lives, 91.4 percent of the time their worries never happened. Did you hear that, they're spending this time worrying about it, and they tracked it with different groups, and they said over 90 percent of the time, what they were worrying about never came true. But then that's why LaFreniere said that's why it's so sad, that it's robbed them.

Tim Lundy: [00:17:49] Leo Buscaglia, he said, "Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy." That's why Jesus, I mean, Jesus said, worrying will never add one hour to your life, and look how he says, "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself." And I like this, he says, "Sufficient for every day is trouble." He says every day has its own share of trouble, he's not promising this trouble-free life, but he just speaks to us lovingly, and he says worry is not going to accomplish it. And so you're taking the trouble of tomorrow, which 90 percent of the time never even happens, and you're importing it into today. Do you know the first thing that it robs you of? Is joy, worried people are not joyful people. And so I just ask you, in that moment, if maybe you're somebody that struggles with worry, it feels counterintuitive, instead of letting that default setting always just go to worry again, what if you choose in that moment to go, OK, I'm going to choose joy? That might feel like a big jump for you. Some of you are going, Tim, could I just choose not to worry? I mean, joy seems way over here. But see, that's the point, choosing not to worry will always end up back at worry. Try this the next time, when you're worrying about something, just tell yourself, OK, don't worry, don't worry, don't worry. Do you know what'll happen? You'll worry that much more. But do this instead, instead of worrying about this thing that could happen, what if you focused on the joy of what did happen in Jesus Christ? The joy of what he has promised you, the joy that he said can't be taken away from you because of what he accomplished for you. What if you made that choice in it?

Tim Lundy: [00:19:43] The second category that we ought to choose, choose joy over frustration. This is one, even as I say this, I can find myself where it's easy for me to set my default to not out and out frustration, kind of low simmering frustration, and it's frustrations just about life. I mean, people don't do what they're supposed to do, things go wrong, lines are suddenly longer, traffic's worse, the idiot in front of me and the turn lane when we need to turn is still on their phone. I mean, all these things that I can go through, and it's pretty quick for that button to kind of go, that thermostat to go, over to frustration. And it's easy for us to stay there a lot of times. And whether we realize it or not, we're kind of, it's right below the surface and it flares quick. That's a good indicator, that thermostat is set on frustration and not joy.

Tim Lundy: [00:20:39] And then James writes this verse, this is one of those ones I had to memorize over and over again. He says, "Count it all joy." Do you know what he's saying there? Choose joy, my brothers, that's actually brothers and sisters that term, so ladies you're involved in this one too. When you meet trials of various kinds, and notice he puts various there, it can be big, it can be small, it can be as simple as traffic, or shopping lines, or a bill you didn't plan on. He says whenever you have any of these things that would frustrate you, you choose joy. Now, why would you choose joy? For you know that the testing of your faith produced steadfastness, that God's doing something in you, he's actually using this in your life. And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking and nothing. So what James is teaching there, is that God actually has a divine curriculum of your life and of my life, and so he uses all of the different elements, especially the trials, the various trials, the big ones, and the small ones. And in those moments, I can either let God keep doing his good work, OK? God, you're trying to change me. God, you're trying to make me more steadfast. God, you're changing my character. And I can embrace it in that moment, that I have a God who's good enough that he's even using my circumstances to change me. And then I can look at them, it doesn't mean I like the circumstance, it doesn't mean I like the drivers in front of me, it doesn't mean I like lines in stores, it doesn't mean I like any of the trials? But I can count them as joy because God's using it and doing something.

Tim Lundy: [00:22:26] Now with frustration, it goes hand in hand, some of us need to choose joy over anger. Especially right now, this is an angry time. But listen to this one article it was in The Washington Post a year ago, it just said, "Americans are angry, the country erupted into the worst civil unrest in decades. At the same time, we're dealing with anger provoked by the coronavirus pandemic. Anger at public officials because they've shut down parts of society. Anger because they aren't doing enough to curb the virus. Anger about being required to wear a mask. Or anger toward people who refuse to wear a mask. Anger at anyone who doesn't see things the right way." That's pretty accurate.

Tim Lundy: [00:23:13] I love how Raymond Novaco put it, he's a professor at UCI, and, he says, "We're living, in effect, in a big anger incubator." Boy, that's a great phrase, literally everything around us just feels like an anger incubator. And it is easy in those moments, even as a Christian, to let that thermostat get set on angry, and I'm angry all the time, and I'm angry about what's happening, and I'm angry about decisions, I'm angry about what I saw in the news. Now, even as I say this, when we start talking about these topics, it's funny some people get real defensive about their anger and immediately say, well, Tim, you know there's a place to be angry, and there's a place to have righteous indignation, and God gets angry, and Jesus got angry. And I would go, absolutely, there is a place to be angered. There are things that should move us to anger because it certainly moves God to anger.

