Friday, February 24, 2006
The Fruit of The Spirit - Joy
THERE IS SOMETHING THAT WE ALL DO, WHETHER WE ARE LITTLE BABIES OR SENIOR ADULTS, THAT DOCTORS SAY IS SUCH GOOD MEDICINE THAT IT RELIEFS STRESS, CAN CURE HEADACHES, FIGHT INFECTIONS, AND EVEN ALLEVIATE HYPERTENSION. IN FACT, WHEN WE ENGAGE IN THIS ACTIVITY, THERE ARE WELL DOCUMENTED PHYSICAL AFFECTS, MANY OF THEM AKIN TO MODERN EXERCISE. MUSCLES IN THE ABDOMEN, CHEST, SHOULDERS, AND ELSEWHERE CONTRACT; HEART RATE AND BLOOD PRESSURE INCREASE. IN ONE BURST OF THIS ACTIVITY THE PULSE CAN DOUBLE FROM 60 TO 120, AND SYSTOLIC BLOOD PRESSURE CAN SHOOT FROM A
THE REASON WE LAUGH, GENERALLY SPEAKING, IS BECAUSE SOMETHING MAKES US HAPPY, BUT WE DON'T ALWAYS LAUGH BECAUSE WE ARE NOT ALWAYS HAPPY. BUT THERE IS A DELIGHT, A GLADNESS OF HEART, A RAPTURE IN THE SOUL, THAT GOES BEYOND AND ABOVE HAPPINESS. IT IS CALLED JOY. NOW THERE IS A TREMENDOUS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JOY AND HAPPINESS:YOU CANNOT BE HAPPY WITHOUT BEING JOYFUL. BUT YOU CAN BE JOYFUL WITHOUT BEING HAPPY.
1. YOUR JOY MUST BE INTERNAL NOT EXTERNAL
HAPPINESS IS EXTERNAL. JOY IS INTERNAL. HAPPINESS DEPENDS ON OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES. JOY DEPENDS ON INWARD CHARACTER.
HAPPINESS DEPENDS UPON WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU. JOY DEPENDS UPON WHO LIVES WITHIN YOU.
THE WORD "HAPPINESS" COMES FROM AN OLD ENGLISH WORD HAPP, WHICH LITERALLY MEANS "CHANCE." IT CORRESPONDS TO THE LATIN FORTUNA WHICH MEANS LUCK. YOU SEE, IF THINGS HAPPEN THE WAY WE WANT THEM TO HAPPEN, THEN WE ARE HAPPY. BUT IF THEY DON'T HAPPEN THE WAY WE WANT THEM TO HAPPY, WE ARE UNHAPPY. HAPPINESS IS TEMPORARY AND FICKLED. JOY IS PERMANENT AND SETTLED.
“Alexander the Great was not satisfied, even when he had completely subdued the nations. He wept because there were no more worlds to conquer, and he died at an early age in a state of debauchery. Hannibal, who filled three bushels with the gold rings taken from the knights he had slaughtered, committed suicide by swallowing poison. Few noted his passing, and he left this earth completely unmourned. Julius Caesar, ‘staining his garments in the blood of one million of his foes,’ conquered 800 cities, only to be stabbed by his best friends at the scene of his greatest triumph. Napoleon, the feared conqueror, after being the scourge of
ONE OF THE GREATEST AND MOST ATTRACTIVE QUALITIES BOTH A CHURCH AND A CHRISTIAN CAN HAVE, IS JOY. DR. VANCE HAVNER ONCE SAID: "THE MAN OF THE
WORLD IS NOT LAUGHING AT CHRISTIANS WHO 'GET HAPPY' OVER BEING SAVED, HALF SO MUCH AS HE IS DISGUSTED WITH US BIG-CHURCH FOLKS WHO ARE SHOWING NO EVIDENCE OF A DYNAMIC TRANSFORMING EXPERIENCE THAT MAKES US LOVE WHAT ONCE WE HATED, AND HATE WHAT ONCE WE LOVED."
UNFORTUNATELY, THE WORLD HAS CARICATURED CHRISTIANS AS BEING PRIMARILY PURVEYORS OF DOOM AND GLOOM, PROPHETS OF SADNESS AND SORROW.
Lew Smedes wrote: To miss out on joy is to miss out on the reason for your existence.
C.S. Lewis put it like this: Joy is the serious business of heaven.
Probably the single most famous statement from our heritage is this line: The chief end of human beings is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Why? Because God is the happiest being in the universe. Paul put it like this: Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice.
