5 Places Joy is Always Available

What if I were to tell you that joy is always available? Are you interested in knowing more? I am. If you are reading this post, that must mean that you are as well.

I am starving for joy. I’ll admit that I have not been very happy. I walked through quite a streak of stresses and difficult circumstances over the past 3-4 years and it got the best of me. I’ve been waiting on the next bad thing to happen rather than shaping something good. So I started searching for joy. I found it. In Psalm 16 David shares 5 places where joy is always available.

Joy is always available in God

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

Psalm 16:1-2

Joy is a reaction. Joy is a response. There always has to be a reason for joy. You can’t fake it.

Joy is not like love in that we can love someone who is not easily lovable. Jesus commands us to love our enemies. But when it comes to joy, you can’t take joy in something that isn’t joyful. Taking joy in something that isn’t joyful is sinful. The Bible uses words like envy, jealousy, covetousness, and drunkenness to describe the misguided notion that a person can find satisfying joy in joyless things.

Joy is Not an Option

What’s even more interesting is that joy is not an option. The Bible speaks of joy about 430 times. The Bible uses the word “rejoice” about 230 times. Did you know that the Bible commands us to rejoice and be glad more than it commands any other thing? That means that just as it is a sin to take a human life, it is a sin not to be happy! That’s a problem if I can’t find joy.

So what makes you happy? Family. Food. Friends. Money. Sports. We all have a shortlist of things that make us happy. But there’s another problem. Those things are not always available or affordable. Then what?

You’re fine with your shortlist as long as there is someone at the top of the list that is always available to give you joy. So David secures his joy. He declares that the Lord is his Lord and that he will find no good apart from God.

Joy is not an option, it is a command. Seeing that the Bible so often mentions joy, we can conclude that God is concerned for our joy.

David does not share his circumstances, but if you know anything of his life you know that he is a man who seemed to surf the highs and lows of difficult situations. Declaring that he seeks refuge in God indicates that there is no joy in his current circumstances and so he turns to the faithful reservoir of joy. God. And that is wise. Since God commands joy He is always available for joy. Seeing that the Bible so often mentions joy, we can take conclude that God is concerned for our joy.

And David is not disappointed. In verse 16 he shares what he has found. “In your (God) presence there is fullness of joy.” That word full means satisfied, saturated. It means that the supply has not been exhausted but that you simply don’t have the capacity for more.

For those who name the name of the Lord, there can be no one else on the top of our list of things that make us happy than God. God commands us to take joy in Him. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” If He commands it, He is available for it. Being the most excellent being in existence He will never fail to give us a reason for joy.

Joy is Always Available in God’s People (vv. 3-4)

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.

Psalm 16:3-4

It is no surprise to hear that God is the source of infinite joy. But as a human, I need more than words on paper. I want to see Him, feel Him, and hear Him. I want to experience God.

One of the great doctrines of the Bible is that the church is the Body of Christ. God has chosen to minister His graces to His people through His church. Basically Jesus died for our sins. Rose from the grave. Ascended into Heaven. Gave us His Spirit and essentially said, now you be me on earth. No pressure!

Some of the meanest people I’ve ever met have been in church.

And David has found this to be true. Not only does he have an excellent God, but David has found some of God’s excellent people. The excellent ones are the people who have been affected and infected by God’s joy so much so that David not only finds pleasure in God, but he delights in God’s excellent ones.

Immediately we raise an objection. Some of the meanest people I have ever met have been in church.

The Bible has something to say about this as well.

The Ugly Side of Church

  1. Not all people who claim to be God’s people are God’s people. Unfortunately within the church, there are false teachers (2 Peter 2:1) and fake Christians (Matthew 7:15-23). These people are definite joy killers. They bear no spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22-24). They exhibit no evidence they are indwelt by God’s spirit. They share no witness of Jesus. The Bible says they are there. Identify them, but don’t make decisions based on them. The fact that you can draw no joy from them and that they seek to distract you and destroy your joy should be no surprise to you. These are not God’s excellent ones.
  2. Not everything that is claimed to be of God is from God. Another unfortunate reality of church is that even sincerely saved, spiritually indwelt, regenerate people can exhibit spiritual immaturity. This is true of all of us from time to time. If we are not careful, we get caught up in gossip, accusation, deception, unfaithfulness, and anger. In response to this, we should renounce it and approve what is excellent (Titus 3:8-11). In short, we should seek to quickly end expressions of immaturity and approve joy (1 Peter 2:1-3). It’s especially true that when you are seeking joy in a turbulent time that it is wise to adopt David’s approach to ungodly people and ungodly things in 16:4. I smell blood, and I’m not going to go there! It’s false. It is not of God and it only ends in sorrow. And who needs more of that? Not me!

