Series: Preacher: Date: October 27, 2013 Scripture Reference: Galatians 5:22-23, Romans 14:17

Galatians 5:22-23a, ESV  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We are in the middle of our series on the Fruits of the Spirit.  So far we have covered Faithfulness, Goodness, Peace, and Love.  Today we are studying Joy.

Think about joy for a moment….Have you ever met a joyful person?  It seems like nothing can get them down.

What gives them joy?

Did something good happen to them?

Is it something that comes from inside of them?

Is it something they choose? 

This reminds me of the story of Tim Hansel, in his book called, You Gotta Keep Dancin’.  Tim Hansel was a school teacher in California, whose love for the outdoors grew into a program of wilderness expeditions for students.  Some people would say that Tim was a risk-taker, and an adventurous man.  During a climbing expedition with friends on the Palisade Glacier, his foot slipped, he feel into a deep crevasse, landing on hard ice directly on his back.  He survived and climbed out and hiked back to camp with his friends.  He experienced some pain and a headache, but managed to hike eight-miles back to his car the next day.  Doctors found out that he fractured and crushed discs in his back.  The damage was beyond repair.  He was left with the reality that life will be lived with agonizing chronic pain.  Tim’s doctor told him, “the damage is done, the worst is over, but it is a small price to pay for life”.  He recommended that Tim live his life fully and richly as possible.  He could live to be a hundred.  He could do whatever the pain would allow him to do.  Through this experience and process Tim learned that he had the ability to choose joy.  Tim said, “Whereas happiness may be a fleeting feeling, a mood that changes with the winds of circumstance, joy is an attitude, a posture, a position we take.  Joy involves believing with a tenacious confidence that God is in control of life, though the immediate evidence might suggest otherwise.”

Maybe you know God is in control, but have you ever felt like your life was out of control…and you wonder why should I choose to be joyful.

Why choose joy? 

In Jerry Bridges book, The Fruitful Life, he writes that for many years the virtue of joy was not evident in his life.  He would have considered himself a man of peace and felt he was seeking after righteousness.  But he “hadn’t given much thought to the importance God places on the fruit of joy in our lives.”  After reading our focus text Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” he said, “I realized that God was not satisfied with only righteousness and peace in our lives.”  In Romans 14:17, Paul tells us that the kingdom of God is not just a matter of righteousness and peace.  It is also a matter of joy.  In verse 18, we learn, that without joy, our life will not be pleasing to God.

Nor can we produce the fruits of the Spirit on our own.  The Fruits of the Spirit are the evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We also should choose joy, because as Christ followers we have the privilege of having joy in Christ given to us, so we should let joy fill us.  If we are in Christ we have a reason to rejoice!

John 10:10, Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life to the full.” 

Jesus desired joy for His disciples when he said in John 17:13, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”

As Christ followers we are instructed, in a way commanded, to be joyful. 

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”  Philippians 4:4

“Rejoice always” 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Our joy is not to be faked or manufactured.  Joy in Christ comes from His joy growing inside of us.   The fruit of the spirit of Joy comes out of us.

Bridges says, “That it is a contradiction for a Christian who professes to be a child of the one and only God- who created the universe and who governs it for His glory and the good of His people- to wear a gloomy countenance.”

What about the times in life when at worst you are anxious, or stressed and at best life seems dull?

In the book Reason To Rejoice, by Ray Stedman, he writes, “The word ‘joy’ is a delight in life that remains stable and durable even amid trials, pains, and uncertainty.  Joy is not a result of comfortable circumstances.  It’s the ability to find life worth living when circumstances are harsh and even nearly unbearable.  Joy is a result of a secure and trusting faith in God”

What blocks your road to joy?

One of the road blocks to joy as Christ followers is sin in our lives.  Sinful attitudes in our hearts and sinful actions block our fellowship, our communion with God.  In Psalm 51:12, King David confesses his sin of adultery to God, he says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.”  When we displease God whether it is in attitude or action.  If we are to display the virtue of joy in our lives, all sin in our lives must be dealt with.

A second roadblock to joy is misplaced confidence.  Several times in the Scriptures we read that we are to “rejoice in the Lord.”  The opposite of rejoicing in the Lord is putting confidence in the flesh.  Look at what I have done… Sounds like confidence in the flesh.  What about when you do something good?  Say you have been doing a consistent quiet time or you have been successful with a scripture memory program.  If our confidence in that act is anything other than Jesus Christ and His grace then it’s considered false joy.

Listen to the words from an old hymn:

My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Our joy must find its confidence not in what we do, but in Christ and what He has done for us, in us, and through us.

The third roadblock to joy is when we are disciplined by God.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11, NIV).

In John Sanderson’s book, The Fruit of the Spirit, gives us this helpful perspective on discipline and joy when he says, “If we only knew how bad we are, we would welcome chastening because this is God’s way of getting rid of sin and its habits.  But chastening is resented because we cannot believe that we have done anything worthy of it.”

It is easy for us to forget, that “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Hebrews 12:6 (NIV)

The fourth roadblock to joy is experiencing trials of faith.  Trials are different from disciplines.  Both can hinder our joy, but disciplines are to correct us and cause us to deal with sin in our lives.  Trials allow us to exercise our faith.

You have heard of Job’s story in the Old Testament.  Job lost everything.  In the beginning of his trial of faith he reacted in a positive way.  He said, “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praise” (Job 1:21).  Sounds like a good perspective.

As the trials continued for Job, his tune changed.  In Job 34:9 he says, “It profits a man nothing when he tries to please God.”   At this point in Job’s life, his hope begins to be worn out, but God remained faithful throughout Job’s trials. In Lamentations 3:32 we are reminded that God’s faithfulness can be our comfort in our trials.  “Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love.”

Here are few things you can do to “CHOOSE JOY”:

Confess your sin and forsake it, abandon that attitude or action that separates you in your relationship with God.  When we confess our sin to God, He is faithful and just to forgive and to restore us in our relationship with Him.

When you trust God and soak in His Word you choose joy.  God is our source of hope, and fills us with His peace and joy.  The Scriptures are the means to bring us comfort.

As Christ followers, we are to keep a kingdom perspective on life.  We have an eternal reward that awaits us in heaven with Jesus Christ.  When you face circumstances in life, always give thanks to God.

When roadblocks appear on our journey to joy in Christ, hopefully you will remember the story of Tim Hansel of choosing joy through his pain.  Maybe you will remember Job’s story of God’s faithfulness through our darkest days.

Jerry Bridges reminds us that, “The purpose of joy is to glorify God by demonstrating to an unbelieving world that our loving and faithful heavenly Father cares for us and provides all that we need.”

“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 (NIV)

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus, Help us today to choose your joy in our lives in spite of our circumstances.  Build our hope on Jesus’ alone and His righteousness.  Thank you for this day, In Jesus Name, Amen.

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