#4  (The Church’s Stance While Awaiting Christ’s Return Series)




TEXT:         1 Thess. 5:16   2 Cor. 6:4-10   Jn. 16:22   Philip. 4:4


INTRO:       One of the 3 great promises of the Declaration of Independence (i.e. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”) is the pursuit of happiness ... or joy.  Biblical joy however goes far beyond mere happiness ... in fact it is much greater than simple happiness!


For Christians, JOY is not something you have to earn ... IT IS SOME­THING YOU ALREADY HAVE – but you might not even know it!  Indeed, you might have it in Christ and yet not have discovered it:


ILLUS:     The great newspaper publisher of the early 20th century, William Randolph Hearst, was a great patron of ART works, he spent a great deal of time and money collecting great works of art.  One day he found a description of an artwork that he felt he must own so he sent agents around the world looking for it.  After months of searching for this one piece overseas they returned empty-handed, but they discovered some amazing information.  The art work was actually near-by, it was found in a warehouse owned by William Randolph Hearst!!!  HE ALREADY OWNED IT BUT HAD FAILED YEARS EARLIER TO UNCRATE IT.  HE HAD BEEN SEARCHING FOR A TREASURE HE ALREADY HAD BUT DIDN'T REALIZE HE HAD IT! – Source Unknown


This is true of Christian JOY … we have it already in Christ; we just need to discover it and enjoy it!  To find anything however, you must know what it is you’re looking for.  So, we are going to look at Christian joy ... something every saved person possesses in Christ!


PROP.SENT:     The Bible teaches us that Christians are to be joyful in Christ, that Biblical joy is not a simple feeling but a frame of mind and established on a relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is not fleeting like feelings, it is the knowledge that we are never victims, we are always VICTORS!  Victors by nature are joyful people!


I.   THE COMMAND OF JOYFULNESS    1 Thess. 5:16a   Philip. 4:4


A.   Requirements    1 Thess. 5:16a   Philip. 4:4

1.   "BE JOYFUL!"

a.   In Greek the verb is in the present IMPERATIVE: 2nd person plural ... meaning it is a command for the whole church!

b.   This is not a suggestion!

2.   This is consistent with Paul’s other writings to churches in the New Testament:


b.   In literature anything that was repeated was done so for strong emphasis!

c.   In fact the entire letter to the church in Philippi was based on the theme of JOY; the word was used more than any other!

d.   In light of the fact that Paul wrote from a prison cell facing possible death makes the theme even more remarkable!

e.   To the Philippians it was also a command and not a suggestion!

3.   It wasn't meant for those Christians who had nice backgrounds only; it was for all Christians of all time!

4.   If you are not experiencing Christian joy ... something is wrong!

a.   Either you don't understand it.

b.   Or you are not looking for it.

c.   Or you are too stubborn to allow it to rule in you!

5.   Sometimes we fail to experience Christian Joy because we are not focused properly ... we only see the present sufferings:


ILLUS:     Many years ago a sailing ship was lost in a terrible storm at sea in a very deserted area of the ocean.  Only one man survived the storm, being washed upon a deserted island.  In his desperation he daily prayed to God for deliverance and help.  Each day he hoped, but no one came, not even a passing ship.  He managed to store a few things from the ship that floated ashore, and he even built a crude hut ... everything in the world he had left he kept in that hut.  One day while returning from a hunt for food he looked up toward his crude hut to discover it was on fire.  Now everything was lost ... he ran to it but it was too late to save any­thing!  He fell into a deep depression and couldn't sleep that night, angry at a God who answered a cry for help this way!  He began question­ing whether life was really worth living!  As dawn broke he rose up and went down to the shoreline, and to his amazement he saw a rowboat coming toward him with a larger ship off-shore!  Once aboard ship he discovered that the captain would not have known about him had it not been for the signal fire he thought the man had made ... the man's last straw was actually a God-send for his rescue!  Do not despair when calamity strikes, God is always able to bring blessing out of curses!  This KNOWLEDGE IS WHAT GIVES US OUR JOY, not the circumstances of each trial! – Source Unknown


6.   This is where Romans 8:28 comes in ... “ALL THINGS WORK TO OUR GOOD!”



B.   Reasons:

1.   While the individual ingredients in our life aren't always pleasant the combination of our entire life will reveal a God who loves us and is always working on something good for us!


