How God’s Love Helps Me Lead a Life of Joy

How God’s Love Helps Me Lead a Life of Joy September 12, 2018

How God's Love Helps Me Lead a Life of Joy

How God’s Love Helps Me Lead a Life of Joy

John 16:16-33

How God’s Love Helps Me Lead a Life of Joy is the final sermon in the series on How God’s Love Helps Me With My Emotions.

A daughter complained to her father about how hard things were for her. “As soon as I solve one problem,” she said, “another one comes up. I’m tired of struggling.”

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen where he filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In one he placed carrots; in the second, eggs; and in the last, ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

The daughter impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After a while, he went over and turned off the burners. He fished out the carrots and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. He poured the coffee into a bowl. Turning to her he asked, “Darling, what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled, as she tasted its rich flavor.

She asked, “What does it mean, Father?” He explained that each of them had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg was fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. By being in the boiling water, they changed the water.

He asked his daughter, “When adversity knocks on your door, which are you?”1

How do you react to adversities in life? The reason I ask this question is that as a Christian, we need to live our lives with a sense of joy. Despite the circumstances in our lives, how do we live?

The ultimate goal for our emotions is to reach the emotion of joy. I believe this is the reason why the Bible encourages us to “rejoice” or experience joy in all things. I think one of the reasons is because joy will be our primary emotion in Heaven. Jesus showed us how to go through all of our emotions and reach the ultimate emotion of joy.2 Here, in this passage, Jesus teaches us different ways I can experience joy as a Christian.

Joy is the emotion that is exclusive to Christians. It is a fulfilling emotion. But you may ask: “What is the difference between joy and happiness?”

Happiness is hinged on happenings. Joy is based on Jesus. Many people look for happiness and they derive it from what happens to them. It’s circumstantial. When the happening (or situation or circumstance) changes, then the mood changes.

Yet, joy is eternal because it based on the character and nature of Jesus. Jesus is the source of my joy. How do I know this? Jesus said:

““I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. (John 15:11, CSB)

Joy is a product of God’s love. Jesus said that. Jesus says to remain in a loving relationship with Him so that YOUR JOY may be complete. That means that if I want to have true joy in my life, then it is dependent upon my relationship with Jesus, not my circumstances, or my happenings. I want to share with you five facets of joy that I can experience as a Christian.

FIVE FACETS OF JOY I CAN EXPERIENCE AS A CHRISTIAN

1. I can experience a SECURE joy because of the confidence I place in Jesus (John 16:16-18)

““A little while and you will no longer see me; again a little while and you will see me.” Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this he’s telling us: ‘A little while and you will not see me; again a little while and you will see me,’ and, ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They said, “What is this he is saying, ‘A little while’? We don’t know what he’s talking about.”” (John 16:16–18, CSB)

Joy comes from Jesus. He is the author and sustainer of the joy that is in me.

““I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. (John 15:11, CSB)

Jesus explains in John 15 that God’s love is that is dependent on the relationship with Jesus produces the end result of joy. Because joy is dependent upon Jesus and not my circumstances, and not even me, then it is a secure joy. Jesus said that He would be here and then He would go and then He would return. Jesus is speaking about His resurrection. He is saying that soon He will be crucified and He will die, and then He will return.

This is why the joy I can experience is secure. No one can take it away. Because Jesus secured it through His death, burial, and resurrection. When I place my trust in Jesus, I can experience true joy. I can take faith in the fact that no matter what happens to me, I will still have the joy that comes from Jesus. This leads me to the second facet of Christian joy. I can experience a hope-filled joy despite the tough times I encounter.

2. I can experience a HOPE-FILLED joy despite the tough times I encounter (John 16:19-22)

Jesus knew they wanted to ask him, and so he said to them, “Are you asking one another about what I said, ‘A little while and you will not see me; again a little while and you will see me’? Truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain because her time has come. But when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the suffering because of the joy that a person has been born into the world. So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy from you. (John 16:19–22, CSB)

Joy is usually an end-result emotion. Many experiences that don’t begin with joy, will end in joy. As a matter of fact, many experiences in our lives begin with pain but end in joy. Jesus uses the illustration of a woman who gives birth. That experience starts with suffering, but it ends in joy.

3-STEP PROCESS FROM SUFFERING TO JOY

1. I experience sadness and suffering

Jesus compares suffering that ends in joy to a woman in labor. Jesus shows that the pain of a woman giving birth is similar to the pain and suffering that we may go through in life. The Bible uses this image on occasion to describe suffering. For example:

Trembling seized them there, agony like that of a woman in labor, (Psalm 48:6, CSB)

Individuals can be in pain and anguish.

