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Community Bible Chapel Podcast
6/9/19 A Different Way To Live – Living in the Joy of the Lord
Jack’s life was nothing special.
-Just an ordinary guy struggling through life along with everybody else.
-Where is life was pretty ordinary, his response to life was pretty extraordinary.
-You would consider Jack as a pretty bitter person.
-And that bitterness was characterized as constant complaining and anger, which either exploded or kept a distance from people.
-Jack tended to look at everything from a negative point of view.
-If it was sunny – it was too hot.
-If it was cloudy – it would destroy his day.-If he got a raise – it was going to raise his taxes.
-The guy could find something wrong with chocolate ice cream.
-His general disposition made him a ton of fun to be around, so he didn’t have many friends.
-Life for Jack was a struggle to get out of bed and engage the day because it always seemed to engage him in a negative way.
-Even from that short description, we would call Jack depressed.
-Bob Somerville in his book “If I’m a Christian, why am I Depressed? Said:
“You feel hopeless. Your problem is too big, to unique. You are desperate and scared. What is missing? Hope! Everything is bleak, gray, and forlorn. You see everything through the dismal grid of your depression.”
-We would describe that in the character of Eyor from Winnie The Pooh.-The storm cloud was ever present, just following him around.
Today we continue the series A Different Way To Live
-We began this series back at Easter and have looked at a number of ways that the Gospel changes how we view the world and how we live in that world.
Today, we will be finishing up this series by looking at how the Gospel helps us to live in the joy of the Lord.
I invite you to join me in I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Page 837 – You version (internet – CBC Guest)
The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes to the church in Thessalonica and to us down through the ages.-This is a church that was being persecuted for following Christ.
-In the midst of Paul’s instruction he encourages us in every chapter of his letter with words about the second coming of Christ.
-Those words brought hope to those who couldn’t see any hope.
-But with that hope, they would be able to stand fast and live by faith.
-We always want to work to understand the dynamics that work between our physical existence and our spiritual existence.
-Those two things are intertwined and can’t be separated.
-We tend to fall toward separating them, and the Scripture is a constant reminder how one affects the other.
-Specifically, Paul is speaking to that dichotomy and how the future reality of Christ’s return affects how we live here.
Toward the end of Paul’s letter and speaking to how the second coming of Christ should change how we live and respond to the physical part of life, he gives this instruction.
READ I Thes. 5:16-18
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s begin to unpack this passage
-Much like anger or fear, joy is an emotion.
-Now I want us to grow to understand our emotions so we can use them as for the purpose of why God gave them to us.
-Emotions come and go as the wind of life turns around and blows the other way.
-That’s why I can be happy one moment and sad the next. Emotions are God given and help us to respond to life.
-The problem is that emotions mix with our sinful nature and they can easily make life to become way out of balance.
-Emotions are given by God to be like the caboose on a train.
-They trail along behind the engine and the baggage cars.
-As an example, when I wake up late because the alarm didn’t go off, then the car wouldn’t start, and while walking to work it started raining.
-Now, we would all agree that anger might be a pretty normal emotional response, but if I carried that anger into work and yelled at my co-workers, then went home and didn’t talk to my wife, then the emotions are beginning to pull the train rather than following along.
-Over time, if I continue to nurture that emotion and allow it to control my life, then I will be characterized by that emotion.
-He is an angry man, she is an anxious woman.
-That is an emotion that is pushing the train.
-But God wants us to be characterized as His followers for the same things that characterize Him, and that is what Paul is speaking of in “be joyful always.”
-So, how can Paul instruct us to be joyful always when our emotions just follow what comes in life?
-The only way that we can be joyful always is if there is something that trumps the fluctuating circumstances of life and remains constant.
-Now, what might that be?
-Maybe it will be that I will always have more than enough money.-Maybe the world finally figures it out and we live at peace.
-Maybe it’s that we are given a superpower and never feel pain again.
-Maybe it’s that everyone just starts treating me like the king I am.
-Paul explains the truth of our circumstance in verse 9-1
-No matter what circumstances we may be facing in this life, the truth of the Gospel
and our salvation in Jesus Christ is an eternal circumstance.
-Put it on a scale – a lifetime of hardship weighted against a eternity of glory.
-Paul does the math for us in II Cor. 4:17
When our salvation and future glory in heaven becomes the truth that we see
life through, then the emotion of joy is deeply rooted and overshadows whatever else might happen in this life.
-Now, that doesn’t mean that hardship in this life will disappear or will be easy to struggle through, but the train is pulled by the “joy of the LORD.
-His joy in us, becomes our strength” and that truth helps us respond to life
-If depression is characterized by a lack of hope, and maybe we are hoping in the wrong person.
-And we might wonder, PJ how can God be pleased with us since we are all sinners?
-We typically focus our attention on our performance for God, but how might our hope change if we began to refocus our attention on God’s performance for us?
-II Cor. 5:21 details God’s performance.
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”
-When we trust in Jesus – our focus changes from what we can do to get to heaven to what God has already done.
