Archive for August, 2012
Doctors are always telling us how to be healthier. They say if we want to live a healthy life we need to eat the right kind of food. They also tell us that to be healthy we need to get the right amount of exercise. But something else that they talk about that is very important is that if we want to be healthier we need to be happier. That’s because being healthy has a lot to do with your mental outlook on life.
But what we’re going to talk about today is much better than happiness. Today we’re going to look at the fruit of the Spirit called, “Joy.”
There’s a big difference between happiness and joy. Happiness depends upon happenings. Happiness is external; joy is internal. Happiness is based on circumstances; joy is based on Christ. Happiness is based on chance; joy is based on your choice.
Proverbs 15:13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.
How many of you are glad to be alive? How many of you are glad to be forgiven? How many of you are glad you are a Christian? How many of you are glad to have a home up in heaven? You need to inform your face! Before joy can be expressed on some people’ faces, they’re going to have to have God give them a face lift.
As God’s people we ought to be the most joyful people on the face of the earth. Yet it seems as though many of God’s people walk around with frowns and scowls on their faces these days, rather than grins and smiles.
What are some of the things that can fill us with joy? Let’s look at five things that God does for us that can fill us with joy.
1. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF GOD’S LOVE
Psalm 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. (NIV)
What is it about God’s love that should fill us with joy? Knowing that God cares about what I am going through should fill me with joy. David said that God sees my affliction and knows the anguish of my soul. God knows what you’re going through and He cares!
Job 36:5 Although God is mighty, he cares about everyone… (CEV)
1 Peter 5:7 God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him. (CEV)
2. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF GOD’S SALVATION
Luke 10:17, 20 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” …20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (NIV)
The disciples were filled with joy because the demons were subject to them. But Jesus told them to rejoice because “your names are written in Heaven.”
Knowing that we are forgiven of our sins and have a home up in heaven should give us great joy.
1 Peter 1:8 You have not seen Christ, but still you love him. You cannot see him now, but you believe in him. So you are filled with a joy that cannot be explained, a joy full of glory. (NCV)
Some today have lost the joy that they once had in their salvation. Instead of being full of joy, they are full of grief and sadness.
Psalm 32:3, 5 There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was.* But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration… 5 until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess them to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. (LB)
Once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior you will then experience God’s joy in your life.
3. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF GOD’S WORD
Jeremiah 15:16 When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.
As God’s people, when we hear the Word of God taught and preached, or when we are just read it and study it on our own, it ought to fill us with joy. The very reason why the Bible was written was so we could have joy.
1 John 1:4 We write this to make our joy complete. (NIV)
When you discover the teachings, truths and promises God has made to you in His word it is going to cause you to be filled with great joy.
Matthew 13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (NIV)
4. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF GOD’S CHURCH
Psalm 122:1 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” (NIV)
One of the things that should fill us with joy is the opportunity to go to church and worship God. Today for many people, going to church is the most boring and unhappy day of their lives, yet David was glad to be able to go to God’s house.
Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (NIV)
I should be full of joy because when I go to church and worship God he fills me with the strength and joy I need to make it through life.
1 Chronicles 16:27 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place. (NIV)
Isaiah 56:7a I will bring these people to my holy mountain. I will give them joy in my house of prayer. (ICB)
If you want to have joy in your life you need to come to church each week. When you come to church there will be several ways that you can express your joy.
One way we can express our joy to God when we come to church is through our SERVICE.
Psalm 100:2 Serve the Lord with joy; come before him with singing.
A lot of times instead of serving God with joy and a smile on our face, we do it with a disgruntled attitude while we gripe and complain about it. God wants us to serve Him with joy.
Another way to express your joy when you come to church is when you SING PRAISES to the Lord.
1 Samuel 18:6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes.
Another way in which we as God’s people can express joy is through MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
1 Chronicles 15:16 David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals. (NIV)
Psalm 47:1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. (NIV)
Another way that you can express your joy when you come to church is through your GIVING.
