The Way to Joy
There is suffering in this life that threatens to steal our joy. There are hard places that can create a sense of disillusionment and doubt within us. And if life’s constant provision of troubles has not affected you, as we will see in the life of Stephen today, persecution can also be a source of discouragement. But there is a surprise in suffering. Joy can be found there. Today we are going to talk about the way to joy.
Bible Reading of the Day: Acts 7-8
Wow, if there ever was a packed sermon, it was this sermon by Stephen. Stephen laid a foundation with complete details yet concise history of Israel and their relationship to God.
The Way to Joy is Fullness
Stephen was bold in the face of intense persecution. We notice several things about Stephen’s character that contributed to his joy.
- Acts 6:3 says that he was a man “of good reputation, full of the spirit and wisdom” who also had a servant’s heart.
- Acts 6:5 says that he was “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit”.
- And in Acts 6:8 says that he was “full of grace and power, and was performing great wonders and signs among the people”.
This was a mighty man of God. Notice the word “full”.
- Full of the spirit.
- Full of wisdom.
- And Full of faith.
- Full of the Holy Spirit.
- Full of grace.
- And Full of power.
It is when we are full of godly attributes that we can withstand the pressures of this life. It is when we are full of the Holy Spirit that we rise above the flesh and walk in the Spirit. And it is when we are so full of God that the world cannot breach that incomparable joy.
But Stephen was killed. By those who claimed to be the church. Where is the joy in that? Paul reminds us that our perception of joy is off in this world. There is a greater joy to be found.
The Way to Joy is to Live for Christ, Not Self
“21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard-pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.”
Joy in the faith. Not joy in circumstances. Not joy in this world.
Friends, during my recent hospital stays, there came a moment when my body temperature dropped to 95 on one thermometer and 96 on another at home. My husband quickly brought me back to the hospital I had just come from. Of course, it was super helpful when the hospital check-in person thought maybe my thermometer was broken.
I struggled to concentrate. I could not warm my body up and I was moving my legs to try and bring my temperature up while my husband wrapped me in blankets.
As sepsis sparked different infections in my already weak body, I realized that this could not end well for me.
There came a point where I talked with God and asked if I could have more time here. I know that sounds dramatic, but truly I thought of this passage in Philippians and how it is far superior to be in the presence of the living God. But oh how much I wanted to stay and be an encouragement to loved ones . . . even if it meant pain.
The Way to Joy is to Stay on Mission
We who are alive are not down here just to pass the time. We have to stay on mission, friends. And it will be mentally hard to stay in that place. It will be a fight. And the enemy of our souls will try to do everything he can to discourage us and get us to give up the fight.
But then we miss the point of it all if we do.
- Joy does not come from a problem-free life. It comes from overcoming in a problem-filled life.
- Joy comes as we abide in the Holy Spirit.
- And Joy comes as we look to Jesus, the Author, and Perfecter of our faith.
- And friends, joy comes as we abide in God’s word.
So many do not read God’s word. This is a tactic of the enemy that separates us from God. But God’s word empowers and strengthens us, and the Holy Spirit fills us and enables us to face anything.
Scripture of the Day: Acts 8:4, 8
“So those who were scattered went on their way preaching the word. 8 So there was great joy in that city.”
Notice that little word, “so”? There is a direct cause and effect. When we preach the word. When we study the word. And when we live out the word. There is great joy.
There is not great joy when we live for ourselves, ironically. But the world will be resistant to doing things God’s way.
“You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you!”
Those words by Stephen were not so well received. Everyone much prefers platitudes that keep them deceived. But there is a key learning in this verse by Stephen.
Resist the flesh—not the Spirit. Resist the resistance!
Friends, I would have missed an incredible mission in the hospital if I had given into various mindsets. The victim mindset was ready. This has been a rough year, y’all.
Melanoma. A pandemic, for crying out loud.
The Way to Joy is to set Our Mind on Christ
Colossians 3:2-3, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
Don’t set your mind on the temporary. Set it on Christ.
“Looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
You see that joy there in the midst of being crucified? Joy can be set, friends. But we will have to fight for that joy when other things threaten to snuff it out.
- Friends, when we live according to the Manufacturer’s directions, we have joy.
- The Spirit-led life is an exciting one, friends. It turns circumstances upside down and reexamines them through a biblical lens.
- Our politically correct world tells us to be quiet. Don’t do it.
- People are uncomfortable with truth and God’s word. Be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove in how you share, but friends, this is what we were created to do.
- Jesus told us to “go”. When we don’t do what Jesus told us to do, it is a joy killer, for sure.
- People will not always accept the message that God has given, but that is the job of the Holy Spirit, not us.
- We are just called to be faithful.
- And we need to live out this message we share, friends. Otherwise, people cannot receive the message. Living contrary to what has been revealed steals our joy, too.
𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝘁𝗼𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗮𝘁 𝟱 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.
Day #293: The Way to Find Joy At All Times
Verse of the Day: Acts 8:4,8
Join live: www.facebook.com/deniseduboispass