Tim Lundy: [00:24:12] But notice the interesting part on this when Paul says, "Be angry and do not sin." So in other words, it's not a sin to be angry, and choosing joy doesn't mean we don't have these other emotions. But notice what he puts on this, he says, "But do not let the sun go down on your anger and give no opportunity to the devil." Notice what he's saying here, yeah, there's a place to be angry, but you can't hang on to it too long. But frankly, as humans, we don't have the capacity, anger is like an acid that if you hold on to it too long, it'll eat through the walls and seep in everything. And so part of choosing joy in those moments of the things that make me angry, is giving that to God, that's why God always says in it, he says, vengeance is mine, I can hold it. The acid of anger doesn't bleed through my character. And so one of the most freeing things, I'm not telling you not to be angry, I'm telling you, don't hold on to your anger, and don't make anger the default setting because it'll change you, it will change your home, and it'll change your life. And so when you find yourself in that place where you're angry, and you're angry, and angry. Paul says, hey, don't let the sun go down, don't hold onto it too long because if you do, Satan will use that, and he'll compound that anger. And you'll suddenly be making choices, and you'll suddenly turn on people, you'll suddenly divide in families, and all different groups, over an anger that might have been right, it was just held on too long. And so what we choose in that is, you know what, God, you said, vengeance is yours, you said you're a just God, you said you can handle this, I'm going to give my anger to you, entrust you to do what's right, and I'm going to choose joy because I have the freedom that you're going to do that.

Tim Lundy: [00:26:09] The third thing, it's the other end of the spectrum, I'd say choose joy over apathy. Choose joy over apathy. And when I say this, I'm talking specifically to Christians, I'm talking about spiritual apathy. I'm talking about where maybe you've walked with Jesus for years, or you've been part of a church, and you really don't feel much anymore. You find yourself you open the Bible, I hear from people, I try to read the Bible, it's just doesn't do a lot for me. And I think during this time, and I'll just be honest with you during COVID, I've seen a lot of people grow in their spiritual apathy, part of it is we got disconnected from each other, some of you have gotten disconnected from church, some of you are disconnected from your community. And I've talked to different individuals, and I know some of you maybe you're watching it here, you've kind of settled into a routine, it's easy, maybe just kind of turn this on and watch it every so often. But if you're to be honest about your spiritual heart right now, it's a little apathetic.

Tim Lundy: [00:27:13] Sometimes our apathy, it shows up, and I think one of the key indicators, is how do we worship? Worship is such a key part of scripture, and joy and worship go hand in hand. I mean, the psalmist David says so much about it, he says, "Clap your hands all people." And look at this, he says, 'Shout to God with loud songs of joy." I mean, when's the last time you ever got loud with it? I mean, look at what he says here, he says, Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 2Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!" And again, I'm not trying to pick on anybody, but I'm part of the worship services, I see some of you. Some of you, you're kind of in his presence, I don't see any singing. And maybe you look at that and you go you know what, yeah, but Tim, that's the Psalms and they...

Tim Lundy: [00:28:01] Look what the New Testament said, look what Paul says about the Spirit-filled life. If you're being led by the Spirit, he says, don't get drunk with wine, that's debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit." What does a Spirit-filled life look like? Well, "You address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." And look at the key things he says, "Singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." Isn't this interesting, Paul says, hey, if you're having a Spirit-filled life, you've got that fruit of the Spirit, God's leading you, one of the marks of your life is that you want to sing, you want to make melody, you want to come into his presence in that way.

Tim Lundy: [00:28:48] And I would just encourage you, especially as guys, we're not always prone in this way. So sometimes I don't know, have you ever seen somebody that they're like, too cool for school, too cool for you? You'll see them and you'll greet them, and they don't actually greet you, they give you the head nod, they kind of go like that. You get that from afar, and you're just like, OK, thanks, I got the head nod. Here's the reality, some of you, that's how you worship. You kind of come into a church and maybe it's singing and it's going, and at most you kind of give God the head nod, you know, like that, but nothing ever comes out of your mouth. And the question again, I'm not trying to turn everybody into these raising hand singers, but I didn't write this, guys. Paul did, Paul says it's literally one of the marks of the Spirit-filled life. And it may be that God is commanding this because he knows when we actually engage in worship. One, he's worth it. And two, it actually moves our heart to joy, we actually start experiencing the joy that Jesus described. And so maybe for you, you might look at it and you go, man, is my thermostat set on apathy, or is it set on joy?

