2: The Fullness of Joy

  • Introduction:

We have found ourselves in a very weird world all of the sudden. I sense so much anxiety and panic. Many big things are going on in the world right now – most predominately is the coronavirus. We also have a tanking stock market and big presidential elections and its tax season. Each on its own is incredibly stressful. But all of this all at once. No wonder the store shelves are bare and there’s a run on toilet paper. The world is scared. The world is suddenly turned upside down. It can be hard to find anything good in times like these: when you don’t know if the stores will have food, or when you will have money, or when you can even have coffee with your friends again? There is just so much uncertainty in the world right now. We are all feeling it and dealing with it. It is so hard to not be anxious in times like these.

Last time I talked about spending time in the presence of God’s glory, to contemplate and meditate on His majesty. No one can be in the presence of the Almighty Sovereign God and remain unchanged. Being in His presence will change you. It will transform you.

When I’m anxious, I’ve learned that peace is not my greatest need, but joy. Joy that is constant, that is permanent, and that is complete. Joy that comes with peace in the face of so many unknowns.

I have always been an anxious person. In fact, last year I suffered multiple panic attacks and nearly had to be hospitalized. But by God’s glory and His grace, He saved me and brought me into His presence.

  • As I prayed about what to say today – in light of all that is going on in the world, this verse came to mind: In His presence is the fullness of joy. That comes from Psalms 16.

I Would like to share with you a few verses from this chapter.

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord (Yahweh), You are my Lord (Master);
I have no good apart from you.

5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot (future).

8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Let’s take a look at Acts 2. Here the Holy Spirit comes down and fills the believers. They begin speaking in other languages and they were being accused of being drunk. So, Peter stands up and gives the first sermon. He quotes from the Prophet Joel and explains that this is a fulfillment of that prophecy. Then he transitions and calls their attention to Jesus.

Quoting Psalm 16, Peter tells us that David prophesied of Jesus. It is Jesus who was not abandoned to Hades. It is Jesus whose body will not see decay. It is Jesus who knows the paths of life. It is Jesus who is the fullness of Joy.