-And that hope (sure thing) gives us reason to “be joyful always.”
-Next, Paul encourages us to pray continually.
-Is Paul telling us that we are supposed to climb a mountain and get away from people so we can sit at Jesus’ feet and pray 24/7?
-If we desire to follow the example of Paul or even Jesus himself, they didn’t go off by themselves and pray 24/7.
-That doesn’t mean that they didn’t go off by themselves to pray and we should make sure that we build time into our schedule that are dedicated to prayer.
-But they certainly didn’t do that all the time.
-Like us, they lived in a physical body and there are things that needed to be attended to for ourselves and in ministry to others to.
-We are called to be the “hands and feet” of Jesus to those around us.
-So, what is Paul speaking about?
-The meaning here is not that we do nothing but pray, but that we pray in everything.
-Since we live in this broken world that is separated from God, prayer puts us in connection with the Lord.
-Continual prayer puts us in continual connection with God.
-Don’t we all need that?
-We are all prone to venture off on our own and respond to life in a way that pleases us.-Not that we don’t want to bring glory to God, but it’s easy to shift over and satisfy the desires of our hearts.
-Unless we are praying continually, that shift can happen in a flash, and it’s two hours later (or 2 month – 2 years) that we realize that we have been acting alone and we are out of God’s will.
-No matter what the physical circumstances of life are, we are always in desperate need God’s help.
-We need His wisdom, strength, help support, and our next breath.
-And that leads us to a Gospel centered prayer rather than a selfish prayer.
-We tend to pray as if God is the genie in the bottle rather than the God that He is.
-We should be praying for healing or a change in our circumstances so we might serve God more completely.
-But it could be that God has chosen for us to serve Him in sickness or in our circumstances.
-So we should be praying for God to reveal to us how He wants us to be growing and for strength and wisdom so we might glorify Him well, no matter the circumstances.
Give thanks in all circumstances
-Now, it’s not that hard to give thanks when we get a raise, but how are we to give thanks when we get fired?
-We need to look at the text – it doesn’t say “give thanks for all circumstances” but “give thanks in all circumstances”.
-That mean that we are not to be thankful for the circumstance, but in the circumstance.
-So, in every circumstance we can be thankful for God’s working in it.
-That also means that we are going to be giving thanks continually since circumstances happen 24/7.
-Some circumstances are good, some bad, some Godly, some evil.
-So, if we are to give thanks in all of those, what does that look like?
-History shows that God’s people forgot about Him when they prospered.
-They began to think that they created the prosperity and they took the credit for it.
-We can probably relate to that in our own lives.
-On the other side of the coin, when things are going badly, Israel tended to blame God for it or saw it as punishment.
-The result of that was that they either shook their fist at God or hid from Him.
-And I think we can all relate to that in our lives as well.
-The writer of Proverbs recognized this same truth that Paul is speaking of.
“Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”
-That is what Paul is speaking about here.
-He is recognizing our tendency to live in the world and become enamored by it or overwhelmed by it.
-And as that happens, we lose sight of God and He becomes small or insignificant.
-Whether good or bad, we are to give thanks to the God who uses those circumstances for our good.
-We might wonder what that good is . . . it’s the “everything happens for a reason”
-Romans 8:28-29 tells us.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son . . “
-God uses all circumstances to grow us to be more like Jesus and in that, we can give thanks in all circumstances.
-When that hits home, we turn the focus from our understanding and we begin to trust in God.
-And our question changes from: “How do I get out of this?” to “What does God want me to learn from this?”
-We begin to give thanks to God for all circumstances as we trust in Him. Since we are in Christ, it’s God’s will for us that the dominant reality of Christ’s return changes how we respond to all the circumstances of life.
-It isn’t the “Power of Positive Thinking” but the truth of our future hope that changes our lives.
-Because we are in Christ, we might not feel like being joyful, praying, and giving thanks, but our feelings are not meant to drive the train.
-As we do these things, the feelings will trail behind as we live by faith.
Return to Jack
-Jack had a co-worker who invited him to his Life Group.
-He had never read the Bible and didn’t know anything about it.
-After a couple weeks, he had all kinds of questions that the group worked hard to lovingly answer for him.
-What impressed him most was how the people in the group seemed to love on each other.
-After a couple months, Jack decided to go to church.
-He sat with the a couple guys from the group and heard the Gospel.
-That day he decided to respond and trust in Jesus.
-Suddenly, Jack had a new hope that he had never knew existed and he didn’t know what to make of it.
-All he knew at that point was that God loved him and died for his sins.
-But some things began to change in how Jack thought.
-As he began reading the Bible, he recognized this theme of thanksgiving that emanated from God’s people.
-As he thought about that, he realized that in his new faith, that his complaining was foolish and that he had much to be thankful for.
-Because of the Gospel, he had everything to get out of bed to enjoy.
-He continued to dig into God’s Word at home and with his Life Group and his life was totally transformed.
-Knowing that God was joyful over his faith brought him the most wonderful joy possible.
-Jack was living life differently – and with a joy he never thought possible.