“It is my understanding of the character and nature of God that anchors my joy.” John MacArthur.

In a sermon on Rejoice Always (1 Thess. 5:16), John MacArthur listed eight sources of joy and then six thieves of joy. I’ve summarized them below but you can read or hear the whole sermon here.

Sources of Joy

1. The character of God. It is my understanding of the character and nature of God that anchors my joy.

2. Appreciation for the work of Jesus Christ. My favorite definition of a Christian? Somebody who worships in the Spirit of God, rejoices in Christ Jesus, and puts no confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3).

3. The ministry of the Holy Spirit. How can I not rejoice when I know the Spirit of God is leading me to understand the truth?

4. Spiritual blessings. Paul tells the Ephesians that God gives us everything we need out of the abundance of His riches. There’s only one reasonable response to that and that is joy, deep down joy.

5. Divine providence. Because God is a God of absolute sovereign providence, I rejoice because nothing is outside His plan.

6. Answered prayer. I rejoice that God answers prayer (John 16:24). That in itself is enough to keep the joy flowing.

7. The truth of Scripture. When the Word of Christ dwells in me richly, I end up speaking in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody and rejoicing in my heart because of the truth (Col. 3:16).

8. Christian fellowship. I don’t mind being around unconverted people, but I prefer to be with believers because there is a level of joy that I don’t experience with non-believers (1 Thess. 3:9).

Thieves of Joy

MacArthur says, “If you’re not rejoicing, there are maybe some reasons.”

1. You’re not a Christian: If there’s no joy in a Christian’s life that may be good evidence that that person is not a Christian, because this is a gift from God through Christ planted in the heart. There’s a well of joy in the believer.

2. Ignorance can steal your joy. If you have an aberrant theology, no wonder you don’t have any joy. Bad theology steals joy. If you believe you can lose your salvation, that will make you unhappy.

3. False expectations will steal your joy. If you expect Jesus to make you always healthy, wealthy, and happy, these are false expectations and a deadly setup.

4. Forgetfulness will steal your joy. It’s really good to just remember and remember and remember and remember the history of God’s goodness throughout redemptive history as well as throughout your life because it helps you draw from the well of joy.

5. Self-absorption will steal your joy. If you start worrying about all the little things in life that aren’t the way we want them, that will steal your joy. Narcissistic self-centeredness and self-analysis, getting all caught up in trying to interpret every little thing in your life – that will steal it.

6. Being ruled by your feelings will steal your joy. Instead, let truth control you and your feelings.

“The joyful Christian thinks more of his Lord than his personal difficulties, more of his spiritual riches in Christ than his poverty on earth, and more of his glorious fulfillment in heaven than his present pain. Therein lies our joy.” John MacArthur.