Summary: A sermon on the second fruit of the Spirit, Joy.
1. During the series of sermons I share with you on the fruits of the Spirit, we will be having a testimony of one kind or another from a Christian who has demonstrated this fruit in action. Few people are better equipped to talk about the joy of the Lord from the perspective of real experience than Joni Eareckson Tada. It’s neat to be able to hear her testimony through the use of video. Let me suggest as we begin this morning that it is possible to experience true joy even in the most difficult of circumstances.
2. Now, let me go to the very opposite extreme and share another story with you that does not illustrate the joy of the Lord in any way shape or form. When the Immanuel Baptist Church first called Pastor Waite he quickly made his way to each home. Letting people know that he wanted to know anything about the people that would be helpful in his ministry. It wasn’t long before the new pastor knew most of the church secrets. When it came to getting his own way, he wasn’t hesitant to remind members about their shortcomings which he kept written down in a large appointment book that he carried with him. The members of the church knew that others in the church family had been talking to the pastor. Finally they decided to call a special meeting to discuss dismissing the pastor. The church quickly divided into two hostile camps. For four weeks Pastor Waite simply kept the board from announcing the special meeting. Offering envelopes began to contain more than tithes, little messages like, "Waite no longer." began to appear, as well as "Give the pastor more time." Those who supported the pastor began to sit on the right & those who opposed him moved to the left side of the sanctuary. Finally after 4 weeks of not being allowed to announce the meeting to discuss dismissing the pastor, one of the deacons stood up in the service made his way to the pulpit & started to speak. "This is to announce a special congregational assembly for this afternoon to discuss Pastor Donald Waite." Suddenly he couldn’t be heard, because the pianist & organist who had both sided with the pastor began to play as loudly as possible. Pastor Waite began singing loudly into his lapel mic & some of the congregation on the right joined him. Before the second verse could begin the deacon pulled the power cord for the organ while another deacon shut the piano lid. The deacon by the pastor tripped over a mic cord & fell. He thought the pastor had pushed him and when he stood up he hit the pastor squarely in the nose. In an instant most of the church was out of their seats moving to the front punching & shoving. Many started to the front to break up the free for all, but when their side began to lose got involved in the fight. One of the deacons finally knocked the pastor down. The fight only when the police arrived. The judge called upon to rule in the case was Jewish and knew several of the men because he played in the religious softball league. He told them, "No charges will be pressed at this point, but I urge you to work this out within your own church. Your Jesus Christ may allow this sort of thing in His followers, but the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will not permit fist fights as a regular part of church." 10
3. I think we could all agree that somehow this church lost their joy. Things got out of whack. The church wasn’t demonstrating the joy of the Lord. Before I go farther in the sermon this morning I want to pose some difficult & thought provoking questions about the second fruit of the Spirit, joy.
"Can a person be depressed and have the joy of the Lord?"
"Are Christians who walk around saying, ’Praise the Lord,’ every few minutes expressing the joy of the Lord better than other believers who take a more ’realistic’ approach to life?"
"Is it possible to have the joy of the Lord when you are in a bad mood?"
"Do Christians who praise the Lord in dramatic ways, like Charismatic believers understand the joy of the Lord better than the rest of us?"
4. Keep those thoughts in mind, but let me warn you, I’m not going to necessarily answer most of them directly in the sermon, but I think they will be answered at least indirectly.
5. One more thing I want you to reflect upon. The fruit of the Spirit, is the natural result of having the Holy Spirit alive and at work in your life, but that doesn’t mean that the fruit of the Spirit in your life doesn’t require some effort on your part. Let’s read Galatians 5:22-23 together.