ELEMENTS OF JOY – PART 2

 

Introduction One of the most astounding thoughts in Scripture is that God’s people have the ability to produce joy in God. A number of things cause Him to rejoice over you and me.

 A.  Repentance

 1.  Luke 15:7 - ”I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. ."

 2.  Luke 15:1O - Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that  repenteth.

 B. Faith

 Hebrews 11:5-6 says. 5By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him..” Faith in God brings Him joy.

 C. Adoration

 Psalm 147:11 says, “The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy..” The Lord has a special delight in those who worship Him in the truest and purest sense—with reverent and pro­found adoration.

 D.   Prayer

 Proverbs 15:8 says, 8The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.” God is joyous when we commune with Him.

 E.  Righteousness

 David said, 7I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee” (1 Chron. 29:17).

F.  Blamelessness

Proverbs 11:20 says, “They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way   are his delight.”

 G.  Faithfulness

 In Matthew 25 a master says to his faithful servant, “Enter into the joy of your master” (vv. 21, 23). All those are reasons for us, who are sinful, weak, and frail, to rejoice in the God who delights in us.

 Review

 I.     THE JOY OF RECOLLECTION (v. 3)

 II.    THE JOY OF INTERCESSION (v. 4)

 Ill.   THE JOY OF PARTICIPATION (v. 5)


Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

 A.   Paul’s Obligation

 The Greek word translated “meet(dika ion) means that Paul felt more than appreciation towards the Philippians. His feelings were more than what protocol required in response to the Philippians’ love and generosity. His joy was morally right. It was an expression of gratitude and honor to God.

 Paul responded the same way any godly pastor would re­spond to his people. He was compelled by what he knew was right before God. He didn’t base his affection on rewards he expected or on the praise the Philippians had given him. He was not being self-serving or condescending. Paul’s gratitude sprang from a sense of humble obligation.

 B.   Paul’s Attitude

 Paul’s attitude toward the Philippians was one of thanks­giving (v. 3), joy (v. 4), and confidence (v. 6). The Greek word translated “think” (phrone) means “to think.” It was an expression of one’s mindset or attitude. Paul used the word often in Philippians, it expresses an action of the intellect that touches the feelings and expresses his  “concern."

 C.   Paul’s Heart

 Paul was concerned about the Philippians because he had them in his heart. He loved them. In 2 Corinthians 7:3 he says, “ye are in our hearts to die and live with you..” Like the Corinthians, the Philippians were part of Paul’s being. The Philippian church had weaknesses—they were human. But Paul’s deep love for them covered all their imperfections.

In almost every person’s life there are special people who come to mind frequently. Our affection for them leads us to remember and pray for them. We may not be able to see or speak with them for long periods of time, yet we carry them with us in our hearts. That’s how Paul regarded the Philippians.

 “Heart” is used a number of different ways in Scripture. Its usage in Philippians 1:7 is similar to that of Proverbs 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Both verses speak of the heart as the center of thought and feeling.

                 1.       Acts 8:37—Baptism is appropriate “if you believe with all your heart. . . that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

                 2.       Deuteronomy 11:13—Israel was instructed “to love the Lord [their] God and to serve Him with all [their] heart.”

                 3.       Deuteronomy 26:16—”You shall. . . be careful to [obey God’s commands] with all your heart.”

                 4.       1 Kings 2:4—Solomon was instructed by David to walk before God “in truth with all [his] heart.”

                 5.       Proverbs 3:5—”Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”

                 6.       Ephesians 6:6—Paul instructed slaves to do “the will of God from the heart.”

                 7.       1 Peter 3:15—”Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.” In other words, worship Him with all your heart.

                 8.           Psalm 51:10—Because the heart is the center of one’s being, David pleaded, “Create in me a clean                                 heart, 0 God.”

                 9.       Psalm 119:36—The psalmist prayed, “Incline my heart to Thy testimonies, and not to dishonest gain.”

        10.  Psalm 86:11—”Teach me Thy way, 0 Lord; I will walk in Thy truth; unite my heart to fear Thy name.”

                11.  Matthew 22:37—”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.”

 

D.   Paul’s Rationale

 The Philippians were dear to Paul because of their partici­pation in his ministry. When he was a prisoner in Rome, they sent money, as well as the services of Epaphroditus. In fact, Epaphroditus worked so hard that he almost died (Phil. 2:30). Their deep commitment brought great joy to Paul.

 People who love like that find a place in one’s heart. During Paul’s imprisonment he had defended (Gk., apologia) and confirmed (Gk., bebaiosis, “guarantee”) the gospel. Those terms refer to judicial proceedings of which Paul had been a part—either the first phase of his trial in Rome resulting in his incarceration or, in a more general sense, the defense and confirmation of the gospel that was at the heart of Paul’s ministry. In either case, Paul could affirm that the Philippians had stood by him and partaken of the same enabling grace he had. They were not ashamed of him and were not afraid of the cost of that partnership.

