Sermon Church of the Foothills 010112
(Psalm 32:7-9; 34:1-8; Proverbs 15:13; John 15:11; 17:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Thess. 5:18; 1 Peter 4:13- 19; Hebrews 10:34; 12:2; James 1:1-4)!
Happy New Year! Wow it is now 2012, the year of mystery, mystique and intrigue, if you follow the Hollywood apocalyptic movies, the often mistranslated Mayan calendar or the prophets of baloney this will be it, the end of days run to the hills in fear. Fortunately for us, if you read the Bible and have a saving faith, no problem. In fact…before I get into the topic of ‘joy,’ allow me to give you some ‘joy rising,’ that word ‘apocalyptic’ in the Greek, in the context of Scripture actuary means “discourser of events,” and that is what it literally and truly means that God and His plan is unfolding we can have joy victory, hope, grace, and that He is indeed in control when we are in Him. The foreboding definition of doom and gloom was brought to us by the false teachers of the 19th century and Hollywood, just read Revelation and you will see, joy to Christians, God is at work and Christ will return….no need to fear… Now for more Joy…
Read Galatians 5:22-23; James 1:2-4
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Q: Is ‘Joy’ as a Character working in you?
Q: Are you a grouchy person when you get up in the morning? If so, it may be a lack of joy or at least an understanding of joy…
The optimist sees the glass as half full. The pessimist sees the glass as half empty. The project manager sees the glass is twice as big as it needs to be. The scientist sees the glass needs more examining, as a guess based on a visual cue is inaccurate, so mark the glass at the bottom of the meniscus of the content, pour the content into a bigger glass; fill the empty glass with fresh content up to the mark; add the original content back in; if the combined content overflows the lip, the glass was more than half full; if it doesn’t reach the top, the glass was more than half empty; if it neither overflows nor fails to reach the top then it was either half-full or half-empty.
And of course, the opportunist sees the glass and just drinks its contents and walks away… Ever notice that when your cup of happiness is full, somebody always jogs your elbow?
Which one has more joy? The optimist or pessimist? Perhaps it is the opportunist. I guess an argument can be made for all…it really comes down to a matter of …perspective.
So do you have joy? First off we need to define it, as most people even Christians may not truly know what it means.
What is Joy? Most think that Joy is happiness, in actuality it is a ‘perspective.’ It is about our focus on Christ as Lord; this is a declaration,like an explorer declaring a newly discovered land for the Queen and planting the flag. In Christianity, its meaning isto declare our situation for Christ as happy and fulfilling, even when it may not be so. It is to change our mindset and focus. It is realizing the sovereignty of God and that He is indeed in control, even when life seems to be turned upside down and inside out!
Rejoice means that we can rejoice in Jesus’ sacrifice and death, be glad for the joy of our salvation, and express gratitude for whom and what He is and has done. And the Disciple’s joy did erupt for the risen Lord. Jesus doesn’t just replace our sorrow with joy; He transforms it. The world’s joy is very temporary while ours is forever (Psalm 16:11; 80:1-7, 17-19; 118:24; Isa. 64:1-9; 1 Cor. 1:23-30; 2:2)!
What Joy does? Joy will allow us to enjoy our relationship with Christ, His creation, others, and our circumstances with an expression of delight and real, authentic happiness from and with harmony with God and others, Regardless of our circumstances.
Joy helps us understand God’s perspective and gives us the confidence and patience to endure, to go and grow through anything. Joy is not happiness, because we may not be content and pleased with it; rather, joy is hope. It is our real hope. It is not a meager wish; rather, it is the unshakable confidence of our future in Christ. Our pleasure comes from knowing He is in charge and caring for us, He is still working in us and our situation even when we can’t make sense of it.
How is Joy applied? We are called to ‘Consider,’ this means to Count it joy, knowing that the glass is not even half full, it is empty and still declare our situation as happy and fulfilling. Thus, Joy helps us change our mindset and focus from what we see to Christ, so we are not consumed with anger or bitterness or other unhelpful and destructive emotions that lead to destructive actions and broken relationships. Joy help keep our focus on God’s love, care and sovereignty and realize that He is in control, His Hand is upon us, upon you, so we can just Him, we can allow His Fruit and plan to unfold, even when life seems to be too tough, or even worthless or that I am useless. Because you indeed have Hope!
