Key Text: Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
- Key Text: Matthew 25:14 – 30
- Theme of text: God expects his servants to be fruitful.
- Third servant: failed to be profitable because he misjudged the character of the Master (Jesus).
Question: Any feedback on last week and the exercise?
This week, want to pick up from what Jesus wants to say to each of us “Well done good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your master.” (Matt 25:21, 23).
Question: Australians are famous for the “Tall Poppy Syndrome”. What does it mean? Why do we do it?
I think, in terms of last week’s subject, we bury other people’s talents because we don’t take joy in other people succeeding. I also believe this happens a great deal in the church e.g. don’t pray for others to grow in God’s gifts, a reason for this is that most of the church is “spiritually passive”.
Question: What do you think I mean by “spiritually passive”?
No spiritual initiatives e.g. in services. We have developed a (non-biblical) form of church where only a few people and at set times can contribute.
Talk today about God’s joy in his gifts. Cf. parents watching children open gifts on Christmas day.
Look up Proverbs 8:27- 31
27 When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep,29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,30 then I was beside him, like a master worker;and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.
Question: What does this passage teach us about how God felt about making people?
God was excited about creating us in his image. (The joy of parents at the birth of a child partly reflects this.) God made people for his enjoyment. From eternity he wanted to enjoy us.
Gen 1- 2 Eden means “delight”. JY walking through stillness of forest in Canada, perfect day, “This is how Adam and Eve must have felt like in Eden.”
Joy is the ultimate truth about creation and our greatest joy is God’s life indwelling our lives. The joy of personal intimacy. As long as Adam and Eve fellowshipped with God they experienced extreme joy. cf. Acts 14:17 “he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness”. 1Tim6:17 “God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment ”
Look up Genesis 2:16-17
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
N.B. the tree was “pleasant to the sight and good for food” (Gen 2:9; 3:6).
Question: In terms of today’s topic, why did God forbid them to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
God doesn’t enjoy everything, i.e. he does not enjoy evil,he hates it. Everything that God loves can be enjoyed, but what God hates must be hated. To enjoy God we must love good and hate evil.
6 Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. Your royal sceptre is a sceptre of equity;7 you love righteousness and hate wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions (Ps 45:6- 7)
Adam and Eve were like modern Australians, wanted to live solely in enjoyment – something God himself cannot do until evil is destroyed. They preferred to disobey God and lose the enjoyment of his fellowship rather than miss out on the opportunity for uninterrupted pleasure. They didn’t care that they were depriving God of the enjoyment of them.
Question: What was the result of the Fall?
Spiritual joy is replaced by terrible guilt and shame and fear of God’s judgement (Gen 3:7- 10). (Cf. Children unable to please their parents.)
The absence of joy points to sin e.g. after committing adultery and murder David prays that “the joy of salvation” be restored (Ps 51:12).
Plan of Redemption
God always had a plan to save his people and joy was vital to this plan.
Look up Nehemiah 8:10 and Philippians 4:4
10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’’ (Neh 8:10)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice (Phil 4:4)
Question: What do these texts teach us about the importance of joy for everyday Christian living?
The prophets foretold a future time when the sort of joy that was in Eden would be restored.
Look up Isaiah 9:3 and 66:10- 11
“3 You have multiplied the nation you have increased its joy they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.”
\10 Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her— 11 that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom.
God’s final goal for his creation is pure joy – when all evil, suffering and judgement are taken away.
Question: Can you think of some ways in which Jesus was a person of joy?
Luke 3:21- 22, the Father’s joy is dwelling in the Son; Luke 10:21“rejoiced in the Holy Spirit”. Jesus’ presence at meals and weddings. Parables e.g. of banquets; Luke 15 “rejoice with me”. Promise that when the Spirit comes we will share his joy (John 15:11;16:20– 24;17:13).
Strangely(for us) the thing that shows us how much joy meant to Jesus is the cross.
