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Joy that no one can take

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John 16:16–24 NKJV
16 “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.” 17 Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” 18 They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.” 19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? 20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. 23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Focus verse
John 16:22 NKJV
22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.
Not natural joy. You don’t have to be a follower of Christ to have natural joy.
The joy that Jesus is talking about is unnatural, and actually run counter to the worlds definition of joy. It is true joy, and is of a spiritual nature. It is experience when we observe the following protocol:
Jesus first
Others next
Yourself last

Jesus first

Matthew 6:33 NKJV
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Luke 14:26 NKJV
26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
Jesus does not mean we must literally hate other people. He means that the love and commitment we have for Him cannot be on the same as the love we have for anyone else. If are ever forced to choose between someone else and Jesus, not matter how close they are to us, we must choose Jesus.
Example:
Genesis 22:1–12 NKJV
1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” 6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together. 9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” 12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
God does not approve of child sacrifice, and so would never have allowed Abraham to go through with it. In fact, as a church we are reading Joshua, and you will have observed how God commanded Israel to dispossess the Canaanites. One of the reasons God wanted Israel to destroy them was because of their wickedness. Do you know what one of the wicked things they did was? They practised child sacrifice as part of their worship. God found it so despicable that he sent Israel to destroy them. That’s how God feels about the practice.
But what God was doing here was testing Abraham to see who he loved more, who was first in his life - God or Isaac.
Do you notice what day it is today? It’s the Lord’s day, and its the first day of the week, not the second day.
When we gather together to worship God each Sunday, it is a way of putting God first.
The true joy that comes only from God can only be experienced when God is first in our lives.

Others next

We live in an age that says you should put yourself first.
But the Bible teachers that God should be first, other next, and yourself last.
That may sound odd. But’s its not. Those of you who are parents without thinking put your children’s needs before your own. This does not mean that you should neglect yourself. But if does mean that you make whatever sacrifice is necessary to ensure their well-being.
Now, in the church Rome, there were some difficulties. The church was comprised of Jews and Gentiles. Jews observed a strict diet, eating only foods the were considered “clean”, and avoiding those that were “unclean”. This resulted in great offence when the Gentiles, who claimed to be following the same God, ate anything, and even in front of them!
Paul’s message to the Jews was:
Romans 14:4 NKJV
4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
But Paul’s message to the Gentiles was as follows:
Romans 14:14–17 NKJV
14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:21–23 NKJV
21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. 22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
Romans 15:1–3 NKJV
1 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”
The lesson is clear. The mature Christian puts others first. The immature Christian focuses on his or her rights. But the mature Christian focuses on how what he does will affect someone else, even if he has a right to do it.
This principle of putting other first is seen in other passages also:
Philippians 2:3 NKJV
3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Romans 12:10 NKJV
10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
Brothers and sisters, true joy cannot be experience through a selfish life. True joy is experienced when we are serve another. In fact, the ability to put others first is based on faith - faith that God will compensate you for any loss you incur.
Consider Abraham again…
Genesis 13:7–11 NKJV
7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land. 8 So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.
Notice how Abraham gave his nephew Lot the choice. Abraham knew he didn’t need to worry about his own portion, God was his source!

Yourself last

Putting God first, and other next, leave yourself last.
However, there is an obstacle that hinders us from putting God first and others next. It’s called the flesh. The flesh wants to be put first!
There is only one way to overcome the flesh:
Galatians 5:16 NKJV
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
Give your life fully over to God
Romans 12:1 NKJV
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Acts 20:24 NKJV
24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Fill your mind with spiritual thought on a daily basis - you are what you think!
Romans 8:5 NKJV
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
Recognise that your flesh is sinful and remind yourself that you have crucified it!
Galatians 5:24 NKJV
24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Choose to follow the Holy Spirit instead
Galatians 5:25 NKJV
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Summary

True joy is found when you put:
Jesus first
Others next
Yourself last
To walk in the Spirit:
Give your life fully over to God
Fill your mind with spiritual thought on a daily basis - you are what you think!
Recognise that your flesh is sinful and remind yourself that you have crucified it!
Choose to follow the Holy Spirit instead
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