Therefore I am filled with anguish. Pain grips me, like the pain of a woman in labor. I am too perplexed to hear, too dismayed to see. (Isaiah 21:3, CSB)

Entire groups of people can be in pain and anguish.

Damascus has become weak; she has turned to run; panic has gripped her. Distress and labor pains have seized her like a woman in labor. (Jeremiah 49:24, CSB)

Paul described the pain of mentoring others who are being deceived by others in the faith.

My children, I am again suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you. (Galatians 4:19, CSB)

The Bible uses the image of a woman in labor who has not yet given birth as a picture of pain and suffering. Suffering can come to anyone. But God’s love helps us through this suffering.

2. I experience the accompanying pain that comes with that sadness and sufferings

When someone is experiencing suffering, there is sadness and pain associated with it. Yet, the fact remains that sadness and sufferings are only temporary. The Bible makes it clear, especially in the New Testament, that sadness suffering will turn to joy. Joy is the emotion of Heaven. For the Christian, suffering is only temporary.

3. I take hope in the joy that comes at the end

James encourages us to have joy during trials:

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, (James 1:2, CSB)

Why? Because the trial produces strength that can help me. I learn endurance. I learn how to deal with difficult times. I also learn the trial is temporary. It can give me hope-filled joy to know that all of this suffering is temporary.

Paul uses this theme often in his letters. He associated joy that comes even when one encounters suffering.

and you yourselves became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with joy from the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 1:6, CSB)

During a severe trial brought about by affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. (2 Corinthians 8:2, CSB)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18, CSB)

Peter also reminds us to keep our joy in mind, even when we suffer:

Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:13, CSB)

This hope-filled joy leads to a transformative joy in my life when I pray.

3. I can experience a TRANSFORMATIVE joy in the power of prayer (John 16:23-24)

““In that day you will not ask me anything. Truly I tell you, anything you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. Until now you have asked for nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. (John 16:23–24, CSB)

There are two characteristics of the power of prayer to allow me to experience a transformative joy. First, it comes from the authority of Jesus name. Jesus said: “If you ask the Father in my name.” What does that mean? It means that we base our prayers on the authority of Jesus because that the only authority by which they get answered.

A young man sat on a park bench, bawling. A little boy saw him and said, “Sir, what’s wrong? Sir, what’s wrong?”

The man told him the story about his brother who was in prison. His brother was on death row and would be executed in the next few days. The man desperately wanted to see Abraham Lincoln, the president of the United States, and ask for a pardon, but of course, regular people can’t just walk into the president’s office. The man was hopeless.

After hearing the man’s story, the little boy said, “Sir, would you come with me?” He took the man by the hand, walked him into the presidential office through the guards, past the secretary, and nobody mumbled a word. The man couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t have gotten in to see the president if he had tried and this little boy was walking him straight past everyone into the president’s office.

President Lincoln stood up as the young man entered with the boy. He looked at the boy and said, “How can I help you, son?” You see, the reason the man could get into Abraham Lincoln’s office is because he had run into the son of Abraham Lincoln, and the son could walk past all the opposition.

You can’t walk into the presence of a holy God unless you are escorted by the Son. That’s why we pray in Jesus’ name.3

The second characteristic of prayer is an expectation for an answer. Because prayer changes things. Answered prayer has the power to transform. Answered prayer can transform my sorrows into joy. When I confess my sins, the joy of my salvation, which is my secure relationship with Jesus, will return.

Do not banish me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:11–12, CSB)

Since my relationship with Jesus is secure, then my prayers, when they are answered can bring a joy that transforms. The psalmist recalled that the presence of God in prayer is a source of “abundant joy.”

You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures. (Psalm 16:11, CSB)

We enter into God’s presence during a time of prayer. He reveals His will to us and we walk away with a sense of joy, especially when we see that the prayer has been answered. Have you ever experienced the joy that comes from answered prayer? You struggle in your prayer life and you ask God for help with a matter. Then in God’s timing and in God’s way, He answers your prayer. What do you feel when you sense that answer? It is a sense of satisfaction that God has come through and helped you. It is a sense of overwhelming joy that God has done what He promised to do.

That is the transformative joy. The answered prayer gives you a sense of joy that transforms you from a Christian who doubts and questions God to a person who trusts God. That transformative joy leads to a peaceful joy.

