Read at beginning of service:
Psalm 100:1-5 (NIV)
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
John 15:9-17 (NIV)
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
When I initiated this series entitled People of Vine ? some of you may remember I began by introducing the goal Jesus desires every Christian to realize which is to bear fruit. People of the Vine are fruit bearers. You may remember that the emphasis of that message is that people of the vine bear fruit because they are plugged in to the vine which produces the fruit. In this first message I talked about Jesus? illustration of the difference between those who bear no fruit, some fruit, and an abundance of fruit. It is not a matter of what the Christian does that makes a difference but more a matter who the Christian is. Bearing fruit is measure of the flow of the vines life source into it?s branches.
In the second message of this series I began to elaborate on the main point of Jesus? metaphor of the vine and branches. Yes, the goal of the branch is to bear fruit and this is something that God wants for every follower of Christ but the main point Jesus was trying to get across to His disciples was the importance of remaining in Him. People of the Vine are to be lingerers! Through Jesus? teaching we learn that lingerers depend on Christ, lingerers choose not to leave and lingerers bear fruit that makes a difference! The secret of reaching or completing the goal of the branch (which is to bear fruit) is to remain in Christ!
This week I will conclude this series with the statement, “People of the Vine are filled with joy”. I believe that this is something of vital importance in the life of the branch. You see, I believe bearing fruit, and remaining in Christ are not matters of arduous toil or drudging boredom but result in lives filled to the brim and even overflowing with joy!
JESUS WAS A MAN OF JOY
John 15:11a (NIV)
11 I have told you this so that MY joy may be in you ?
Jesus was a man who laughed.
Jesus was a man who laughed and played and had fun ? he was a man of joy. 2000 years ago, Jesus appeared on this planet and brought astonishing change in the quality of human life. He was unique! It set Him apart! He was fascinating! Remarkable actions were done by Him! He had universal appeal! He was very special!
The world has never forgotten Him and His name is spoken every second of time! In fact, time is dated from His birth! Millions of us follow Him today!
But He had a secret?an open secret, spread throughout the entire N.T.! It?s a secret that explains the grip that Jesus Christ has had on His followers for over 2000 years!
Secret of Jesus was ? and is ? his inner joy! The New Testament is loaded with passages showing us that while in our midst, Jesus had a CHEERFUL disposition and a MERRY HEART that came from His father!
Bruce Marchiano, In the Footsteps of Jesus:
Yes, Jesus smiled; yes, Jesus laughed. Jesus smiled wider and laughed heartier than any human being who has ever walked the planet. He was young. He radiated good cheer. Jesus was a man of such merriment, such gladness of heart, such freedom and openness, that He proved irresistible. He became known throughout Galilee for His genuine strength, the sparkle in His eyes, the spring in His gait, the heartiness in His laugh, the geniuneness of His touch; His passion, playfulness, excitement, and vitality: His JOY! He made a dazzling display of love. He set hearts afire. He was an elated triumphant young man with an incredible quality of life?.?so different from the solemn religious types He constantly encountered.
Genuine HUMAN JOY naturally expresses itself in MERRIMENT! Playful expressions of people making light of the bumpy circumstances of life and having fun with each other!
FUN REFLECTIONS ON LIFE!
1. I?m not into working out. My philosophy is no pain, no pain.
2. I?m in shape. Round is a shape.
3. I?ve always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.
4. Ever notice when you blow in a dog?s face he gets mad at you, but when
you take him in a car he sticks his head out the window?
5. You have to stay in shape. My mother started walking five miles a day
when she was 60. She?s 97 now and we have no idea where she is.
6. One out of every three Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of two of your best friends. If they are OK, then it must be you. The Joyful Jesus” by Randall Deal>
Jesus Himself, a Man of JOY, had a MERRY outlook on life. He was witty and He had a keen sense of the absurd. He had the ability to see the comical side of many a human situation or predicament. His good-natured approach to life was ROOTED IN A GREAT INNER JOY!
Billy Graham, The Secret of Happiness:
“We never hear of Jesus laughing, though I am sure He did.
I AM CONVINCED JESUS LAUGHED, because there is so much JOY “in Christ!”
DON?T YOU THINK HE HAD A TWINKLE IN HIS EYE WHEN:
He told his disciples, “Don?t worry about tomorrow, Your heavenly Father knows what your needs are.”
