Dave Morehouse delivered this message at TJC on October. These are his preaching notes. You can also experience this message in video format on the TJC YouTube channel here.
How do you define joy? Is it not a quality that often is easier to feel and watch then to put into words?
Here is a clip that I think describes a genuine moment of joy.
(Video Clip) ELLEN SHOW REUNION of wife and soldier husband.
Joy is a quality of our interior life. Let me attempt to use words to get a handle on this…
It is about contentment…not about grasping for more and being thankful for all of God’s good gifts
Living with purpose and living a full life
Deeper still joy is about desire – a stabbing pang where what we long for is something deeper and greater than we could ever imagine…
Joy is a byproduct of the things that matter most – reunion of friends, a helping hand, an act of generosity, rescue in the midst of despair.
Joy also has that element of hope – like you are lost in woods and then you come upon a signpost that leads you out to the road and on to your destination…joy is experienced in knowing that you are finding the way out.
Like this quote by C.S.Lewis – who can feel ugly when their hearts feel joy.
Slide: Surprised by Joy
In the gospel of John Jesus surprises us with the promise of joy.
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
Jesus makes a connection that when we have Him we have His joy. Jesus says in fact that our joy is complete. So often our earthly joys leave us with a longing for more. A great meal, a beautiful sunrise, a new purchase, a nice movie, a fun trip…all wonderful but they fade and we yearn for more. Jesus says in me your joy is full and complete.
How do we get ahold of Jesus’ joy? In the 10 verses prior to his joy promise Jesus is telling us says his joy is a byproduct that from a connection to Him. Joy is found where Jesus is!
Let’s read this in Gospel of John 15:1-10
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
C.S.Lewis makes the observation – We often try to live the Christian faith and the demands of faith like an honest man paying taxes. He pays them alright, but he does hope that there will be enough left over for him to live on and spend and do what he believes will bring him joy as though the way faith is really not where enduring happiness lies. That is the real challenge to the Christian life – we must stop taking the natural self as the starting point and ending point for our joy and life.
Jesus calls us to be deeply embedded into Him. He speaks to our souls ““Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, to make it angry with moralistic demands – no I have come to kill the it. Not tweak off a branch here and there but to bring down the whole tree. Hand over the whole natural self and I will give you a new self. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”
Joy is found where Jesus is! Here is where we will find joy.
Unfortunately for many we don’t want this type of Christianity. The words of Jesus in John 15 we rationalize are for those who want a sort of deluxe model of christianity.
But Jesus’ call that we remain in Him is the basic entry point of faith. This is the call to be a disciple of Jesus- in other words – a student of Jesus. It is when we unite in faith with Christ in an attitude of study , obedience and imitation of Him that we began to discover the fulfillment of the highest human possibilities and to live life on the highest plane. And we find joy.
As long as deep down inside we make personal happiness centered on money, pleasure and success that ultimate standard of joy – we will truly feel that to hand over our whole life to Christ -to be fully connected to Him – to be an impossible thing.
But the real impossible thing is to think that we can live out the the way of Christ while still going our way and think we will find lasting joy. That will only lead to frustration and anger. Shortly we will either give up the call of Jesus and simply content ourselves with temporary pleasures
Jesus says when we remain in Him we will produce fruit that involves love, peace, self control, kindness, humility and joy! The fruit of our lives will grow when when we have the desire and make the decision to be like Jesus. The fruit Jesus wants us to display is the fruit of Him in our lives. This desire and decision comes by faith that only God can give.
Out of that desire and decision one enrolls in Christ’s training – becoming a student of Jesus. Then we will begin to learn to follow Jesus’ commands to
- to love our enemies,
- walk the second mile,
- forgive 70 x 7
- blessing those who curse us,
- showing hospitality to strangers.
Christ life starts to spread throughout our system, slowly and surely, with grace, with practice, with faith. And we are surprised by joy!
C.S.Lewis paraphrase – This believe journey is about no more compromise about the call to be in Chrsit to be found where Jesus is – to live where Jesus is like Christ. Imagine we are eggs that need to be hatched so that we can become birds that soar. That journey is hard. But harder still. in fact impossible is somehow thinking one can remain an egg and have wings. Let us give up the idea that we are called to simply remain an ordinary egg or the silly notion we can remain eggs and have wings. If we do not hatch we go bad…that is not Jesus’ intent when He says you must remain in me.
But Joy gets lost at times. I saw a headline on the news yesterday: JOY TURNS TO ANGUISH!
