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Joy

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5: 22, 23)

The word “fruit” in the above verse seems to be contrast with the word “work” in works of the flesh, which are delineated, in the preceding verses.  A work or a deed is something we do; fruit is the product or result of the Spirit dwelling in us.

I don’t think we emphasize the place of joy and rejoicing in the Christian experience the way the word of God does.  That is not good for several reasons.

Do we act as if we are clinically depressed?  You have seen those ads on TV for various medications for depression.  Would you like to be around those folks?

Don’t think me hypocritical.  I know I am not the most exuberant individual, so I am very much speaking to myself when I write this.

All of us want to be happy.  That is our heritage as children of God.  We live in a country whose Declaration of Independence declares that “the pursuit of happiness” is an unalienable right.  Why then do we not achieve our goal?

If you were to survey any group of people, they would tell you that personal happiness, contentment, gladness and joy is a high priority.  Can happiness be realized in the church?  There is no law against such; on the contrary there is much to recommend them. 

It is not sinful to want to be happy, so stop feeling guilty about it.  Yes, people are starving, dying from cancer and living under repressive governments.  Christians are in jail for confessing the name of Christ.  By what right then can we be excused for thinking about the pursuit of joy?

Believe it or not the cosmos does not revolve around you or me.  While we are to assist those in need as we encounter them, we are not responsible for the needs of the whole world.  Only God can have that kind of concern.

Is it more Christian to brood about things we cannot control and to exude spiritual melancholy?  I don’t think so.  We can be more useful to God by lifting the burden and helping other if we are experiencing a life of joy 

Does God smile?  Picture God in your mind. If God wants us to be happy, it can hardly be inappropriate for us to desire the same thing.  Yearning for happiness does not mean our lives must be selfish and wicked.

What kind of picture did you see?  Did He have a gentle smile or was he scowling like a judge about to pass sentence.

Think about the beatitudes.  Several translations render those passages as happy.

 

Have you tried the Dale Carnegie and Norman Vincent Peale approach that tell you to put on the happy face and eventually you will begin to feel that way?  How did that work for you?

Joy and happiness are intrinsic to God’s nature.  Joy will be found as a fruit of the Spirit.

What is the relationship of happiness to “happenings.”?  To often we feel that we can only be happy if there is a succession of positive happenings coming our was.  Stop the happenings and happiness also goes. This is happiness that is dependent on circumstances.

But this is a happiness that comes from the world and its events.  True happiness and joy come form God.  The world’s happiness depend on circumstances, the Christians joy springs from God.

Someone wrote:

It is not a feeling; it is a choice.  It is not based on circumstances; it is based upon attitude.  It is free, but not cheap.  It is the by-product of a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is a promise, not a deal.  It is available when we make ourselves available to Him.  It is something that we can receive by invitation and choice.  It requires commitment, courage and endurance,

Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional.  We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy.  God has given us such immense freedom that He will allow us to be as miserable as we want to be,

Most of us think of happiness or joy as something that we will experience when our circumstances change.

 

If our strategy involves constant deferment, then we have probably deferred happiness also.

Joy is a Christian virtue.  Be joyful always.  (1 Thessalonians 5: 16)  And this is from a man who was beset by conflict and turmoil, persecuted, beaten and imprisoned.  One of the most amazing verses is Acts 25: 16.  After Paul and Silas were beaten and put in prison in stocks, at midnight they were singing!!

When Paul was presented with the problem that some were preaching Christ from envy and strife, he said.  What then?  Only that in every way whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.  (Philippians 1: 18)

I associate the book of Philippians with the joy that is in Christ.

Make a list of those things in Christ for which you are happy.

Are you happy that you are a child of God? A child of the King?

Are you happy you are forgiven? Clothed with the righteousness of Christ Himself?

Are you happy you look forward to eternal life with Christ?

Are you happy to have a congregation with whom we can worship, be instructed and encouraged?

Are you happy that you have food and shelter?

Do your have a loving family?  There are many things that call out to us.

Make up your own list; include those things that are personal to you

Think on these things, read your list morning and night.  (Philippians 4: 8)

When you lay down at night, resolve to think on the good things, the things that are pure, the things that are true rather than problems we all have

 

Do you have trials?  We all do. Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of you faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing  (James 1 2-34)

Are you being maligned, persecuted and insulted?  Rejoice, and be glad for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who went before you.       (Matthew 5: 12) 

Do you have those that oppose you?  And I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  (Matthew 5: 44)   Don’t let other rob you of your joy!

Have you suffered great personal loss?  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  (Romans 8: 28)   Don’t let circumstances deprive you of the joy of the Lord.

Is your health failing? Your prayers have not been answered as you hoped?  That with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  (Romans 15: 6) God has great plans for you!  The future is bright if you are in Christ!!  God may answer your prayers in another, better way.

Can we can see the end coming.  Paul did.  How will we deal with it?  Paul counted it a blessing, a going home.  For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  (Philippians 1: 21)  This is the mindset of joy, the path of peace.

Yes God is able to make all things work together for the good of those that love the Lord.

 

From where does this joy come?

It comes from believing and being in Christ and knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!  Who can separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Just as  it is written, “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  Bit in all these things we overwhelming conquer through Him that loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord(Romans 8: 35- 39)

It is the joy of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Thessalonians 1: 6)

For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 14: 17) 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.  (Philippians 4: 4)

 

God bless.

Arland Pafford

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God bless.

Arland Pafford,

 

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Last Update   09/26/12