JOY COMES FROM THE SPIRIT
Friday, March 16, 2012
From first grade on they look forward to that ski trip in the Alps – the one they got to take in fifth grade. But this year the trip ended in tragedy. The bus careened into the wall of a tunnel – killing twenty-two 12 year olds and two adults.
Heart-breaking news … the story of schoolchildren killed in Belgium, on their way to school skiing trip to the Alps. All week, we’ve been talking about joy – the joy that belongs to us as believers in Jesus Christ and that joy has to be able to stand up to all kinds of sorrow. It’s not the same as happiness. It doesn’t depend on circumstances. It’s a transcendent joy – a joy that transcends our tears. It’s a triumphing joy – a joy that triumphs even in the deep heart-breaks of life.
It’s the joy Jesus promised to his disciples - and to us - in the upper room just before he went to the cross. The joy that nothing can take away from us – not even the shocking and horrific events of this life.
Welcome to HT, I’m CM sharing the GS that’s all about Jesus and a Friday program called Joy Comes from the Spirit. It’s part of week-long series on finding Jesus in the Valleys. We started the week with a pastor’s wife who is not only a great Bible teacher, she’s a cancer survivor and this forced Kay Warren to go through valleys and ended in her writing a book called Choose Joy, which I’d like you to have because I believe this book will help you find the right kind of joy, the joy in Jesus that help you come through they valley your facing now and the valleys you will face ahead. Call us after the program at 1-800-654-2836. That’s 1-800-65-HAVEN. Or go online and read a sample chapter, make your gift to the ministry and ask for Choose Joy when you visit haventoday.org. That’s haventoday.org. HT opens with the music of Hillsong.
SONG – Forever Reigns - Hillsong
Jesus gathered his little flock together in the upper room to share a final meal before his death and to prepare them for a shocking and horrific event. He was going to be turned over to his enemies. He was going to suffer a terrible death. In a little while they were going to see him no more. But then they would see him again and their joy would know no bounds.
John 16.19-22 “Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of joy. And it’s a joy no one can take away from us because it’s a joy that comes from the triumph of the resurrection. Jesus took on the deepest sorrows, he entered into the shocking heartbreaks of life, and he conquered them. The joy he was describing to his disciples in the upper room is the joy of his resurrection. The joy of his victory over our sin, our guilt, our failures. A victory over all our enemies – even the grave. And the Holy Spirit brings that resurrection joy into our hearts and makes it triumph over our sorrows. Sometimes it’s not a big sorrow like the sudden loss of a precious child or of being locked up in a cell. Sometimes it’s just the humdrum flatness of life – the Spirit brings us into joy again and again.
The other day my wife, Janet, was remembering a morning a few years back when she woke up early to pray and read the Bible. She started off feeling a little down but by the time she was through, she was full of joy, full of light, the Word had come alive, it had taken her right out of the doldrums into joy.
And then our son, Peter, who wasn’t a believer at the time came in and sat down next to her. He’d just woken up. Janet said she looked at him and he looked so depressed, -- there was no light in his eyes, and she said, “Peter I wish you could be with me where I am.”
Where was she? She was in the same room with Peter but she was in a different place, The Holy Spirit made the difference --- the Holy Spirit had taken her into the presence of God and filled her with joy.
And now, thank the Lord, Peter himself is in that place, he has personally experienced that transformation the Holy Spirit brings – -- he’s been changed -- because he’s put his faith in Jesus.
The secret to why Christians experience joy even in the midst of terrible situations is the triumph of Jesus. Jesus has triumphed and the Holy Spirit brings the joy of that triumph into our hearts.
Joy is God’s crown on our heads.
Acts 13 describes the terrible persecution that rose up against the early church in Antioch and it ends with this little verse 52 “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”.
In Romans 14.17 Paul wrote that, “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”.
He reminded the Thessalonians how they first believed the gospel: 1Thessalonians 1.6, “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Joy.
The Spirit of Joy is God’s gift to his people. He’s the gift that Jesus couldn’t wait to pour out on his church. After the cross, after the three days in the tomb, after the resurrection, Jesus ascended. He went up into heaven and he was seated on the throne at the right hand of God. He was victorious. And then with great joy he poured out the Spirit of joy on his disciples – his people – his church.
