Sermon on June 8, 2008: Joy

15 07 2008

 

Last Sunday we began our series of sermons on The Fruits of the Holy Spirit.  Last week we discovered that the Fruits of the Spirit are those things which become a part of us as soon as the Holy Spirit moves in.  When the Holy Spirit moves in – when the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us – then we become changed and re-arranged people.  Right down to our DNA we become different. 

 

          Last week we discovered that one of those changes is that we become a people who love- loved God, of course, – but also love each other.  We, spirit-filled people, become a people who seek out relationships with others so that we can share our love with them.  We, spirit-filled people, become part of groups so that within those groups we may share the spirit of love that now lives within us and shines out from us.  That is the Fruit of the Spirit that we call LOVE.

 

          Well, now this Sunday we move on to the second Fruit of the Spirit.  Paul lists this Fruit of the Spirit as the second most important Fruit – right up there with love.  First comes love – then comes CHARA.  That’s the Greek word – CHARA.  In English it means joy. 

 

          Now as I was getting ready for this sermon, I was looking through several commentaries on Galatians to get some ideas – some insights – on what I would say this morning, and I came across this one commentary that I thought had some rather interesting things to say about Galatians 5:22 and the word “JOY.”  Here is what it said:

 

Yes, Joy is one of the cardinal Christian virtues; it deserves a place next to love.  This is not a joy such as the world accepts; it is the enduring joy that bubbles up from all the grace of God in our possession, from the blessedness that is ours.

 

Let me read that again.  Listen carefully to what this writer has to say about JOY.

 

Yes, Joy is one of the cardinal Christian virtues; it deserves a place next to love.  This is not a joy such as the world accepts; it is the enduring joy that bubbles up from all the grace of God in our possession, from the blessedness that is ours.

 

“This is not a joy such as the world accepts…”  That phrase fascinated me.  “This is not a joy such as the world accepts…”  You know, so often in life we tie joy – happiness – to how things are going for us.  Do we have a good job?  Is our job secure?  Are we making enough money so that we can afford all the things that we want – a nice home, nice cars, plenty of money to support the family – money for college – retirement?  What about our health?  Are we doing OK?  Our family?  No major health issues?  What about friends?  Do we have friends that we spend time with?  Do they make us feel good when we are with them?  So everything is good right now?  Well then we have joy.  Right?

 

          Yea, I think that often we would agree with what I just said.  However, that is not what Paul was talking about.  The writer of the commentary that I was using said, “It is the enduring joy that bubbles up from all the grace of God in our possession, from the blessedness that is ours.”

 

          St. Paul is telling us that JOY – Christian JOY – the Fruit of the Spirit JOY that the Holy Spirit brings with Him when He moves in – when He takes up residence within us is the kind of joy that has nothing to do with the kind of job that we have or the money that we are making or the number of friends that we have or our health.  It is a joy that comes “…from all the grace of God in our possession, from the blessedness that is ours.”

 

          You know, the other day I was working at the hospital and I went to visit this young lady who was in one of the Hospice Rooms.  She was 36 years old.  I knew before I entered that she was dying, because this was a room where the hospital puts terminal patients.  It is a little larger – little more comfortable – a little more private.  It is a room where family a friends can have a place to be with a loved one near the end.  She had lung cancer.  She had only a few days left.  When I walked in, she was alone.  As I listened to her, I couldn’t believe how upbeat she was – how she was filled with JOY.  And then I discovered the reason – she was a child of God.  She told me how lucky she was.  (Lucky?  She had lung cancer.  She was dying.)  She said that she knew that one day she would close her eyes and that when she woke up, her chest wouldn’t hurt.  She wouldn’t need oxygen to breathe.  She would be cancer free.  She would be in heaven with her Lord.  And then she smiled.

 

          That is the JOY that Paul is talking about.  That is a joy that has nothing to do with outward circumstance.  That is a joy that has nothing to do with whether I have cancer or not.  It is a joy that comes from knowing that God loves me.  It is joy that comes from knowing that God so loved the world – God so loved me – that He gave His only begotten Son so that I could live forever.  It is a joy that comes from knowing that my real home is not this place where there will always be disappointments and where there will always be pain – my real home is heaven.  It is a joy that comes from knowing that nothing every separates me from the love of God in Christ Jesus – not powers – not principalities – not life – not even death.  Nothing separates me from the love of God.  It is a joy that comes from knowing that wherever life happens to take me – always my God walks with me – always my God is beside me.  “Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.”

 

          And now if you are that kind of person – if you are the kind of person that has true joy.  “The joy that bubbles up from all the grace of God in our possession, from the blessedness that is ours.”  If you have found that kind of joy deep within you – because the Holy Spirit has come and taken up residence with you – because the Fruit of that Spirit is Joy.  Then you will not only BE A DISCIPLE but you will also MAKE DISCIPLES.  Because others will be drawn to you.  Others will want to know what makes you tick.  Others will want to know the JOY that you have found.  And then – then you can tell them about your Jesus.  BE A DISCIPLE – MAKE A DISCIPLE.

 

Amen!

 

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