DAILY ENCOURAGEMENT FRIDAY - HAVE WE LOST OUR JOY? The Conclusion.
Happy is the person who not only sings, but feels God's eye is on the sparrow, and knows He watches over me. To be simply ensconced in God is true joy. - Alfred A. Montapert.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. - John 15:11.
As we conclude our series on whether we have lost our joy as Christians today? We ask the question… Have the sins and burdens of the enemy and the world stolen our joy? As I travel around and preach in Churches, I sense that a lot of Christians have lost their joy, as I meet and talk to Christians, I know they have lost their JOY! In the famous words of a Christian author who wrote the book… ‘We Should Be The Happiest People On Earth!’ And so we should!
The surest mark of a Christian is not faith, or even love, but joy. - Samuel M. Shoemaker.
What has happened, that so many should lose the joy of the Lord? This week we are looking into what causes this and how to restore our JOY! Yesterday in Part 3 we realised that JOY COMES FROM BEING IN GOD'S PRESENCE, and today we discover that …
JOY COMES FROM HAVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
The fruit of the Spirit is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us; The Spirit produces the character traits that are found in Christ, and they are the by-products of Christ's control, we can't obtain them by trying to get them without his help. If we want the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us, we must join our life to His in four ways, in accordance with the commandment of Jesus…
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. - John 15:4-5.
WE MUST KNOW HIM! that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, - Phil 3:10.
WE MUST LOVE HIM! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' - Mar 12:30.
WE MUST REMEMBER HIM! Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, - 2 Tim 2:8.
WE MUST OBEY HIM! "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. - John 14:15.
I remember walking to church one winter evening to preach on the words, "He will glorify me" (John 16:14), seeing the building floodlit as I turned a corner, and realizing that this was exactly the illustration my message needed. When floodlighting is well done, the floodlights are placed so that you do not see them; in fact, you are not supposed to see where the light is coming from; what you are meant to see is just the building on which the floodlights are trained. The intended effect is to make it visible when otherwise it would not be seen for the darkness, and to maximize its dignity by throwing all its details into relief so that you can see it properly. This perfectly illustrated the Spirit's new covenant role. He is, so to speak, the hidden floodlight shining on the Savior.
Or think of it this way. It is as if the Spirit stands behind us, throwing light over our shoulder on to Jesus who stands facing us. The Spirit's message to us is never, "Look at me; listen to me; come to me; get to know me", but always, "Look at him, and see his glory; listen to him and hear his word; go to him and have life; get to know him and taste his gift of joy and peace." The Spirit, we might say, is the matchmaker, the celestial marriage broker, whose role it is to bring us and Christ together and ensure that we stay together. - James Packer.
We can be joyful in spite of our circumstances. It seems strange that a man in prison would be telling a church to rejoice. But Paul's attitude teaches us an important lesson: our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances.
Paul was full of joy because he knew that no matter what happened to him, Jesus Christ was with him. Several times in his letter, Paul urged the Philippians to be joyful, probably because they needed to hear this. It's easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously.
As a third-century man was anticipating death, he penned these last words to a friend: "It's a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians--and I am one of them." - Today In The Word.
If we haven't been joyful lately, we may not be looking at life from the right perspective, and we might be living life with something that is sucking the joy from us. Ultimate joy comes from Christ dwelling within us. Christ is near, and at his second coming we will fully realise this ultimate joy. He who lives within us will fulfil his final purposes for us.
Loving Father, I thank you for the love that you have for me, I thank you that Jesus said His joy is in me! Help me by the power of the Holy Spirit, to know Him, to love Him, to remember Him, and to obey Him, in Jesus wonderful name I pray, amen!