“A STRANGE PLACE TO FIND JOY”
(A Sermon Series from 2 Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 02-11-07 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:4
Proposition: The joy of the Lord is to be found within the life of the Body of Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit, through our relationships.
- WHERE does a person have to go nowadays to find some joy?
* If you are single…you are convinced that finding a spouse would bring you joy.
* Some of you who are married are convinced that if you could just be single again, you would find some joy.
* Those of you living in an apartment are positive that if you could buy a house, it would bring you joy.
* Some of you with houses can’t wait to downsize to condos; convinced that getting rid of yard work and maintenance will bring you some joy.
* Mariner’s fans are hopeful that this is the year they will find some joy.
* Investors are confident that their next stock purchase will bring them joy.
* Gamblers just know that the next hand at the Blackjack table will bring them joy.
* Teenagers are convinced joy comes with a driver’s license…and getting out on their own.
- EVERYBODY’S looking to find some joy….feeling entitled to it actually.
- AND I suspect that the growing anger in our society comes from joy-seekers with years of unmet expectations.
- WEBSTER’S Dictionary says that joy is “the emotion evoked by
* good fortune,
* or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”
- AND therein lies the problem.
- THE definition says that joy is an emotion evoked by well being, success, good fortune or thoughts of having some possessing.
- BY this definition, joy is dependent on…
* Circumstances outside of us.
* And therefore it is based on things outside of our control.
- BY this definition Howard Hughes and Anna Nicole Smith should have been the most joyful people in the world.
- AND we know that wasn’t the case for these people with success, good fortune and possessions.
- WEBSTER’S dictionary misses by a mile the location and the source of joy.
- SO, where does a person have to go to find some joy nowadays?
- AND I plan to answer that question from 2 Corinthians.
- BEFORE the Christmas season, we left off 2 Corinthians near the end of chapter 1, and that is where we are going to pick it up this morning.
- FIRST, some background!
- THE Apostle Paul was being hammered by the Christians in the Corinthian church….even though he was the one who planted that church in the city.
* False teachers had infiltrated the church and were throwing serious questions over Paul’s message and style of ministry.
* Some mistrusted his intentions for the money he had raised from them to raise for relief work in Jerusalem.
* Other Corinthian believers were saying, “Paul sure sounds bold in his letters, but in person he is not very forceful…in fact he comes across as kind of weak.”
* Some didn’t think that Paul’s preaching or writing held the same impressive kind of wisdom they were accustomed to in their culture.
* And the last and most biting criticism leveled against Paul by the Corinthian believers was that his word just couldn’t be trusted.
- LET me explain.
* In Paul’s first letter to Corinth, he had promised them he would come to spend time with him.
* Then, in subsequent correspondence between Paul and Corinth, Paul told them that he was going to come first to them, and then go up to Macedonia.
* Only now, he had not come to them at all, but was writing to them from somewhere in Macedonia, after running for his life from a mob in Ephesus.
- THE disgruntled saints in Corinth had taken offense at what they believed was duplicity in Paul….and for them the changes in his travel plans were the last straw.
ii. first source of joy for the corinthian believers…and us
- SO, the first few sections of 2 Corinthians is Paul answering his critics….NOT in order to defend himself personally, but in order to reclaim a position from which to build the church in Corinth.
- SO, let’s pick the story up in 2 Corinthians 1:23, and see what Paul has to say about joy.
“…I call God as witness to my soul, that to spare you I did not come again to Corinth.” (2 Corinthians 1:23)
- REMEMBER, Paul has already written 1 Corinthians to the church there.
- AND when you read 1 Corinthians you realize that there were a lot of problem to deal with in the church.
* Huge divisions between factions in the church who aligned themselves with certain teachers.
* An infatuation with the wisdom of the world and the surrounding culture.
* Grandstanding by a bunch of show-offs with the gifts of the Spirit.
* General disrespect for the Body of Christ.
* Some serious looking the other way concerning sexual sin in the church.
- AND Paul hit these issues head on in his first epistle.
- SO it seems curious to him that they are complaining about why he didn’t come back to them sooner…and he replies, “it is just as well for you that I didn’t come back sooner.”
- IF he has returned he would have had to be pretty strong with them in discipline.
- THEN he softens his tone a little, in verse 24,
“Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.” (2 Corinthians 1:24)
- THE faith Paul is talking about is saving faith in Jesus Christ…and Paul equates saving faith with joy.
- LOOK at a similar statement in Romans 15:13,
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
- THIS joy has nothing to do with success, good will, or possessions.
- THIS joy comes from God and is the result of companion of saving faith.