Go back and read Hebrews 12:1-2.
Question: What was Jesus’ joy?
Bringing joy to the Father by giving him sons and daughters; “in bringing many children to glory” ““Here am I and the children whom God has given me.””(Heb 2:10,13).
Question: What happened at the cross to restore fellowship God’s joy in us? Hint: Ezek 33:11 “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live”
34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Elo-i, Elo-i, lama sabach-thani?” which means, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
Jesus takes the full judgement of God = total spiritual joylessness in which God is not known as Father.
Look up Luke 24:41, 52
Question: How did the disciples feel after Jesus’ resurrection? How should we feel?
In Jesus, all evil and judgement has been taken away. The totality of the Father’s joy is now in Jesus without anything (sin, death, Satan) to get in the way.
The great Puritan John Owen said of Jesus, “his heart is glad in us, without sorrow. And every day is his wedding- day” (John Owen Works II, 118).
Look up Zephaniah 3:17
17 The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing
If Jesus lives in us then all of the Father’s joy is dwelling in us (John 15:11;16:20- 24;17:13); “complete joy” “no one will take away your joy”
The one who communicates this joy between the Father and Son is the Holy Spirit, wherever there are outpourings of the Holy Spirit in scripture there are outpourings of joy (Acts 2:46; 8:8;13:52; 15:3; Rom 14:17; Gal 5:22).
This joy does not run out. cf. JY Western Desert talking with aboriginal Christian who had gone back on the grog because of the death of his father. He mentioned a well of water in Warburton that never runs dry. As I prayed for him I had a picture drawn from Isaiah “3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Isa 12:3)
Question: Why aren’t we living in this sort of joy?
1. Selfishness: Jesus said “the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you” (Mark 4:24) and “‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35).
You only receive from God what you give out from God cf. last week. Perhaps we are not interested in being joy-givers?
2. Wrong image of God: As we discussed last week, if you believe God is hard you will not expect him to multiply joy in your relationship with him
3. Legalism kills joy (Gal 3:1-5; 4:15). We fit people into a pre- existing “church – grid” of duties rather than allowing the local church culture to emerge under the direction of the Spirit [who “11 All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” (1 Cor 12:11)] Most of the church has been taken over by a rehearsal/performance culture so that the true joy of spontaneous relationships is lost.
What is your point of joy?
Exercise from last week:
1. Ask God to make it clear what gifts he has given us.
2. Ask God to multiply those gifts.
3. Ask God to bring us into a deeper joy in those gifts
Question: What is your point of joy when it comes to the gifts God has given you? (Get most pleasure out of doing for him.)
Steven Teo example – joy in what he is now doing for Jesus cf. hundreds of thousands of dollars from his executive position.
God alone can direct us to the true pleasure of our life e.g. JY desire to be a scientist.
The whole future of the church depends on living in joy. The purpose of the gift of life, the reason why we were created is to multiply joy. The goal of ministry is to multiply spiritual joy 24 I do not mean to imply that we lord it over your faith; rather, we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand firm in the faith (2 Cor 1:24).
Question: “Joy is naturally self-communicating (parables of Luke 15)”. What do you think this means?
No outreach means no joy (Neh 8:10). Not possible to reach out without joy e.g. group in city of very conservatively dressed and miserable Christians trying to “preach the gospel”.
Question:Saint Augustine once said “What you do without joy is only done through you; you yourself do not do it.” What did he mean and what are the implications?
(Not really done from the heart, it’s a duty.)
God commands us to rejoice (Phil 4:4), therefore we must obey him and seek his joy. How are we to do this?
If the Holy Spirit is the bond of joy (between Father and Son and God and us) there can be no release of joy- bringing gifts without and outpouring of Spirit.
Exercise for the week:
1. Do I consciously depend upon/pray for the power of Holy Spirit?
2. Asked for/willing to ask for the Spirit’s fullness and gifts?
3. What is holding me back from doing this?