The Joy of Jesus

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The Joy of Jesus

Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White

Sunday 7th October 2018

I want to begin this morning by saying that I am forever grateful that for my whole life I have been part of the the church of Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for my years in Sunday School at St. Andrews in Lismore, dressing up as a shepherd every Christmas, having Sunday School classes in a store room – basically a cupboard – behind the massive pipe organ.  

I am grateful for God’s Grace that has abounded towards me as I’ve journeyed through the Anglican Church and the Uniting Church – the incredible father’s and mother’s in the faith – the experiences of the many Christian communities I’ve been part of, including the Walk to Emmaus.  

And then of course my life-changing encounter with the love of Jesus, when I thought I was on my own in a motel room in Sydney.  As it turned out, I was far from on my own.  Jesus found me at the perfect moment!

And then, to have a revelation of the Holy Spirit, to discover anointed worship, to be filled with the fullness of God’s presence… to find an expression of the church that celebrated life empowered by the Holy Spirit.

When I actually think about it as a journey of faith, love and life, it’s overwhelming. 

But what is your story?  What has brought you to this place and this moment of time on your journey?  It’s most likely a very different story to mine.  You might only be just at the beginning…  or perhaps you feel as though you are much closer towards the end.

My journey hasn’t been without pain and heartache.

I have walked through many distressing and grief-filled times – and walked alongside others as their pastor or counsellor when they have experienced deep heartache, grief and suffering.  

But in the midst of it all, I am thankful for the deep joy that I have experienced – even in the midst of that suffering.  I think I’ve shared with you before – that some of the most profound moments of deep compassion, love and joy, have been found “somewhere” in the places of trial and tribulation.  

In a natural worldly sense, it doesn’t make any sense.   But when you invite Jesus in – everything changes!

I feel that my message today is flowing out of the last few sermons we’ve had recently.  

We’ve been talking about perseverance – being wholehearted in pushing in to our destiny – running the race – and finishing the race with joy.   And not just doing it individually – but recognising that we are running the race together.

That word, “together”, is crucial…

It’s taking hold of and walking in the faith that God has given us as a gift, and cultivating that faith through the word.  But faith goes with patience.  Patience is not just waiting…  but waiting steadfastly – believing for the promises to be fulfilled – being confident, consistent, not riding a roller coaster of emotions…  but trusting that God and His Word are true and faithful.

It’s allowing patient endurance to build strength and character in our lives, where we know that we lack nothing in Christ.  Remember that scripture from James last week?  James 1:4,  “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

This kind of faith and hope is our anchor for remaining steadfast on the journey.

So, flowing out of all that, I believe it’s time to fan the flame even more on the joy that is part of the Holy Spirit’s gift to us… it’s the joy that is the fruit of God’s indwelling presence in our life.  

In John 15, Jesus Himself is talking to the disciples about love…  the love that He and His Father share…  and it’s a call for the disciples to abide in that same love with Him.  And He says:

John 15:11,  “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

And I believe we can take hold of those words right now.  When Jesus spoke – it was prophetic!  When He spoke, His words carried creative power!  When Jesus spoke, there was an impartation to those who were listening – of not just words – but Spirit empowered truth and revelation.  

Well we are listening right now!  We are hearing these words over two thousand years later – but they are like a fresh breeze blowing across our own lives even now.

Right now, I pray that every one of you would receive these words of Jesus Christ – and that you would be filled up with His joy… 

I’m believing for an impartation of genuine, life changing, Spirit empowered joy to not only touch us this morning, but that our joy in Jesus would be full!

King David wrote prophetic songs about Jesus hundreds of years before He came to earth as the Christ child.  

In Psalm 45:7, David says of Jesus the coming Messiah:  “You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.

The Passion Translation says:

Psalm 45:7 (Passion),  “…He has anointed you, more than any other, with his oil of fervent joy, the very fragrance of heaven’s gladness.”

If Jesus says, My Joy will remain in you and you will be full of My joy…  then that means we also, being filled with the Holy Spirit, are anointed with the oil of joy…  we are also covered in the fragrance of heaven’s gladness.

I love the fact that I’ve ended up in a church that celebrates Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church.

I love the fact that when Jesus said to His disciples, it’s better for Me to go, and for the Holy Spirit to come, because then you will all be filled with the same Spirit that I know…  My own Spirit will dwell in you…

And this is the same Spirit that was poured out at Pentecost.  

Acts 2:1-4,  “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

This is the birthing of the Christian Church.  The church was birthed in the Holy Spirit’s power and Anointing.  The disciples started speaking in languages they didn’t know, and the crowds round them could understand them speaking things of God in their own native tongue.

Acts 2:12-13,  “So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

Acts 2:15,  “For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.”

And Peter goes on then to explain the meaning of Joel’s prophecy that declared that in these days God declared he would pour out of His Spirit on all flesh…

But they weren’t drunk – they were full of fervent joy.  They were full of the Holy Spirit.  They were filled with new wine of the Spirit…

Acts 13:52 says, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

Joy gets a special mention.  I’m not sure why exactly – but I know it wouldn’t be by accident.  Joy would be something special that would carry them through their days of ministry and their trials of suffering.  Joy is definitely tied to the Holy Spirit’s presence.

What an incredible experience for the church to be birthed out of!

But I think it’s really interesting that this joyful Spirit filled moment is actually the impartation of the joy of Jesus, and it has ever since been a river of anointing flowing down over the church…  particularly those within the church who have been willing to lean in with an open wholeheartedness to the fullness of God’s grace and empowerment.

This is part of our kingdom life.  

Romans 14:17,  “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Paul was saying to the people of Rome, don’t let an issue like what you should or shouldn’t be eating get in the way of a brother’s salvation.  Don’t let things like that become a stumbling block to others.  If you’re offending someone by eating something or not eating something, be gracious and do what it takes to remove that offence.