4. I can experience a PEACEFUL joy because of the loving relationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son (John 16:25-32)

““I have spoken these things to you in figures of speech. A time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. On that day you will ask in my name, and I am not telling you that I will ask the Father on your behalf. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” His disciples said, “Look, now you’re speaking plainly and not using any figurative language. Now we know that you know everything and don’t need anyone to question you. By this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus responded to them, “Do you now believe? Indeed, an hour is coming, and has come, when each of you will be scattered to his own home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. (John 16:25–32, CSB)

My joy gives me a sense of peace because it is not dependent upon me. Instead, my joy comes from the relationship that Jesus has with His Father. Jesus is the source of my joy. But God the Father is the source of Jesus’ joy. Jesus referred to this joy in another prayer later in the Gospel of John.

Now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy completed in them. (John 17:13, CSB)

When that joy is completed, it gives a sense of peace. That sense of peaceful joy only comes because of the relationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son. Nowhere does the Bible say that I can produce that sense of peace and joy. Instead, that sense of peace through joy comes only from God the Father.

In Discipleship Journal Paul Thigpen writes:

I remember coming home one afternoon to discover that the kitchen I had worked so hard to clean only a few hours before was now a terrible wreck. My young daughter had obviously been busy “cooking,” and the ingredients were scattered, along with dirty bowls and utensils, across the counters and floor. I was not happy with the situation.

Then, as I looked a little more closely at the mess, I spied a tiny note on the table, clumsily written and smeared with chocolatey fingerprints. The message was short—“I’m makin sumthin 4 you, Dad”—and it was signed, “Your Angel.”

In the midst of that disarray, and despite my irritation, joy suddenly sprang up in my heart, sweet and pure. My attention had been redirected from the problem to the little girl I loved. As I encountered her in that brief note, I delighted in her. With her simple goodness in focus, I could take pleasure in seeing her hand at work in a situation that seemed otherwise disastrous.

The same is true of my joy in the Lord. Many times life looks rather messy; I can’t find much to be happy about in my circumstances. Nevertheless, if I look hard enough, I can usually see the Lord behind it all, or at least working through it all, “makin sumthin” for me.4

God is “makin something for me” through my relationship with Jesus. That same sense of joy can be mine through my loving relationship with Jesus.

I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6, CSB)

5. I can experience a COURAGEOUS joy because of the finished work of Jesus (John 16:33)

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”” (John 16:33, CSB)

Jesus finished His work. He doesn’t have to work for me. The joy of God the Father gave Jesus the courage to endure the cross. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way:

keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2, CSB)

Jesus prayed the same thing:

Now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy completed in them. (John 17:13, CSB)

Jesus prayed that when He finished the work of salvation on the cross, that every Christian who trusted in Jesus for salvation would have a completed joy. Jesus conquered the world. He secured my salvation. Therefore, my joy, which is based upon Jesus, is all I would need to go out into the world and deal with whatever life throws at me.

The reason I can have a courageous joy is because Jesus Christ is the Victor. He says that He has conquered the world. How did He conquer the world? How He conquered the world was to die on the cross to save people from sin. What did Jesus do to conquer the world? Jesus introduced an innovate way of conquering. He became the victor by revealing God’s love.5

That same love that Jesus used to conquer the world by going to the cross and successfully overcoming sin and death is the same love that produces the courageous joy that I can have to deal with anything that can happen to me in my life. Why? Because Jesus isn’t done with me yet. God’s love helps me lead a life of joy because the joy of Jesus will give me the courage I need to keep going until He is finished with me. Why? Because I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.

Conclusion: “I’ve Got the Joy Joy Joy Joy”

1 PreachingToday.com, More Perfect Illustrations: For Every Topic and Occasion (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2003), 8. From the Internet; submitted by Eric Reed, managing editor, Leadership Journal.

2 Jim Erwin, “How God’s Love Helps Me With My Emotions,” John 11:28-44, 30 August 2018, Internet, Patheos, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2018/08/30/how-gods-love-can-help-me-with-my-emotions/, accessed on 7 September 2018.

3 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 235–236.

4 Craig Brian Larson, 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers & Writers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 273–274.

5 Jim Erwin, “Christ the Victor,” John 16:25-33, 25 November 2015, Internet, Patheos, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2015/11/25/christ-the-victor/, accessed on 7 September 2018.

Photo by Konstantin Planinski on Unsplash

Other Posts:

How God’s Love Helps Me With My Emotions

How God’s Love Helps Me With My Fears

How God’s Love Helps Me With My Grief

How God’s Love Helps Me With My Anger

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