Saturday, October 6, 2007

Finding Real Joy in the Light of God

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." I John 1

Webster says that "joy" is "condition or feeling of great pleasure or happiness." In the Greek this word indicates cheerfulness or calm delight.

There is a great difference between temporal joy and spiritual joy. Temporal joy is earthly or temporary. Spiritual joy is eternal. The world, as a whole, gets the two mixed up. They are trying to find eternal Joy in earthly places and things. In this chapter John is talking about spiritual eternal joy. Real joy that lasts.

Finding real spiritual joy should be the goal of everyone in the world. It’s amazing to me where people look and what people do to find joy, only to find temporal joy. It’s because they are looking in the wrong place!

Let's ask ourselves three questions this morning.

  1. Where do we find this joy?
  2. What does real joy do for us?
  3. What will our true joy do for others?

And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. Chapter 2: 8-11

1. Where do we find this spiritual joy?

Before we can understand where to find this real joy, we must understand that there is a lack of Spiritual joy in the world today. Let's look at Isaiah:

Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him. The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant... There is a crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. ~~Isaiah 24:1-5, 11

Why was the joy darkened? Here was a people and priest who had known the Lord and walked with Him and turn their backs on Him and began to walk in darkness! Isn’t that happening in this day? Everywhere we look people are transgressing the Word of God, churches and preachers are either taking away from or adding to the word. We are seeing people who once knew the Lord breaking the covenant they made with God. Because of all of this there is lack of real joy.

Where do we find this real joy?

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. ~~I John 1:3

John had been an eyewitness of the Word of Life. He had touched Him and experienced His presence. He had heard Him speak of the truths of God. He had walked and talked with Him. He had seen the miracles. He watched Him die on the cross. He had seen the empty tomb.He was with the other disciples when the risen Lord had suddenly appeared and spoken peace to them. He had shared the joy of seeing the Lord.

According to the word of God we will find joy in fellowship with Christ. John caught a vision of a risen Lord and what joy He gave to those who would have fellowship with Him. Eternal life is the point of fellowship between the Father and the Son, and all who receive this eternal life through Christ are brought into that fellowship .

T. E. Martin said: "The story of man that is called history is a story of man seeking for life. He has constantly striven for the fuller and richer life. To His disappointment, when he thought he had found the secret of it, he often experienced only failure."

In Christ alone there is the answer to man’s deepest longing. The fellowship in Christ is not of our own making. But rather it is the work of the Holy Spirit. The fellowship of eternal life with Christ was God’s original intention for man. So the fellowship with Christ Jesus is the source of real joy. Real joy comes from having fellowship with Christ who is the light of the world.

And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. ~~I John 1:4-5

To find real joy we must walk in the light of God. The Christian message begins with the premise that God is light. There is no darkness in Him!

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. ~~Revelation 21:23

Light symbolizes two things: illumination and revelation. Only when we walk in His light can we began to catch a vision of who Christ is. When we begin to see Him, He reveals Himself and His truths to us. So God invites us into the light of His presence that we can find real joy.

Think of a large circle and in that circle is God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The only real light that is found is in that circle. Everything else is darkness. A message comes out of the circle to everyone: Come walk with us within the circle!

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." ~~I John 1:5-7

Who could not find real joy there? Real joy comes from walking in the light of His truth!

2. What does real joy do for us?

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. ~~I John 1:7

Two things are seen here: fellowship and cleansing. Like the sun, God sheds the light of His truth everywhere. All who will accept the truth will see themselves and their need. To walk in the light of His truth is to ask for and receive His forgiveness. That’s when real joy is found.

Fellowship with Him means forgiveness and cleansing by the blood of Jesus Christ for all sins. Walking in the light is synonymous with Christian victory.

"The truth of God means the realization of potential. The truth of God is not just to make us admit what we are but it is, as we are willing to receive it, the revelation of what He intends us to be."

I think Haldor Lillenas describes this thought best in His song Walking in the Beautiful Light of God:

What a blessed peace we know as we travel here below,
While we’re walking in the beautiful light of God.
Brighter fairer grows the way as we journey day by day,
while we’re walking in the beautiful light of God.

Like the sunlight from above God reveals His wondrous love,
while we're walking in the beautiful light of God.
Here redemption’s crimson flow making us whiter than snow,
while we're walking in the beautiful light of God.

Holding sweet communion here with our blessed Lord so dear,
while we're walking in the beautiful light of God.
From all condemnation free, having perfect victory,
while we're walking in the beautiful light of God.

3. What will true Joy do for others?

Having found true joy through walking in the light we should want others to enjoy this life also!

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth... If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. ~~I John 3:14-18, 4:20-21

The basic foundation of Christian experience and relationship is to found in the love of God. God is Love! Everything God is and does is an expression of His love. Because His nature is Love, I think that when we are born again God installs that nature of love within us. If God is love (and He is!) then when we receive Him into our hearts then we receive that love into our hearts also. John saw the love of God as an ongoing stream. The true response to God’s love is not only to love God but to love others who have been created in the likeness of God. The mark of realization that Christ redeemed us in love is that we love!

He forgives us freely. He asks that we freely forgive.

Love is not just saying "I love you" but letting our action speak louder than our words.

But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? ~~I John 3:17

The love that brings assurance and fellowship and real joy to the Christian is not something of the Christian’s own doing. It is something that God first had for us. The Christian does not have to develop a way to love God or others. The love we have for God and others comes from the indwelling presence of God in our hearts. We need only to respond to the nature that has been installed by Christ in us. Loving others, even those who we find hard to love , is not so tall an order when we understand that it is God’s love in us that is producing the action of love. The initiative is God’s work. We do not perfect His love. He does! God can be seen in the outflow of His love from the hearts that are filled with this love.

A missionary was seated on a plane next to a well-dressed young man and they soon began conversing. The missionary asked him what he did for a living.
He answered, "I’m in big business."
"So am I," replied the missionary.
With that the young man remarked, "I cover the entire U.S. with my business."
"Well," said the missionary, "I’ve traveled all over the world in connection with mine."
The young man continued: "I’m in partnership with my father. He’s a millionaire."
The missionary smiled and said, "I, too, am in partnership with my Father. He’s a multimillionaire."
The young man said, "We have representatives in most states."
The missionary replied, "We have representatives in almost every country in the world."
By this time the young man looked at the missionary and said, "What sort of business are you in, anyway?"
When the missionary explained, the young man said, "Sir, you’re not just in big business. You’re in the biggest!"

We have a big job to share our joy, our light, and our love to this world that we live in. May God help us to do it!

I realize that I have only began to cover this great subject, because it is as vast as God is Himself. But as I am walking with Him each day He is teaching me and more about His great joy that comes through His great Love.

I have found His grace is all complete,
He supplieth every need.
While I sit and learn at Jesus feet,
I am free, yes, free indeed.
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Oh the half has never yet been told!"

I have found the joy no tongue can tell.
How its waves of glory roll!
It is like a great o’er-flowing well,
Springing up within my soul!
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Oh, the half has never yet been told.

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