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Believe Joy

Believe  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:50
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Turn to . We’re at number 22 of the Believe series! Almost through! Remember, this section is about Who We Become. These are the qualities (Fruit of the Spirit in ) that should be increasing in our lives.
Believe - Joy
Key Question: What gives us true happiness and contentment in life?
Turn to . We’re at number 22 of the Believe series! Almost through! Remember, this section is about Who We Become. These are the qualities (Fruit of the Spirit in ) that should be increasing in our lives. The Key Question this week was, What gives us true happiness and contentment in life?
What gives us true happiness and contentment in life?
That’s a good question - so I went the all-knowing, ever-present, always listening … Google and did a little research about joy and happiness. There is no shortage of articles, books, studies, websites, blogs about how to find happiness. I found 4 ways, 10 ways, 23 ways, 40 ways, instant ways, secrets and suggestions to find joy in life. Of all the lists that said this is how you find joy, not one list was identical. That’s interesting. You would think that if there was a definitive way to find joy, it would be on every list.
It’s obvious that happiness and joy are a serious concern - especially in a nation that is obsessed with finding happiness. Several of the surveys that I looked at report that happiness and joy in America are plummeting - especially among our young people. Many factors - two main factors are the increase in social media and internet use and the lack of genuine friendships. Ironically, rather than backing off of social media and the internet and then pursuing friendships, people desperately pursue everything else that appears to guarantee happiness. Of course, nearly everything else is either a bill of goods or it’s temporary - thus we have a continuous and insatiable pursuit of happiness.
Now, there is good news. There is joy that is possible to find; it can be lasting and can satisfy. But we have pursue the One who gives joy.
Which brings us to our
Key Idea: Despite my circumstances, I feel inner contentment and understand my purpose in life.
There really is a correlation between joy and knowing who I am and what’s my purpose. Dr. Caroline Leaf (who is a believer and a neuroscientist - good podcasts) puts it this way -
“As a society, we have to redefine what happiness means and why it is important. … happiness has more to do with a sense of inner satisfaction than external consumption …. It is not a commodity, nor is it dependent on our surroundings.” ~ Dr. Caroline Leaf
If joy is not dependent up the circumstances “out there,” but rather the condition of the “in here” -
We must ask ourselves, how is the condition of the “in here.”
She goes on to say that -
“[Happiness] is not an end goal that we are trying to reach.”
Let that sink in. If we think about it, we’ll discover that
Joy is a byproduct. Joy is not something to pursue, but rather the result of who we are.
Dr. Leaf goes on to say,
“It is the joy we have living the ‘meaningful, good life,’ and revolves around our ability to choose to focus on the positive, to connect with others, and to have meaningful relationships in a community. Happiness is knowing where we belong and knowing why we are alive, regardless of what is going on in our life.”
Which goes back to our key idea - despite my circumstances, I feel inner contentment and understand my purpose in life.
That’s a good summary of joy - but how do we get it? What really is the secret? Well guess what? Jesus gives us a little insight into joy.
John 15:1–11 ESV
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 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. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 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. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Our key verse for the week is verse 11. It’s clear that Jesus wanted His disciples (and us as well) to have joy - but not a little, or partial, but full, complete. You know what full means in Greek? Full. If something is full, it has reached capacity.
How’s your joy? Has it reached capacity? What does that even mean? Look like? How do we experience that kind of joy? How does it become an internal reality? What does Jesus say? “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full.” He gave us the answer, so let’s look at what He said.
In verse 1, Jesus said, “I am the true vine.”
1) Joy begins with knowing Jesus.
In the Old Testament, Israel was God’s vine or vineyard (). Israel was meant to be the epicenter of God’s presence. The people were to be the priests to the nations - proclaiming Yahweh’s love, truth and salvation. Well, that didn’t work out too well – so here we find Jesus saying, “I am now the true vine. I am now the epicenter of God’s love, truth and salvation.”
Shortly before this, Jesus instituted the new covenant - that through His body and blood we receive new life, salvation, forgiveness …. So, joy begins with acknowledging, believing, trusting and receiving Jesus Christ for who He is - He is the Messiah, the Christ, the only Savior who reconciles us to God and gives us eternal life.
Q - if you are lacking joy or fullness of joy, do you know Jesus? If you do, how is the relationship?