He answered Peter about John?s future, “What is that to thee? Follow thou Me!”
“Be of good cheer!” He told his disciples. “There are tribulations in this life, but I have overcome the world (John 16:33) .”
Look how He conducted Himself with children. Actually rebuked disciples for being killjoys and interfering when the children climbed on His back (as they probably did) and tugged at His beard and kissed Him! What a MERRY time! Don?t you think they sat on His lap? Don?t you think he smiled and laughed with them? They were children!
JESUS HAD A SENSE OF HUMOR
The JOY of Jesus was evident too by His great sense of humor!!!!
Gospels abound with evidence! ( Matthew 23:24, Mark 10:25, Luke 11:39, Matthew 12:26-28, Luke 6:39, Matthew 8:22, Luke 6:44, 8:16, Matthew 7:3-5)
He described the teachers of the Jewish law as straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel.
He said it was “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
He described the care with which the religious leaders washed the outside of their cups before drinking from them, but left the inside soiled.
He pointed out how ludicrous it was to claim that He was casting out demons by the power of the head demon himself.
He talked about blind men attempting to lead to blind men, about dead people burying dead people, about picking figs off a thistle, about hiding a lamp under a bed.
He laughed at people who were quick to point out the speck of dirt in someone else?s eye while they had a two-by-four plank in their own!
JESUS WAS FUNNY! HE WAS A MAN OF JOY!
D. Elton Trueblood, “If Christ laughed a great deal, as the evidence shows, and if He is who He claimed to be, we cannot avoid the logical solution that there is laughter in the heart of God.”
Jesus attracted people because of His joy. Wherever Jesus went there was joy?
What was the attraction? Why did the Galilean fishermen leave their nets and follow Him? Why did Levi abandon his booth and cash box to join His team?
Jesus was a man of such JOY, such MERRIMENT, such GLADNESS of Spirit, such FREEDOM and OPENNESS that He was irresistible! People wanted to be near Him, to catch His bright spirit, to learn His SECRET, to share His JOY and join in what He was doing.
The JOY OF THE LORD was at the tomb of the resurrected Lazarus, overshadowing the sadness and disappointment of the dead man?s sisters.
JOY was there when the leper returned to thank Jesus.
JOY was there when a woman caught in the very act of adultery was forgiven and released from her sin. (I PREACHED ON A FEW WEEKS AGO!)
JOY was there when the deaf heard, the blind saw, and the lame walked. JOY was there on the mountainside as the multitudes listened to the profound teachings of Jesus.
JOY was there when the little children flocked to Jesus!
JOY was there when the boy gave Jesus his lunch so that HE could work a miracle and feed the thousands.
JOY was there when Jesus forgave Zacchaeus for abusing his authority. JOY was there when Jesus stood up in the boat and stopped the storm. JOY was there when dawn broke and the women knew that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. (Dr. Michael MacIntosh, The Tender Touch of God)
EVERYWHERE JESUS WENT, THERE WAS JOY!
Look at the way He summoned His disciples in Matthew 4:19. He visited some fishermen along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and said to them, “Follow me.” Not their first encounter with Him. Wasted no time, dropped their nets and took off after Him! What attracted them? Commanding appearance? Impressiveness of His voice of authority? Tempting prospects He set out for them? Poor conditions in the fishing industry? Something else?
What did make Levi the tax collector leave his booth and cash box and follow Jesus? Did he think Jesus was a rich man? A seer with second sight? An angel from God?
Only one answer! Jesus was a man of such GLADNESS OF SPIRIT, such FREEDOM and OPENNESS and MAGNETISM in His attitude, that He was irresistible! They wanted to be near Him! To catch His spirit! To do what He was doing for other people! To learn His SECRET!
Mark 12:37: Great crowds of “common people” heard Him “GLADLY,” (or “with delight” in the NIV) and many accepted the GOOD NEWS of the kingdom that He preached without realizing who He really was!
Jesus was full of joy because that is an inherent characteristic of God.
Scripture is very clear that God is infinite, eternal, immutable, illimitable, immortal, all-wise, all-knowing, all-goodness, spiritual, holy, sovereign, righteous, gracious, merciful, loving, true and HE is JOY!!! And when Jesus came to dwell on earth, He drew upon that JOY in becoming our Redeemer! Our Savior! Our Friend! Because Jesus is fully God Jesus Himself was full of joy.