 E.   Paul’s Witness

 Paul used the phrase “God is my witness” (Phil. 1:8) on several occasions when he wanted to confirm what he was saying beyond question (cf. Rom. 1:9; 2 Cor. 1:23; 1 Thess. 2:5, 10). The Philippians couldn’t physically see Paul’s heart and affection for them, and Paul wanted them to understand the genuineness of his feeling for them. He was calling on God to attest to the truth of his affection for the Philippians.

 F.    Paul’s Longing

 By saying, “I long for you all” (Phil. 1:8), Paul meant that he eagerly yearned for the Philippians. Philippians 2:26 uses the same word to refer to Epaphroditus’s longing for the Philippians because of their distress upon hearing that he was sick. Paul, Epaphroditus, and the whole Philippians church were closely tied by affection for each other. We also find the term in Philippians 4:1. There, Paul referred to the Philippians as “my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown.” Paul and the Philippians had a wonderful love relationship.


G.   Paul’s Affection

Paul’s longing was with the “affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:8). It was not a natural human attraction but the love that is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), given by Christ to those who belong to Christ.

 The word translated  “the bowels” in our Bible,  refers to the internal organs. In Greek it is the strongest word to express compassionate love. It refers to the parts of the body that react to emotion. When a person becomes highly emotional, he becomes short of breath, his heart begins to beat more quickly, and his stomach may churn. Paul meant that his affection for the Philippians involved his whole being.

 That affection led Paul to pray for the Philippians contin­ually (Phil. 1:4). It also brought him great joy.

 Conclusion

 A.    The Source of Joy

 Since joy comes from God, the fellowship of God’s people should be a fellowship of joy. The Spirit-given joy of recol­lection, intercession for others, participation in ministry, anticipation of what the church will become, and fervent affection is something negative circumstances can’t touch. Non-Christians rely on their own resources and circumstances for joy, whereas Christians rely on the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 What can steal the Christian’s joy?

 1.    False salvation -  False salvation steals joy because it is an attempt to seek inner joy without the indwelling Holy Spirit. People who seek spiritual joy apart from the Holy Spirit find it elusive. They become frustrated and unhappy. Often they become part of a church and try to experience joy through religious activities, but they do not find it there because it is only the work of the Spirit. Until they belong to Christ, they cannot obtain the joy that comes only by the Holy Spirit. If joy seems consistently elusive to you, you need to take Paul’s advice: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” (2 Cor. 13:5). You may be seeking something you cannot find because you do not possess God’s Holy Spirit.

 2.    Satan and demons - Satan and demons will do all they can to steal your joy. First Peter 5:8 says, “Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” We need to be alert to discern Satan’s efforts to rob us of our joy.

 3.    An inadequate understanding of God’s sovereignty People often act as if God is not in control. They worry and become anxious about the threat of others controlling their lives. As a result, they ignore the reality that God is sovereign and that no matter what is happening, God is in control—all things are working together according to His purposes for the benefit of believers (Rom. 8:28). An understanding of God’s sovereignty keeps everything in perspective. Failure to understand that will rob a Christian of joy. The prophet Habakkuk cried out, “How long, 0 Lord, will I call for help, and Thou wilt not hear?” (Hab. 1:2). Yet by the time he came to the end of his prophecy, his understanding (and thus his attitude) had changed, though his circumstances had not. His understanding of God’s sovereignty was so altered that he said, “I will rejoice in the God of my salvation” (Hab. 3:18).

 4.         Prayerlessness  -  Failure to commit yourself to the Lord in prayer will result in worry and frustration. When you try to orches­trate life’s elements instead of resorting to prayer, you will breed frustration within yourself rather than dependence on God. That vital truth is often replaced in today’s church by counseling that emphasizes human insight rather than divine assistance. James 5:14-15 instructs suffering Christians to ask the elders of the church to pray for them. The fervent prayers of a righ­teous man have a tremendous effect (James 5:16). Believers are to commit whatever they do to the Lord (Prov. 16:3) and trust in Him (Prov. 3:5). Take your problems to God, and make Him your focus. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Prayerlessness steals joy because the world has no answers to dilemmas that only God can solve.

5.      Spiritual lows after spiritual highs -  Picture Sunday: you’re in church, and it’s a glorious experience. You leave, spiritually enriched and encouraged. Monday you return to the humdrum of ev­eryday living—your job or the routine of cleaning the clothes, the kitchen, and whatever else is dirty. You go from a spiritual high to a spiritual low. Or you may go from a great spiritual experience to a se­vere spiritual trial as Elijah did. Elijah stood up to the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. God had sent fire from heaven to burn up Elijah’s sacrifice—an incredi­ble supernatural event in response to Elijah’s prayer (cf. 1 Kings 18:20-46). That spiritual high has had few equals in the history of the prophets. Yet soon after that experience Elijah wanted to die because he found out Jezebel was after him (1 Kings 19:1-4). He quickly went from the height of spiritual victory to the depths of spiritual depression. Unless we’re careful, a spiritual trial immediately after an uplifting spiritual experience may cause us to lose our joy because of the contrast.

