Joy
Posted By Nan

John 15: 1-17

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” v11 NIV

In my exploration of Joy in the Bible, I have never come across Joy couched in these terms. 

This is joy that is in us. It is the joy Jesus feels and He has placed that joy in us. As he said in v11 He was telling the disciples things God had told Him to bring them His joy and give them joy that is complete and mature.

As we grow in our knowledge of Jesus, the Joy we experience matures. 

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.” v4 The Message

Joy is a fruit of the spirit. In this passage, Jesus instructs us to live in Him. To make our home in Him just as He does in us. He likens it to a branch on a grape vine that cannot flower and produce grapes unless it is connected the vine. 

So it is our connection to Jesus, allowing Him to dwell in us as we dwell in Him that produces the fruit of Joy. 

That Joy is not only given to us but is the actual Joy Jesus feels.

“You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil.” v16a The Message

In verse 16a Jesus reminds us that He put us in the world to bear eternal fruit that will never spoil. 

It is important we never forget that.

Jesus chose us. We may have accepted that choice, but we were offered the choice by Jesus who had already chosen us.

Jesus put us here to bear fruit which includes Joy.

True Joy is what Jesus experiences when He teaches us the things God has taught Him. 

It is the Joy of love. It is Joy for us. It is a gift of great love and delight in us.

Hallelujah

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

John 3

This chapter of John contains two parts. 

The first part is about Nicodemus, a pharisee, who has seen and believed Jesus. He struggles with the idea of being born again and learns from Jesus that God allows people to see and hear Him. Nicodemus has believed in Jesus because that is what God has allowed Nicodemus to know. Jesus tells him that people do not believe because they prefer the darkness where they can hide their evil deeds.

The second part of this chapter is about John the Baptist being told by his disciples that Jesus is baptising people who are coming to him instead of coming to John. John points out that Jesus is greater and it is right that John diminishes as Jesus becomes greater. John is the best man to the bridegroom. His delight is that Jesus has come after John had prepared the way for Him. Now John can step back. That is his source of Joy. 

John did not come to the world to make himself great. He feels great Joy at the fact that he has prepared the people’s hearts for Jesus. Now that has happened, he can sit back and see the people flocking to Jesus. 

John’s joy is in the advancing of God’s Kingdom.

If we look at what Jesus said to Nicodemus, the people were shown the light but chose the darkness because they were afraid of their evil deeds being exposed by the light. They chose to stumble in darkness rather than step into the light.

They chose a life of misery, a life away from God.

They chose to forgo Joy.

Some chose outright rebellion against God. Others, like the pharisees, chose legalism to keep them from God. The end result was to cut themselves off from God’s Joy.

What choice do you make?

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Luke 24:36-52

This chapter of Luke recounts the visit of the women - mentioned two blogs ago - to the tomb of Jesus. If you remember, these women were wealthy and influential women who accompanied Jesus and financed His ministry. 

Luke recounts how the men did not believe the women when they said Jesus had risen. 

Yet in this passage we see the men on the road to Emmaus discovering after many hours that the man they were walking with was Jesus. 

Even when Jesus appeared in their midst the disciples were frightened, thinking He was a ghost.

Although the women were at first disbelieving, they quickly saw the truth of what the angels were telling them. They believed.

Such was the place of women in the society of Jesus’ day, that they were not believed. It took the men seeing Jesus for them to believe them.

We need to be careful in our modern society to not discount women when they speak of their experiences with Jesus. I have experienced myself, being marginalised in more than one church while on the preaching roster. I found the men of the church did not want to hear a sermon given by a woman. Even the older women did not want to hear a sermon given by a woman, especially one younger than them. Yet the messages I had to give were given by God.

Such marginalisation of women robs us of our Joy because it delays or prevents us receiving God’s messages. 

The men eventually believed Jesus was risen because of Jesus’ coming to them. They would not believe the testimony of the women.

In these verses there is much Joy experienced by the men when they realise Jesus had risen. That Joy came from experiencing the majesty of God. 

We will not always receive such a powerful sign.

Yes, we must be discerning, but it is important not to discriminate against the messenger. It is Jesus’ decision who He sends messages to. We don’t get to dictate that. 

The messenger may be male or female. They may have skin any colour God has created. They may be young. They may be someone we look down on morally. They may be someone poor. They may be a foreigner.