Tim Lundy: [00:30:11] The final one, I would just say, and this is a hard one as well, but it is, choose joy over jealousy. Choose joy over jealousy. You know, I've always liked the writer, Søren Kirkegaard, he's a philosopher, he wrote a little story about a little lily. "There once was a lily, he says, who lived a happy life beside a rippling brook. This beautiful little flower, in its simple surroundings, was content and carefree. Until one day. Until the day when the bird showed up. Now this feathered visitor was a showoff. A braggart and teller of tales. It would swoop in and fill the lily’s head full of stories of better places and far more beautiful flowers. Each story was crafted to convey the message that, in comparison to other flowers, and other places, this poor lily was a nobody. A failed lily. Captive to simplicity. Embarrassingly inadequate. Following each visit from the bird, the lily fretted more. It couldn’t sleep. It no longer woke up happy. It felt incapacitated by not-enough-ness. The beautiful little flower, once content, now realized, in comparison with others out there in the wide world, it was ugly, deficient, incarcerated in its familiar surroundings. But the bird was there to help. The bird had the answer. So together they formulated a plan. Early one morning, the bird landed beside the lily and began pecking away at the soil around its roots. Now liberated, the lily was placed under the wings of the bird and away they flew to the better place. In that better place, where lilies were more beautiful, where life was fuller, the flower told itself it would truly be a lily worthy of the name. But, alas, they never made it. High in the heavens, rootless and finally free of its former constraints, the lily withered. And the lily died."

Tim Lundy: [00:30:11] It's a sad little story. And yet when I think of it, that lily is living life, and then that bird that comes. Do you know, the picture I always have for the bird? I think for a lot of us, this is the bird, this is that constant refrain of social media, of what's going on out there. Where you're being told over and over again, you don't measure up, your life's not as good. And like the little lily, it's so easy to get discontent, and it's easy to get jealous of other people's lives. Sometimes the holidays make it even worse, as you look at other people's families, you look at what they're doing, and what they experience, and if you're not in a place where you want to be, it's so easy to get just like the lily, that instead of embracing where they're planted and the beauty of their life, they get caught up in a life out there and not feeling like they measure up.

Tim Lundy: [00:33:25] I want to encourage you, if maybe you find your default setting always going to jealousy, choose joy. And the way to do this, it's actually counterintuitive, but look how Paul says to do this, he says we're to, "Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." In this first line, especially, maybe you're at a place that you'd go, I'm not rejoicing, I'm not experiencing what I'd like to. Do you know what Paul tells you to do? He says, actually choose joy in their joy, choose joy in the way God's blessed them, choose joy. And this is a hard verse to live out, by the way. Now, he also then calls on the other side, maybe your life is so blessed right now, are you looking around and taking the time to choose to weep, to feel, with those who aren't experiencing what you have? See, both of us are called outside of ourselves. And I promise you, as hard as this verse is, if you'll choose to live this out, the joy you experience is so much more fulfilling than the jealousy you find yourself stuck in.

Tim Lundy: [00:34:40] Folks, there's a lot of these categories we could go through of things that we choose over it. And I just want to close out, though, the way we have, of just one, some evaluation, and then some action steps of how we could actually do this.

Tim Lundy: [00:34:54] First, just the personal evaluation, and these are just questions for you. But I'd ask you, you should ask yourself, what is the default setting of my heart? Is it one of those categories? And maybe with that hand in hand, am I choosing something that is more than joy, am I choosing something else more than joy? Am I choosing to be frustrated all the time, or angry, or jealous? See, if it's any of those things, I'm losing out on this gift that Christ has given. And so, as you say that, you have to ask yourself then, do I want joy enough to really give God control? And so often that's what it comes down to, if I'm going to make a choice to set the thermostat of my heart and my life on a joy that only comes from Jesus, if I'm going to count it all joy no matter what I'm facing today, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what God's blessing someone else with, if I'm really choosing to do that, I'm doing it because I want him in control and I want the joy that comes from him leading my life in that way.

Tim Lundy: [00:36:05] So as I say that, let me give you some action steps as we finish out. Here's the first one I'd say, start every day with Jesus in his word, start every day. Look how the psalmist puts it, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Here's what David says, just by being in your presence, I experience your joy. C.S. Lewis puts it this way, he says, "If you want to get warm, you have to get near the fire. If you want to get wet, get near the water." And in the same way, if you want to experience joy, and I don't know how to say this any clearer or more unequivocally, if you want the kind of joy I'm talking about in your life, you have to start every day with Jesus, he's a source of it. If it doesn't come natural to us, what will come naturally is your default setting, but if you'll make the choice that every day that you go, OK, I'm going to start today, all right, Jesus, what do you have for me today? All right, Jesus, you're in control of my day. All right, Jesus, what is your word say today? Because I need some truth washing over me. I need to get near the fire because I want to get warm with your joy, I need to get near the water because I want to get wet with your joy, it doesn't happen otherwise. This will literally be a message you'd go, oh man, I wish I had that, and you'll find your setting go right back to what your natural default is. You've got to make that choice every day.