  • What is Joy?
    • It is something like happiness or gladness. Gladness reminds me of Pollyanna. Do you remember that movie with Haley Mills? Pollyanna was an orphan girl, daughter of recently deceased missionaries, who was an eternal optimist. She always sought to find gladness in everything. Happiness – Charles Shultz, the creator of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts, wrote that Happiness is a warm puppy.
    • Joy is neither of these things. Joy isn’t an emotion. Joy is deeper than that. Joy is a state of being. It’s one of elements in the fruit of the Spirit. The Lexham Bible Dictionary states that Joy is the result of choice. But what choice? Can you just CHOOSE joy?
    • I know that I try to choose to be joyful in my life, it might last for a little while but it doesn’t stick. It doesn’t stay.
    • The key to joy is its source! I have learned that you must choose the Source of Joy. Joy is evidence of its source. It is the FRUIT.
    • Philippians 4:4 gives us a clue.
      • Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
      • Or we could say “In the Lord, rejoice always!”
        • How can we rejoice always? When we are in the Lord!
          • Which echoes the words of our main verse: “In His presence is the fullness of Joy.” “In the Lord, Rejoice always!”
        • As Paul continues, he gives us some clues to characteristics of JOY or rejoicing.
          • “Let your graciousness (or gentle spirit) be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything through prayer and thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard you hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
        • Paul connects JOY to grace and peace. We see here that the rejoicing person is to be known for extending grace to everyone and that their hearts and minds are guarded by God’s Peace.
      • Nestled between the “gracious” statement and the “peace of god” statement, Paul makes a strong command to the believer who is to be known for rejoicing in all circumstances, for being gentle and gracious to everyone, and in whom the Peace of God is guarding their hearts and minds. He says, “Do NOT worry about anything!” Thankfully, he doesn’t just leave them or us with command – which can at times seem completely impossible. I mean, how can you just not worry? Instead he says, “In everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
    • What then is the opposite of joy? What is the enemy of joy? Anxiety!
      • Jesus had a few words to say about Anxiety. Let’s turn to Matthew chapter 6. (We will return to Phil. 4 in a moment.) Matthew 6:25 through the end of the chapter. My bible has this section titled “The Cure for Anxiety”. [Read section]
      • Jesus’s solution is to trust in your Heavenly Father, the infinite almighty Creator God, who created you in His image, for His glory, who offers you hope, forgiveness of sin, and eternal life. Jesus is saying “TRUST HIM”. “Won’t he do much more for you? Your heavenly father knows what you need before you ask him.”
    • But Jesus didn’t just leave at trust. He says to SEEK FIRST God’s kingdom and righteousness. He doesn’t list a second item. God’s Kingdom and God’s Righteousness are two parts of a whole. How can you pursue God’s kingdom and Righteousness? It’s not just putting these things on the top of your priority list, because Jesus doesn’t list any second or third items. It is making the pursuit of God’s Kingdom and Righteousness your all, making it the aim of your whole life. It is the first and the last. The Cure of Anxiety is the intentional pursuit of God’s Kingdom and Righteousness your whole life. God’s kingdom and righteousness are elements or attributes of His Glory. The Pursuit of God’s glory in all things is the cure for anxiety. And if anxiety is the enemy of joy, the pursuit of God’s Kingdom and Righteous, that is His Glory, is the key to joy. When your first and your last is the pursuit of God’s Glory in all things, Jesus said all THESE things will be taken care of.
      • In HIS Presence is the fullness of Joy.
    • The Kingdom of God is fulfilled in the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. The Righteousness of God is in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Glory of God is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ.
    • In HIS Presence is the fullness of Joy. Fullness means complete or without lacking.
      • This implies that, yes, we can have some measure of joy on our own. But it isn’t complete. There is joy missing.
      • Have you tried to choose to be joyful on your own? I have. SO many times. I got so tried of striving to be joyful that I actually became more depressed and anxious.
        • I was however choosing my own joy. I wasn’t pursuing God’s Glory as the supreme aim of my life. I just wanted to gift without pursuing the Giver.
        • Jesus says in John 15 that apart from him we can do nothing. My efforts to have my joy didn’t work. But Jesus doesn’t leave us without hope.
      • Let’s look at John 15 and see what Jesus says there.
        • Abide in me. Remain in me. Remain. Remain. He repeats this so much. We must stop and notice. Jesus REALLY is trying to drive home a point. Every repetition is lie he’s typing in all CAPS, in bold, with underlines. Pay attention. REMAIN in ME and you will bear much fruit. And bearing fruit is glorifying to God.
        • Why does Jesus want his disciples to Remain in Him? SO THAT [purpose statement] His Joy, the joy of Jesus Christ himself, will be in you AND therefore making your own joy complete.
          • Because without His joy, our own joy is deficient. It is lacking. It is incomplete.
        • In HIS Presence is the fullness of Joy. Abiding in Him, remaining in Christ is the fullness of joy.
      • If the fullness of joy is in His Presence, how can we be in his presence?
        • Who can be in the presence of the Almighty and Holy God?
          • In Romans 3, Paul echoes the words of David
            • There is no one righteousness, not even one. There is no on who understands, there is no one who sees God. All have turned away; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.
              • Romans 1:29-32: They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, senseless, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they ow God’s just sentence – that those who practice such things deserve to die.
            • 3:23 – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
          • If we are all unrighteous, if we are all sinners, and if we have all fallen short of God’s glory, how then can we be in his presence?
            • The short answer is, on our own, we can’t.
            • But we aren’t left without hope. God provided a way.
              • Those who are without Christ are without hope.
            • Yet we, unrighteous filthy dirty scumbags, are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption of Jesus Christ.
              • Romans 3 continues: 25-26
                • The one who has faith in Jesus Christ is declared righteous because of what Christ did.
                • Because of this declaration of righteousness and faith, we are in Christ.
              • Our joy comes from the assurance that we have redemption in Christ.
                • When the guilt of our sin is gone, Joy floods our souls.
              • Let’s return for a moment to Peter’s sermon in Acts 2.
                • After he explained that Jesus is the Messiah which David prophesied about, what was the response?
                  • Acts 2:37-39
                    • Repent and be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ for you will receive the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For this promise, is for you and for your children, and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call.
                  • So, how then can we be in the presence of God?
                    • Repent – humble yourself in the sight of the lord. Declare your own filth before him
                    • Put our faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness for your sins
                      • He will cleanse you of all unrighteousness AND
                      • He will declare you righteous on behalf of Jesus
                    • 51
                    • Now in the righteousness of Christ, we can stand in the presence of the Almighty God.

How is it with you today? are you afraid? Are you anxious? Is your joy complete?

Then trust in the Lord. Make the Glory of God in Christ your supreme aim in life.  And Rejoice! For in His presence, there is the fullness of Joy.

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