Joy Promised (Isaiah 9:1-7, Matthew 2:10, Luke 2:8-11)
As we get further into the Christmas season, we are digging deeper into the rich nature of God’s love. This love was shown in the appearance of His Son. Sunday, God spoke through Pastor Vince as he covered that in order for us to truly feel the Joy God, we must endure the temporal suffering in this sinful world. This Joy comes with living a sacrificial life imitating Jesus.
- Have you ever experienced some sort of suffering in life that later led to joy? If so, how?
- How does current American joy (which is really happiness) compare to what Scripture describes joy as? Talk about the differences.
Joy Tested (James 1:2-4)
Americans often struggle with first world problems, but still, real suffering can happen. In fact for those who call Jesus Lord, it’s promised. Unfortunately, many under the leadership of false teachers believe true joy brings an easy life. Scripture simply doesn’t support this idea, but instead calls us to suffer in order that Jesus will be proclaimed in our suffering.
- Why should we maintain a spirit of Joy when life is hard?
- What hope is there in knowing God chose us to suffer?
Joy Redefined (1 Peter 4:12-14, 2 Corinthians 7:4)
We talked about “Joy” as defined in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology: “A delight in life that runs deeper than pain or pleasure....it is not limited by nor tied solely to external circumstances. Joy is a gift of God, and like all of His other inner gifts, it can be experienced even in the midst of extremely difficult circumstances.”Scripture validates the idea that biblical joy should never be tied to what we are dealing with, but rather is tied more to our identity in Jesus.
- Have you ever lived with an unbiblical definition of joy? If so, how did it affect you?
Joy is a Gift (Psalm 4:6-8, Galatians 5:16-23, Hebrews 12:1-2, John 15:9-11, John 16:16-24)
Many trials in life can leave us asking why we should have joy at all. For some of us, we let the nature of sin beat us because we forget Jesus has won. It’s the hope of the evil one that we will let our joy be robbed and our hope be smothered out. But Jesus will not be smothered out of our lives and He will not be robbed of His Joy. Nor will He let His Church be robbed of the Joy that He died to provide.
- How are you living in a way that proclaims Jesus died to give you true, eternally fulfilling joy?
Isaiah 9:1-7 ESV:
 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
 You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
 For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Matthew 2:10 ESV:
 “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”
Luke 2:8-11 ESV:
 “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
James 1:2-4 ESV:
 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
1 Peter 4:12-14 ESV:
 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”
2 Corinthians 7:4 ESV:
 “I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.”
Psalm 4:6-8 ESV:
 “There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
 You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.”
Galatians 5:16-24 ESV:
 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,  envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV:
 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
John 15:9-11 ESV:
 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
John 16:16-24 ESV:
 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.”  So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?”  So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.”  Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’?  Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.  When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.  So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.  In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.  Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Romans 8:18 ESV:
 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
 Or “Isn’t it fulfilling to know God chose us to be agents to proclaim Jesus in our suffering?”
 Walter Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary on Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 636.