Summary: Having the joy of the Lord is much more than being happy. In order for us to experience a life of joy we must understand what joy is and where it comes from.
8-12-07 Albion Church
Series: The ABC’s of Christian Living
Lesson: Joy- The Ability To Live In God’s Presence.”
We are continuing our series on The ABC’s of Christian Living.
(Gal.5:22-23) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
This week we come to a fruit that is very elusive for us probably because it is misunderstood.
The fruit (which is the result of our lives- what we produce as Christians) that we are talking about this morning is joy.
Joy is the ability to live in God’s presence.
II. Happiness or Joy
Oftentimes happiness is used to describe or tell of joy but they are completely different because they come from two different sources.
One comes from the world around us, the other from the Spirit of God.
Happiness is conditional. It is dependant upon what’s “happening” to me-my circumstances.
If people treat me good, if things are going well (as I have expected or planned), then I am happy.
If people are treating me poorly, if things are not going well (according to plan or expectation) then I am not happy.
JOY on the other hand is not conditional. It is described throughout the Bible as a quality of life that transcends the events and disasters which hinder us (circumstances).
The Bible is quite obvious which one (happiness, joy) is of God.
The Bible speaks of joy over 300 times. Happiness is mentioned just 16 times.
The Hebrew word for joy means “to leap or spin around with pleasure.”
In the NT it refers to “gladness, bliss, and celebration.”
Now let’s take a moment and ask an honest question: Does that describe us? The church? Should it? YES
We have to remember that joy is a “fruit”. It is something that takes time and effort to produce in our lives.
III. Joy Bashers
The 1st thing we need to do if we want joy in our lives, is we must get rid of the things that steal our joy and keep it from “ripening” in our lives.
Just like with real fruit that ripens in season, there are pests and other things that cause the fruit to spoil or not ripen at all.
Farmers who grow fruit for a living know what they are up against and prepare for harvest by guarding their investment.
We need to do this as well. We need to be aware of the ‘pests” that ruin and steal joy away from us.
1) Unfilled Expectations
Is your life going the way you want it to? Some of us would admit that things aren’t going according to how we “expected them” to go.
Maybe it’s our marriage, or our career, or perhaps our kids have moved away and are not faithful. Maybe you don’t have everything you want- bigger house, newer car, etc.
One thing we can be certain of in this life is that our life will be full of things that are uncertain and are unpredictable.
A spirit of discontentment can rob us of our joy.
(Phil.4:12) “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Notice Paul uses the word here “secret”. There’s a mystery about it. Also, he had to “learn” to live with unfilled expectations.
We must learn to be content with whatever we have or do not have in life.
Contentment does not come from having everything we want, but wanting what we have.
2) Unresolved conflict
When we allow unresolved conflict to go on with another, our joy disappears.
What eventually happens is emotions boil over and we are so spent from our conflict, that we have nothing left to give to God.
(Heb.12:14-15) “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Another fruit of the Spirit clarifies this= Love
(1 Cor.13:5) “keeps no records of wrongs.” So if you and I itemize each other’s mistakes, we squash joy right out of our lives.
Paul makes the connection between unity and joy in Phil.2:2 ““Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”
3) Unconfessed Sin
This one is responsible for killing more joy than any of the others mentioned.
Sin can send joy far away- guilt drives it there fast!
David is a great example of this as he understood this when he attempted to ignore the Spirit.