While it is true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, don’t fail to look around and find God’s excellent ones. These are most often the people who are not vocal. Often they are not noticeable, but they are excellent. They will pray for you, encourage you, and impart godly wisdom. Since God is an ever-present source of joy, you can take comfort in knowing that there will always be people who have been affected and infected by His joy who will be a delight to you.

Joy is Always Available in God’s Ways (vv. 5-6)

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

Psalm 16:5-6

Have you ever wondered “why?” Of course you have. What’s even more painful is when we find no joy in our circumstances and we seem to get no answer from our ever-present God of endless joy. THAT – I do not enjoy!

But notice that joy may be frustrated, but it is not lost. The cup in the Bible is a metaphor for fate. Jesus referred to this in his conversation with God in the Garden of Gethsemane, “If possible let this cup pass from me (Matthew 26:39a).” And then comes that beautiful statement of our Savior’s surrender, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

There is no way we could plumb the depths of the reasons for Christ’s surrender, but one of them is certainly cited here in Psalm 16. Notice the language. The Lord does not just give us the cup. God gives us Himself. He is our chosen portion and our cup. The Lord holds our lot. The fact that He holds our “lot” basically means that our fate is not simply left to chance. There is joy in knowing that God’s choices are providential and purposeful. Even more amazing is that we have Him! This is why the Bible speaks so often of the paradox of joy that God’s people find in the midst of sorrow (James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-5, Psalm 30:1-5). It can be said, because God is our cup and our portion that our suffering is not pointless, nor is it joyless.

The Lord does not just give us the cup. He gives us Himself. He is our chosen portion and our cup. He holds our lot. The fact that He holds our “lot” basically means that our fate is not simply left to chance. There is joy in knowing that God’s choices are providential and purposeful. Even more amazing is that we have Him!

The Lines in Pleasant Places

But what does the Bible mean here about the lines falling in pleasant places? This is a reference back to God’s distribution of the promised land to Israel as their inheritance. It is as if he is walking around within the boundaries of his inheritance and finding wonderful things. It is like a man who has just been given land exploring it for the first time and he likes what he sees with every step he takes.

What is interesting about Israel’s inheritance is that it was possessed in obedience. I think this sense of boundaries, or commands is also encapsulated in the word “lines.”

So let’s put it all together. Sometimes you don’t like your circumstances, but you cannot change them. When you don’t like your circumstances you may not think much of God’s commands because you don’t want to do them. But Psalm 16:5-6 tells you that there is joy always available here. How so?

The Journey and the Job

  1. Journey in the command. As the picture of the verse indicates, walk around, take a look. The command may not look like much when you take a look at it, but journey in it. You will find some pleasant places in it. You will find some unexpected beauty there. In God’s commands, there is no regret. There are no foolish mistakes. When certain things DON’T happen, certain things WON’T happen! Think about it! Take joy in the journey of waking rightly with the Lord.
  2. Work the command. Just like Israel had to work the land you have to work the command. It will bear fruit! You will find the joy of God’s preservation in the command. You will experience the bounty of God’s blessing in His commands. Don’t negotiate it, shortcut it, or question it. Just do what God says to do! His ways are not your ways and His thoughts are not your thoughts. He’s God. You and I are not! Work His plan. Do His commands. You reap what you sow! “Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy (Psalm 126:5)!” Work it! There is joy within the boundaries of God’s commands. You will never be truly happy until you are concerned with being holy.

Joy is Always Available in God’s Word (vv. 7-8)

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Psalm 16:7-8

I don’t know about you, but I do my worst thinking at night. Sleepless nights are filled with voices. It is at night that my mind replays every criticism, rehearses every doubt, and exaggerates every fear. But David does not hear cursing, he hears the voice of blessing in the night. David has found that joy is always available in God’s Word.

