Date: 
Sunday, February 5, 2012 - 10:45am
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Bible Reference: 
John 15:9-11

THE GOD OF EXCEEDING JOY

JOHN 15:9-11

 

9     As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

10  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.

11  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

God says you need joy.  You need joy that is full.  God created you to experience joy.  And it is not just a casual thing that would be nice to have, but not a big deal if you don’t .  You have a “God-created” need for joy in your life.  Life without joy is overwhelming.  Life without joy is oppressive.  Life without joy is not abundant and John 10:10 says that Jesus came so that you can have an abundant life. 

        Now this is week five in our sermon series on the Old Testament names of God.  One of the names of God is found in Psalms 43.

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.

5     Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

 There in the original Hebrew it says that God’s name is El Simchathgali which means, “I am the God of exceeding joy.” 

        This morning we are going to look at a number of verses from the book of Philippians.  Philippians is a book about joy.  The book is only 4 chapters long but in those four chapters, we are told to rejoice, be joyful or enjoy life 16 times.  Now if God is telling us to do something, it is because He wants us to do it.  If God is telling His children to rejoice, it is because He truly wants us to have joy. 

        And the amazing thing is Paul didn’t write this book while on an extended vacation in some tropical paradise.  He was in prison, chained to two Roman guards and awaiting execution.  In some of the darkest days of his life, Paul writes a letter of joy. 

        Now here is a principal I want you to take hold of:

Joy is not dependent upon your circumstances or your situation.  Happiness is.  Happiness is derived from the words “happen stance”.  Happiness is dependent upon what is happening.  Joy is dependent upon your relationship with God.   

        This morning I am going to give you six points – they will spell the acrostic JOYFUL.  I don’t do acrostics very often but this one works to well.

J – JETTISON ALL REGRET

        To experience the joy of the Lord, first jettison all regret.   Jettison means to throw overboard, to abandon as worthless, to discard, to eliminate, to get rid of.  If you want to enjoy life, there are some things you are going to have to chunk.  Look what the Apostle Paul says:

Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Now we all have regrets.  We all have things we wish we hadn’t done, words we wish we hadn’t said, places we wish we hadn’t gone, items we wish we hadn’t bought, people we wish we hadn’t met…  But regretting doesn’t work.  You can’t change your past.  All you can do with past regrets is make your present miserable.  We get stuck in the land of, “If only…”  If only I could do it over.  If only I could change what I said.  If only I could go back and undo the past. 

        But you can’t.  Regretting is just a waste of time.  So what do you do?  The bible says you forget.  Once you forget the previous bad experience that can not be undone, you can get on with your life. 

        But you say, “Bro. Greg, I have tried, but I just can’t forget what I have done.”  I understand.  It is hard, but in God’s power, it can be done.  Remember God says He forgets.  God says that when we confess our sins to Him, He forgets them.  He remembers them no more. 

        Look what God says to us by the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 43:18-19  "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  19Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

        The starting point of joy is to let go of the past, to jettison all the regrets, the grief, the grudges and the guilt.  Forget them just as God has forgotten you sin. 

O – OMIT ALL WORRIES

        Secondly, if you are going to know joy you are going to have to omit all worries.  Worry may be the greatest killjoy of all. You cannot be joyful and worried at the same time.  Worry only makes things worse.  Worry turns molehills into mountains.  I know this because if worry was an Olympic sport, I would own the gold medal.  But look with me at God’s word:

Philippians 4:6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

        Paul’s advice is to worry about nothing and pray about everything.  You can either worry or you can pray.  What do you think is going to be more productive? 

        So Paul says if you want to know the joy of the Lord, first you have to forget the past with all its regrets, and secondly, you have to forget future potential trouble.  Instead, focus on living right now in the presence and power of the God who is always there, who heals, who supplies the power and who wants to fill you with joy. 

Y – YIELD YOURSELF TO GOD’S PURPOSE

        Third, if you are going to know true, abiding joy, you are going to have to know that you have an eternal purpose.  If you don’t know where you came from, where you are going, why you are here and why your life matters, you are not going to know joy.  If you are cruising through life on auto-pilot, or living for momentary pleasure, you are not going to know true joy. 