 6.      A focus on circumstances -  Some Christians will know very little joy in this life because they let their emotions be controlled by their cir­cumstances. If their spouse treats them the way they like to be treated they have joy, but if they aren’t treated that way they become unhappy. If their kids do what they want them to do, they have joy, but if the kids don’t behave, they lose their joy. If they have enough money to buy what they want, they have joy, but if they don’t they’re miserable. They get all their signals from the material world, which is the essence of materialism. They find no contentment in God and fail to see God at work. Their joy rises and falls depending on whether they get something new, receive special recognition, or have the opportunity to travel. Focusing on your circumstances will rob you of your joy and put you on a roller coaster that’s unrelated to true spiritual joy.

 7.         Ingratitude -  Few things in life are uglier than ingratitude. If I were a parent again, I would spank my children more often and harder for ingratitude than for anything else. Ingratitude is far more worthy of discipline than spilled milk, dumped paint, or other things that children are often disciplined for. Children need to be trained to be grateful. A thankless child is sharper than a serpent’s tooth. Failure to focus on the blessings we’ve received from the Lord and to give thanks in everything (what­ever the circumstances) creates people who are never thankful because they are never satisfied. They don’t see life’s trials as blessings from God that will conform them to Christ (James 1:2-4). Ingratitude is a trademark of pride. Many people fail to remember what they were saved from. Often you will find that new Christians are full of joy, but those who have been saved for a number of years seem to look sour. It is rare for major church con­flicts to be caused by new babes in Christ. Apparently, you have to be a longtime Christian to cause problems! That’s because at times we forget what we have been saved from. We lose the freshness new Christians have, and we fail to exhort ourselves as does the psalmist in Psalm 103:2: “Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and forget none of His benefits.” We must cultivate memories of good things. Joyless Christians are a poor advertisement of fulfillment in Christ.

 8.         Dissatisfaction -  Some believers lose their joy because they don’t like the way they look. Others don’t like where they live. They may not like the spiritual gifts they have, or they may wish they had others. But Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity” (Phil. 4:11-12). We all have disabilities of one sort or another. Some people lose their joy because they’re in a wheelchair; others because they can’t get the job they think they deserve. Some don’t have joy because they believe they ought to be more appreciated. They may not like where they fit into the church structure and wish they could be doing something more significant or more visible. They wish they were prettier, more handsome, or more capable in athletics or mathematics. But those externals should not affect spiritual joy.

 9.      Fear of the future -  Some people always imagine the worse possible thing happening on all occasions. They live continually in fear. They fear failure, loss of possessions, loss of power, loss of reputation, illness, or death. But Jesus told us not to be anxious, because He will take care of our needs (Matt. 6:31-33). He also said, “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1).

 10.         Uncontrolled feelings -  Christians should control their feelings rather than let their feelings control them. Living with uncontrolled feelings means living as a victim of the flesh. British ex­positor Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote in his book Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures, “I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression is this, that we allow yourself to talk to us instead of talking to yourself. ... Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”. The art of spiritual living is knowing how to handle yourself. In Psalm 42 the psalmist handled his distress by talking to himself. People who merely listen to themselves are victimized by their emotions. But Christians who talk to themselves in the power of the Holy Spirit bring themselves into submission to God’s Word and experience Spirit-produced joy.

 11.   Morbid self-analysis - To me psychology seems unnecessary because the Scriptures give us all we need for life and godliness. Psychology tends to make a person morbid, self-centered, and self-analytical. It causes people to focus on their failures, negative attitudes, and negative actions. They begin to worry that somewhere deep down in­side of them something needs to be uncovered. So they poke around in their minds, trying to uncover some secret that will supposedly release them from their problems. Psychology produces a heavy burden of self-analytical baggage that doesn’t help people at all. It is fine to rec­ognize that we’re inadequate, but that is not what we’re to dwell on. We are not to pull out all our past experiences and blame our behavior on them. That kind of morbid self-analysis will steal your joy. We need to take Paul’s advice: “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3: 13-14).

 12.  Self-centeredness - Self-centered people are always unhappy because they’re always unsatisfied. Unselfish people are al­ways satisfied because they don’t demand anything. Only they can experience true joy.

 13. Unwillingness to accept forgiveness - Unwillingness to accept forgiveness will steal your joy. Many people hold fast to their guilt and refuse to give it up. Even though God has forgiven them, many peo­ple act as if their standards of forgiveness are higher than God’s. In effect, they put themselves in God’s place. Many focus on one sin or short period of sin and won’t forgive themselves for it. As a result, they limp through life dwelling on something that is no longer an issue with God (cf. Mic. 7:19). Unwillingness to accept forgiveness is a needless waste of energy. God’s forgiveness means there is no need for introspective poking around to discover sin. When God is at work in the life of a believer, He makes sin evident. The problem isn’t discovering sin but deal­ing with it. We don’t need to poke around to discover something the Lord has already forgiven. When we dwell on forgiven sin, we rob ourselves of joy.

In 1 Samuel 2:1-2 Hannah prays, “1And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. 2There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God..”

That’s the kind of attitude we need to have. Our joy ought to spill out into our relationships and allow us to see people the way Paul saw his beloved Philippians.