Benefits of Justification, pt. 5
Joy is one of the trademarks of God's people, and it is expressed in a variety of ways -- running, jumping, leaping, and shouting are all responses we see in the Bible, but don't seem to see too much today, except in cases where it is superficial and forced, fleshly and worked up.
ill.--Years ago Missionaries in the great white north attempted to translate the Bible into the language of the Eskimos. They ran into a problem: there was no word for joy. So they watched the Eskimos to try to draw up a word from their lifestyle. They noticed that the most joyful moments they observed were in the evenings when they went out to feed their sled dogs. The dogs would jump, bark, and wag their tales. Ever had a dog that had a shouting fit?! Maybe it’s when you jiggle the keys for a car ride?
One Bible passage says when the disciples saw Jesus after the resurrection they were filled with joy. It is reported that the missionaries translated this [or considered doing so] as ...'they wagged their tails.' I have to say I hope they didn't translate it that way, but it sure is a good word picture of joy!
As a Pastor I am somewhat of a people watcher...a student of human nature. A great paradox I see in Christians is the distinct lack of joy in so many who claim to know Christ. If you are saved, you should notify your face! Your face is so looooong it would take a week to shave it.
Christians should be the most joyful folks on earth.
V. 11 says joy is our 7th benefit of justification, and it is just a summary of all we've seen in the first 10 vv. and the first 6 benefits.
I have joy because I have a peace treaty with God, access to God, hope in life, I can rejoice even in troubles and problems, I have divine love and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
You don't want happiness, you want joy.
based on chance based on choice
based on circumstance based on Christ
So, why do so many Christians have such little joy? 3 reasons:
1. A wrong source of power.
'Lookin' for love in all the wrong places.' Many look for joy in the wrong places too.
I don't like singing secular love songs at weddings. They all say, my life is worthless without you, I am nothing, and could never live without you. Is that a good message to build a marriage on? My significance is not about how people feel about me, but because of God’s love for me, Jesus died for me, and would have done it if I was the only person to ever live. My value and worth are based on what God thinks, not what anybody may say about me.
We can't find permanent joy in people for 2 reasons:
People change and circumstances change people.
I know of a pastor whose first wife died when she was in her 30s. He remarried and his 2nd wife got a severe case of spinal meningitis and her fever rose so high it erased her brain and she reverted to childhood. He found himself taking care of an adult baby who had to be potty trained and learn to talk and walk. She didn't even know who he was. He is more of a father to her than a husband. But you'll never meet a more joy filled Christian, in spite of these circumstances, because he walks with God and has a power source outside of human relationships.
People disappear--they move away, they leave, or they die. Good news: Your best friend will never move, never leave, and never die.
But no joy comes from these temporary trappings, they fade, age, break down, and then they come out w/ newer, bigger, and better, and look what the neighbors got! Things lose their luster and you lose the joy. And then you're on the endless treadmill of things, wanting one more thing, and going nowhere.
1 Timothy 6:17
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath.
This is the picture of a man standing before God...he has pursued things all his life, and they float away from him and he is left alone w/ God, facing his eternal destiny.
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.
Money talks...it says, 'bye bye'.
Why did so many kill themselves w/ the big stock market crashes of the depression era and again in 2008? Because things were their power source, and what they lived for.
In 1900 a survey asked how many things you have to have in order to be happy. 72 things were listed.
In 1950 they repeated the survey, and they came up w/ 496 things.
How many would be listed today?
Happiness is a choice. You can decide to be miserable no matter what or to be happy no matter what. You can be a 'grass is always greener', 'glass half empty' person, or a Christian who obeys this verse:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
wrong power source...[people, things, places]
2. A wrong perspective.
The miserable person looks at God thru his circumstances. A joyful person looks at his circumstances thru God!
Think about it, if in your life you knew God was in full control, and His providence was running the show, everything had a purpose, and there is no coincidence and all that happens is for our growth and God's glory ... how much joy would we have? It would confound this world that is only happy when the bills are paid, the freezer is full, the right toys are in the garage, the neighbors are jealous, everyone is healthy, and the job is going perfectly. Christians have as many problems as the lost. The difference is found not in the problems but in our perspective!
5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.
7 In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.
I don't know where you are problem wise, and you don't know where I am...but we BOTH know where God is! We can focus on His power and be joyful or on our problems and be miserable.
Selfishness is a thief of joy. Givers are happy. It's a paradox, because the selfish thinks he will be happy by gathering more, but it backfires.
ill.--a man was on a cruise ship years ago that hit an iceberg and it was going under. Everyone was abandoning their possessions and running for the lifeboats...except for this one man who saw it as an opportunity. He ran from cabin to cabin, filling his pockets and bags w/ valuables. He put on a life vest and jumped into the water, and sank like an anchor! Things weigh us down, only God lifts us up!
Live for God and for others...and do your giving while you're living!
Resentment and bitterness will also rob you of joy.
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
wrong power source, wrong perspective...
3. Wrong priorities.
We have a lot to fit into our week. So who is gonna come first?
We have a lot to fit into each day. So who is gonna come first?
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
I want to give God the firstfruits of my time, talent, and treasures, and then cash in on this promise that He will be with me through all the other stresses of this life because I made Him the priority and put Him first!
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
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