The truth is, Jesus chooses the messenger. Our duty is to believe the message and seek God’s clarification of the message and what He wants us to do.

The men on that day missed many hours of Joy because they did not believe the women. Yet the message they were being sent was a source of great Joy. We need to guard against missing out on Joy because we discriminate against the messenger and forget to seek God.

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Luke 10:1-24

I love so much about this passage.

This is where the 70 are sent out to spread the good news and heal in Jesus’ name.

They were to bless the houses they entered. If they were rejected they were to leave and the blessing would return to them. 

In the same way, if they went to a town and were rejected they were to take the blessing back and leave the town with the consequences of rejecting God.

The 70 returned full of Joy at doing the Jesus’s work and it being successful. 

They told him “Lord even the demons submit to us in your name” v17. 

Jesus warned them not to feel joy that the spirits submitted to them but that their names are written in heaven. 

The agenda for rejoicing is not what we can do for God, but what God does for us. (The Message v18-20). It is important that we do not lose sight of that. God can make anything happen. His work is not dependant on us. He chooses to give us tasks, but He is not dependant on the tasks we do to achieve His work.

Following witnessing the joy of the 70 and all they had learned, Jesus was full of Joy through the Holy Spirit and praised God for revealing these things to those who were open to learning like little children, not the supposed wise and learned who were closed. 

The people who followed Jesus and comprised the 70 He sent out were mostly ordinary people. They were not highly educated. They were not considered wise. They were not considered to be well versed in the scriptures. They were ordinary people. But what they knew about God was greater than all the learning of the leaders of the Jews.

Many years ago I attended a church which had recently appointed a new curate. Fresh from his studies he gave a rousing sermon about having authority. He spoke at great length about the importance of book learning and studying the scriptures. That, according to him, gave you authority. He never quite reconciled how this applied to Jesus, who from a worldly perspective was just an ignorant carpenter.

We need to remember that authority does not come from book learning or theological qualifications. That can enhance what we know, but is not the ultimate authority. To suggest it is, is to be a pharisee not a follower of Jesus.

We need to remember that God chose 70 ignorant men to carry out His work. 

He did not choose the learned men, but the ignorant.

This was why Jesus rejoiced. He rejoiced because His Father had given those men great knowledge of God. He rejoiced because those men had been prepared to hear and see what God was teaching them through Jesus. He rejoiced because these men had that day learned that true Joy comes from what God does for us.

Let us never forget that is the source of Joy. What God does for us, not what we do for Him.

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Luke 8:1-15

I have covered this parable already in this series. This is the one about the man sowing seed that falls on the road and is eaten, that falls among rocks and sprouts but cannot grow, that grows among the weeds and is smothered and that grows on the good soil and grows into a good crop. Jesus explained to His disciples that those with ears to hear will hear Him and those with eyes to see will see Him, but those who have closed eyes and ears will not see or hear anything. 

What I found really noteworthy about this passage as Luke writes it is the description of the women who accompanied Jesus. These women had been healed of diseases and evil spirits. Many had been healed, but these women chose to follow Jesus. They followed Jesus at a time when women had little freedom to do what they wanted and to just go and follow some itinerant preacher. What is more, they were wealthy women who used their wealth to support Jesus’ work.

Amongst the women were Mary Magdalene, Susanna and Joanna the wife of the manager of Herod’s household. Jesus’s message reached into high places. And those with ears to hear lived in those high places. 

I was particularly struck by the presence in that group of women of Joanna. This was the household of the man who, on a whim, promised his step daughter anything she wanted and she wanted John the Baptist’s head. Herod had gone along with this rather than lose face. 

This was the household that saw Herod’s predecessor murder baby boys in Bethlehem because he sought to destroy the new born Messiah.

The manager of Herod’s household was a prestigious position. He was a man of great influence and wealth. Here was his wife following Jesus and financially supporting Him. If Joanna was with Jesus and had money to support Him then that suggests her husband allowed it. So the manager of Herod’s household was sympathetic to the message, even if he did not follow it. Maybe he was like the seed growing amongst the weeds. He heard the message but considerations about his position prevented him from accepting the word and growing with it.

Joanna had experienced the great Joy of the knowledge of God and was passionate about following Jesus. For her, Joy led to obedience to God and His son.

That is very much what Joy can do for us if we are open to it.

 

 

 
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