The passage is instructive to us about our approach to God’s Word. If you want to hear the voice of God bring you joy and drown out your critics in the middle of the night then God’s Word must be taken 1) as counsel 2) as instruction 3) to heart. God’s Word is not intended only to be read. The intention of God’s Word is for it to be obeyed. Furthermore, if it is to change me, it must be within me. Psalm 16:7 reflects David’s commitment to Scripture meditation and memorization reflected in Psalm 119:11, “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”

I do my worst thinking at night. Sleepless nights are filled with voices. It is at night that my mind replays every criticism, rehearses every doubt, and exaggerates every fear.

And notice that his experience in God’s Word helps him to find that God is not only always before him, but that God is at his right hand. The result is that he will not be shaken.

There is joy in knowing that there is not a single thing you can go through that God is not already there. He is ever before you. God’s Word is filled with stories, prayers, illustrations, and wisdom for every circumstance of life.

There is always joy in knowing that God is always available at your right hand. What does this mean? It is a nod to the ancient warrior who carried his shield in his left hand. This means that his right side is most exposed. Every warrior knows that the person beside you is critical to you. His shield was the cover for your right side! Let His Word be your counsel and His presence be your defense. There is joy always available in God’s Word!

Imagine going to be tonight and instead of hearing criticism, you hear Psalm 16. Take God’s word to heart in meditation and memorization. It will not be long until you do your BEST thinking at night!

Joy is Always Available in God’s Salvation (vv. 9-11)

There is nothing more miserable than not knowing where you will spend eternity. I remember what it was like not knowing. Doubt is crippling. I remember what it was like to be lost.

But did you know that of the 430 plus times the Bible mentions joy, that it mentions most the joy that is found in salvation? There is nothing that can bring a person more joy than knowing God, defying death, and having hope in the resurrection.

If you find a person who says, “I have no reason for joy.” You have found a person who is in Hell already.

David found joy in knowing that the grave was not his end. As humans, we need something to look forward to. David looked forward to leaving behind a life in which we experience only the first-fruits of joy at best and entering into God’s presence where there is endless pleasure and fullness of joy.

If joy is always available in God, in God’s people, in God’s word, in God’s ways, and in God’s salvation and you meet a person who says, “I have no reason for joy,” that is a person who is in Hell already. For a human, created by God and commanded to enjoy God, to have no reason for joy, he is already experiencing the tragedy of Hell minus the flames.

If that is you, I would point you to Christ! Repent of sin. Turn to Jesus today! Today is the day of salvation. JOY IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE!

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Joy is Always Available (sermon video)

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Pulse by Brian Branam

My latest book, Pulse

Joy is Always Available

Did you know that the word “joy” is used 433x in the Bible? Did you know that “rejoice” is the most repeated command in the Bible? Truth is, God is so concerned with our happiness that He commands it! If this is true, joy must always be available.

But joy seems elusive. Joy is an emotional response to an experience. Joy has to have a reason. When it comes to love we are commanded to love even things that are unlovely. The Bible commands us to love our enemies. Joy is different. We cannot take joy in things that are not joyful. In fact, if we take joy in the wrong things, it is sinful. This brings us to one of the most exiting truths of the Bible. If God commands us to have joy, joy must ALWAYS be available!

But where is it? How can I have it? In what can I always take joy? In this message from Liberty, I use Psalm 16 to point to exciting things in which you can always take joy.

You might be interested!

What’s on Netflix?

Netflix has quickly become America’s movie and media outlet of choice. 38 million households subscribe to satellite television. 48 million households pay for cable. 60 million American households subscribe to Netflix. Currently offering more than 5,500 titles for streaming, Netflix is a massive media source available at your fingertips.

Have you ever stopped to ask, what am I watching? I’m not talking about asking that question from the perspective of whether or not you like the show; as in what would you recommend to a friend. I’m talking about questioning what we watch from the perspective of content. Do you realize that Netflix is not simply a massive media source, but if you subscribe to Netflix, or have a television in your house for that matter, that what is on that screen is the largest library of worldview content in your home.

In this message I evaluate several of the most popular shows on Netflix for their worldview content. Pop culture is full of post-modern and secular themes. What are they? How can we be discerning, but at the same time have a helpful dialogue with our culture? These questions and more are answered in this concluding message to our culture series at Liberty, Brainwashed.

