Joy – The Fruit of the Spirit (part 3)

The second fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is joy.

God wants his people to be happy. The difference between joy and happiness in the world is that joy is happiness rooted in God. There’s nothing wrong with being happy because of the good things in life, but if they are our supreme foundation for our happiness, then we’ll end up disappointed.

Even the best relationships in life have strained moments. Spouses, children, and friends cannot sustain our full happiness. Our possessions only last so long before the get old, rust, or break. And once we die, we can’t take anything with us. Houses, cars, electronics, and bank accounts won’t sustain our happiness.

But God is eternal. And God is eternally joyful. He gives us good gifts to enjoy in life (James 1:17, 1 Timothy 6:17), but the Giver is better than the gift, and in the case of God infinitely so.

Jesus prayed on our behalf in John 17:13, “Now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy completed in them.” Jesus wants us to have full joy, his joy.

This sense of God-centered happiness doesn’t neglect the reality that life is hard and that many things seek to rob our joy. In fact, Jesus continued to pray in John 17:14-18 about how the world will hate his followers because it hates him, and how his intent is not to remove us from the world but to send us into the world just as he was sent to bring hope. And Paul in Romans 12 tells us that just as we are to rejoice with those who rejoice we are to weep with those who weep.

Life has many hard moments. Life has many circumstances that seek to rob our joy.

Yet, as Hebrews 12:1-2 explains, even Jesus could take joy as he looked toward his death on the cross for what it was accomplishing–our salvation. So, we can face trials with joy, not because the hardship itself is a happy occasion, but because God is going to bring good out of everything that happens (James 1:2-4, Romans 8:28-29).

And God provides for us that we can find joy in the good times and the bad, that we can find happiness in him even in the midst of sorrow and tears. He does it as his Spirit works in our hearts. The Spirit reminds us of the eternal joys that are coming that will drown out even the darkest moments of this day (Romans 8:18).

So, let us seek to be as joyful as possible and let us pray that God would increase his joy in our hearts.

Next time, we’ll consider the spiritual fruit of peace.

Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).

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Good Reads 02.08.18 (on: joy, midlife crisis, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On praying and pastoring: How to Pray for Your Pastor by Todd Benkert

As a pastor, one of the greatest encouragements is to hear the words “I’m praying for you.” Truly, one of the great blessings of being a pastor is knowing that prayers are being lifted up on your behalf. Often, people ask how they can be praying for me. While there are particular needs that I have from time to time, here are some prayers for pastors that are always in season… (click here to read more)

On joy: I Am Eeyore by Adam Kareus

My mom nicknamed me Eeyore. She thought it truly expressed my soul. By nature, I have always been melancholy. Where others might reside on a baseline of 5 on the joy scale I was always resting at 2. My life has been good. It is not circumstances that have me down. Rather it is part of my personality. I experience joy and happiness, it just seems to be smaller peaks of happiness than others. Something pretty extraordinary has to happen for me to experience true joy. And because of that, I have looked upon others who seem to be happy in small stuff and it is hard not to wish to be more like them.

But that might explain my fanatical feeling toward God. For it was from Him and Him alone that I have found true lasting joy. This is joy uplifts all that I do so that I can now find joy in the most mundane task or everyday circumstance. In fact, this joy transforms my world in that circumstances aren’t the main thing that determines what I feel, rather what determines it is who I am in God’s eyes. (click here to read more)

On guilt: Christ Turns the Tide of Guilt by Amy Mantravadi

For the redeemed, the arms of the Lord are wings of protection in which they feel utterly at peace. For the sinner, there is only the arm of judgment spoke of by the prophets. They are not children wrapped in a familial embrace, but “sinners in the hands of an angry God”, to quote Jonathan Edwards. Overwhelming guilt and absence of trust: this is why the prisoner of the sinful nature takes no comfort in the phrase, “I am not my own”. (click here to read more)

On growing older: Why I Thank God for My Painful Midlife Crisis by Akos Balogh

If the root of midlife struggles is a wrong interpretation of life, then we are faced with a choice: will we let the theology of Scripture exegete and interpret our life, or let life reinterpret our theology?

