Just a few days after my 13th birthday, I preached the first sermon I ever gave behind a pulpit. On that Sunday afternoon, in August, I spoke on the subject “I Have a Secret.” Now, the secret was not just mine! It is the open secret of true and lasting joy revealed in God’s Word, hidden from those without Jesus and revealed through Christ alone.

The Bible word for secret is mystery. God’s mysteries refer not to something unknowable, but rather something that was previously unknown and now revealed in Christ (Colossians 1:26-28). The mysteries of God belong to Him…but they are available to us (Deuteronomy 29:29)!

Jesus told His first followers, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). His joy. My joy. Full joy. Isn’t this what the whole world is looking for?

Frankly I don’t remember much that I said in that first message (most of the hearers wouldn’t either!). But I do remember the joy in my heart as I spoke about the joy of the Lord. Somewhere I had learned the little acrostic of J-O-Y and used it as an outline for that first fledgling sermon. It is still a solid outline for joyful living…

J- Jesus. All joy begins with Jesus. There is no joy apart from knowing Christ. And this joy grows as we come to know Him more intimately. If you want real joy then do not live for people, possessions, or pleasant circumstances. Center your joy on Christ alone. Only fellowship with Him will produce joy (1 John 1:3-4).

O- Others. Christ taught that the first commandment is to love God and the second is to love your neighbor (Mark 12:28-31). There is divine order in His teaching – first God, then others. The closer we get to Christ the more His heart becomes ours. Philippians 2 reveals the “others” heart of our perfect example. Joy is not introspective and self-serving; it flourishes as we seek to minister to the needs of others.

Y- Yourself. When Christ has the preeminence and others have the preference then self must be last. It is the beautiful irony, the divine mystery of the Christian life: as we die we live, as we decrease we know the increase of Christ, as we go lower we are lifted up. It is the secret.

One of the books that transformed my life was a book by V. Raymond Edman called They Found the Secret. In it he details the stories of Christians through the centuries who discovered the joy and power of the indwelling Christ. Indeed, it is the secret we all must find for ourselves.

This secret is one that must be continuously discovered and constantly applied. I feel I am just beginning to learn what I preached on that day as a boy. Little could I realize that these many years later we would be teaching and preaching on Enjoying the Journeypointing people to the only source of joy. I am more convinced of it now than ever. My prayer is that you too will find the secret of Jesus’ joy and share it with others today.