What’s on Netflix?

Watch the entire Brainwashed series on My YouTube Channel.

Check out the opening message of this series, Captured by Culture.

Gender? Determined or Decided?

An article in a 2016 issue of Time Magazine is entitled, “My Brother’s Pregnancy, the Remaking of the American Family.” A growing number of teens describe themselves as gender non-conforming. This means that they do not believe that their biological sex necessarily determines their gender. Did you know that there are over 100 gender descriptions registered on social media? Where does it end? Is gender determined or decided? What is the Biblical response?

Subscribe to BrianBranam.com and receive the first chapter of my latest book, Pulse, for free.

What is Truth?

In one generation moral wrongs have become political rights. How does it happen? The answer is very simple. If you can slide the standard of truth, then you can blur the lines of morality. What is truth?

America is embracing secularism as the prevalent worldview. In secularism, truth is relative. Right and wrong depends on the individual and the situation. But does this worldview really work?

In this message I compare secularisms idea of relative truth to the Biblical worldview and absolute truth. Which is a better way to live?

Title blog by Brian Branam Live in Harmony with One Another football players standing on sideline

Live in Harmony with One Another

There are two things every team must have to make it until the end; endurance and encouragement. 

We are 3-0. That means every season goal that we have set before us is still in tact. You control your own destiny. We are not depending on “this one to beat that one.” You take care of business and you can win a region championship. That begins tonight. You take care of business, we make the playoff. You take care of business and we advance, and advance, and advance and it gets really exciting.

But no one will be crowned region champion at 3-0. No one has ever made the playoffs at 3-0. No one has ever made it to the dome and played for a state championship at 3-0. No one has ever been crowned state champion at 3-0. 

To achieve your goals you have to figure out how to do what you’ve been doing all the way to the end – and that’s a long, long way from here. This is September. Game 4. Game 10 is a long way away. November and December are a long time from now. 

You’re going to get tired. You will get weary. You will want to let up. It is very difficult to keep this level of intensity for a long season.

Commitment is like that. You are excited in the beginning. When you envision what could be you are all in. And then comes the grind. It is true of football. It will also be true in marriage, in parenting, in relationships, in recovery, in business . . . Most of the things that really matter are things that it can be said that it is not how you start, but how you finish. 

When you feel like letting down you will need endurance. You will need something to keep you going intensely to the end. That something is endurance.

No one ever had a perfect season because it was a perfect season.

And somewhere along the way something will go wrong. No one ever had a perfect season because everything was perfect. At some point we will face adversity and you will become discouraged. You will begin to lose heart. There will be something in you that wants to give up. It will threaten to drain your joy. It will test your resolve.

It may be in the middle of the game tonight. It may be the middle of the week, next week. It may be a month from now, but it will take something out of you. That is what it means to be discouraged. Courage is removed from you. You don’t want to go on.

In that moment you need to be encouraged. To encourage means to put courage in someone. It will remind you of your why. It will help strengthen your resolve. That’s what encouragement does. Encouragement replenishes lost courage.

Where does that endurance and encouragement come from? The Bible says in Romans 15:5 that God is the God of these very things. 

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you . . .

Romans 15:5a

There is no question as to who God is. The only question is who we are.

There is no question what God does. The only question is what we will do.

There is no question what God gives. The Bible says in Romans 15:5 that He will “grant you.” The question is as to whether or not you will believe it, receive it, and apply it.

What would it look like for us as a team to believe, receive, and apply the endurance and encouragement of God. The passage goes on to explain.

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6

Interwoven in the explanation is an illustration. If you know anything about music you may be familiar with the word harmony. “You live in such harmony with one another.” Harmony is another line of sound added to the melody. The melody is the main song. The melody is the main notes.

Harmony is other voices added. Harmony sings the same song, but different notes. The harmony is other voices and sounds that add the highs and the lows.

The passage also uses the word accord. “In accord with Christ Jesus.” Accord speaks to the volume of the harmony. Accord speaks of the clear, rich sound that takes place when things come together. Accord is that part of a song that explodes and captures you.

This is not a perfect illustration of the concept, but it helps make the point. In the following commercial, everything in a popular song is stripped away, down to one voice singing the melody. And then, in the end, the the rest of the sound, the harmonies are added and the song explodes in accord.

