Sunday, December 23, 2012

Called to Joy


Philippians 2:1-5:
“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfil my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,” (NKJV)

Soon, it would be Christmas and one  Christmas song that portray the spirit of the season is; “Joy to the World”.  It is one of our family favorites.

christmas wreath

Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing

Joy to the world! the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sound joy

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Far as the curse is found
Far as, far as the curse is found

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders and wonders of His love

All about Joy

The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that it is our relationship with Jesus Christ that is the vital source of joy. Jesus himself spoke of two ways that we might find joy in Him. He said in John 15:10-11: “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 remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” And the second verse is John 16:24: “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”  

Reading through Scripture we discover other facts about joy

i.   It is produced in us by the Holy Spirit and it is a fruit of His presence  in our lives.

“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight” Luke 10:21
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love; joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” Galatians 5:22
“And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,” First Thessalonians 1:6.

ii.  It is not linked with material possessions but rather is an overflow of salvation.

 Acts 8:8: “And there was great joy in that city.” And Acts 16:34: “Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with his entire household.”

iii. Even persecution does not dampen the joy of salvation in the early Christians. It does not depend on circumstances. 

Acts 13:52- “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” and in Second Corinthians 7:4: “Great is my boldness of speech toward you; great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation”. See also James 1:2-3: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

iv.  Peter even called us to rejoice in the midst of suffering because it brings out the true value of our salvation. Worthier than Gold! 

First Peter 1:6-7: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” 

In summary we can say that the deeper our relationship with Jesus and with His people, the greater the joy that awaits us, and the less that joy is dependent on external circumstances.

Called to Joy

How do we get filled with Joy? 

Paul in his epistle to the Church in Philippi affirmed that for us to understand the key to joy, we must really understand who Jesus Christ is.

In verses 1-5, Paul could not fully comprehend how Jesus willingly surrendered the prerogatives of His deity to become a human being, and to die on the Cross. He therefore called believers to look at the death of Christ as a powerful call to the believer to look at Jesus Christ as an example. When we adopt His attitude, there will be changes in our community – we will be like-minded, having the same love, and being one in Spirit and in purpose. Our unity will not be based on having the same convictions (Romans 14-15); or even having the same doctrine (Second Corinthians 8-10); but a unity that grows out of love, out of a Christ-like attitude. This should be the spirit of Christmas.

This attitude is expressed in the individual by doing: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” This brings unity, joy and it is the way to exaltation. Philippians 2:9-11: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Again Paul enjoins us in Philippians 4:4-9: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

In these verses he outlined for us the principles for sustained joy:

a.  Let our Joy be in the Lord always.  

Not only when things go well with us; not only when we have our way; not when everything is fine but always. This kind of joy cannot be a natural activity; it must be supernatural and that is why it must only be in the Lord – as a fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.

b.  Keep this fact in view- the Lord is near! 

This statement can be translated in two ways and both ways will make for joy:
  • The Lord is ever near – never far away and therefore he is ever-present source of Joy. We have a ready source of comfort and strength and so rejoice- just like the child whose mother is around rejoices always or
  • The Coming of the Lord is near – in that case, no matter what the problems and trials are today, He will soon come to take us away. That is a source and a reason for joy. We will soon be out of whatever it is that makes us unhappy now.

c.   We should not be anxious for anything. 

Anxiety kills joy, but an assurance that our problem is receiving attention brings joy. In prayer and supplication, let all our requests, our fears and our anxieties be made known to the Lord.

d.   God, in place of anxiety, gives us peace that we even ourselves cannot understand. 

This peace guards our hearts and gives us joy unspeakable.

e.   Joy comes from having the right thoughts and right meditation. 

Things that are right; things that are noble etc give us joy and peace.

Soon, we shall celebrate Christmas; this season is the season when people talk most about joy and peace. But most of the people who talk of these do not have this joy nor do they know the peace. The reason is that they do not have the right relationship. Jesus Christ is the source of joy. Is He your joy? Let this Christmas be your first real Christmas as you celebrate it in joy. Will you answer the call to joy today?

God bless you all and have a Merry Christmas!. 

Let us pray.

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