Summary: Joy is one of the characteristics that the world lacks and Christians who possess joy have the potential of a strong witness in the world.
Acts 3:1-10 “How To Live A Joy Filled Life”
What is the difference between joy and excitement? When we become excited, are emotions are stimulated from outside of us. When we experience joy, we have an intense pleasurable emotion that is inwardly motivated. Joy is one of the building blocks of an abundant, meaningful and fulfilling life. We crave it as much as our bodies crave nourishment. There are times, though, when we substitute excitement for joy. We can’t find joy within us so we attempt to find excitement in outside experiences. When we do this, it is similar to scarfing down junk food, instead of eating a balanced, nutritious diet.
In the story of the disabled man at the temple, we have a demonstration of what is involved in experiencing a joy filled life.
The story takes place shortly after the day of Pentecost. The early Christians had not been shunned by the Jews and still worshipped at the temple, though they also participated in fellowship times that were similar to our small group meetings.
Peter and John were entering the temple for the afternoon prayer, which corresponded to the time of sacrifice. At the entrance to the temple they saw a disabled man who had never been able to walk. Hundreds of people passed by that man everyday without ever taking more than a passing interest in him. Peter and John were different, though. They didn’t have money, but they did have something that the man needed.
The disabled man had more than physical and financial needs. As a disabled person:
· He was a social outcast.
· He was judged as sinful and condemned by God.
· He was relegated to a life of poverty.
MEETING THE TRUE NEED
The disciples did not have any money. It was very beneficial for the man that they didn’t. They probably would have been tempted to address the situation in a similar to what we do—we often throw money at the problem.
The man needed more than money. Certainly, he needed to be healed physically. He also needed to be healed emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Imagine how a lifetime of being an outcast, judged a sinner, and condemned to a life of poverty would shape a person.
The man needed to experience the love and power of God. This is what happened to the man that afternoon. He was healed physically, and he also encountered a living, loving forgiving, and powerful God. When a person is filled with God’s presence, love, forgiveness and power, it is very difficult for that person NOT to be joyful.
SOURCES OF JOY
Many of God’s gifts give us joy. These include relationships, nature, and fulfilling work.
Our main source of joy, though, is God’s presence in our lives.
· The life, death and resurrection enables us to experience God’s love and forgiveness.
· An encounter with a living God transforms us, as it did the disabled man.
· Being filled with God’s Spirit, we have the fruit of the Spirit in our lives one of which is joy.
Doing exciting things is fun and a part of a full life, but excitement was never meant to replace joy.
Joy comes from within us. It is a gift of God. It comes from God’s embrace.