Summary: A communion sermon emphasizing joy as a barometer of our walk with Christ;
WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR JOY?
NOTE: This sermon was preached in tandem with Pastor Ken's associate pastor of Congregational Care. Pastor Gary's portion is provided only in rough outline.
Sermon Objective: A communion sermon emphasizing joy as a barometer of our walk with Christ.
A barometer is a scientific instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure. It measures the pressure exerted by our atmosphere upon the earth. Measuring this pressure can help forecast short term changes in the weather and even short-term changes in the creatures and critters that live on the earth.
I have a neighbor who is a competitive bass fisherman. I was talking with him this week about a bass tournament he was in last week in the Adirondacks (Raquette Lake) and he mentioned the behavior of the fish and the challenge that their lethargy imposed upon those fishing in the tournament. He said that when the barometric pressure changes that the fish sense it and it can make them go semi-dormant or become very active and a good fisherman learns to adapt their techniques accordingly.
My neighbor knew that the barometer was a reliable indicator and that ignoring it would impact his chances at winning.
When Vickie and I bought our home we discovered that the former homeowners had installed a unique barometer called a “weather stick.” It’s simply a small balsam stick mounted to a post. Whenever the stick is pointing up – the weather will be fair. If it is pointing down … not so much.
If you don’t have a weather stick you can simply watch the limbs of a dry fir or birch tree and get the same readings.
Spiritually speaking, there are “barometers” that indicate the status of one’s spiritual walk. Paul refers to one of these in his letter to the Galatians.
The Galatian churches were under a lot of “pressure.” You see, there were some who had infiltrated them who were telling them that they misunderstood the Gospel and were not fully saved because they weren’t keeping a set of rules and expectations. Paul called these man-imposed rules by various terms in the book. Sometimes he called it “the law”, other times he called it “good works” or “deeds,” but they all meant the same thing … the only way to be fully saved was to make sure you keep “the list” of righteous deeds that someone else imposed upon you.
This attempt to keep the list was affecting the Galatian churches detrimentally. They were living in fear. They were trying to please God by their behavior. They doubted Paul’s message that “grace plus anything is not grace.”
Half way through the letter, after exposing the deeds-based messengers as being the preachers of a false Gospel, Paul asked the churches a question … he asked them to check their spiritual barometer. Paul knew that this specific gauge was an excellent indicator of the condition of their faith.
You find that question (and the spiritual barometer) in Galatians 4:15 … “What has happened to all your joy?”
Maybe that is a question you and I should give serious consideration to this morning. Paul knew that joy was the fruit of walking in Christ (see Galatians 5:22) and if we are in fellowship with Him joy would be present.
What has happened to all your joy?
If you are faithful to Christ and walking in step with His Spirit, your joy barometer will be pointing up. If you have taken your eyes off of Jesus, are living in sin, or have become spiritually inert -- joy will be absent.
Joy is a wonderful gift from God’s Holy Spirit isn’t it? The Greek word for joy (Char) is also translated “delight” and “cheer.” In fact, the state of being joyful can also be described as being cheerful or even delightful. You can’t be a pessimistic ol’ sourpuss and claim to have God’s joy. In fact, God’s gift of joy will transform you from being an old grump into being a person filled with cheer and delight.
This spiritual cheer (joy) is, according to the Scriptures, the result of two things:
1. Trusting Jesus
Paul said, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
2. Obeying Jesus
Jesus said, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:10-11)
The problem the Galatian Christians were having is that they were succumbing to pressure by (1) trusting the message of a false Gospel and (2) obeying false teachers instead of “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith” (Hebrews 12:2).