Joy is lost with distractions. There are so many things in life that if we make them our central focus they distract us from Jesus.
Spiritually speaking joy is one of those traits of that have an inside and outside quality to it. It is hard to comprehend how someone can be full of joy on the inside and be consistently mean and miserable on the outside. “If you have no joy there is a leak in your Christianity somewhere.” – Billy Sunday
Joy is a like a spiritual gauge of souls. A lack of joy in our lives is an indicator that all is not well.
I think of 3 Joy Distractors
- Discouragements – Difficulties – nothing is never easy, People disagree, quit and leave, Roadblocks – always unexpected circumstances. Weariness – We sometimes get caught up in the work of doing well and we find ourselves tired and overwhelmed
- Disasters – Death, Crisis, Stress, Troubles, Grief.
- Disobedience – In challenging life circumstances we are tempted to ignore God’s wisdom and to follow our own ways. We may think that these solutions will make the pain stop and bring the joy and contentment we’re looking for. But the promise in Psalm 119: 1-3
- Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord.
- Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.
- They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.
So how is joy found How is Joy Renewed? The answer of faith – Joy is found where Jesus is!
In Jesus we find an abiding peace.
In Jesus we have a life penetrated by love.
In Jesus we have a faith that sees everything in light of God working everything together for the good.
In Jesus we have a hope that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances.
In Jesus we discover power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil.
In Jesus we have no condemnation, we are justified, reconciled with God.
In Jesus we have the promise of experiencing life in all its fulness as we learn to live His life and way.
In Jesus we have the way to eternal life, a resurrection hope and a home in heaven. And as C.S.Lewis observed, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
Finally we find in Jesus we have his promise of his abiding presence.
And we celebrate with joy – in fact we sing and dance with gladness of heart – Jesus is with us and we are with Him!
I think of the old gospel song His Eye is On the Sparrow.
Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
- I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
- For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
Video – Lynda Randle
“The enjoyment of [God] is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied…. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends are but shadows, but enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.”
—Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
What are the sources of your joy? Are they simply the good earthly joys: a new car, a Brooks Brothers suit, a great date, great sex, a raise, or a loss of four inches from your waistline? Or is your joy deeper and wider? Reflection on your election to the Christian community? The joy of saying slowly, “Abba, Father”? The afternoon you stole away for two hours with only the gospel as your companion? A small victory over selfishness? Adapted from Brendan Manning – The Importance of Being Foolish
JOY IS FOUND WHERE JESUS IS
Jesus said a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field of grass no matter how short and trim I cut it – I will never produce wheat. If I am to produce wheat the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and resown.
When we talk about the purpose of the church is – we exist to lead people into letting the life of Christ take root in our lives.
When we hear this call of the gospel to love, have joy and peace, kindness and so on, we vaguely grasp that this is the call for a disciple – a student of Jesus. But we treat discipleship like those desiring the deluxe model of christianity. For example – I like walking and the occasional short run but there is no way I am joining the Running Club for the full marathon!
Jesus is saying to us When Jesus speaks to us by the Spirit of God and through His Word, the bible, to our souls, we hear this. “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, to make it angry with moralistic demands – no I have come to kill the it. Not tweak off a branch here and there but to bring down the whole tree. Hand over the whole natural self and I will give you a new self. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”
When Jesus said, Go make disciples...He is directing the church that its simple and profound mission is to help people to
That is where this journey of faith takes us. Not to a place where our natural self feels contented and satisfied. Rather we are becoming like Christ. “Little Christs!” to put it boldly and plainly is how we must answer the question, “who are you/we becoming?”
That is why this Believe journey matters. Throughout the fall we are looking at how we become people of love, joy, peace, self control, kindness, hope, humility. And so on.
The fruit of God’s Spirit at work in us will occur – not because we keep trying harder –
Slide: Surprised by Joy
Jesus drew this connection that when we are in Him we have His joy. We have joy that is complete and full.
For may joy is found in experiences,
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
there is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious. It is too good to waste on jokes. -Lewis
We have the same role to play as the community of Christ. Coke is not poison and I can drink it in moderation, the same as I refuse to feel guilty about watching television here and there. But the point is that I can only find comedy on the television. I cannot find joy. And the more I substitute jokes for joy and cynicism for hope, the sicker I will become.
And so I need somebody to call me back to life. I need my brothers and sisters to remind me to drink water. I need them to invite me back to Jesus who says:
If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Casey Hobbs
and our walk with God.
Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering, it is the presence of God Sam Storms
Psalm 16:11 and Psalm 30:5