2 Corinthians 8:1-2 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. (NIV)
2 Corinthians 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (NIV)
5. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF PROBLEMS
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.
One of the hardest things to do as a child God is to be full of joy even when we are having troubles and trials. Yet, we are commanded in this verse to consider it all joy, when we encounter various trials.
Even though we as individuals, or our church as a whole may have troubles, we should not allow these things to get us down, but rather we should realize that they serve a purpose in our lives and consider it a time of joy, rather than a time of sorrow and grief.
1 Peter 4:12-13 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (niv)
2 Corinthians 7:4d …in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. (NIV)
Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Romans 5:3-4 We can be full of joy here and now, even in our trials and troubles. These very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character… (Ph)
It’s always easier to handle a hurt when you know God can use it for good in your life. That’s what this verse is saying. How does He use our hurts? He uses them to build our character, if you choose to respond in the right way.
Paul says in this passage that “We can be full of joy here and now.” He’s not talking about just having joy in the sky by and by, he’s talking about having it now, even if you’re having trails and troubles in your life.
Some people think, “When I get all my problems solved, I’ll be happy.” Fat chance! Life is a series of solving problems. As soon as you get one solved you’re going to have another one that’s probably even bigger. God allows us to go through these trials and troubles to build our character. If the only time you learn to have joy in your life is when you don’t have any problems; guess what? You’re never going to have joy in your life.
Philippians 4:4 Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! (LB)
How is that possible? To always be joyful? When Paul wrote this verse he was in prison and about to be executed. He was writing to the Phillippian church which is the New Testament book on joy. Nineteen times in the book of Phillippians he used the word “joy” or “rejoice”. If you’re depressed, you need to read through that book. It’s only four chapters. Underline whenever the word “joy” or “rejoice” is used.
You have to learn to have joy even in the middle of problems while you’re working on them. You don’t wait for all your problems to be solved. Be joyful even in tough times. That’s where joy is learned. How do you do that? How is it possible to rejoice in the midst of difficult circumstances?
1. BECAUSE OF GOD’S PRESENCE
Isaiah 43:2-3 When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. 3 For I am the Lord your God… (TEV)
The fact is no matter what you’re going through, you’re not going through it alone. So it doesn’t have to overwhelm you. What God wants to say to each of you today is He is with you right now.
Psalm 16:11 You make the path of life known to me. Complete joy is in your presence. Pleasures are by your side forever. (GW)
Anytime I don’t have joy it’s a warning light that I’m not spending enough time with God. It means I’ve forgotten that He’s with me. Second, I can be joyful in spite of my circumstances…
2. BECAUSE OF GOD’S PLAN
He’s not only with me, He has a plan for me. God isn’t worried about the problem you’re going through. He knew it was coming, He saw it, and He wants you to trust him.
Jeremiah 29:11 I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. (GW)
Psalm 50:14c I want you to trust me in your times of trouble, so I can rescue you and you can give me glory. (LB)
Lastly, I can be joyful in spite of my circumstances …
3. BECAUSE OF GOD’S POWER
Psalm 62:8 …trust him all the time. Pour out your longings before him, for he can help! (LB)
God never puts more on you than He puts in you to bear it up. He will help me.
Psalm 43:5 O my soul, why be so gloomy and discouraged? Trust in God! I shall again praise him for his wondrous help; he will make me smile again, for he is my God! (LB)
Have you lost your joy? Are you discouraged? God is waiting to help you. Jesus said, “Ask, that your joy may be full.” He’s waiting for you to ask so He can help you.
The Bible says “the fruit of the Spirit is joy”. That means joy isn’t something you can manufacture on your own. You can’t just work it up. It’s the natural by-product of letting Jesus Christ live in and through you. When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior you can experience His joy no matter what the situation is.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (NIV)
Some of you today need that kind of joy in your life. If you’d like to receive God’s joy, you can by simply receiving His Son Jesus Christ as your personal savior. Let me know if you made that decision.