ILLUS:     Like a cake; while few of the individual ingredients are tasty, such as baking soda or powder … who would like a teaspoon of that by itself!?  Or, who would eat the raw eggs by themselves, or just the flour alone, or just the extracts added alone!  Most of the ingredients alone would gag us ... but blended together they are one tasty treat of desirable texture!  The finished product brings great joy to those who partake of it!  So in our life in Christ, some individual experiences may not be pleasant but blended together in our entire walk with God we will know Biblical joy as God works out His Will for our good! – Source Unknown


2.   The reason a Christian can experience joy even in the midst of great pain or a painful struggle is the knowledge that God is ALWAYS IN CONTROL!

a.   There are no accidents for the believer!

b.   Satan has no authority over us unless permitted by God, and God never permits anything that will destroy us, only our own bitterness can rob us of JOY, or anger and resentment!

c.   If you are in a trial right now it is completely within God's knowledge and approval ... and the outcome will be good when it gets here!  Hang on to your joy in the Lord in the meantime!

3.   Paul not only gave this advice ... he practiced it!

a.   This is evident in the themes of his books, mostly written from prison cells or following beatings and scourges!

b.   Paul wrote a great deal about joy and love while experiencing a great deal of rejection and pain in his life; even facing death frequently!  It WORKS!!!

4.   Other reasons to be "joyful."

a.   It is the only way to survive this world and still be happy!

b.   It sets us apart from the world ... an unbeliever’s joy is tied to the things of this world ... OUR JOY IS TIED TO THE THINGS OF ANOTHER WORLD!

c.   It keeps us strong during trials we can't understand!

d.   It gives meaning to meaningless experiences!

e.   It enables us to stay on course when a storm is overwhelming us.


II.  THE CONCEPT OF JOYFULNESS   1 Thess. 5:16b;   2 Cor. 6:4-10


A.   Relational    2 Cor. 6:4-10

1.   Paul keeps everything in perspective, even the worst that this life can throw at us is really powerless to destroy us or defeat us if we keep our focus and our joy in Christ!

a.   “As servants of God …”

(1.   Great endurance;

(2.   In troubles, hardships, and distresses; 6:4

(3.   In beatings, imprisonments and riots; 6:5

(4.   In hard work, sleepless nights and hunger 6:5b

(5.   In purity, understanding, patience and kindness; 6:6a

(6.   In the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; ... etc. 6:6b-8a

b.   “Genuine ... yet regarded as imposters; known yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; SORROWFUL, YET ALWAYS REJOICING:  poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything!”

2.   It is obvious from such a list as this that Paul equates the Biblical nature of JOY as something more than just a feeling!

a.   It is obviously based on something more substantial than just how we feel; it is based on WHO WE ARE RELATED TO – JESUS CHRIST!

b.   Biblical joy has little to do with feelings, but a great deal to do with my relationship with Jesus Christ!

c.   If you are in Christ YOU CAN BE JOYFUL ... no matter your present circumstances or trials!

3.   "IN HIM ..."

a.   “We move and have our being”

b.   “We are more than conquerors”

c.   “We already dwell in heavenly places”

d.   “All things are possible!”

4.   The secret to Biblical joy is being IN HIM!


B.   Renewal    1 Thess. 5:16b

1.   This kind of Joy can renew your spirit no matter what trial you still are going through!

2.   What enabled Paul and Silas to sing at midnight while in prison ... facing a death sentence after being beaten up all day long!?

a.   It was their joy in Christ that allowed them to sing!

b.   It renewed their spirit even after a pretty rough day! (Or decade!).  Biblical joy rooted in our relationship with Jesus Christ can enable us to be joyful and help us to put aside the painful trials for the moment!