Joy is a characteristic not only of God but of the kingdom of God!
Romans 14:17 (NIV)
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
This brings me to the next point?
HIS FOLLOWERS WERE PEOPLE OF JOY
Example from N.T.
Wherever Jesus? disciples went as the early church began to spread ? their ministry was characterized by the same joy that is found in Christ?
Peter preached about it in Acts 2:28
Acts 2:28 (NIV)
28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
Philip carried His joy to the city of Samaria in Acts 8:8
Acts 8:8 (NIV)
8 So there was great joy in that city.
In Antioch, Paul and Silas were expelled from the city because of their preaching but?
Acts 13:52 (NIV)
52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Which brings me to an important observation?
Their joy was not dependent on outward circumstances but on inward change.
This joy was not produced in and of themselves but as a result of the change God worked in their hearts through the saving and atoning work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. It was a joy that enabled the early apostles to endure persecution and struggles without giving into despair. It was a joy that sustained them through some of the worst torture imaginable to men.
2 Corinthians 8:1-2 (NIV)
1 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
1 Thessalonians 1:6 (NIV)
6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
James 1:2 (NIV)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
Their joy was contagious
True followers of Christ have a contagious joy about them. People want to catch what they have. People are naturally more open to receiving from people who have joy.
A jailor was filled with joy after him and his family were saved when Paul and Silas witnessed to Him
Acts 16:34 (NIV)
34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God?he and his whole family.
SO WHERE IS YOUR JOY? ARE YOU A PERSON OF JOY?
To see some people today you would think that the essential goal of Christianity is to have a face so long you could eat oatmeal out of the end of a gas pipe! (Billy Sunday)
What is joy?
There?s too much rigidity in dealing with sacred matters, too much speaking in ?holy tones?. And the tragic loss in all this pious gamesmanship is to the individual in the pew. He begins to feel that in the midst of all the religious razzle-dazzle he himself can?t get through to God. Joy is more than earthly pleasure and more than what we call happiness. Joy is the enjoyment of God and the good things that come from Him. If the Bible provides us the wonderful words of life, joy supplies the music. If the way to heaven is an arduous climb, joy sets up the chair lift.? (C.S. Lewis)
Joy is the enjoyment of God and the good things that come from His hand!
JOY is an attribute of God Himself! With it comes PLEASURE, GLADNESS AND DELIGHT! JOY is MERRIMENT, HILARITY, and MIRTH! JOY radiates ANIMATION, SPARKLE AND BUOYANCY! It is MORE THAN FUN, yet it HAS FUN! It expresses itself in LAUGHTER and ELATION, yet it draws from a deep spring that keeps flowing long after the LAUGHTER has died and the tears have come. In a world gone gray with grief and worry, JOY remains CHEERFUL!
JOY is NOT just a sentimental word! It has a bite to it! It?s a fresh breeze! Makes life more carefree! It?s more than happiness! JOY moves us to a different dimension! It?s the JOY OF SALVATION, the exultation of God?s Spirit in us.
Our fulfillment would never be complete without JOY! JOY becomes the ecstasy of eternity when we?ve made peace with God and are ready to do His will!
Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)
? for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Psalms are filled with expressions of joy ? “Shout for joy!” “Praise Him with the clash of cymbals” “Praise Him with tambourine and dancing” “Make music to Him” “Praise Him, sun and moon” “Extol the Lord” “My heart leaps for JOY” “In Your name I will lift up my hands” “The hills are clothed with gladness” “The valleys?shout for JOY and sing.”
Proverbs 15:13 (NIV)
13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.
Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)
22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Ecclesiastes 2:26 (NIV)
26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, ?
There was Joy at Jesus? resurrection and Joy at His ascension.
Acts 13:52 (NIV)
52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
If you read a little further you?ll discover that the disciples were having such a good time that people though they were drunk! WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE SO JOYFUL, SO FULL OF THE JOY OF THE LORD, THAT PEOPLE THOUGHT YOU WERE DRUNK?
Where is this joy in the church today?