Tim Lundy: [00:37:33] The second thing I'd say with that is, throughout the day you choose joy, that's what it means to count it all joy with it. Look how Paul puts it in Thessalonians, he says this a lot. He says, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ in you." So he says, rejoice always, literally he is saying, all throughout your day, you're always making that choice, I'm going to choose joy in this. Now, notice he gives some further instruction with it, and here's what I'd say throughout the day you choose joy. And so in the bad moments of the day, pray more, that's why he says to pray without ceasing. So I'm trying to choose joy, I get frustrated by something, instead of staying frustrated, or maybe I'm worried about something, or maybe I'm angry about something. any of those things, instead of staying in that natural place, here's what you choose in that moment, you've got to pray, you've got to remember that you've got to get close to the flame again. You have to say, OK, God, man, you know how I'm naturally wired, you know how I want to respond, so I need you to do something in me that's not natural to me, and I'm choosing joy that only comes in you in this moment.

Tim Lundy: [00:38:40] And then on the flip side, in the good moments of the day, thank God more. That's what Paul said. he says, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, thank God in everything. And so you've got to pare down there that you're going, OK, I'm choosing joy. And, man, when I hit something hard, I'm going to pray in that moment. God, I need you. And when I hit something good, do you know one of the best ways to produce joy, you just stop in that moment, and you thank God for it. God, thank you for this blessing, thank you for the goodness of this, thank you for this thing that naturally makes me happy, but I don't want to pretend like it was about me or that I deserve it or I earned it, I want to stop in this moment and I want to thank you. Do you see how you're planning both of those all throughout the day?

Tim Lundy: [00:39:23] And then the final thing I would just say is, feed your heart and mind the ingredients of joy, check what's going in, in that. Look how puts it in Philippians, right after he tells us to rejoice, he says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." See, you're preparing a diet for your mind and heart all the time, and so the question is, what are the ingredients you're using? Paul says if you start with these ingredients, man, you end up with a great diet. I mean, it'd be like you if I said, hey, I want you to create a diet, now, here's your ingredients. I am going to give you some Sour Patch Kids, and some Skittles, and some M&M's, here's a bucket of lard, here's some frosting, throw in some Twinkies, maybe some Ho Hos. So if I give you that, now, if you're like a six-year-old kid, you're like, oh, this is the best diet in the world, the rest of us would kind of look at it and go, I'm going to die on that. I mean, you've given me junk food all the time, and you think I'm supposed to be sustained off of it? And I would just say the same is true about our minds and hearts, do you take the time to just think about what am I feeding my mind all the time? I'd just encourage you, look at your entertainment. And again, I like entertainment, but if I have a constant diet of things that are always dark, if have a constant diet of things, they're always murder-based or whatever show you might be into. If I have a constant diet of social media, that's always angry, or that's always pointing out somebody else's good life. Folks, if that's my diet all the time, it's no different than creating a diet of a bunch of junk food, it's not going to sustain. And so Paul says, hey, where are you really looking at the good things, the beautiful things, the redeeming things, the truthful things like God's word, the joy of what Christ has accomplished?

Tim Lundy: [00:41:42] Folks, this is a hard message to live, I'll just go ahead and tell you right now, but I think it's an important one. And I would just challenge you, and I'll end where I began, I hope that we would embrace and unwrap this gift of joy that Christ has given us so that it doesn't just last during the Christmas season, so we don't wake up the day after Christmas kind of depressed, or the day after New Year's because the holiday is over, and we've got to get back to our lives again. I would hope that we could unwrap this gift that came because of Christmas, because of Christ, and experience the kind of joy, and be the kind of people that we could choose this joy, that it becomes our default setting, it makes all the difference in life.

Tim Lundy: [00:42:38] Will you pray with me? Father, I thank you, I thank you that you sent Christ, I thank you for the joy that comes from him, thank you for just what you do in us that we can't naturally accomplish. I recognize I'm preaching a message that's impossible to live out without Christ, but what you have commanded, you enable. And so I pray, would I embrace this. would we embrace this, would we make joy, our default setting, and experience the kind of life that only comes through Christ? And we pray this in His name, Amen.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032