ILLUS:     A carpenter that was hired to help restore an old farmhouse had just finished up a rough first day on the job.  A flat tire had made him late to start work his first day, his electric saw had quit, and now his pickup truck refused to start.  As he rode home with a friend, he sat in stony silence.  At home finally, he walked toward the front door, paused briefly at a small tree to just touch the leaves, and entered his house ... he underwent a tremendous transformation however as he entered!  He came in smiling, hugging his kids and wife!  What brought on this transformation was a ritual he had come to practice.  He had dubbed this small tree his "trouble tree."  He knew he couldn't avoid problems in life, but he didn't want to carry them into his home and have them rob his relationships of joy.  Everyday, he stopped and touched this tree, symbolically transferring all his problems to the tree so he could enter trouble free his home and his relationships.  Each morning on the way out he touched the tree again to pick up the problems so he could deal with them.  However, in the morning they always seemed lighter or fewer!  This is what happened to us when we touched Jesus Christ; we transferred the burdens to Him who loves us, what a joy is ours because of our relationship Jesus bought on that tree! – Source Unknown


4.   We can experience real renewal in the relationship we have in Christ; we experience a real transformation no matter how many trials we undergo when we have touched our Lord!


III. THE CONTINUATION OF JOY!   1 Thess. 5:16c  John 16:22


A.   Revelation     1 Thess. 5:16c

1.   "Always" ... this joy was meant to go on forever ... no end!

2.   It is not a momentary thing … it is a permanent dynamic!

3.   How many people in this world are joyful ALWAYS?  Christians can be!

a.   Remember, we are not talking about an EMOTIONAL STATE - IT IS A RELATIONAL ONE!

b.   This is one of the unique features of Christianity ... the joy that emanates from us all the time ... irrespective of circum­stances!

4.   How tragic so many Christians don't realize this great truth ... it has not been revealed to them about their wealth of joy in Christ!


ILLUS:     A man who had been a drunkard on Chicago's Skid Row for many years came to a mission one night.  He heard the message, ate the meal, and went to bed.  That was his last night on earth, he died poverty stricken and friendless, never to see another day.  What he did not know was that he had inherited over 4 million dollars in England.  The authorities had searched in vain for him but were unable to find him because he had no address.  He was unaware of the riches that belonged to him and so he died miserable and poor!  DO YOU KNOW THAT GOD HAS GIVEN US GREAT JOY IN CHRIST! -- Or are you miserable and poor not realizing your real wealth in Christ? – Source Unknown


B.   Reassurance     John 16:22

1.   Yes, there are times of tears, and anger and frustration, fear and loneliness ... but these times will all be temporary for those in Christ.  Jesus has reassured us that this will not last or be a permanent state!

a.   Jesus reassures the disciples that the pain they were experiencing for the moment will disappear in time and that the joy that comes will never be taken away from them!  Jn. 16:22

b.   (SEE ALSO JOHN 15:11) Jesus has always intended for our joy to be complete ... and it is IN HIM!

2.   The "MISERABLE SAINT" breaks the heart of God as well as deprives himself and others of the life of Christianity.  We are not poverty stricken when it comes to joy, some only act like it!


ILLUS:      One of the greatest misers of the 20th century was a miserable rich woman named Hetty Green.  She died in 1915 with over $1,000,000!  She however ate cold oatmeal because she considered it too expensive to heat it; her son had to suffer through a leg amputation unnecessarily because Hetty Green wasted time looking for a free clinic to do the surgery!  She finally died because of a stroke she suffered while becoming too excited over a discussion about the value of drinking skimmed milk to save money.  She had unlimited wealth at her disposal but failed to enjoy it because she chose to live in poverty instead!  How many Christians do this with JOY!?  In Christ they are rich in joy, but they choose to live miserable examples of Christian life! – Source Unknown


3.   There is no excuse for a believer not to experience genuine Christian ­joy!

4.   Jesus gave all assurances that it would be available to those that sought it!


a.   The Bible doesn't ask us to do what can’t be done!

b.   Get off the sour-puss kick and enjoy the joy that is ours in Christ Jesus!

c.   If you need to cry at times or feel angry … fine, but don't live in this state!  Touch the tree (the cross) and leave your burdens there, and enjoy the transformation Christ brings to your life!

d.   "Oh what joy divine, is mine ... leaning on the everlasting arms.”


CONCLUSION:   Christian joy is not so much a feeling as much as it is a fact!  It is a state of mind that realizes God is in control of everything in our lives ... even sorrowful events will yield positive results as God guides those events and us!  Therefore we can rejoice always.  It is a fact of our relationship to Christ that brings inward joy!