So do you have Joy? Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this character and fruit of joy from God’s Word and perspective the ask yourself:
1. How do I exhibit joy in my daily life?
2. What can I do to develop a more joyful attitude?
3. What blocks joy from working and being exhibited in me?
4. How can I make joy function better, stronger and faster even in times of uncertainly and stress?
A key trick, well not a trick so to speak but a mindset, is to realize that Joy is the byproduct of our trust and obedience in Christ that comes from our growing effectual faith.
What happens when I refuse to take joy as my character and mindset? Well this is not good….we will have… Besides anger and bitterness, which are not as fun as one may think, we will also be hanging out with Distress, Sorrow, Despair and Regret, by the wayare the opposites of Joy and God’s call and plan!
Despair limits us like a ball and chain from growth and the enjoyment of life because we become too consumed with our circumstances. Not counting it joy means we engage Regret, and then we will have lost control of our attitude and response. Consumed with hurt so all we can do is hurt others. Distress cuts us off from relationships, learning, experiences and God. Not adding joy in our life leads to a life well wasted, a life of depression that cuts us off from seeing hope and purpose and what life and eternity are all about!
C.S. Lewis has this insight, Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
Joy in the O.T., was an expression of excitement that was experienced with personal triumph, or celebrating a good harvest or military victory. Often feasting, the offering of sacrifices or blessings and dancing were tied with joy (Deut 12:12; 1 Sam 18:6; Ps 31:7; 96: 11; Isa. 56:7; 60:15; 61:3 ff; Joel 1:16;). In the NT, Joy comes from the Holy Spirit, Fruit of the Spirit means the Holy Spirit’s work in and through us. It is associated with receiving or the telling of God’s redemptive love. It also is associated with the enjoyment of life such as eating, drinking, feasting and even suffering (Matt 5:11-12; Luke 12:19; Acts 7:41; Gal 5:22; 1 Peter 1:6).
Joy helps us see that life and purpose is all about who God is, and not who I am (Psalm 15; 101; 2 Thess. 1:12; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1). Joy is indispensable for sharing love, it is being confident in our faith. It is not just what you know; it is Who you know. He is Christ. Your love of Jesus is the picture other people need to see so they can better see Him (Joshua 1:8-9; 2 Cor. 1:24)!
When we know we have the Good News, we will know Jesus, not just as a Savior, but as LORD (Luke 6:46)! He is to be all things to us. Is He Lord of your life, too? Joy helps us understand God’s perspective and gives us the confidence and patience to endure anything! This realization impacts and fuels us to endure the toughness of life and to proclaim Jesus to others. Because we are confident in His power and impact, we will live in Him and show Christ to others. I know that in my life, my effectiveness is directly correlated to my walk and my prayer life. How much I trust and obey becomes the power that helps me get through life when it seems dark and foreboding, and Joy will be our prime help too.
We need to realize that we have no control over what happens to us at times, whether it be trials, suffering, setbacks, injury, sickness, or death of a loved one. We only have control of our attitude and response. We are called to choose to declare our situation joy!
We cannot change our circumstances; however, we can accept them by learning and growing from them (Isa. 26:3). It does no good to complain, to fret, or to be angry or bitter, as these things do neither others nor us any good. When has bitterness ever really helped out in that situation? When has depression gave you the gumption to learn from it and move on. When has complaining motivated positively? All that complaining just escalates the situation and blinds us to our ability to be better and not bitter!
Real, authentic, Christian maturity will grow as a result of our problems. They will strengthen us and make us better, stronger, and able to get over things faster and get on with our lives. Then, we will be able to be of better use to God and to others.
Men have pursued joy in every avenue imaginable. Some have successfully found it while others have not. Perhaps it would be easier to describe where joy cannot be found:
Not in Unbelief — Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: “I wish I had never been born.”
Not in Pleasure — Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: “The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone.”
Not in Money — Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: “I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth.”
Not in Position and Fame — Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: “Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret.”
Not in Military Glory — Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, before he said, “There are no more worlds to conquer.”