What is joy in God? It’s more than believing in him. It’s delighting in him above all the delights of the world. It’s being liberated from emotional bondage to the gifts of God, so that we feel in our hearts,
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold I’d rather be his than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands I’d rather be led by his nail-pierced hand
Than to be the king of a vast domain And be held in Sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords
2. YOUR JOY IS CHOSEN BY YOU AND PRODUCED BY GOD.
C. S. Lewis talks about how he tried – and failed – to produce that kind of joy in his own life. In his youth, he says, his daily prayers had become burdensome, and he had become so concerned that he wasn’t really thinking about what he was praying, that he just tried to pray harder and harder every single night. “Night after night,” he says, “dizzy with desire for sleep and often in a kind of despair, I endeavored to pump up my ‘realizations.’” He found his prayer life to be a “burden from which I longed with soul and body to escape.” He came to dread bedtime. he says, “My nightly task was to produce by sheer will power a phenomenon which will power could never produce.” He had fallen into the trap – as he later realized – of thinking that he could actually create joy in his own life.
But, you see, joy is not something that we can give ourselves. Joy – real joy – comes as a gift from God. G. K. Chesterton called joy “the gigantic secret of the Christian.” Joy isn’t just light-hearted happiness. Joy isn’t just enjoying the pleasures of life. Joy is something deep down in your heart. “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” Joy is something that you can’t put in your heart. You can’t put it there yourself. The only one who can put joy in your heart – real joy – is God.
One of my favorite sports in summertime is what my favorite sport is all year round: eating. I am a grazer from birth. The nice thing about the seasons is they bring you new things. One wonderful thing about summertime is watermelon. How do you pick out a real nice watermelon at Coles? Well, I’ve seen Lorelle go in and thump on them-you take your middle finger and middle knuckle and go whap! on them-and if there's a nice resonant sound, that's a ripe watermelon. What on earth is a nice resonant sound with a watermelon? I don't know.
But I'll tell you this. For those of us who know Christ, there should be no difficulty in us picking out whether or not we are living a godly life. Because the commodities are objective and quantifiable. If you are living a truly godly life, you are a loving person, you are a joyful person, you are a peaceful person, you are a patient person, you are gentle and good, and the list goes on. It's quantifiable, measurable, and understandable. So if you say, "I am a very holy person. I go to choir. I go to church. I give money to God's work. I witness. I . . ." I just want to say, "Wait a minute. Could I just move by all that stuff and look at your life?" Because it's not really those externals. Holiness is really tested on the real road of existence in being loving, joyful, etc.
last Sunday night we looked at the quality of love. And in many ways love is something that overrules all the other fruit, it incorporates them all. But Paul has also listed for us these other fruit. You may misunderstand them. I mean, what is joy? It's a part of a quality life. You say, "Well, I just don't smile much." That's all right. You can have joy and not smile much. You say, "You know, I'm just not one of these people who laughs all the time." Well, I worry about people who laugh all the time. In fact, laughter really has nothing to do with joy. Our whole world is laughing itself silly and crying itself to sleep. You can laugh without joy.
And how would you know if you had a godly life? Well, you'd test the joy factor. And you'd have to say, "Well, what is biblical joy?" We've discussed this in some measure before, but just let me underscore it with you again. It's not a matter of a twenty- four-hour smile or laughing a lot. It's really something down deep inside, a very core kind of commodity. The Greek word chara, joy, which we have in this text, Galatians 5, is not unlike the Hebrew word for blessed. Psalm 1 says "Happy is the person." It's not unlike Matthew 5, the Beatitudes. "Blessed," happy, fulfilled is the person.
Phil 2:12,13 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who is working in you, [enabling you]both to will and to act for His good purpose.
But the fruit of the Spirit is ... joy." When we look in the New Testament, we see there that joy is also expected and commanded. The Apostle Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Phil 4:4). The command to "rejoice" is given to all of God's people. In fact, joy is one of the characteristics of the true believer's life. In other words, those who belong to Jesus are marked with joy; it is one way to distinguish us from unbelievers; it is one of our trademarks. We, who "live by the Spirit" and who "keep in step with the Spirit" and do not "gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Gal ,25) are to be filled with a deep and abiding joy.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is ... joy." The Apostle Paul also says we are to rejoice "always." The Apostle, of course, sets the believers a personal example here. When Paul, with Silas, first preached the Gospel in
The Apostle Paul rejoiced in the Lord at all times and under all circumstances. From this we learn again that no matter the time or the circumstances, God's people are to rejoice in the Lord.
It is said that as Benjamin Franklin concluded a stirring speech on the guarantees of the Constitution, a heckler shouted, "Aw, them words don't mean nothin' at all. Where is all the happiness you say it guarantees us?"
