Riddle for you…

If you want something bad enough, you will seek it out.
If you don’t want it, you will refuse to allow it in.

Actually, anything you answer could work for this.
Congregation today came up with some great answers:

  • Love
  • Friendship
  • Health
  • Unity
  • Education
  • Job
  • Advice
  • Change
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Salvation – Relationship with Jesus

For the past few months I have been on a journey regarding Joy. I have to admit, I had to break through a lot of lies I have been taught and barriers in my life during this journey. I wanted to know why does a baby laugh to tears at the simplest motion. Why do animals play? Where does our humor come from? Nutshell… where was my humor, my laughter, my joy? Then this week happened and I experienced  joy during the tragedy. It is a moment that I pray I never forget. I can now say confidently, God is my joy!

What are you to do during times of trials?
We’ve discussed these past years many tools and techniques to help us, but is there more?
What if we have been missing the very essence of one of God’s greatest gifts for us?
What is this gift God has promised us anytime we desire it?
What purpose does this gift fulfill in us?
Can it affect those around us?
If so, how do we actualize it into our lives?
Do we really want joy in our lives?
What is it we are to give up in order to experience His joy?
If we are honest with ourselves, are we willing to give whatever that is up?

What Does God Say?

“Sometimes life’s experiences and tragedies will collapse our expectations or dreams, or even crumble the foundation of hope we have built for ourselves.”

Gal 5:22-23 helps us to see God’s design for us during the hard and good times in life.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control;
against such things there is no law.

Have you ever thought about what this list represents? Rephrase, who this list represents? First on the list is love, Scripture says God is love, it is His nature, His character, he is the source of unconditional, sacrificial love. Right?
So, by continuing with this line of logical deduction, we can apply the same to every word in this list. If these are fruits of the Spirit, they are from God. They are all good, and also, they explain God’s character and nature.

Joy is second on the list. Definition of “JOY” by Merriam- Webster:

1a: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : DELIGHT

b: the expression or exhibition of such emotion : GAIETY

We see that God is all JOY. Not only is He the source but He IS pure, innocent, overwhelming joy.

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 be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Just as God IS love and the Jesus abides in His love, we also get to abide in this amazing love. Verse 11 shows that Jesus, who has the Father’s joy, desires to fill us with this same joy, “That your joy may be full.” Not only does Jesus desire to give us joy from the Father, but so much so that we are filled!

Here is an example of experiencing joy during tragedy
 Psalm 43:1-4

1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
deliver me!
2  For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?

3  Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
4  Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.

In the deepest valley experienced from the oppression of the enemy, the psalmist prays for God to draw him close so that he will know God’s “exceeding joy”. God My Exceeding Joy in the Hebrew is “El Simchah Giyl”. This actually translates to something like: “God, my joy joy”. Like one word meaning “Joy” was not enough for the psalmist. He found two words for extra emphasis!

And God My Exceeding Joy doesn’t just give joy. He IS joy and desires to fill us with His joy!

Ok, I want to stop here and ask you something. If God is all joy, what do you think that would look like? We Christians tend to think of God as stoic, reverent, the king of power and authority. So I ask again, what do you think God looks like as the “God of Exceeding Joy”?

Does He laugh?
If He does, would it be a polite giggle, or a belly laugh that would fill the court room and the halls beyond?
Does He crack jokes?
Does He play? If so how?
Can I answer these questions? No, not fully. God is a mystery, and I cannot wait to find out. But I will tell you that during my journey of discovery these past few months on this subject, through visions and moments of amazing prayer, I can say His Word is true. He does laugh, He is joy, He does delight in us when we love on Him and on His children of all ages.

Yes, He is joy, just as He is love.

How can we experience His joy?

First, we go to the source of all that is good to find the food and sustenance that will continue through the valley or desert. Sometimes there are barriers we need to break through.

Let’s go back to God’s Word, He says it best. Open back up to Gal 5:22. You see that “but” there? This is here to show the opposite of, or to negate the previous statement or statements.
Gal 5:16-25

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Desires of the flesh, in other words, SIN, is diametrically opposing to God. You cannot have both the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. There is no common ground. The last verse makes it very clear that those who do works of the flesh will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

We will never find pure love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self control in any of those sinful areas.

Remember though, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we repent. 1 John 1:9. Those times we find ourselves in sin, all we need to do is turn, no run to God and ask His forgiveness. His love and joy is free to all who come to Him.

I also submit we may disallow joy in our lives because
– we are afraid of what others may think.
– we think we don’t deserve it or worthy of it
– we believe we’ve sinned to much

These are lies, God is all love, all mercy, all faithfulness, all patience. He forgives when you choose Him.

God’s joy is for all of His children, whenever they need, wherever they go, regardless of their mistakes.
And here, as a church family, gathered together to worship the King of kings, we should be most joyful of all, with no fear of what others think.

So the first step is to choose what do you really want.
Remember my riddle at the beginning of this sermon?

If you want something bad enough, you will seek it out.
If you don’t want it, you will refuse to allow it in.

This includes everything we listed earlier….AND JOY!

I challenge you to seek God’s joy this week. Remember our Heavenly Father and Jesus our Lord’s nature is Love, IS JOY. He does laugh and delight in us as His children.

Find out yourself in God’s Word, through prayer, in your relationships, in the laugh of a baby, in the crazy antic of a pet, or in the joyful play of children what His nature of joy is and how He will strengthen you with His joy.

May you experience God’s Joy to its fullness this week!