That My Joy Remain

 

(John 15:11 KJV)  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

 

No Box

                                                There is no box made by God nor us

                                                But that the sides can be flattened out

                                                And the top blown off

                                                To make a dance floor on which

                                                To celebrate life.

 

            I have had the most wonderful week. I have to be completely honest with you all. For the past year or so, I have been in a spiritual spiral downward. Oh, do not get me wrong, I kept my faith in God and never lost sight of Christ but it was not like the revival spirit that I had back in the late 90’s. I remember the fire of God burning within my bones. I knew that God had a wonderful plan for my life and anything was possible through Him. I mean I was on fire. Have you ever been on fire for God? There is nothing like it. You know something? I thought it was never going to end. And it didn’t have to. The sad truth is it took me this long to realize that I had lost that fire. It is kind of like the old story of how to boil a frog.  If you place a frog in boiling hot water it will quickly jump out. But if you put the frog in nice warm water and slowly turn up the temperature he will stay right in the pot until he is boiled up. Have you checked your spiritual thermometer lately?

      So the thing that really made this week so great for me was my ability to get in touch with that on fire Pastor that I was back in 96, 97 and early 98. And I owe a debt of gratitude to my wife. You see she saved all these old sermons of mine on tape. Finally she told me that I should take them to work with me and listen to them while I am driving and see for myself the difference. And what a difference. I preached to myself from a time past all week long. I listened to messages on repentance, revival, prayer, evangelism, evangelism and more evangelism. I really had a heart for the lost back then. At first it  saddened me because of how much younger I sounded and how full of life I was. It was as if I was listening to a man that had died.  But it did not take long of hearing some of the real bad jokes that I told until I realized that that man was still within me screaming to get out.

            One great truth that I will let you in on right now is that “Faith comes by hearing the word of God.” Now listen to what that just said. It did not say that faith comes by what you heard, it comes from what you are hearing right now, every now throughout your day and into the night. Satan had been robing my joy by slowly boiling me in the world of his words, not God’s word. I am talking about all the time I was spending in front of the television. All the time I was spending listening to secular radio while I drove my work van. All the time I did not spend in the word of God. You see when I was in Bible college I had to spend hours every night in the word. Then I graduated and slowly began to let the time I spent with God slip.

            But guess what? I’MMMMM BAAAACKKKK!!!!!!!! God is so good. I mean REALLY, REALLY, GOOD. Today I want to give you a quick little formula that I hope will help you take back what the enemy has stolen from you. And for those of you that may not have ever experienced the revival fires of God, strap on your seat belts because God is about to rock your world.

            The scripture verse above is key to our being full of the joy of the Lord. But maybe first you need to get a glimpse of the depth of  His joy. You may have heard the expression “joy unspeakable,” but let’s take a quick look at where that verse is found in the Bible and then we will get back to the formula.

            (1 Pet 1:6 - 10 KJV)  Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

            I need to give you a clear picture of what this passage of scripture is telling us today. At first glance it might seem to say that even in the midst of the toughest times we need not have a heavy heart, but rather we can be full of the joy of the Lord to the over flowing. Charles Spurgeon gives a wonderful illustration of what this passage is most truly trying to impart onto us. Imagine if you will a man of God facing persecution and slanderous remarks from the people of his own church body. This man is so strong in his faith that he would never let these remarks or other people talking about him get him down. Even if this man was to face great danger lost in the depths of the sea or stranded on a deserted island he would never so much as loose even a glimmer of the expression of joy upon his face. And then when it comes to the putting to death of this man of God he goes to the gallows with pride and his head held high. Yes now I encourage you all to keep that spirit of strength with you, but it is not very realistic is it? Realistically we hurt when our friends let us down. We experience times of fear and even some depression in our times of solitude. And when we are on death’s door or one of our friends or loved ones has entered though that portal we know that the heaviness can at times be even more than we can bare. So what this verse is telling us is that even when you have a heavy heart can be encouraged knowing there is a time coming when every tear will be wiped away and every sorrow turned into joy like you can not even imagine.