And he’s making it clear that the kingdom of God is more about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  These kingdom values and principles pervade every aspect of kingdom life – even the tough times.

1 Peter 1:6-9,  “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, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”

Over and over again comes this theme of sorrow and intermingled with joy!

There are scriptures that acknowledge that sorrow is followed by joy:

Psalm 30:5,  “…Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.”  So there’s that promise that weeping and sorrow don’t stay in that heightened place forever.

But there are plenty of other scriptures like the one I’ve just read from 1Peter, that reaffirm that you can actually experience both sorrow and joy at the same time.

One writer by the name of Ruth Chamberlain was reflecting on the face of Mother Theresa, and she said: “Mother’s Theresa’s face is full of both sorrow and joy.”  Her countenance carried these two seemingly contradictory emotions at the same time…  but are they contradictory?

I’m no Mother Theresa, but I understand what is being said here.

I touched on this briefly as I began this message.  And I would imagine many of you know what I’m trying to say.

But sometimes when you are walking through a terribly sad time with someone you love and care about…  where you both share an unwavering love for Jesus…  a love that is anchored in eternal faith and hope…  it’s like that moment becomes so sacred and you draw so deeply on God’s presence and His Word, that you touch that place of deep joy that contains your strength and peace – exactly what you need to carry you through.

I can’t help but refer back to the time of Nehemiah when the people of God had returned to Jerusalem and when they had rebuilt the walls.   They took some time to have the priests read the Word of God to them, because it had been a long time since that had happened.

And they were so convicted and moved by the Word that they began to become sorrowful and distressed.  They realised how far short they had fallen in walking in the statutes of God.  Perhaps it was also simply the Anointing on the Word that touched their hearts.

Nehemiah 8:10,  “Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

And I want to affirm all of you who are in that place of sorrow and grief for whatever reason this morning – that it isn’t necessarily a matter of being happy or sad.  Sometimes it is actually appropriate to be both sorrowful and joyful at the same time.  And maybe you know that sacred, holy place that I’m talking about already.  It’s the place where Jesus meets us in the depths of our being.

You may be sorrowful because of your situation or circumstances – but joyful because the joy of the Lord is your strength – your anchor of hope – and you see your eternal reward because your perspective isn’t confined to this time and place.

And as I’ve already said before, Jesus Himself is your joy – and you always have Him!

Philippians 4:4,  “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

Paul had no hesitation in confessing his ability to carry many seemingly conflicting attitudes and emotions at the one time.

2 Corinthians 6:10,  “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”

It’s only a matter of weeks since I lost my dad.  All throughout his life he has deflected any meaningful conversation about God – about what happens after death.  I know his religious upbringing seriously affected his perspective on faith in God – in a bad way.  Only God knows what he carried in his heart about that.

Only God knows what it meant to have his mother die young, and for his father to refuse to go to his wedding, because he was marrying someone from a different denomination.

But when he passed away, I was so grateful that in the last 12 months or so he had softened his heart towards God.  He welcomed us praying for him.  He allowed Val to speak into his life and to pray with him as well.  He would say that he prayed to Jesus every night.

And I am trusting that our prayers for his salvation have been answered.  My sorrow is intermingled with joy and gratitude for his life, his example to me as to what a husband should be…  faithful, loyal, steadfast, responsible, loving…

I am trusting that he was like that lost sheep in the parable that Jesus spoke about Himself.  Because He is the Great Shepherd of the sheep.

Matthew 18:12-13,  “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.”

If we want to talk about the joy of Jesus, then we don’t have to go any further than this incredible parable.  And what causes Him joy should be our joy as well.

Knowing Jesus – knowing Him as Saviour – is the greatest celebration of joy ever.  Not just for the person being rescued and saved – but for all who witness that miracle of new life.

There’s such a caution here for us though.  It’s certainly a caution for me.  When your life is given over to full time ministry, it’s so easy to find joy and satisfaction and personal reward in the changed lives, the fruitful ministry, the answered prayer…

But Jesus says – don’t rejoice in all of that.  Rejoice in something far more profound.

Luke 10:17-20,  “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold,  I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but  rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Salvation is our greatest joy!  Knowing Jesus! 

That is what will carry us through not only the awesome times in ministry, but the inevitable tough times – the heartbreaking times.

It was His intimate relationship with His Father that carried Jesus throughout His own ministry – and particularly as He followed through His destiny to take our sin to the cross.

In the following verse of Luke 10, It begins with, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit…”

Let’s take a leaf out of Jesus’ book…  let’s rejoice always – in incredible circumstances – in wonderful moments of ministry…  but let’s rejoice in the joy of our own salvation even when ministry times are difficult and hard.

It’s not our calling – our ministry – our position – our giftings – that are the most important thing.  They are important and God will use them according to His good pleasure.  But the main thing is the joy we find in Him.

Psalm 16:11,  “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I started out by saying how grateful I am for the journey of faith, love and life that God has taken me on from the very beginning.

In it all, He has been my greatest joy!  That joy has been expressed through relationships more than anything else…  The gift of the wife of my youth, the precious gift of three daughters and the beautiful family they have produced.  It’s the gift of the relationships I have with just about all of you…

And in it all – the good times and the bad – the joy of the Lord and of my salvation has been my greatest strength – the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Christ…

I say it as a declaration of celebration – and I encourage you to celebrate your own joy – even if that true joy in knowing the love of Jesus only begins properly today!

Enter in to the joy of the Lord.  Enter in to the gift of salvation.  Enter in to that sacred and holy place of knowing your Father in heaven.

Joy will carry you through anything that you might experience or go through in this world.

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