1. LOVE IS THE GREATEST
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV)
The first thing that the fruit of the spirit consists of is “love”. What does the Bible say about love?
Here in these verses Paul tells us that without love we are no better than a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”. He tells us that without love we are nothing. And if we do not have love, everything else we do is worthless and does not benefit or profit us.
What are some of the other things that Paul says about love?
1) It is patient.
2) It is kind
3) It is not jealous.
4) It does not brag
5) It is not arrogant.
6) It does not act unbecomingly.
7) It doesn’t seek its own.
8) It is not provoked.
9) It does not take into account a wrong suffered.
10) It does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
11) It rejoices with the truth.
12) It bears all things.
13) It believes all things.
14) It hopes all things.
15) it endures all things.
16) And it never fails.
As God’s people if we are producing love in our lives, then each one of these characteristics should also be found in our lives.
While many people today emphasize the gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge, Paul tells us in the last verse of this chapter that, “now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
What else does the Bible say about love?
2. LOVE IS THE BOND OF UNITY
Colossians 3:14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (NIV)
What does Paul mean by the word “perfect” in this verse? He means that nothing else can substitute for love and still bring about unity.
In order for there to be unity between a husband and wife, between two friends, between church members or churches, love must exist between them. When there is an absence of unity, this shows that there is an absence of love, and visa versa.
Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. (NIV)
How is it possible for God’s people to live together in peace and harmony even though we treat each other like “dogs” at times? The answer is, because of love.
If we truly love one another as we should, then we will not be so fast to judge one another, be vengeful towards one another, or get our feelings hurt every time someone says something to us. And if someone does sin against us, our love for that person should over ride our fleshly nature and cover that transgression.
When you cover something that means you can’t see it anymore. And if someone sins against us personally, our love should cover it so that we no longer see it or remember it any more.
If we love one another as we should, then we will not be bringing up things that someone did in the past, but rather we will forget those things as God has for us.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (NIV)
What else does the Bible say about love?
3. LOVE IS PROOF OF DISCIPLESHIP
John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (NIV)
Here in these verses Jesus commands us as disciples to love one another just as He loved us. What will happen if we are producing love for one another. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples…”
The early Latin writer Tertullian of Carthage, wrote that the one thing that converted him to Christianity was not the philosophical arguments they gave him, because he could always find a counterpoint for every argument presented. “But they demonstrated something I didn’t have. The thing that converted me to Christianity was the way they loved each other.”
Matthew 7:20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (NIV)
If we are producing love as we should, then those we come in contact with will recognize us as followers of Christ. That’s why we are told to do the following:
1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow the way of love… (NIV)
1 Corinthians 16:14 Do everything in love. (NIV)
Since we are commanded to produce love in our lives, how should this be done?
Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (NIV)
The word “sincere” comes from the Greek word “hypokrisis” which means, “to play the part”.
Today I am afraid that to many of us go around telling people that we love them, when in reality we hate their guts. That’s being a hypocrite.
Love is not to be produced in hypocrisy, but rather in sincerity.
1 Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (NIV)
This shows us that it takes a lot on our part to love, and therefore we must work hard to produce love in our lives.
4. LOVE IS AN ACTION
1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (NIV)
As God’s people we should not only produce love with our words and tongue, but also with our actions. Love isn’t just a word that comes from our lips when we say, “I love you”. It is an action that can be seen in our lives.
Love is not something you say or feel it’s something you do. It’s a behavior, an action, a way of acting. Love is a verb, it’s something you do. A guy kept telling his girlfriend, “I would die for you.” Eventually she said, “You’re always saying that, but you never do it.” Love is something you do.
One of the actions of love is telling the truth. John said we are to also “love… in truth. Healthy Christians are truthful Christians.
Ephesians 4:15 Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ…” (CEV)
Every healthy, strong relationship is built on two legs. These two legs help the relationship to stand. If you want to have a healthy relationship, you have to learn how to confront in truth and affirm in love. If you only do one, your relationship isn’t going to be able to stand. Some people do real well when it comes to confronting in truth. But sometimes the truth hurts. So, in order to help the person you also have to affirm that you love them, and let them know that they’re important to you and that you don’t want to hurt the relationship but improve it.