They were gathered in the upper room again when it happened. I have a feeling the joy they had when they realized Jesus was alive again after three days had faded a little. Now he was gone – out of sight -- and I’m sure they were missing him. Maybe they were fearful for their lives – after all they’d seen Jesus crucified. Maybe they were a little confused since Jesus didn’t stay and get rid of the Romans and sit on a physical throne in Israel. But they knew he was alive. And they knew Jesus had told them to wait for the gift of the Father.
Acts 1:4-5 “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
They really didn’t know what to expect but they knew a great change was coming
And then, suddenly, the gift came --
Acts 2:2-4 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Where did the Spirit come from?
Peter knew. Peter knew Jesus had sent them the Spirit and he explained it to the crowd. This was a Jewish holiday. People had come from all over the Roman Empire and they spoke a lot of different languages. The disciples came bursting out of the upper room into the middle of this crowd, full of joy and they started preaching about Jesus and – miraculously – everyone could understand them. Everyone heard them in their own language. Needless to say it caused a stir – what’s going on with these guys?
Peter couldn’t wait to tell them – frightened, people-pleasing Peter was a different man. The Spirit had galvanized him, filled him with boldness, filled him with the joy of the good news.
Acts 2:22-38 Acts 2:22
“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.
This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
David said about him: “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.
But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.
Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.
God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.
Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Joy and the joy comes from the victory of Jesus – resurrected, not abandoned to the grave, raised to life, exalted to the right hand of God. He is filled with the joy of his triumph over the grave, filled with the joy of our redemption, filled with the joy of being in the presence of his Father. And He has poured out the Spirit of joy onto his people. The Spirit brings a glorious joy – a joy that triumphs even in the midst of all our sorrows and heartbreaks – even in the face of death.
1 Corinthians 15: 54-57 “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I don’t want to make light of the heartbreaks. I’ve experienced shocking sorrows like the parents of those little children in Belgium. If we live long enough we know what it’s like to have our joy turned to sorrow. But only believers know what it’s like to have their sorrow turn to joy.
C. Everett Koop wrote a book about the loss of his son in a climbing accident. When the news came it was a terrible shock. Something he and his family could hardly get their minds around. All their hopes and expectations were suddenly taken away. You think you know how the story is going to go and suddenly here is this terrible surprise, this shocking sorrow. But Doctor Koop gathered his family together to pray and they experienced a glorious transcendent joy – the joy of the resurrected of Jesus. The joy of being in the presence of the living Jesus – he said they were caught up in the very Godhead and they experienced glory.
The world knows all about joy turning to sorrow. It can happen suddenly. The joyous ski trip ends with the death of 22 children. Joy turns to sorrow – everyone is touched by that sad reality at one time or another.
But only believers know about sorrow turning to joy. Jesus said it, “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”
It’s a joy that triumphs in the midst of sorrow. A joy that comes from the resurrection of Jesus. His resurrection tells us that death isn’t the ultimate reality. The ultimate reality is the presence of God. We have fellowship with the living God through his Son and we’re destined to share his glory for all eternity because he’s triumphed over death. And that reality – that ultimate reality –is brought into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Rom. 8:35-39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
All the joys that have their source in this natural world will all fade away eventually. Only the joy that has it’s source in the victory of Jesus will remain forever.
That’s the ultimate reality for us as believers -- the victory of Jesus. The deep pains of life raise these great urgent questions in our minds. And the Lord has an answer. Not a consolation prize kind of answer but a great and glorious answer. Jesus pours it into our heart through his Spirit – the Spirit that says, “Jesus has triumphed. He’s triumphed over every sorrow, every pain, every sin that stood against us.” He’s with us now, even though we don’t see him and his presence is joy.
1 Peter 1:8 “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy”
That’s a right-now joy Peter’s talking about. Like the joy the disciples had in the midst of persecution. Like the joy C. Everett Koop experienced on the day he heard his son had died. But it’s also a foretaste of a future joy. Christians have joy in their future. An unimaginable inexpressible and glorious joy – we’re going to see the Lord Jesus face to face and live in his presence forevermore.
SONG – Leave It Up to You – Curt Collins
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