In other words, will I let my midlife pain overtly shape my view of Godleading to doubt and uncertainty in Him? Or will I let Scripture interpret my painleading me to my suffering Saviour, who knows my distress?

The choice is clear.

Looking back, I had let a secularised view of reality frame my experience of midlifewhich is why I felt so fearful and starved for meaning.

But a biblical view of reality provides a different interpretation, a different narrative: one that gives meaning, hope, and joy. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 08.24.17 (on: parenting, prayer, Bible reading, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On parenting and discipleship: 8 Tips to Help You Disciple Your Kids by Dembowczyk

One of the main problems we have as parents is that we expect way too much of ourselves when it comes to discipling our kids, and when we can’t live up to them, we feel like failures and often quit. Family worship doesn’t have to look like worship with your church family with singing, prayer, and lengthy and in-depth Bible teaching. Gospel conversations don’t always have to end with some profound theological gem from you. We need to be realistic of what our family discipleship will look like. Perhaps that means talking about a Bible story for 15 minutes one night a week at dinner and trying to find one or two times each week to move conversations toward the gospel. Wherever you are, start there and develop rhythms and habits that work and then build on them to get to where you want to be. (click here to read more)

On Bible reading: 4 Bible Reading Strategies for Reading Plan Quitters by Scott Slayton

When you read large portions of Scripture, you will consistently see passages where you want to slow down and read more carefully. Keep a list of these passages and when reading large sections starts to feel tedious, spend some time reading only one chapter or less each day for a while.

When you do this, make sure that you read with a pencil and a notebook. Write out what you are reading on your notebook. Skip a line so that you leave yourself room to write notes. Then, go through the passage slowly. Mark significant words. Look for words that the writer uses more than once. Take note of the connecting words like “for,” “therefore,” “but,” “so that,” or “in order that” and pay attention to how they connect one clause in the passage to another. (click here to read more)

On joy and prayer: Ask Him for Joy by Mike Phay

Jesus references a radical change in relationship between his followers and his Father that will happen through his mediating work; specifically, through his redemptive death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Jesus is assuring his gathered disciples that “that day” will come when direct access to the Father will take place. In that day, Jesus says that we will be able to ask directly, that is, we will be able to pray. We will be able to approach the Father directly in Jesus’ name and through his mediating work—and we will be the ones asking (“I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf”). In turn, the Father himself will be the one hearing, listening, and responding, “for the Father himself loves you.” (click here to read more)

On Bible interpretation: Are You REALLY Interpreting the Bible Literally by Stephen Altrogge

Understanding the original intent of the passage guards us from reading a modern meaning back into scripture. Does it take work and study and thinking to wrestle the original meaning from the text? You bet. But it’s valuable, necessary work.

Why do so many people end up twisting scripture? Because they infuse their modern, “enlightened” sensibilities into the text, taking it far away from what the author originally meant. (click here to read more)

 

Sunday 05.07.17 (looking for joy)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our journey through Ecclesiastes and consider the right and wrong places to look for joy in life, as Solomon tested pleasure, wisdom, and work and found them each meaningless without God. Then on Sunday night, we’ll make up last week’s Attributes of God lesson with a look at God’s omnipotence. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Attributes of God study

Sermon Notes
Looking for Joy in All the Wrong Places ~ Ecclesiastes 2:1-26

Solomon tested the limits of pleasure, wisdom, and work to see if they would bring him joy and meaning in life, yet found each lacking. Instead, to find joy, we should:

  • Delight in God more than you delight in the pleasures of the world (2:1-11)
  • Seek to be wise in eternal ways and not merely temporary ways (2:12-17)
  • Work for the glory of God more than for personal gain (2:18-26)

 

Good Reads 03.29.17 (on: God’s bigness, simple joys, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On prayer: In a video presentation, Donald Whitney explains how to have a deeper and more meaningful prayer life–How Can I Improve My Prayer Life (click here to view)

On joy in everyday life: Taking Back Dinner Time by Katie Hughes

Anyhow, it occurred to me randomly one night that I was never truly in the moment. I think I was in the middle of bathing a kid and she was being cute and I was completely unaffected by it. Joy had left all of those things. I only had eyes for bedtime, my one true love. But really that means I only had eyes for my selfishness, because bedtime means me-time.