Over and over in scripture, the message of salvation in Christ, the GOSPEL, is a message of love, bathed in JOY! In the greek, “gospel” means “good news, glad tidings”
In Isaiah 55:12 even the mountains and hills and trees of the field clap their hands in praise to God! In many churches today hand clapping is seldom practiced. In fact some people would rather the hills and trees do the clapping!
Isaiah 55:12 (NIV)
12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Isaiah talks about a garment of praise in Isaiah 61:3 but instead of putting it on some people have turned the garment inside out! Some people can?t even find it, and some don?t even put it one when they do find it!
JOYFULNESS, LIGHTHEARTEDNESS AND JUBILATION seem out of order in many churches today!
“One of the desperate needs among Christian young people is exuberance and vitality in their loyalty to Christ. People go to a football game today and shout their heads off, or go to a circus and cheer act after act. They become enthusiastic about everything conceivable, but when it comes to spiritual matters they think we are supposed to become sober and quiet, and wear black, and never have a good time or enjoy a religious event.” [Billy Graham (Decision, IN OCTOBER 1968!)]
Obviously, it is inappropriate to approach the throne of God with a frivolous or flippant attitude! A sense of awe before the Shekinah Glory of God is an expression of true worship! I?m not talking about that!
The problem is the SUPERSANCTIMONIOUS SMOG we spread over our lives!
WHEN WE SHOULD BE THE MOST JOYFUL PEOPLE ON THE PLANET! ! AMEN?
Many church services today are, frankly, boring! What happened to the radiant, overflowing, inner JOY that Jesus brought to earth and shared with His followers?
It?s NOT just jolliness and being funny either, although FUN AND LAUGHTER cannot be ruled out of the kingdom. Jesus brought a CLEAR, BUBBLING, UNPOLLUTED DELIGHT IN GOD AND HIS CREATION, HIS REDEMPTION, HIS NEW CREATION, AND HIS PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE!
Are we reflecting the tone of the church Jesus founded?
Are we conveying the JOYFUL spirit of the early Christians?
Where have we lost out?
How did we drift so far from THE JOY OF THE LORD?
How did we get cut off from the HOPE of the very thing that brought us to the Lord in the first place?
WHERE?S THE JOY???????
GOD?S WORD is alive with JOY and bright with CHEERFULNESS, filled with love and excitement, yet for many of us it remains a black-covered Book that tells people how bad we are! Sits on shelf between Sundays!
Even for some of us who DO open our Bibles, we fail to find THE JOY OF THE LORD? Why? Because we?re not full of the H.S. of God! And we?re not full because we?re loaded up with negative attitudes (hostility, resentment, fear, antagonism, bitterness, envy, revenge, arrogance, self-love, etc. etc.) that monopolize all of our time and energy!
To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with love.
Love is the FIRST fruit of the Spirit, and the second is JOY!
To feel His love and know His JOY, WE NEED TO WALK OUT OF THE JUNKYARD OF OUR MISERY AND SHUT THE GATE!!!
Oh the JOY that comes when we realize that we don?t have to be “religious” with God, we don?t have to be sanctimonious, we don?t have to be anything or do anything except repent and believe the GOOD NEWS!
All the BLESSING OF THE FATHER, THE LOVE OF JESUS AND THE JOY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT are ours for the taking!
But, many of us are a million miles from what Jesus meant by “MY JOY.”
Unless we fully understand THE JOY OF JESUS, we will never understand THE JOY OF HIS SALVATION!
We may accept the Bible as truth and even commit ourselves to belief in God, without realizing that He wants us not just to believe in and worship Him, but to ENJOY Him intimately! To DELIGHT in Him!
“Joy is the echo of God?s life within us!” (Joseph Marmion)
Why is it so difficult to accept what Jesus offers, even when we find that nothing else works for us. It?s why we come to Him in tears ? despairing, wrestling with ourselves, and losing!
When we confess our sin and ask Jesus to help us turn from it, He touches us and says, “Be of GOOD CHEER!” He says, “Your sins are forgiven and your faith has made you whole; welcome to the kingdom of God.”
In one word, Jesus says, “JOY!”
He says, “These things have I spoken to you that MY JOY may remain in you, and that YOUR JOY may be full!”
