Advent of Joy

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John 15:7–11 (ESV)
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
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.

Introduction

Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; These words start a very familiar song we all usually sing this time of year. But what is joy? Joy is usually defined as meaning we feel goodness and happiness, so the things we do, the things our children do, the things we accomplish at work can all make us happy. It is more of a state of being than an emotion, a result of CHOICE! So what are some things that bring us joy? Is it a good movie? Maybe a stack of warm pancakes with maple syrup? Could it be a beautiful sunrise or sunset? Fresh blueberries from the bush? Dark chocolate and caramel? A hot cup of coffee? There are so many things that we choose or experience that brings us a sense of joy. The feeling, the euphoria, cortisol release that is joy.
But how is true, biblical joy defined? According to the Lexham Bible Dictionary, joy is closely related to victory over one’s enemies. We see a picture of that in 1 Samuel 18:6 when David returned from killing the Philistines where he was met with joy and dancing. Biblical joy is defined a little differently that the world’s joy because the source is different! But it can be lost - and we see pictures of this in the account of the exile, but will return with God’s people are restored.
Instead of finding happiness in the things of this world, true joy comes from the Lord - and the knowledge the victory has already been won over sin, Satan, and hell... through Christ. (Jesus has overcome the world) Joy is part of the experience of being a Christian…and it all started with the birth of Jesus Christ! As we continue to look forward to the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we should do so with joy!
Author and minister S.D. Gordon makes this statement “Joy is distinctly a Christian word and a Christian thing. It is the reverse of happiness. Happiness is the result of what happens of an agreeable sort. Joy has its springs deep down inside. And that spring never runs dry, no matter what happens. Only Jesus gives that joy. He had joy, and sang its music within, even under the shadow of the cross.”
Happiness is defined in the KJV dictionary as “agreeable sensations which spring from the enjoyment of good; that state of a being in which his desires are gratified…it admits of indefinite degrees of increase in enjoyment, or gratification of desires. Perfect happiness, or pleasure unalloyed with pain, is not attainable in this life.” While there are may things of this world that try to steal our happiness, NOTHING can steal our JOY that comes from the Lord! We may think we are happy, until a relationship is broken. We may think we are happy until we come across a negative attitude. We may think we are happy until we are faced with shame and guilt. We may think we are happy until we grow lonely. We may think we are happy until we face unforgiveness. We may think we are happy until we meet worry, fear, trouble, insecurity, rejection and the list goes on and on and on. But there is one thing for certain, if we rely on anything in this world, it can and usually will let us down. Joy is found in a literal sense in the knowledge or experience of God, and true joy from the Lord cannot be taken from us.
How do we know? We find scripture that confirms that!
Psalm 30:5 ESV
5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
How can we find joy when we may not be happy? It is through our relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:22 ESV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Sometimes we confuse joy with happiness, and think that we are blessed when everything goes our way and we are happy, but scripture does not support that. We are told in the beatitudes BLESSED are the meek, the poor in spirit, those who mourn, etc. While happiness can be taken in a moment, true Joy coming from the Lord provides us with an overabundance of peace and comfort, even in times when we may not have happiness. Joy is something God desires for us, he expects of us, and in some ways since we find so much biblical teaching on joy, it is our obligation as Christians to be joyful! In these verses we opened with, we find that God received Joy when we obey Him, that Joy is a product of Love, and that Joy is a truly Complete feeling when we put our full trust and faith in Christ.

God Receives Joy

John 15:7 ESV
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
If - conditional statement is made, it requires us to take an active part in our continued journey of following God.
These verses are still being written to the believers, the branches that are still on the vine.
Pruning is an active part of the life of a vine. Branches that may have once heavy bearers, can decrease in their productivity. As they decline in production, they too can be pruned.
Pruning does not necessarily mean removal in the sense of the Christian, but it does include disciplining of those outside the will of God.
Notice there are conditional promises made to the believer that continues to follow “abides” in Christ. (Ask and it WILL be done)
And God’s words must abide in us.
How do we abide in God’s Word?
We must study and learn what God says to us.
We must give ourselves completely to God in our lives, our thoughts and desires have to be guided by the Words of God.
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Being a follower of Jesus Christ requires us to be fully, totally, and completely bought out and immersed in Him and in His Word.
Do your best - God realizes we live in a sinful world and we are of a sinful nature. So He does require us to actively live our lives in a manner that would be approved by God so that we can stand before Him unashamed because we have studied His Word, we know His Word, and we LIVE by His Word. It is His Word that directs our actions and lives.
John 14:21 ESV
21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
As a believer, we are called to keep God’s commandments, which is a demonstration of our love to Him, by WORKING to lead others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The word “Christian” means “Like Christ, or Little Christ” meaning we are to mimic His life, serving others as we go.
Matthew 20:28 ESV
28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Because of the short lifespan Jesus lived on earth, all believers have the opportunity to do more evangelism, reach more people, and have the potential for a bigger impact than his earthly ministry had. Remember, as Christ ministered to those within the middle east we see the impact He had. We have been given the spread the Gospel unto all the world, now what are we going to do with it?
John 15:8 ESV
8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
It is through these actions, not only following Jesus, but being a part of His ministry through studying, learning, and LIVING His Word that the Father is glorified.
God the Father receives JOY from us being obedient to His Word.
The active living of Gods Word allows us to bear much fruit - the fruit of righteousness, Godly character, and converts. How can we bear MUCH fruit? Just like a grape vine, the vine must be deeply rooted and well fed and as a result it will feed the branches so that fruit can be harvested. For US, as the branches of the ministry of Jesus Christ, we must be well fed (study, learn, and live God’s Word) and nourished from the vine and remain deeply rooted so we can continually be fed.
John 15:4–5 ESV
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
It is by bearing much fruit that God is glorified.

