6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Sermon on posessing Joy inspite of circumstances

The Joy Stealers #1

‘Skunks Chains, and the Joy of the Lord’

Philippians 1:13-21


A funny thing happened in Darlington, Maryland several years ago. Edith, a mother of eight, was coming home from a neighbours house one Saturday afternoon. As she walked into the living room, she saw five of her youngest children huddled together, concentrating with intense interest ion something. As she slipped near them, trying to discover the center of attraction, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Right dab in the middle were five baby skunks. She screamed at the top of her voice, ‘CHILDREN, RUN!!!” Each child grabbed a skunk and ran.

Life’s like that sometimes. You are going full steam ahead, with the wind in your sails, when you suddenly hit a sand bar. It is like confronting a room full of skunks. You just want to get out of the room. Maybe you are confused, angry, and discouraged. All you know is all of the sudden, your JOY is gone.

There are so many things that seek to rob us of Joy. Circumstances can shake our faith, people will discourage us, and things distract us from what God wants us to enjoy. To experience His abundant, overflowing joy involves a choice. God does not coerce us, nor does He seduce us.

I believe that one of the missing commodities of life today is joy. Turn on your television and even the sit coms are centered around making fun out of someone’s misfortune or something crude. The lead stories n the Kingston Whig on Friday were, ‘Health System Threatened’ and’ Fire destroys life’s work’. An examination of the paper found that there was really no good news to report. Even consider the weather report. Often you hear, Tomorrow will be cloudy with a 20% chance of rain’ When was the last time you heard a weather report say, ‘Mostly clear with 80% chance of sunshine’

I believe what the world needs is a ‘JOY infusion’. However there is confusion as to what joy really is. Even Christians have a hard time believing in joy. I have been to funerals that were more joyful than some churches I have attended. A few churches have mistaken joy for one of the 7 deadly sins. It is one f the fruit of the Holy Spirit though! God expects us to know his joy. What is joy?

Chuck Swindoll says that joy is “ a positive attitude we choose to express” . It is not pie in the sky. It does not come and go like the wind. Our circumstances do determine our joy. Where then does this joy come from?

‘It is a matter of attitude that stems from your confidence in God- The belief that He is at work, that He is in full control, that He is in the midst of whatever has happened, is happening or will happen.’

What does the Bible say about joy? In 1 Thess.3:8,9 we read that joy is associated with life;

For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the JOY we have in the presense of our God for you.

The ground and source of our joy is the Lord Himself. Jesus declared that,

‘I am the vine and you are the branches, if a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit,

Paul later affirms the source of Christian joy in Philippinas 3 when he writes,

‘Rejoice in the Lord, I will say it again rejoice!’

Ironically our capacity for joy is directly relational to the depth of sorrow we experience. In John 16:20, Jesus encourages his disciples with His promise that,

‘You will weep and mourn while the world rejoices, you will grieve but your grief will be turned to JOY.’

These verses remind us first of all that God desires us to pursue and possess real, overflowing, contagious joy. Furthermore, this joy stems from our ongoing, unobstructed relationship with Jesus, and finally there are times in life we grieve. Perhaps it is the loss of a loved one, a job relocation, a sickness. You will experience normal times of grief. In fact you will feel as if you are all alone in your pain. That is just part of life. However, we are not meant to grovel in the pit of despair forever. God’s word promises us abundant life and joy.

God’s word is a biography of men and women who faced insurmountable odds to achieve victory and maintain their joy. They experienced pain but never let go of their contagious joy.

There once lived a man who became a Christian as an adult and left the security of his career to follow Christ. Persecution became his constant companion. He was misunderstood by his friends and maligned by his enemies. Nevertheless, he pressed on joyfully.

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