What is it that we really want in life? What will bring us JOY? Jobs? Better Jobs? Houses? Cars? Boats? Spouses? Children? Fixed incomes? Health? Security? Entitlements? Fame? Notoriety? Adventure? Achievements? Wardrobes? Jewelry? Travel? All = remain outside the heart of what we REALLY want!
What we all want is LOVE and the JOY it brings with it!!!
It is more than simply human JOY we are seeking; we seek the JOY OF KNOWING JESUS!
“It is not so much THE JOY OF THE LORD we are seeking as THE LORD OF JOY Himself.” (C. S. Lewis)
For me, I want JESUS, THE MAN OF JOY! I WANT TO BE A MAN OF JOY! I want to see the bunting of Heaven, to experience the full ecstasy of the deliverance from my sins at the cross of Jesus Christ, to feel the elation of victory over the devil and all his motley crew! I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to sing and dance for JOY, to join up with the saints in the halls of heaven as they pass by the throne, and to sing a song of triumph with them. I want to express my love for our wonderful Lord right here on earth! That?s what I want!
The path to the joy of the Lord is very simple.
Acknowledge the love of Jesus for you and be filled with love for Him.
John 15:9a (NIV)
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Do you know how much God loves you?
Are you aware of the strength there is in the radiant JOY OF THE LORD?
It is like nothing else on the face of the earth!
Don?t desire happiness, its staying power is weak!
Don?t even desire JOY itself, but instead DESIRE HIM WHO IS JOY!
Psalm 37:4 (NIV)
4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
“Delight” means “Take JOY!” “ENJOY!”
Fall in love with Him! Worship Him! Talk with Him! Listen to Him! ENJOY Him! Desire Him, long for Him, yearn for Him and when you have found Him, DELIGHT in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Here?s the catch! Once you begin, “delighting yourself in the Lord,” something?s going to happen to a lot of those goals you had, that you THOUGHT were the “desires of your heart!” God will purify and reshape our desires!
This brings me to the next point?
Remain in the love of Christ by loving others.
John 15:9b-10 (NIV)
? Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
John 15:12 (NIV)
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
John 15:17 (NIV)
17 This is my command: Love each other.
Jesus talks about how we remain in His love by loving others. Now you may say, “Oh but Pastor that is just so hard ? too hard” And you?re right if you try to love them in your own strength. But notice the order here: Remain in my love?if you obey my commands?you will remain in my love?my command is?love each other as I have loved you?my command?love each other. It begins with remain in my love. Obeying the command of Christ to love each other is not only the way to remain in the love of Christ but also the result of remaining in the love of Christ. What it basically boils down to is that if you delight yourself in the Lord ? His love, his joy, will flow through you in love for others and sharing the joy of the Lord.
Something that is obvious as you read the letters from Paul to the church is His incredible love for His fellow believers. Frequently you will find Paul?s joy being connected with that love. If you want to know the joy of the Lord in your life remain in the love of Christ by loving others.
Know that you hold a special place in the plan of God and trust Him for that plan.
John 15:15-16 (NIV)
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
Romans 15:13 (NIV)
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The desire of Christ is that you would know that you have a special place in the plan of God. That He wants you to bear His fruit in the world and trust Him for that plan! Do you believe that? Do you trust God? The outcome of that knowledge and trust will be an incredible joy that permeates your life.
Friends?JESUS CAME TO BRING US JOY! And it was for FUTURE JOY that He went to the cross.
Hebrews 12:1-3 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus?who for the JOY set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”
I wonder sometimes whether the whole church, instead of being the bride of Christ, has actually become like the “party pooper” older brother in the Prodigal Son Parable!
I?ve heard Christians say that Christianity is about suffering, not JOY! Because Jesus suffered and died on the cross. But what made Him suffer? Our sin! We put the crown of thorns on Him and whipped Him! We punished Him on the cross for something He didn?t do!
But ?He is no longer on that cross! The tomb is EMPTY! AMEN?
His very first word He spoke on Easter morning to Mary (Matthew 28:9) as He came out of the tomb (as translated from the original language) was ? “Take JOY!” or “Rejoice!” or “Greeting!”He was on His way to JOY! When he ascended into the clouds, His disciples didn?t weep, they were filled with JOY!
It?s time to SHOUT FOR JOY TO THE LORD and be filled with His joy! Amen?!!