Where then is real joy found? — the answer is simple, in Christ alone.
(The Bible Friend, Turning Point, May, 1993.)
Joy recognizes that Christ will lift us up in His time; it sees the hope to come because He is the Hope, and takes delight in the moment even in times of harshness. It must be declared and seen even when it is not visible. The joy we are to have is His. It must carry us through all of our experiences and situations. It must rule our character and response, it must set the tone of how we engage and respond to others, whether it is prosperity or adversity, whether we are in the oval office or living in the streets.
Joy is not happiness, because we may not be content and pleased with it; rather, joy is hope; it is our hope. It is not a meager wish, rather the unshakable confidence in our future in Christ.
Our pleasure comes from knowing Christ is LORD and is in charge and caring for us (Psalm 34:1-8; 1 Thess. 5:18)! So we can look at whatever situation we face and say this is good, this will better me, or this will help me. I may not understand it, but I can trust God; He is there and He will carry me through it!
Believe me I know this is a though task, I have not been immune to harsh troubles and setbacks, I know them intimately, but I know more my LORD!I hope you do too, if not seek someone out sooner than later, this church is here for you!
We are called to declare our situation, whatever it may be, as joy! Because, it is not a question of if we have problems but when, as we all will face them. We will face problems; they are inevitable, unavoidable, and unpredictable, and no one is immune! How we deal with them is what echoes into eternity, how we handle lives harshness is crucial for our contentment and faith and our modeling of Christ to others. There is no escape living in our corporeal bodies and in a sinful world (Gal. 3:26; Col. 3:1-4)!
For us to survive suffering and grow in maturity, we must have a real, authentic faith. Our eyes must be on Christ as well as our trust and faith. God must have us in Him, all of us—every aspect (Phil. 3)! Why do we need to allow ourselves to surrender to Him? We cannot deal with them effectively without Christ as Lord! He gives us the attitude of joy and the ability to persevere! This attitude of joy is also a key attribute for an athlete in order to excel on the field as well as for a Christian to grow in the Lord. What will you do? Surrender to Him or live unto yourself (Job 14:1; Psalm 34:14; John 3:30; 2 Cor. 4:7-12; Gal. 2:20-21; 1 Peter 4:12)?
The key is for us to look to Christ, not to our situation, and declare our circumstances as joy. We are to be content and satisfied, to face them, and then learn and grow from them. This does not mean to give up and do nothing; it means to refocus our energies into productivity and faith—not questions and bitterness.
It is to have our convictions and fulfillment in Christ, not circumstances. So, when something very difficult comes upon us, we will have the great comfort that God is in control and will not allow us to carry more than we can tolerate. Our joy and purpose in life is Christ, and our relationship in Him! Will you allow yourself to become less, and Him to become more (John 3:30)? If not, what is in the way?
Joy helps us understand God’s perspective and gives us the confidence and patience to endure anything!
Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011) was a popular English singer-songwriter known for her powerful deep contralto vocals and her eclectic mix… my wife correctly describes as ‘jazzy.’
Winehouse’s battles with substance abuse were the subject of much media attention. In various interviews, she admitted to having problems with self-harm, depression and eating disorders, she had it all literally, fame, wealth, talent, all that the world could ever offer, yet she was, sadly so, sad, not joyful about her circumstances and the result ended her promising life way too early.
Perhaps we can be remember that the world does not supply what we need, so we need to refocus on Christ. Remember to place Joy in all aspects of our life and expectations. If you are having problems take a serious look at despair and where it will get you, because there can be no delight without joy! You can have no true confidence without joy. What we suffer through, what we go through, what we give up is in no comparison to what we gain! Christianity and suffering is the ultimate in delayed gratification!
Have a most blessed New Year and remember Christ’s hand is upon you, receive Him, live for Him and be grateful so joy and the rest of the Fruits flow into you and through you and out of you….
Let us pray…
- Here are positive examples from Scripture (Ex.14: 1-21; 1 Sam. 1:19; 2:10; Luke 10:17-21; 15:22-32; Acts 16:19-34)
- Here is are negative examples from Scripture (Ruth 1:19-21; Job 3:1-19; John 11:17-44)
© 2002, 2005, 2012 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.com