Wednesday, January 05, 2011
War for Joy (3)
how we war to take back our joy: we get God.
In Matthew 13, Jesus tells a story that makes this point.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Matthew 13:44 (ESV)
Colossians 2 says that in Jesus are hidden all the treasures. He is the treasure. So, you do whatever you have to do to get that treasure – to get Jesus.
This man sold everything he had, and, notice, he did it with joy. “In his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” The treasure is so valuable that losing everything on earth, but getting the treasure, is a happy trade-off. That’s the main point.
We can lose everything with joy if we gain Christ. Don’t miss the word “joy” in this verse: “In his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” The loss of all things is not sad if we get God – if we gain Christ.
A pastor tells the story of his sister who lost her husband to cancer earlier in the year. This husband was in his fifties. He had been a faithful follower of Christ. The wife was sitting by his special bed set up for him at home, wiping his forehead in his last hours. She seemed steady and joyful. One visitor became irritated and asked, “How can you be so [joyful] when something so evil is happening? She answered, “My husband [is a sinner who] deserves to go to hell (like you and me). [But] because… Christ [is his treasure], in a few hours, my husband will be with God in heaven. Is that not worth rejoicing about?”
When I get God – when I get Jesus – I get joy! Even if the presents under the tree aren’t piled very high. Jesus gives me what money can’t buy and what death can’t take away. Forgiveness. Hope. Freedom. Purpose. Meaning. Worth. Heaven.
Sometimes, when things are going badly, we can too easily forget what all we have in Jesus. And sometimes, when things are going well and the presents are piled high under the tree, we can too easily forget that we have only one sure, immovable, dependable source of joy: Jesus.
May our decorations, gifts, and festivities—or lack of them—never block our view of our treasure in Jesus, but always point us to Him. Get God and get joy. Jesus is your joy. He is not the means to the end. He is the end and the means. You gotta connect the dots from Jesus to joy. It’s why we are told:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Philippians 4:4 (ESV)
Notice the phrase “in the Lord.” We rejoice “in the Lord.”
Don’t fake it. Whether you have lost someone you love and you are going to be alone for the very first time this Christmas or whether you are going to be alone for the 45th time because you haven’t yet found the man or the woman of your dreams, you can still be joyful in Jesus. God is saying, “Christ has come so you can war for more joy. Get God.”
how we war to take back our joy: we come close.
Some of us have Jesus as our treasure. We got God. But we are still like that ranting George Bailey. What’s wrong? We are far from the God we got!
In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11b (ESV)
It’s when you are in His presence that you experience His joy. If the devil can’t keep you from God, he will try to keep you far from God. Are you close or are you far… right now, today?
You say, “What’s the big deal about being close to God? How will that increase my joy?” Think about it. The character – the nature – of a person you hang out with will impact you, will “rub off” on you. Hang around a miserable person and you will be more miserable. Misery loves company, right? Hang around a joyful person and you will be more joyful.
Now, maybe you’ve never thought about this before, but Jesus is the most joyous Person in the universe. You may have come out of a religious background that has taught you that God is ticked, that He’s always just waiting to zap us with lightning bolts. God does hate sin because it hurts people and he loves people. That’s why the Bible says that He’s angry with the wicked every day.
But I want you to see something in Hebrews that maybe you’ve not noticed before. It describes an anointing that God the Father has given to Jesus, God the Son.
God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness beyond Your companions.
Hebrews 1:9 (ESV)
“The oil of gladness beyond Your companions.” I looked this phrase up in a few other versions. God has…
… made You happier than any of Your friends (CEV).
… [poured] out the oil of joy on You more than on anyone else (NLT).
… poured out happiness on You, more than on those who are with You (WE).
Jesus is the most joyous Person in the universe. As Isaiah 53 says, He looks at what He has done to save His people and glorify His Father and He is satisfied.
Why wouldn’t we want to hang around the most joyous Person in the universe? He’s inviting you to come close. Read your Bible. Pray. Worship. Serve. Let His joy be contagious. Catch it.
Take worship. What if you came closer to God through worship? You will get more joy.
C.S. Lewis once wrote about the relationship between joy and praise – between joy and worship.
"I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise...
The world rings with praise-lovers praising their [partners], readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game-praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars.
I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: "Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?"
We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment."
Maybe you are reading this and you’ve been excited in the past about a family gathering over the holidays. But every year, someone misbehaves and it becomes a source of great pain. If your time with your family is awful, can you still find joy? It can if you come close to Jesus. God is saying, “Christ has come so you can war for more joy. Come close.” See, joy is not about your family, but it’s to be shared with your family.
How we war to take back our joy: we stay filled.
What is in you?
Be filled with the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18b (ESV)
What does it mean when we are filled with the Spirit?
The fruit of the Spirit is… joy…
Galatians 5:22 (ESV)
Maybe this year you thought, “I already know that my Christmas this year won’t live up to my own past Christmases.” Or, “I already know that my Christmas this year won’t meet my hopes and dreams for what I thought it would be.” God is saying, “Christ has come so you can war for more joy. Stay filled.”