Summary: A Believer should be joyful...This message gives 3 stealers of your joy.
* For 2009 I’ve ask us to make this the “Year of Joy” with joy being understood as the acrostic, “Jesus-Others-Yourself”. In calling us to this Christ-like attitude we heard scriptures verses like this; “The Joy of the Lord is my strength”, “Restore to me the Joy of my Salvation, “ “Fulfill my joy”, “Share Your Joy,” and even the “Fruit of the Spirit is Joy.” Truthfully, I cannot imagine a believer not wanting to be joyful.
* Yet it happens. Bona fide, Born-again Believers start their journey with the joy of the Lord oozing from them only for something to go “wrong” and they become joyless. You know what I’m talking about. Instead of overflowing with joy, they begin to exude characteristics which are unbecoming of a believer. It’s sad to say but the apostle Paul identified some of these characteristics. In Ephesians 4 he tells us that “Bitterness, anger, wrath, insult, slander, and rotten talk should not be a part of a believer’s life.” So what happens? How does it happen? It’s my belief that we there exists “joy-stealers”, whose primary task is simply to “extract the joy” from life.
* Joy should be our signature as Christians; it should be our badge of honor. Our joy should be the one thing which separates us from this world. Why should we be joyful? Because “Freedom Brings Joy!” Consider the joy of one being release from jail or the hospital. And yet not one of these is as free as the person who has been freed from sin’s shackles and chains.
* When I think about someone or something stealing our joy—I am drawn to Paul’s letter to Galatia. In Acts 13 & 14 we read of Paul and Barnabas in Antioch and southern Galatia. In spite of great opposition many believed in Jesus & churches were started as they walked in the fear of God. NOW, Paul writes them a letter because he has been given a report that they returned to the bondage of Judaism and had lost their joy. In Galatians 4, we can hear Paul’s heart about these folks. (READ) Verse 15 is our key as Paul literally asks “What has happened to your joy?” By law, thieves go to jail. Let’s expose the 3 Joy stealers & put them under lock & key.
1) PAST - (V 8-11) To read verse 8 is to understand that each of us have a past and that past has to potential to steal our joy.
a) Heartache of Sin-The recollection of being a slave to sin can cause you to lose your joy. Before we were saved we served god’s that did not really exist. And the enemy will use this.
Joy Stealers Pg 2
* Satan will deceive you into believing that God could never love or use someone with “that” in their past. When we begin to think that “I have sinned and there is no way God can use me” the enemy wins the battle, we lose our joy, and our life becomes ineffective.
* Jerome was well-known in the community for his past evil deeds, through witness of his brother Jerome was saved. His conversion was a shock to those who knew him. As he grew in the Lord, he received many invitations to speak. Once, as he was sitting on a pew waiting to speak, an usher handed him a paper with list of deeds from his past. He wanted to leave. However, when he went to the pulpit he said, " just a moment ago this paper to me with this list of horrendous sin which I have committed. These things are true. The implication is to question my right to stand up & speak for God. Here is my right. Eph 1:7 "In Him we have redemption through His Blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His Grace." In other words, God’s grace is sufficient.
* Being aware of our past is one thing, being bound by it is not necessary because of God’s Grace, power, and Love.
b) Hurts After Salvation –v9 – One of the great internal hurts a new believer can experience is the lose of joy by going back to that same old place, doing the same old things, and acting the same old way that I did before I met Christ. Turning back ranks up there as one of the most common problems of a new believer. For the Galatians, this was a “theological” issue as they mixed law & grace. They believed in God’s grace but were misled to believe that they needed to keep the law to be saved.
* Have you ever been Hurt and wanted to “QUIT”? Some in this room indeed have been hurt and thought about “giving in, giving up, and getting out.” Hurts take our joy and make us want to throw up our hands and call it “ball-game.”