The second thing Jesus tells us about joy is this …
2) Joy comes from purity.
In verses 2-3, Jesus says that every branch that bears fruit, God will prune. There is a movement in the American church that wants to subvert the Biblical precedent for purity and holiness. “Jesus loves you and that’s all that matters. You don’t have to stop sinning. Don’t have to change ….” That’s a lie from the devil. It is God’s will that we be sanctified! God has not called us to impurity, but to holiness ().
The word prune means to make clean, or in the gardening sense, to remove that which is unproductive.
God desires to cleanse His children - to remove that which is unproductive in our lives - to remove things (sinful, evil or good) that hinders from reaching our full potential in Christ - thus hindering our bearing of fruit.
I want to say this quickly - if you have questions, we can talk later. But if I were to put Christians into two camps - joyful and miserable, I think one of the deciding factors would be purity. Non-joyful, miserable Christians, in my opinion, tend to disregard the importance of character development and purity. They resist the pruning process and gripe and complain about how hard and unfair life is. They want God to fix everything (or the church). They rarely, if ever stop and ponder - perhaps God is trying to teach me something!
They joyful Christian, though not perfect, understands God is working in my life.
Romans 5:1–5 ESV
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that (not only do we rejoice that we’ve been forgiven), but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
It is a joy to no look over my shoulder ….
3) Joy comes from a Christlike character.
In this passage, Jesus talks a lot about bearing fruit. Some interpret this passage as we are responsible for producing fruit - that we are responsible for the outcome, whatever it may be. A couple of problems - we become result-driven and we become pass/fail - and the emphasis is on works and deeds and results rather than on faith - which is how we’re called to live. If the results are not favorable, then obviously we did something wrong.
I used to think like that, but not so much anymore. See, the branch, is called to do what? Abide and bear fruit. To bear means to carry – it doesn’t produce. The production of fruit - the outcome, the result, the effect - is not my responsibility. My responsibility is to abide in Christ and carry the fruit. So,
The idea of bearing fruit is not so much about producing as it is carrying.
What does that mean? If Jesus had in mind the fruit of the Spirit ( - love, joy, peace …), then those are the qualities we carry - qualities of Christlikeness. If this is the case,
Fruit is more about character than performance.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing ….
2 Corinthians 2:14–15 ESV
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,
We are the aroma - the fruit carriers. Outcome is not my responsibility. My responsibility is my character. My responsibility is obedience ….
Are you seeing how joy is an inside condition, not external?
4) Joy comes from dining with Christ.
You can put dining, eating, brunching …. Throughout this passage, Jesus said several times - “abide in me, and I in you; abide in me and my words in you.” The idea here is that joy - deep, lasting, real joy comes from a mutual relationship with Jesus Christ.
The big picture here is not about religion, but relationship. Where do deep relationships often form? Around food. If you are lacking joy, it’s possible that you are not “dining” with Jesus. Not hanging out with Him. Not allowing Him to come in and speak. Not taking the time to feast upon His words - He is, after all the Bread of Life and the Living Water.
Revelation 3:20 ESV
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
Who is Jesus talking to? Christians. The Church. “We used to hang out, but I’m out here and you’re in there. You got too busy, too caught up in life, too caught up in self ….”
Jesus wants to sit down, and eat, like friends, with you and me …. Joy comes from opening our hearts to Christ and His Word and taking the time to eat with Him. Not rushed ….
Jesus wants to sit down, and eat, like friends, with you and me …. Joy comes from opening our hearts to Christ and His Word and taking the time to eat with Him. Not rushed ….
And He says if you obey my commandments, you will abide in my love. If you don’t know Scripture, how are you going to obey His commandments? If you don’t obey His commandments, how are you going to love Him, obey Him. Where’s the joy going to come from?
The joy of Jesus was His absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice to His Father - the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do …. Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the same fellowship and oneness with Him that Jesus Himself enjoyed. ~ Oswald Chambers
And Jesus enjoyed time alone with His Father - often. It’s in that abiding, time with Him that we discover who we are and our purpose.
John 15:11 ESV
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Abiding is essential to the Christian journey. And the journey is fraught with highs and lows, green pastures and deserts, basking in His presence and enduring His seemingly absence, great strides of progress and sometimes barely hobbling along … but through it all, if we abide we can have joy - His joy.
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