In theory we think that “honesty is the best policy”, but practically, there are times when we don’t think it’s such a good idea.
For instance, you might be thinking, “If I told my husband how I really feel about our marriage, he’d blow up.” “If I told my boyfriend what I don’t like about him, he’d leave me.” “If I told my wife about my frustration with our love life, she’d accuse me of a one-track mind.” “If I told my boss that what we’re doing is unethical, I’d get fired.” “If I confronted my friend and told him he needed counseling, he’d wouldn’t like me anymore.”
Love isn’t always easy or fun. Sometimes it downright tough. That’s why it takes courage to love someone.
Matthew 24:12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. (NIV)
One of the signs of the end times is a lack of love. He says that there will come a time when, “the love of most will grow cold.”
1) Is your love for Jesus what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
2) Is your love for one another what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
3) Is your love for this church what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
4) Is your love for God’s word what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
5) And is your love for the lost what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
Revelation 2:4-5 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (NIV)
How do you learn to love like God loves you? How can you have a healthy love?
Ephesians 5:2 Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (MSG)
Jesus is our example and model in how to love. And the only way you’re ever going to be able to love like Him is by accepting him into your heart. When Jesus died on the cross, He stretched his arms out wide and said, “I love you this much!” That’s how much Jesus loves you! If you haven’t accepted His love for you, I invite you to do it right now.
Today I’m beginning a new blog series called, “Nine Keys To Healthy Living”. Our text is found in Galatians 5:22-23 and this series is going to look at the nine characteristics of The Fruit Of The Spirit.
How much would you be willing to pay for a piece of fruit? In Japan, someone paid more than $6,000 for one Densuke watermelon. Grown only on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, this beautiful dark-green sphere looks like a bowling ball. The nearly 18-pound watermelon was one of only a few thousand available that year. The fruit’s rarity brought an astronomical price on the market.
Christians have fruit that is far more precious than the Densuke watermelon. It’s called the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). Each “fruit” is a different aspect of Christlikeness. In the Gospels, we see how Christ exemplified these virtues. Now He wants to produce them in our hearts—in what we say, how we think, and how we respond to life.
A rare and delicious fruit may bring a premium price in the marketplace, but Christlike character is of far greater worth.
John 15:1-4 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 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, and I will 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.
Fruitfulness for Christ depends on fellowship with Christ.
In Atlanta, the main thoroughfare running through the heart of the city is named “Peachtree.” Other lesser streets are called “Peachtree Circle, ” “Peachtree Road,” and “Peachtree Place.” In keeping with that name, one of the leading department stores places a row of live peach trees in front of the building every spring. They are neatly boxed and trimmed, and their bright green leaves are a welcome sight as one drives down the avenue. But all of this loveliness is little more that outward adornment. No-one has ever picked a single peach from any of the branches. Why? There aren’t any! There’s a lot of foliage, but no fruit. Christians ought to bring forth fruit in keeping with their profession.
Simply put, the fruit of the Spirit is that which is produced through the life of a child of God as evidence of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. If we as God’s people do not bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives then we are useless to God and good for nothing.
Luke 13:6-9 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (NIV)
Doctors have been telling us for years that in order to be healthy we need to eat fruit. A healthy Christian is going to produce fruit in their life. As God’s people, God wants each one of us to be healthy fruit bearing Christians.
Matthew 12:33 If you grow a healthy tree, you’ll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you’ll pick worm-eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about the tree. (MSG)
Over the next nine weeks we’re going to look at what the fruit of the Spirit consists of. Like an orange that is only one and yet still consists of many parts, so is the fruit of the Spirit. The orange is made up of slices that are held together by a rind and pulp. It also consists of seeds and juice. So, the fruit of the Spirit is multifaceted.