Summary: We have the right to pursue happiness. However, we soon discover that happiness is fleeting. Joy is better, but how do you find, obtain and keep it?
Joyride - Pt. 2 – Jesus' P.E.D.
Life is up and down. Loops, turns, cliff like drops. Our life often feels much like one of those white knuckle, scream your lungs out, lose your lunch type of amusement rides! It is into that type of experience that Jesus came onto the scene and made us one of the greatest promises next to salvation! I read it to you last week!
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
You will remember that I told you that it is was important to backtrack and hear what He told us (on purpose) so that we could find out what prerequisites we must meet to obtain fullness of joy.
In the proceeding verses Jesus informs us that fullness of joy is found when we are willing to embrace and appreciate pruning? Jesus makes it clear that our Father in our best interest will make cuts out of our lives. During good and bad seasons He will remove things so that our joy can grow. We can't fight the cuts. He then says we must be rooted in Him. He even tells us how to tell we are rooted. We know we are rooted when His Words are at home in you. Your level of joy is directly proportional to the Word that has made its home in you. No Word = No Joy. Little Word = Little Joy. Much Word = Much Joy. A Wordless life can't help but be a joyless life. Then Jesus says we are rooted when We become obedient to His commands. Obedience is a key component for joy!
So this morning after hearing that fullness of joy is the promise my question is simply this . . . what's the big deal about joy? Why did I tell you that joy is such a great promise? Come on preacher tell me about the important promises of Jesus! Tell me how Jesus promises us salvation and I will shout. Tell me about Jesus’ healing ability and I will dance. Talk to me about abundant life, prosperity, or any other promise that are part of my inheritance and I will respond with hunger, anticipation, and longing. But fullness of joy? We almost pass by this significant blessing with little fanfare, little desire, or understanding of the implications of this great gift.
I submit to you this morning that joy is underestimated. We don't have a healthy appreciation for what Jesus is promising us! Jesus was in fact revealing/pushing a PED for our soul!
Let me see if I can explain.
I want to try to tie a statement in the Old Testament to a statement about Jesus in the New Testament that is a revelation of just how crucial this promise is for us today!
I will come back to the background of this passage in detail in Week 4 but for today let it suffice to say that after 70 years of bondage the Children of Israel are trying to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem and are now about to tackle the rebuild of the temple. They ask Ezra to read Scripture to them and after an extended sermon they fall on their faces and repent. And after that response Ezra makes a statement that has become one of the most quoted statements about joy in the entirety of Scripture.
He continued, “Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don’t have anything: This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of the Lord is your strength!”
There it is in black and white . . . the importance of joy. Ezra got it. He understood that joy is the PED for our soul. (Slide 9) Our strength level is determined by our joy level. And yet, even though we quote this and perhaps even nod in agreement I still don't think we really get it! So let's fast forward to the New Testament and see if we can grasp what we are messing with in joy. This promise of fullness of joy should change how we live, what we are willing to face, and effect our estimation of what we can overcome.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.