Summary: Second message in series on the "Fruit of the Spirit".
“Fruit of the Spirit”
June 8, 2002
There were two outs in the bottom of the last inning of the city championship. I stood in left field waiting…waiting to see if our pitcher could strike this guy out…waiting to see we were going to actually win this game and the championship. Our pitcher had two strikes on the batter and threw a fastball. Strike three! We won! It was pandemonium. We all ran and jumped on our pitcher. Everyone was yelling and screaming. We were so excited. It was a moment of pure joy. Our coach had been waiting for us to have our team picture taken. We received our trophies and then we had our team picture made on the field. Fifteen guys, sweaty and dirty, with huge smiles on their faces. A picture of joy.
Tonight, we have the second installment on our study of the “Fruit of the Spirit” from Galatians 5:22-23. Tonight, our topic is joy. The word itself can mean “happiness, gladness, merriness or rejoicing”. As we talked about last week, all the fruit of the Spirit stem from the first one- love. Our love for God brings us joy in our lives. The main point that I want to get across to you tonight is this: God desires for us a life of joy. He wants us to have joy in our lives. He wants our lives to characterized by joy. Sure, we’ll have hard times in our lives, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t joy. In fact, we can have joy in our lives at all times.
We experience joy in our lives when we:
I. LOOK BEYOND OUR CURRENT SITUATION.
As Christians, we continually look to the future. We’re looking to the promise of a Savior to come and rescue us from this world. The joy that Paul is talking about in Galatians 5 can be described as a “festive joy in expectation of a Savior” (TDNT). We have joy because we can forget about yesterday and see past today, looking ahead at the future when Christ will return and all will be right with the world.
On the night before Jesus was to die, he encouraged his disciples to look beyond the current situation. In John, we read about how Jesus is telling his disciples that he will be going away and that they cannot come with him, but that he will return one day to take them with him. He’s foreshadowing his death on the cross. He’s trying to get them to understand that as horrible as the cross is and his absence from them will be, that they need to look past the horror and sorrow of that day to the joy of a new day when he will return and be with them. John 16:20, “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”
We all go through times in our lives when we are facing some very difficult situations. It could be a financial crisis, it could be an illness, a loss of a loved one, a loss of a job, a failed marriage; but we can still have joy. James turns the tables on those who would have self-pity about the rough times in life that they face. James 1:2, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” Consider these things with joy because God is using them to make you stronger but also because you see the light at the end of the tunnel. You know that things won’t always be this way. There will come a time when death will not exist, when pain will be non-existent and when all hurt will disappear. You can draw on that promise and take joy in it regardless of your current situation and circumstances.
“I have everything I need for joy!” Robert Reed said.
His hands are twisted and his feet are useless. He can’t bathe himself. He can’t feed himself. He can’t brush his teeth, comb his hair, or put on his underwear. Strips of Velcro hold his shirts together. His speech drags like a worn out audiocassette.
Robert has cerebral palsy.
The disease keeps him from driving a car, riding a bike, and going for a walk. But it didn’t keep him from graduating from high school or attending Abilene Christian University, from which he graduate with a degree in Latin. Having cerebral palsy didn’t keep him from teaching at St. Louis junior college or from venturing overseas on five mission trips.
And Robert’s disease didn’t prevent him from becoming a missionary in Portugal.
He moved to Lisbon, alone, in 1972. There he rented a hotel room and began studying Portuguese. He found a restaurant owner who would feed him after the rush hour and a tutor who would instruct him in the language.