        We all need a cause greater than ourselves to live for.  Living for something that is bigger than us, that will outlast us will help us to conquer the narcissistic tendencies in our human nature and when we conquer our narcissism, we can know joy. 

        When Paul was writing the letter of Philippians, he had literally lost everything.  He was old, in prison, and in poor health.  He has no companionship, no freedom, and no privacy.  This was his reward for serving God all those years. 

        But there was one thing that kept Paul going – his purpose in life. 

Philippians 1:21  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

        Paul had absolutely nothing in this world, but he had everything in his God.  If you want to know joy you have to live in line with God’s purpose for your life. 

F – FOCUS ON WHAT IS GOOD

        Next, to know joy you have to focus on what is good.  In this life we have mountains and valleys, wins and losses, good and bad.  We have criticism and we have compliments.  The question is, what are you going to focus on?  You can walk around consumed by the bad, or you can choose to focus on the good.  It is your choice.  Do you chose to see the cup half full or is the cup half empty? 

        Even on your worse day, life is still good.  Even on your worse day you are still better off than 90% of the people on earth.  You can focus on what is bad.  Or you can focus on what is good.  Look what Paul tells us:

Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

        Paul says think about the good things.  Grab hold, latch on, and concentrate on what is good.  Fill your mind with what is good.  And do you know where to find good things to fill your mind with?  God’s Word.  The more you fill your mind with this book, the more joyful you are going to be.  This book is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and above all, it is excellent.  Spend time reading God’s Word in the power and presence of His Holy Spirit, knowing the Christ loves you enough to die for you, and you will know joy. 

U – USE YOUR LIFE TO HELP OTHERS

        Fifth, to know joy, use your life to help others.  Paul knew joy because Paul selflessly used his life to benefit others.  He invested his life in the well being of others.  If you want to know joy, give your life away.  Stop focusing on what you can get and start looking for ways you can give.  Jesus said in the Gospels, the more you give your life away, the more you find true life.  The more unselfish you become, the more joyful you become. 

Philippians 4:1  Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

        See Paul’s joy was found in the people he invested his life in.  Paul’s joy was found in the people he cared about.  Paul joy’s was found in the people he led to Christ and helped grow spiritually.  It is that simple. 

L – LEARN TO BE CONTENT

        Finally, to know God’s joy, you have to learn to be content.  Now contentment doesn’t come naturally.  It has to be learned.  Let me read to you a passage from II Cor. 11.  This is from the message – listen closely:

23-27I've worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death's door time after time. I've been flogged five times with the Jews' thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I've been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I've had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes.

I've been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I've known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.

28-29And that's not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut.

        Paul says life is hard.  Every time I think I have it bad, I go read what Paul went through.  And in spite of the place Paul found himself, he writes that he learned to be content.  When we are content, we know joy. 

Philippians 4:11  Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

        Paul says he learned to be content regardless of the situation or circumstance.  And if Paul learned, we can too.  Bottom line is joy is a decision.  We are as joyful as we want to be.  You can learn to be content.  You can learn to focus on what is good.  You can learn to value others.  You can learn to see God’s eternal purpose.  You can learn these things and you can experience God’s joy.  God is the source of joy and we can know His joy and we can know it to the full. 

Do you know His joy today?  You can.  The starting point is knowing that you have been forgiven all your sins.  Have you come to the Savior to find forgiveness and salvation?

 

THE GOD OF EXCEEDING JOY

JOHN 15:9-11

Psalms 43:3-5

El Simchathgali which means, “I am the God of exceeding joy.”

Joy is not dependent upon your circumstances or your situation. 

J – JETTISON ALL REGRET

Philippians 3:13-14

Isaiah 43:18-19 

 

O – OMIT ALL WORRIES

Philippians 4:6 

 

Y – YIELD YOURSELF TO GOD’S PURPOSE

Philippians 1:21

 

 F – FOCUS ON WHAT IS GOOD

Philippians 4:8 

 

U – USE YOUR LIFE TO HELP OTHERS

Philippians 4:1 

 

L – LEARN TO BE CONTENT

II Cor. 11:23-29

Philippians 4:11 

 

Do you know His joy today?