            One other point with this is for us to realize that the sorrow we are experiencing should lead us out of that which is causing it. It is natural to feel and experience sorrow but if you wallow in it then satan is taking that which is natural and beneficial and once again perverting it to rob you of your calling. Stay with me here. Because we are getting into the main point of the message that God has for us. You have been called of God, By God unto good works which He has prepared for you to do from the foundation of the earth. In fact that is why you have been saved. Read with me Ephesians 2: 8-10 (NIV)  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

            Now lets get it square within our hearts and minds who we want to serve. Who is our Lord? Who’s Father are we? Who is it that dwells within us? If it be Christ than we can be assured that greater is He who is within us then he who is in the world. When you make the conscious decision to accept Jesus into you heart as your Lord and savior, and I am not talking about the decision that you made years ago, I am talking about right now. Letting Jesus in right now. Every second of every day. It is great to go to church or have times of fellowship with other believers, but God wants to be all over you all the time. Jesus wants His joy to remain in you even when you are alone. Even when you are in pain. Even when you are experiencing a heavy heart. Have you ever had a friend that was always there just to hold your hand when you needed someone? They did not need to say anything. In fact you really did not want to be cheered up at the time you just wanted someone to feel your pain with you. Well I want you to know, more than that, I want you to feel, and experience the life changing reality of the presence of God. It is in these times of heaviness that we know He is with us. It is in these times of heaviness that we know we NEED HIM. It is when our cup is empty that He can fill us with His joy and if we can quickly now look at our scripture I believe you will discover the mystery of allowing His joy to remain and your joy being full.

1st. If we read back in the beginning of the 15th chapter of John we discover that Jesus is talking about how we need to “abide in Him.” (John 15:4 KJV)  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

            What we are looking at is the “These things” that Jesus was talking about in our scripture verse. The first thing that we need to do is to make sure that we are tapped into Jesus. In order to keep this message somewhat brief we are going to jump right to the next thing which is found in (John 15:8 KJV) Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

            We will bear fruit when we are really grafted into the power of God, which is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the resurrection power of the one and only true living God that is able to change us, and make us to bear an abundance of fruit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness and self-control flow through us as we move into the third step of God’s formula for joy which is found in (John 15:10 KJV)  If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

            Now I think you are starting to get it, lets cut right to the revelation; (John 15:12 KJV)  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

            Do you want to experience the true joy of the Lord? Do you want His joy to remain within you?  Do you want to once again to experience those winds of revival in your life? Would you like to feel the power of God coursing though your veins and know within your heart that you are doing that which you have been called to do?  Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came to give us an example of not only how we can live but also what we should do. If you are tired of the mundane, If you have sat in heaviness long enough then it is time to renew the joy of your salvation.

            The mystery is clear. Give and it will be given, pressed down shaken together and pouring over. Do you want joy, then give a little joy to someone else and watch and see if you do not get it back ten fold. Give a little more and see if it is not returned to you thirty fold. The more you give in the name of the Lord the more you will have come back to you in great store. So what is it you lack today?  If anything came to your mind other than Jesus then you will find it hard to receive it. But as we seek Him and we discover the good works that he has called us to do we freely receive. So let the Joy of the Lord come into your life and remain, and let your joy be full.

            Pray with me now:

           

            Heavenly Father we come before your throne in the precious name of Jesus. Lord forgive me of all my sins and cleans me from all unrighteousness. All my sins I confess to you. All my known and unknown sins I ask for your forgiveness and mercy. All the sins that I have committed and yes Lord all the sins that I committed by not doing what you have called me to do. Lord I have been away from you long enough and I ask you to welcome me back into your loving arms. I know that you have never left me nor forsaken me but Lord I right now desire a closer walk with you. I desire your Holy Spirit to be within me, filling every fiber of my being. I ask for your Holy Spirit to come upon me giving me strength and boldness to overcome every trial and temptation. I ask for your Holy Spirit to be along side me to give me comfort in my times of heaviness, lifting me gently out of the depths of despair unto new hights of joy unspeakable and full of the glory in You. Thank you Jesus; thank you Father Thank you Holy Spirit. I accept you right now and surrender my broken heart over to you that you might use me for your glory in Jesus Name; Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.

And Amen