Joy Is A Product of Love

John 15:9 ESV
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
The Father loves His Son. Remember Jesus is God’s only Son and there is a natural love that only comes as a Father loves their children. Yet Gods love is no ordinary love, no He loves with a perfect love BECAUSE of the perfect obedience of Christ.
As Christ loved His Father, and was obedient to His commands, God found Joy in Christs demonstration of love to Him.
Now, think of the love of Father and Son. God loved Christ with a sacrificial and supreme love. Christ was obedient to the Father even in death so that we could know the true love of God.
John 10:17–18 ESV
17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Because of the relationship between the Father and His Son, Christ also loves us in that same way the Father loves Him. Christ loves us with the same natural love as God’s children - we are given the same love simply because, as believers, we are of the family of God.
If God loves Christ because of His perfect obedience, then how much more joy does He have when WE follow Him in faithful obedience?
Hebrews 11:6 ESV
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Abide - continue, dwell, endure, remain, tarry, persevere. When we first experience God’s love, it is almost overwhelming. Yet many of us lose that closeness, the feeling we have at first. Why? Life gets us down, things get in the way, and we do not persevere through life and remain in Christ’s love.
We are given a command to remain, to tarry, to dwell in Christ’s love. We are literally invited to pull up a seat as “sit awhile” with God and just soak up His love. Isn’t this the most awesome invitation? I mean, how many of us have children that just want to crawl up in your lap and snuggle with you? Why do they do that? They feel loved, they feel safe and secure, and they are confident in their relationship!
OH CHURCH! How much different would our lives be if we took the time to crawl up in the lap of the Savior so we could feel His love, feel safe and secure in His arms, and grow CONFIDENT in our relationship with Him!
But how do we remain in His love?
John 15:10 ESV
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.
We are given a direct instruction - by keeping God’s commandments, we remain in Christ’s love!
Obedience - Obedience is the right response of people to the commands of God. The practice of following the rules, commands, or laws of another. Submission
But notice this is a conditional command - IF! - it is up to us to decide if we are going to remain in Christ’s love. We can walk away from the fellowship with Christ. We can move our thoughts away from God, we can turn cold towards the love of Christ, we can move away from the love of Christ, and we can return to our old ways/habits. But we are invited to REMAIN, to ABIDE in His love. It is our choice. Free will again enters the picture.
1 John 2:15–16 ESV
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
We have the OPTION to remain in Christ’s love. Think of this, if we truly love Christ, do we not want to show Him our love? Do we not want to do things to please the Lord? If we continue in the love of Christ, we obey His commands.
Notice one thing, Christ’s love never stops and it never ends, but it is up to the believer to continue to walk in His love.
Colossians 2:6 ESV
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,
Abiding in God’s love was set by the example of Jesus Christ toward Father God. He was perfectly obedient, following all commands, and continued in the Fathers’ love. We are given the option to follow Jesus’ example, but it requires work on our behalf - study, learn, and abide/remain/stay in the Word of God.
I ask this question today, and I challenged myself with this same question, do we struggle with abiding obedience towards God? Most of us are well versed in scripture, have attended church for years, have been Christians for decades, but do we fully allow ourselves to be obedient to God’s will in and for our lives?
It is through the obedience in doing what we are asked that Joy is felt by both the Father and the Son.

Joy Complete

John 15:11 ESV
11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Christ does not require us to study, learn, and abide in Him for selfish reasons, it is for our benefit - to complete our joy!
He speaks of His joy being in us - Christ’s joy was doing the will of God and looking ahead at the glory of eternity with the Father and believers. Our joy should also come from looking to an eternity in GLORY with our Father!
God doesn’t want to be the only one who finds joy in our relationship, but wants to fill us with joy!
We, too, can have joy through the assurance and confidence we receive through our growing relationship with Christ. Our joy is complete when we recognize it is only given by God, that joy does not depend on “things” or circumstances, and that it is rooted in our relationship with God through faith.
Romans 15:13 ESV
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
What do we find our joy in? Is it the relationship with the Father and Son? Is it the knowledge we have defeated sin, death, and hell? Is it the weight of guilt removed from us through repentance? Is it prayer and communication with the Father? Is it through giving to others? Or is it hearing of and fellowship with other believers walking the Christian road?
We can find joy in many areas, if we focus on what He has done in our lives.

Conclusion

Are you struggling to find your joy? Have we been caught up in the things of this world that we have allowed to rob us of our joy? There are many things that we can allow to rob us - our health, concern over finances, politics, ungodly favors we may feel we owe others, our jobs, complaining over everything that seems to be going wrong, continuing to look at our failures in the past, and worry over what may happen in the future.
Matthew 11:28 ESV
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
We can get rid of these burdens that steal our joy if we take them and leave them with God. You see, He has given us an opportunity to remain in His joy, if we are willing to truly seek a relationship with Him. Notice this is conditional. IF. Do we abide in Him? Are we obedient to Him? Do you truly desire a relationship with Christ today?
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