That together you may with ONE VOICE glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:6b

I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to a concert that featured a symphony orchestra. Even if you don’t like classical music, you must go at least once. It is the greatest sound you can possibly experience. If you can hear, an orchestra helps you appreciate why God gave you ears. To hear master instrumentalists performing an amazing piece of music gives the ear all it was designed for by the Creator.

But the beginning is confusing. It is irritating. It is awful.

For about 10-15 minutes everyone is doing their own thing. They are tuning up and practicing. It sounds like total chaos. Here is a sample.

But then the conductor takes the stand. He raises his baton and every instrument is brought silent. There is this pause. He looks over the 30, 40, 50 players to make sure that they are all ready. They tune in to him. And then he moves the baton and wow – it all comes together.

The result is a rich, deep, full sound. The result is an iconic piece of music. The result of it all coming together is masterful.

I hope we have a perfect season as far as records go, but I promise you, this will not be a perfect season. No one ever had a perfect season because it was a perfect season. 

You will tire of trying to carry the intensity long-term. You will need endurance in that moment. There will be adversity. It will discourage you. It will take something out of you. You will need to be encouraged. You are going to have to seek out someone who can put things back in.

But when those times come, I can tell you what won’t work. Everyone doing their own thing, won’t work. Allowing factions to develop on the team, won’t work. If competing personalities dominate the team, it won’t work. Allowing pettiness or laziness or selfishness to creep in, won’t work. Pointing fingers won’t work. Quitting won’t work. Losing focus won’t work. 

If everyone starts doing their own thing, this team will descend into chaos and we will not only lose games, but we will lose the opportunity to achieve our goals. 

Live in harmony with one another. Don’t make it about yourself. Be humble. Be encouraging. See the big picture, not the moment. Win the season, not the argument. Live in harmony with one another.

Look to your leaders. You’ve got great coaches. If you get frustrated, talk to them. Do you need encouragement? Look to them. If you need some motivation to keep going, listen to them. Learn from them. One of the things I have experienced in leadership is sometimes in difficulty and adversity people forget the vision. They forget all of the good things that the leaders have done for them and focus only on the bad moment, not the good of the vision. Live in harmony with one another.

Ultimately, as the passage says, we must look to the God of encouragement and endurance and to Christ His Son who bore the reproach of disharmony and disunity for us (Romans 15:3). There is no amount of human ugliness or suffering you will ever go through that He has not already gone through FOR YOU. Look to Him and live in harmony with one another. 

A group of people who look to Him for example, for encouragement for endurance can live in harmony with one another. He can take personalities, adversities, difficulties – He can take those moments when you are so tempted to do your own thing and it looks like it is getting ugly – He can bring it all together in harmony.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through enduracne and through the encouragment of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Romans 15:4

His Word is His baton. When we look to the Word all of the chaos of disharmony is silenced. Humans are humbled. Our eyes tune in to Him. We wait for the command.

When a group of young men like yourselves humble themselves for the cause of Christ and look to Him – He brings about an epic testimony, an iconic story – He will create a background to this season you will never forget for the rest of your lives.

For the sake of Christ, live in harmony with one another. 


This post is the manuscript of a chapel talk given before game 4 of the 2019 Christian Heritage Lions Football season.

Week 3 Talk – Love One Another

Pulse – Life in Rhythm. My latest book Pulse was inspired by team talks given during the 2016 CHS Lions season.

A World Without God

The movie Yesterday poses an interesting premise. What if the world forgot The Beatles?

If you like the music of The Beatles I think you will find the film entertaining. Personally, I think there could have been so much more done with the plot, but I enjoyed it.

But what if the world didn’t just forget about a music group? What if the world forgot about God? Imagine what the world would be like if there was no belief or no concept of God in the mind of man.

The question of God is the first question of any worldview. The answer to that question makes every other decision. In this message I share four critical implications to denying there is a God. If you don’t believe in God you must:

  • Have ultimate faith that science can answer all of your questions.
  • Have ultimate faith that people will eventually make all the right decisions.
  • Have ultimate faith that government will solve all of our problems.
  • Have ultimate faith in yourself that you will find the purpose for your life.

Watch all of the messages from the Brainwashed series at Liberty.

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