...Pastor Bob Norton
The way of discipleship is the way of joy. Jesus spoke of His vital connection with His disciples, “I am the vine and you are the branches” (John 15:5) “If a man lives in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” The fruit of joy is part of the evidence that Christ is in our lives (Galatians 5:22). The surest mark of a Christian is not faith, or even love, but joy (Samuel Shoemaker). After telling of the vine and the branches, Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).
Are we experiencing the fullness of His joy? So many church people have a “white-knuckle grip” on life. Filled by worry and anxiety, we let the cares of life rob us of the joy of living Jesus intends for His disciples. Some folks look like they were baptized in lemon juice and never got over it! William Barclay remarked, “A gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms, and nothing in all religious history has done Christianity more harm than its connection with black clothes and long faces.” Joy is to be the winsome magnet that draws people to Christ because it is the one thing they do not have, but want so desperately.
Ask the living Christ for His gift of joy! Joy is your birthright (Luke 2:10). Joy is your destiny. You were chosen for joy. Joy is the flag that flies over the castle of our hearts announcing that the King is residence today. Ask and you will receive (John 15:7). The Lord wants you to be empowered by joy Nehemiah 8:10). The Lord wants your perspective on life to be filled with hope and joy during good times and hard times (Habakkuk 3:16-19). He will gladly give you joy in His presence (Psalm 16:11). French scientist Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” Ask Him into your life anew that you might be filled with His joy.
Focus your quest for joy on the Lord Himself! The apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians (called ”the epistle of joy”) from a Roman prison. His circumstances were deplorable, but he modeled for us how to experience the joy of the Lord in the midst of great adversity. Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) Paul was not rejoicing in his circumstances. He was rejoicing in the Lord. That is why he could write in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Be joyful always”. Where is your focus? Are you consumed and distracted by your circumstances? Or are you focused on Christ Himself, the man of joy?
If Church of the Resurrection was filled with the joy of the Lord, we couldn’t build a sanctuary large enough to contain all the joyful worshippers, all the people seeking to know the overflowing joy that only Christ Himself bestows. We live in a world filled with sorrows, but remember Jesus said, “Your sorrows will turn to joy!” (John 16:20) When the risen, reigning Christ fills His Church joy will overflow!