JOY: The Value of Values Sermon

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Mon, 10/29/2018 - 9:30am

Worship for 10-28-18 At Harbor Church Message: The Value of Values : JOY

When you think of the word joy, what is the first thing that comes to mind ?

Rejoicing ? The experience of Gladness? Happiness of heart ? Making someone else joyful ? to delight in something or someone else? To Shout or sing or dance for joy ? jubilant celebration ? All true, all part of joy, but not the whole picture. Yes, Joy is a feeling, joy is also an action. Let’s consider each of these for a moment.

Joy as Emotional delight. As Feelings of gladness, happiness, felicity.  Gladness of heart in life comes in many forms and in many different ways. Happiness over an unanticipated or present good. In the Old Testament joy (Heb. śāmâ) covers a wide range of human experiences—from romantic love (Song of Sol. 1:4), to marriage (Prov. 5:18), the birth of children (Ps. 113:9), the gathering of the harvest, military victory (Isa. 9:3), and even having a drink with a friend (in moderation!)  wine (Ps. 104:15)[1] In the NT the angel announces the birth of Jesus as good news of great joy, the apostle Paul rejoices in the spiritual growth of the early church members and he expresses the relationship between the apostle and his congregations as an opportunity for thanksgiving (Rom. 15:32; Phil. 2:28), and with each rejoicing in the other[2] The father of the prodigal son rejoices when his son forgoes his profligate, licentious living and returns home. In all of these things, felicitous events and people make others joyful. Happy, if you will.

In her book, You Learn by Living, Roosevelt outlined her view on happiness: she wrote— 'Happiness is not a goal...it's a by-product of a life well lived.'

Happiness is a by-product of right living. And gladness of heart can increase with the right perspective. 

In a very real sense, We must choose joy, decide to be joyful each day.

Because there is much more to Joy than happiness and gladness of heart.

Joy as Action Joy is more than a feeling, joy is also an action. In contrast to an emotional state, Joy is can also be a spiritual state of being produced by our commitments and the choices we make. This, my friends, is worth exploring further.

There is a joy that the Scripture commands. We are exhorted to pursue joy as an action that can be engaged in regardless of how the person feels or what circumstance they find themselves in. - We can choose joy as a decision or commitment despite external circumstances because of an unchanging spiritual reality- The spirit of God is present in our lives and actively moving to bring about good.. Christ instructed his disciples to rejoice when they were persecuted, reviled, and slandered (Mt 5:11, 12). The apostle Paul commanded continuous rejoicing (Phil 4:4; 1 Thes 5:16). James told the early Christians in his letter that they are to consider it all joy when they fall into various testings because such testings produce endurance (Jas 1:2). AND First Peter 4:13 seems to include both action and emotion when it says, “But rejoice [the action] in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad [the emotion] when his glory is revealed.” Joy in adverse circumstances is possible only as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, who is present in every Christian (Gal 5:22).[3]

Candide, is a French satire first published in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment.[5] The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled Candide: or, All for the Best (1759); Candide: or, The Optimist  

It begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life with a type of naïve, Pollyannaish optimism. His mantra is "all is for the best" in this the "best of all possible worlds ., What follows is Candide's slow and painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships and evils in the world. Throughout this satire Voltaire, systematically demonstrates the flaws and shortcoming of many philosophies, religions and world views.  But he doesn’t really provide any satisfactory or compelling alternatives either. Finally, at the end of the story, Candide encounters a farmer who lives a simple life, works hard, and avoids vice and leisure. Inspired, Candide and his friends take to cultivating a garden in earnest. Voltaire  concludes enigmatically with Candide by simply advocating a deeply practical precept expressed by the protagonist, "we must cultivate our garden".

Cultivating the value of Joy is a life choice, not as a form of spiritual optimism, but as a commitment that is grounded and rooted in the character and goodness of God. This value produces a welless of soul that can be steadfast and constant regardless of whatever is going on around us.

One of the ways that We can cultivate joy is by abiding in Christ. In the parable of the True Vine that we read, Jesus concludes by saying, I have spoken These things to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. Jesus said that joy comes from abiding in Christ, from being connected to God in a vital way. In the same way that the vine sustains the life and health of the branches, the more ways that we can find to develop a personal relationship with God, the more joyful living can result. He says you can’t bear fruit apart from God. Elsewhere in scripture we are told that Joy is a fruit of the spirit.  Cultivating a closer connection with God can yield an increase of joy in our lives. Daily prayer, Bible study, and Christian fellowship are just a few of the ways that you can abide in God and so increase your joy.

 Another was that we cultivate joy is by resting in the providential care of God . We cultivate joy by trusting in god’s Care for us , throughout whatever circumstances or situations we find ourselves in.  This idea springs from our first reading. We cultivate joy but trusting in god's ways are higher than our ways and his understanding greater than our understanding, And by believing that God will accomplish what his good plans and beneficent purposes for our lives. What God ordains will come to pass, and as a result “[we] will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; (and we read) even

The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,

And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Finally we cultivate joy in the present by remembering that there is future reality waiting for us in which A new heaven and new earth are created where we eventually enter into the joy of God’s unveiled presence for all eternity.

Joy as a defining mark of the church

Joyfulness can mark the life of the Christian community and all relationships between Christians as we live and work together for the Lord .  Joy also comes from participating in God’s ministry in the world and from seeing lives being positively changed and relationships enhanced. It is a part of our testimony and witness to the larger world around us.

Joy marks the people of God both individually and corporately. This characteristic of God’s people is present in the ot but is most evident in the nt. Paul tells the Roman believers that the kingdom of God is marked by righteousness, peace, and joy (chara) in or by the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). He also tells the believers in Corinth, “I am being supplied abundantly with joy (chara) in all our affliction” (2 Cor 7:4).[4]

There is a lot of affliction and woe and tragedy in the news this week. How will we respond as a church,  by wringing our hands? … by allowing events, or the cultural conditions, or the political climate to rob us of our joy? Certainly not. We must avoid the pitfall of becoming caught up by a negative view of the state of the world. We must replace pessimism , not with the blind and defective optimism of Candide, but by finding and promoting true joy.  God does not desire a depressed or dis-spirited people.  On the contrary , God wants a people who are filled with the spirit of joy that can fill up  a seemingly joyless world. This is a part of our witness, an important piece of our testimony to the reality and power of the Lord Jesus Christ in this world. To bring not only hope and peace and love, but to be bringers of joy as well.

There is A Zen story that characterizes life. a Buddhist monk is fleeing from a hungry tiger. The monk comes to the edge of a cliff cutting off any hope of escape from the pursuing tiger. Fortunately for the monk, a vine happens to be growing over the edge. He grabs hold of it and begins to climb down the cliff, out of the tiger's reach, who is by now glaring at him from above. But alas, as the monk is climbing down, he spies another tiger waiting for him below; circling impatiently at the bottom of the cliff. To make matters worse, out of the corner of his eye he notices a mouse on a ledge above him already beginning to gnaw through the vine. Then out of the corner of his other eye the monk sees a strawberry growing from the rock. So he picks the strawberry and eats it.

 

Friends, let us choose to pick the strawberry and not the tiger. Look for the strawberry, find its fruit. Find the fruit of joy in your life. Choose it, cultivate it, and then give the fruit of joy to others around you, Amen.