Inside Out Part 1: Joy
On Sunday 3rd January at our morning services, we started our series Inside Out with the topic 'Joy'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
If you would like to listen to the talk, please click here.
Talk Notes and Summary
What makes you happy? There are many different things that might make us happy, but sometimes those are all to fleeting and happiness is replaced by sadness or disgust or anger or fear.
Joy is different to happiness. It is possible to have a deep rooted sense of joy that goes through the whole of our lives no matter what the circumstances. It is possible to be happy but have no joy. It is possible to be deeply sad or hurt but still have a sense of joy.
A while ago I saw an advert for a BMW car series, I think it was the series 3 and the advert said this ‘joy wins’ and in life I believe this to be true – joy wins. If you are able to find that sense of joy no matter what, then you win, your life is better, your relationships are better, people want to know you, be around you, you will never be lonely.
And this is true whether you are a Christian or not, if you can find that sense of joy then you win. But as we will discover I think that God is a key factor in finding this joy, possible without God, but much more difficult.
What is the secret to discovering that sense of joy? To help us find the secret, I am going to look at a story from the life of Jesus. It can be found in Luke’s account of Jesus’ life chapter 17 and you can read it here:
In Jesus’ day leprosy was a death sentence for most people. It was a horrible disease that included ulcerated lumps on the skin, loss of eyebrows and rasping voice due to damage to the vocal chords.
Because it was contagious people stayed away from someone suffering with leprosy and that person was isolated and unable to have any physical contact with people.
Jesus told the ten lepers to go and see the priests. If a leper were cleansed in Jesus day the priest had to declare them clean. Jesus is challenging the men to obey and in the act of taking that step of obedience Jesus heals them. This is often how it is with us…we need to take a step and then God moves in.
Only one of the lepers goes back to thank Jesus and he was a Samaritan. The Jews and the Samaritans hated each other. The one who comes back to see Jesus (who was a Jew) is the one he would never have expected to come back, someone without faith, hated the Jews – he comes back.
There was a remarkable change in the Samaritan – gratitude does that – changes our hearts. Gratitude changes his heart and it can change our hearts too. Gratitude is THE key to finding joy, this is the secret. All 10 lepers who were healed would have been happy about that, but only one of them finds something deeper – joy. And we know he finds joy because he is praising God and praising God is one of the outcomes of joy. And he finds joy because he cultivates an attitude of thankfulness. Gratitude is the key to unlocking deep rooted joy.
How do I open myself up to gratitude? How do I cultivate a grateful heart? And through that find joy?
1) be grateful for imperfect gifts – life is imperfect, but there are still lots of things to be grateful for. In his book “Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code” Dr Sam Chand says this: “the number of shoulds in a persons mind and mouth is inversely proportional to their sense of peace, joy and fulfilment”.
If we are always thinking about what we should have or should do, it robs us of our joy.
2) learn to be grateful in times of worry and frustration
3) express gratitude openly and often
4) devote yourself to giving thanks to God (worship)
5) develop a discipline of noticing things to be grateful for
This is the foundation of joy and joy wins, joy is a better way to live, a better way to be. GK Chesteron once said “Here ends another day, during which I have had eyes, ears, hands and the great world around me. Tomorrow begins another day. Why am I allowed 2?”
To find joy we have to find gratitude and it is worth finding and worth working for because in the end joy wins.
Questions and Reflections (to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)
1. What makes you happy? Why are those feelings often fleeting?
2. Do you agree that joy and happiness are different?
3. How would you describe joy?
4. Can you think of a time when you or someone you know has exhibited joy despite life being a struggle?
5. Why do you think only one of the lepers returned to thank Jesus?
6. What are the outcomes of that gratitude in the life of that leper?
7. How does gratitude lead to joy?
8. What are the joy stealers in your life? How can you replace those?
9. What can you be grateful for?