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SERMON: The Full Measure Of Joy

We've all met many disappointed people along various stages of life's journey: people who didn't get the job they wanted, or were passed over for promotion; people with disabilities, family unrest, failed goals, and lots of regret.

Joy doesn't hinge on getting what we want, but in accepting God's will, realizing that His answers are wiser than our prayers.

Benjamin Franklin observed, "The things that hurt, instruct."

We can even face conflict with joy, knowing we do so with God at our side, knowing that His love will conquer our fears.

Joy must be cultivated daily, by having a quiet time with the Lord; time in prayer, and in God's word.

Someone joked, "Why pray when you can worry?" When we place our cares in God's capable hands, we're able to conquer anxiety. Worry robs us of joy, and can lead to self-pity and bitterness. In Philippians 4, Paul tells us to "Rejoice in the Lord always." How on earth do we do that? Paul goes on to say, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done…and you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand."

When we're joyful, we have little room left for worry. We don't have to act like victims; we can grow through our hardships. We're like diamonds in the rough, and God is using life experiences to chip away our rough edges; He's developing character in us. Problems provide the cutting edge of life, through which we grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

To have joy, it takes more than a weekly dose of worship. Joy must be cultivated daily, by having a quiet time with the Lord; time in prayer, and in God's word. Then we learn what the prophet Nehemiah discovered: "The joy of the Lord is our strength" (8:10).

Knowing what joy is helps us see why Christians are joyful.

The world offers many substitutes for joy, which do not produce lasting happiness. Worldly joys are fleeting things, always in danger of being lost. At best, the pleasures of the world provide a false sense of happiness. Goals without Christ provide a false sense of purpose. The sorrow God turns into joy cannot be snatched from us because this joy becomes part of our character. Jesus so wishes our joy that He opposes any substitutes that diminish our joy.

True joy can't be taken from us because it's rooted in revelation. In John 5:11 Jesus states, "I have spoken to you so My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." The source of joy is not found in this world; it is external, from Above. "The opposite of joy is not sorrow. It is unbelief " (Weatherhead).

Henri Nouwen writes, "Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. Joy is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us." Joy is the result of an ongoing life with Christ. It's not something we produce but something we are. We reject what the world offers because we've found something richer. Someone admitted to a believer, "I'd give the world if I could only have your joy." The believer's reply: "That's what it takes."

When a child breaks a toy, a panicked parent will try to replace it; the crying then stops. That's joy-by-substitution; we replace pain with pleasure. Adults have our own toys, which we use to escape the stresses of life. This strategy of replacement keeps us immature; it trains us to live on substitutes. Does our joy depend on what we possess, or Who we possess? When we find Christ, we find joy.

Our joy is permanent, because it's founded upon the finished work of Christ. Our Lord's task of salvation ushers us into joy. And we can't lose our joy because Jesus is praying for us; we're secure in Him. He's praying that our joy will be preserved. The joy the disciples must've felt hearing Jesus pray for them can be ours as we reflect on this prayer. God's "full measure of joy" will then overflow from our lives and touch the lives of others.

Adapted from a sermon by Bob Leroe as posted on www.SermonCentral.com

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Bible Admonitions

"Women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but should be submissive, as the law also says." (1 Corinthians 14:34)

"Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her as a covering." (1 Corinthians 11:13-15)

"But if ... evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones..." (Deuteronomy 22:20,21)

"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched." (Mark 9:43)

"Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ." (Ephesians 6:5)

"Slaves, obey your human masters in everything; don't work only while being watched, in order to please men, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord." (Colassians 3:22)

"Slaves are to be submissive to their masters in everything, and to be well-pleasing, not talking back ." (Titus 2:9)

"Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. " (1 Peter 2:18)

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