In the same way, we need to pursue joy. The fruit of the Spirit needs to be cultivated.
So what is joy? Joy is the song in the Christ-follower’s heart. Joy is the music God gives to His children.
Joy is found in a relationship with Jesus. Are all others, besides Jesus followers, miserable? Of course not. But there is a depth of joy that is unknowable apart from a relationship with our Creator. George Wade Robinson wrote the hymn, I Am His and He is Mine back in the 1800’s. The song says, Heaven above is softer blue; earth around is sweeter green; Something lives in every hue Christ-less eyes have never seen.
There is a richness to life that simply is not possible, I believe, without Jesus. So, real joy begins with being reconciled to God through faith in Jesus. But even then, we must be intentional about remaining closely related to Jesus. Hear the words of Jesus quoted in John 15:9-11: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
We remain in him by obeying the promptings of His Spirit, by nurturing our relationship with Him through Bible study, worship, prayer, and true fellowship with His people.
And though no one ever gets so close to Jesus that they never experience pain…the deeper our relationship with Jesus, the deeper our joy.
I. Habits That Become Relationship Killjoys
Selfishness kills joy! “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Jas. 4:1-2 “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” Jas. 3:16
Resentment kills joy! “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Heb. 12:14, 15 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Eph. 4:31, 32
Fear kills joy! “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Pr. 12:25
3 Things Fear Does To Destroy Home Health:
§ Fear makes me defensive.
§ Fear makes me distant.
§ Fear makes me demanding.
II. Habits That Create Joy In Our Homes
Joy is a by-product of sacrificial, cause-based living
C. S. Lewis, in Surprised By Joy, suggested that joy is not found when it is sought, so much as a “byproduct whose very existence presupposes that you desire not it but something other and outer.”i Joy is the almost unexpected consequence of the pursuit of something besides our own feelings of delight.
Joy is found in giving ourselves for purposes that are greater than ourselves and that have eternal consequences. Getting so lost in an eternal cause that we forget to complain about how the world is not making us happy—that’s joy. And Jesus is our example here! Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” I believe this is talking about more than his assurance of his resurrection. Jesus found joy in giving his life! Jesus, under the pressure and physical pain and emotional hell of taking upon himself our sin, still found a deep joy, for he loved us and knew what this would mean for us! Joy at its deepest comes with the willingness to give our lives for that which C. S. Lewis called “other and outer”—a cause that is beyond ourselves—a cause that requires a costly investment, yet pays its dividends in joy.
As followers of Jesus we receive the gift of joy. Yet we still have to do joy. That's what we read in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” In our English translations we read "rejoice." Literally, however, chairo, the verb tense of chara, means "do joy." Joy, then, is not something that we passively experience; it is something we do. Joy is something we choose when life would offer us something else. There are some things over which we have no control. But, barring some physical or chemical disorder, or some unusually deep scar, we can determine our response to our difficulties. Among my favorite passages in the Bible is Habakkuk 3:17 & 18, "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice (I will do joy) in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior." Some of us could take a lesson from Habakkuk. We can choose to be positive. We can choose our response to the bangs and bumps of life. For many however, it is not that simple. It is possible that there are people here who are hurting deeply. It would be naive of me to think that, if people are hurting, they can just flip a switch and "do joy." If you are hurting, hear the wonderful words of Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” The night might be dark and it might be long but morning's coming. Morning's coming when even those who are hurting can “do joy.”
1. Focus on giving rather than receiving. “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts
2. Focus on healing rather than hurting. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you
may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” 1 Jn. See also Rom. 3:1-5
3. Focus on God’s power rather than my problems! See Ph. 4:4-7
. Because God is with me! “The Lord is near.” Ph. 4:5b
. Because God has a plan for me! “… present your requests to God.” Ph. 4:6b
. Because God will help me! “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Ph. 4:7
“I have walked life’s path with an easy tread, Had followed where comfort and pleasure led;
And then by chance in a quiet place – I met my Master face to face.
With station and rank and wealth for goal, Much thought for body but none for soul,
I had entered to win this life’s mad race –When I met my Master face to face.
I had built my castles, reared them high, Till their towers had pierced the blue of the sky;
I had sworn to rule with an iron mace -When I met my Master face to face.
I met Him and Knew Him, and blushed to see That His eyes full of sorrow were fixed on me;
And I faltered, and fell at His feet that day While my castles vanished and melted away.
Melted and vanished; and in their place I saw naught else but my Master’s face;
And I cried aloud: ‘Oh, make me meet To follow the marks of Thy wounded feet.’
My thought is now for the souls of men; I have lost my life to find it again
Ever since alone in that holy place My master and I stood face to face.”