- SAVING faith in Jesus Christ is the source and the location of joy….joy that is not an emotion, but a part of the character of the believer….it becomes who you are.
* It is an inner happiness that flows out in conversation and actions towards others.
* Galatians 5:22 says that it is the consequence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of the believer.
* I Thessalonians 1:6 says that it is a joy that helps you through your trials.
* Hebrews 10:34 says that this joy can even be experienced when your possessions are confiscated for the cross, knowing you are heading for far better and lasting possessions (unlike Webster’s definition of joy because of getting more possessions).
* 1 John 1:4 says that hearing the Word of God can make your joy complete.
* 1 Peter 1:8, says loving God produces “joy inexpressible and full of glory.”
* Philippians 1:4 closely connects prayer and joy.
- SO, Paul has a lot to work with when he tells the Corinthians that he is working WITH them for their joy….AND the location and ground of their joy IS their faith.
- THAT joy can be yours WITH a saving faith relationship with Jesus.
- AND if you are in the faith and have lost your joy, get back to your first love.
iii. second source of joy for the apostle paul…and us
- THIS theme of joy continues in the next four verses of chapter 2,
“But I determined this for my own sake, that I would not come to you in sorrow again.” (2 Corinthians 2:1)
- ANOTHER reason Paul didn’t come in person to discipline the Corinthians had something to do with a second source of joy for the apostle…the Corinthian Christians themselves.
- VERSE 2,
“For if I cause you sorrow, who then makes me glad but the one whom I made sorrowful? [the Corinthians]” (2 Corinthians 2:2)
- PAUL’S first source of joy, just like the Corinthian Christians, was his faith. A secondary, but powerful source or joy for him were the good things that God was doing in their lives.
- SO he doesn’t want to destroy them with his discipline…instead he wrote them with correction for their lives.
- VERSE 3,
“This is the very thing I wrote you [discipline on issues], so that when I came [in person], I would not have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice; having confidence in you all that my joy would be the joy of you all.” (2 Corinthians 2:3)
- AS a pastor, I can testify that there is a huge source of joy for me personally in seeing God at work in the lives of the people who are walking out their faith.
- RITA and I had lunch with a young couple from the church last Friday….
* And we listened to the husband talk about the joy he finds in hearing the voice of God.
* The wife was a little late for lunch because of a divine appointment. God has brought someone into her life that morning that needed ministry.
* We heard about the books they are reading, going deeper in their faith.
* We know about the people they are ministering to.
- AND at that moment I did not know what I would be preaching on today, but Rita and I drove away talking about how exciting it is to be around people whose JOY it is to know and serve the Lord.
- OUR joy on Friday was seeing and being a small part of their joy in the faith!
- THAT joy can be yours, if you will actively engage your life WITH others and FOR others in their walk of faith.
iv. joy through loving, strong correction
- SO, the first source and location of JOY is your faith.
- A SECOND source and location of JOY is the active engagement of your life WITH and FOR others in their walk of faith.
- LASTLY this morning, Paul identifies another source of joy that might slip past the average Christian.
- LOOK at verse 4,
“For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you.” (2 Corinthians 2:4)
- PAUL admits to them that even when he wrote them some strong correction, it was not something he enjoyed doing.
- IT came with much affliction, anguish of heart and tears….because it came from much love for them!
- THAT is the only way to be used by the Lord in bringing correction or discipline to members of His Body.
- IF you enjoy disciplining others….don’t do it!
- FOR Paul, the purpose of his correction in his letters, was, in love, to remove those things in their lives that were obstacles to their joy.
- LISTEN to Hebrews 12:11 on the subject,
“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:11)
- SAINTS, don’t reject the discipline of the Lord.
- HE won’t always use the vessels you would choose. Billy Graham is not always available.
- (EXAMPLE of potter with potters wheel, telling us that the tools the potter uses seldom look like him…but they are effective anyhow).
- IF you submit to it…let it do its work, the result will be righteousness and joy in the Holy Spirit.
- THAT joy can be yours!
- SO, there it is! The joy of the Lord:
* …that comes from God,
* …is the direct result of saving faith,
* …and becomes an internal part of your character.
* …that comes from intentional engagement WITH and FOR the faith walk of others in a local fellowship of believers.
* …that comes from submitting to and being trained by the discipline of the Lord.
- IN Nehemiah 8:10, when the people were deeply grieved by their sin and genuinely repentant, Nehemiah told them not to stay somber, but to prepare a feast and to rejoice in the Lord…
“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10)
- HOW about it Westgate! Let’s live in the joy of the Lord!