I find it very difficult to be present in the mundane stuff. Are you with me, parents?? …

But an older, wiser friend of mine once told me that not everyone has to enjoy the same types of things, but God does intend for you to find joy in the life He’s given you. If that’s lacking, you should go looking for it. What do you enjoy, Katie? (click here to read more)

On the bigness of God even in the little things: Drowning in a Drop of Water by Jon Bloom

These realities should have us trembling when we remember how Jesus didn’t drown. The Incarnate Creator Word (John 1:3) was in such comprehensive command of the math and the molecules that they were literally “in subjection under his feet” as he walked upon a sea (John 1:14; Matthew 14:25; Hebrews 2:8; John 6:1) — a sea ironically renamed after the reigning Roman emperor. This molecular miracle was metaphorical, for the sea would never so acknowledge Tiberias’s lordship. And when Tiberias’s government executed Jesus, the imperially ordered death also prostrated itself under the feet of the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8; 15:20, 27). (click here to read more)

The story of how a jihadi fighter became a Christian: The Jihadi Who Turned to Jesus by Eiad Abdullatif

Exactly why he sought solace in Christianity, rather than a more mainstream version of Islam, no one can quite explain. Reading the Bible, Mr. Mohammad claimed, made him calmer than reading the Quran. The churches he attended, Mr. Mohammad said, made him feel more welcome than the neighborhood mosques. In his personal view, Christian prayers were more generous than Muslim ones. (click here to read more)

On the joy of Bible reading: Treat Yourself to the Voice of God by David Mathis

I’ve found it revolutionary over the years to recognize and own daily “time alone with God” as an opportunity to treat myself. God’s offer to us to hear his voice is not a call to austerity, but the invitation of Isaiah 55:1, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters.”

Consider what small supplemental steps you can take to cultivate eagerness and receptiveness to God’s word — to develop the mentality that a regular season of Bible intake and prayer is a joy to anticipate, a genuine chance to treat yourself in the best of senses. (click here to read more)

Sunday 03.19.17 (deepening joy)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at John 16:16-33 and see how we can live a life of ever-deepening joy. Then on Sunday evening, we’ll have our third night of Revive! 2017 with Cody McCully from the Church at Pleasant Ridge (Harrisonville) speaking on pursuing missions. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@5pm Dinner before Revive!
@6pm Revive! 2017 “Pursue Missions”

Sermon Notes
Deepening Joy ~ John 16:16-33

  • Joy is happiness in God
  • Joy develops deeply as we live in light of the resurrection of Jesus (16:16-22)
  • Joy develops deeply as we go to the Father in prayer (16:23-28)
  • Joy develops deeply as we trust in our overcoming Savior-King (16:29-33)

Joy Building Prayer

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)

As Paul moved into the conclusion of his letter, he followed the pattern he often employed and launched into a series of commands. This set of commands show us how to keep a proper attitude of rejoicing.

Throughout the letter, Paul has called his readers to a world-surpassing, Christ-centered, God-exalting joy, and he did so again. This joy flows over into our relationship with others. By “reasonableness” Paul seemed to mean a sense of courtesy and deference toward others where we do not overly concern ourselves with our own will and rights.

Paul knew these things went hand in hand. If we have proper joy in Christ, then we will treat others like we should.

But, much in this world tries to rob us of our joy. When fear, anxiety, and worry come, then our tendency is to come under a cloud of depression and such a mood often leads to a poor treatment of others. So, Paul urges us to combat fear and anxiety by remembering the nearness of our God as we go to him in prayer.

Prayer is an act of worship in which we commune personally with our Father. Prayer is as a child approaching a king in his throne room and being able to lay out all our hopes and fears without reservation. Prayer is an act of faith in which we trust God to answer his promises to care for us. And, indeed, as Paul wrote: There is something about prayer that brings the peace of God over us.

Deepening prayer leads to stronger faith, greater peace, and fuller joy. So, let us seek our joy in Christ. Let us run to the Father in prayer.

New posts from this devotional series in Philippians will run most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

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