Crossroads Church
People on mission with God
Worship with
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starting at 10AM
Crossroads Church
People on mission with God
www.crossroadschurchcma.org
175 County Road 78, Middletown NY 10940
845-343-8267

Digging Deeper

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS JOY


Posted: 4/24/2013

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 

1 Peter 1:6-9

Opening Illustration: A Good Laugh

Did you know that laughter really is medicine?  Let’s prove it to each other. Have someone in the class tell a good joke. Maybe have several folks try until you get one that has just about everyone chuckling. Now think about this: Laughing produces well-documented physical benefits similar to those obtained through vigorous physical exercise. When you tip your head back and cackle aloud, muscles in the abdomen, chest, shoulders, and elsewhere contract, while the heart rate and blood pressure increase. In one burst of this activity, the pulse can double from 60 to 120, while systolic blood pressure can shoot from a normal 120 to 200. Once laughing ceases, heartbeat and blood pressure dip below normal—a sign of reduced stress.

Joy and Happiness Are Not the Same

The Bible teaches that Christians experience joy.  Joy is often thought of as a form of happiness or the same as being happy, but they are not the same thing. Joy is a specific spiritual characteristic of a Christ follower. The Bible instructs us to be joyful and rejoice nearly 400 times. The word rejoice appears in God’s Word over 150 times.  Joy in Christ is “gladness or delight in spite of present or extenuating circumstances.” The Greek word for joy, chara, is closely related to the Greek word for grace, charis. In fact, it is the grace of Christ that produces joy in the life of a Christ-follower. Joy is not an emotion, but rather an attitude. No you can tell you to feel happy if you are not—but you can choose to be joyful in spite of your circumstances.

Happiness, on the other hand, comes from the old English word happ, which literally means “chance”. It corresponds to the Latin fortuna which means “luck.” These words suggest that if things just happen the way we want them to, we’ll be happy. But if things don’t work out the way we want, then we’ll be unhappy. Happiness, then, has everything to do with the now—what’s happening, what our circumstances are, what the conditions happen to be. Happiness is temporary and fickle; joy is permanent and settled. Work with your class to fill in this table contrasting happiness and joy:

Happiness                                                                   Joy

External                                                                       Internal

Depends on outward circumstances                           Depends on inward character

Depends on what happens                                          Depends on Who lives within us

Based on chance                                                         Based on choice

Read the Scripture: In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:6-9

To Discuss:

•     What is the difference between happiness and joy?

•     Where does happiness come from? Where does joy come from?

•     Can you choose to be happy?  To be joyful?

•     Can you be joyful in the midst of grief or trials?  How?

Influential People Are Joyful People

Each aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit is unique. While love, the characteristic we studied last week, is most often shown outwardly, through our actions, joy is focused more inwardly, as a part of our attitude. Both of these—actions and attitudes—are forms of Christian character. They feed off one another, actions producing attitudes, attitudes resulting in actions. The Bible tells us that the world will know us because of our love (John 15). And the Bible also tells us to be joyful—always (Philippians 4:4).

Were does joy in the life of a Christian come from? Let’s quickly look at five “sources” for joy in the life of a Christ-follower:

Joy Is a Consequence of Faith

In Philippians 1, the Apostle Paul talks confidently about His faith in God, relating to the readers that whether He lives or dies is of no consequence, for Christ is honored either way. Joy comes from having “a confident trust”—or faith—in God. Without faith in God, we cannot experience abiding joy.  Faith is essential, because it dispels the attitudes that prevent joy from occurring, like “worry” (Matthew 6:25-30), or “doubt” or “fear” (Matthew 14:27-31).

Where does faith come from? We know that the Word of God produces faith (Romans 10:17) and that, in turn, produces joy (Romans 15:13).  Jesus’ very teachings—His words—are also designed to give us joy (John 15:11, 17:13).  The more we know God through His Word, the more worry, doubt and fear give way to faith, and that faith produces joy. So faith, and God’s Word, are foundational for real joy.

To Discuss:

•     Where does faith come from?

•     What is the relationship between the Word of God and faith?

•     Can we have real joy without faith?

•     How are worry, doubt and fear related to joy?

 Joy Is the Result of Obedience

Obedience to the Word of God fosters joy in the hearts of the obedient. Read these three accounts of joy resulting from obedience in the early church:

•     The conversion of the Samaritans, Acts 8:5-8

•     The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8:35-39

•     The conversion of the Thessalonians 1 Thessalonians 1:6

In the New Testament we also see the opposite is true—that disobedience dispels joy and produces fear (Hebrews 10:26-27).

To Discuss:

•     Is it possible, based on these verses, that lack of joy is an indication of lack of obedience on the part of the believer? Why or why not?

Joy Is Based on Forgiveness

The guilt of sin is a major reason why many people lack joy. Guilt causes stress, unhappiness and worry. Paul illustrates the condition of someone struggling with sin (Romans 7:22-24) as one filled with guilt and shame. But where there is forgiveness, there can be real joy!

Psalm 32 is a great account by David of the joy or “blessedness” that comes to someone who knows his sins have been forgiven. We see his “heaviness” give way to joy as we read his account of forgiveness.

Read the Scripture: Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Psalm 32:1-5, 10-11

To Discuss:

•     How does the Psalmist describe how the guilt of sin affected him inwardly?

•     How does he describe the result of being forgiven?

•     Do you believe that guilt over sin can keep us from experiencing joy?  Why or why not?

Joy Comes from Christian Fellowship

Throughout the New Testament we see many examples of joy being brought about as believers grew closer to one another and spent time with one another.

Paul experienced joy by witnessing love and fellowship in Philemon (Philemon 7). He also found great joy in learning of the restoration of brethren (2 Corinthians 7:7).  He rejoiced in the fellowship he had with the Philippians (Philippians 4:10). And John spoke of the joy that comes from Christian fellowship reunited (2 John 12).

To Discuss:

•     Are you developing and nurturing the kind of Christian fellowship that results in joy?  How?

Joy Comes from Christian Service

Finally, we see joy as a result of the spreading of the Gospel.

•     Barnabas rejoiced in the conversions at Antioch (Acts 11:20-23).

•     The Christian Jews delighted to hear of the conversion of the Gentiles (Acts 15:3).

•     Seeing the spiritual progress of others was a great source of joy for Paul (Romans 16:19, Colossians 2:5,

      1 Thessalonians 3:6-9).

•     John wrote that this was among the highest forms of joy (3 John 4).

•     Jesus spoke of the blessedness (joy) of giving to others (Acts 20:35).

All those who are willing to become involved in serving the Lord, whether through teaching, giving of time, energy or money, or sharing their faith, will experience joy from such service!

To discuss:

•     What acts of service or how does serving Christ result in joy in your own life? (Give examples if you have

      them.)

•     Can our service to others also produce joy in the lives of fellow believers? How?

Living it out:

This week review the five sources of joy we talked about in Scripture and choose to “create joy” in your life as you live one or more of them out:

•     Faith in Christ.

•     Obedience to Christ.

•     Experiencing forgiveness.

•     A result of Christian fellowship.

•     A result of Christian service.

Scripture to memorize:

“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10