Sunday, August 06, 2006
I like this devotional by the late Dr. Bill Bright.

Once you and I truly experience the joy of the Lord, no one can rob us of that joy!

That does not mean that we will never experience disappointment, sorrow or grief; but it does mean that deeps down underneath it all is the joy that comes as a gift from God, the fruit of the Spirit. And that is the kind of joy that no one can take away.

Underneath the tears, the heartache, lies the calm, sweet peace that God gives to those who walk in faith and obedience. And that is a part of the joy that He promises.

Jesus' promise to see His disciples again, of course, refers to after the resurrection. "You will be so firmly persuaded that I have risen," He says to them, "and that I am the Messiah, that neither the threats nor the persecutions of men will ever be able to shake your faith, or produce doubt or unbelief and thus take away your joy."

Jesus' prediction, as we know, was remarkably fulfilled, for after He revealed Himself to them following the resurrection, not one of the apostles ever doubted for a moment that He has risen from the dead. No trial or persecution was able to shake their faith - so that their joy remained.

You and I have certainties of faith that are unshakable, and thus they produce joy - joy that will remain forever and ever.

Jesus knew they were dying to ask him what he meant, so he said, "Are you trying to figure out among yourselves what I meant when I said, 'In a day or so you're not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me'? Then fix this firmly in your minds: You're going to be in deep mourning while the godless world throws a party. You'll be sad, very sad, but your sadness will develop into gladness."

"When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there's no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you'll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You'll no longer be so full of questions."

"This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I've revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he'll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!" (John 16:19-24, MSG)

  posted at 7:13 AM  

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Michael K said...

This is an interesting passage. I wonder a lot about how joyous we Christians are supposed to be. At church in the last month or so we've talked about embracing trials, even enjoying them because we know they produce perseverance, etc. etc. Christians are telling me all the time how "joyous" I am supposed to be because I have Jesus. I know we say "joyous" isn't the same thing as happy, but that seems like a lot of rhetoric to me sometimes. Sometimes I feel joyous, but a lot of time I’m left wondering what the heck people are talking about and whether or not I’ve missed the boat.

Anyway, this passage sounds to me like Jesus is saying there's going to be joy--and it's going to be some pretty serious, amazing joy--but not until he comes back. The question is, does he mean when he is resurrected and appears to the disciples or does he mean when he comes back on that horse and scares the crap out of everyone with that sword coming out his mouth? I kind of think it’s the latter (not literally, I’m kidding about the whole scaring the crap out of everyone bit, but I do think he’s talking about the Second Coming, not his appearance to the disciples).

If he is talking about the Second Coming, doesn’t that mean we’re in “child birth” right now? And if we are, doesn’t that mean we’re going to be “sad, very sad”? I’m not saying that there’s nothing good about our current lives or nothing to enjoy, I’m just questioning whether or not we’re able to experience this joy everyone keeps talking about. And if we’re not able yet, are we all just faking it?

…Timeout though. There is great joy. The joy of living after Jesus is the joy of living after the cross. The joy of forgiveness. The joy of communion with the Living God. Right? But that joy is extremely tainted. It is a joy tainted by sin and the crappy situation we all find ourselves in until he comes back.

…Now I’m really confused…

Some say Christians should be known for the joy they have. Sometimes I think Christians should be more categorized by the longing they have for things to come than by the joy they have now. That doesn’t sound as great though. I think I’d rather be known for joy than longing. Joy makes me think of an amusement park. Longing makes me think of a hospital waiting room.

At 9:42 PM, Blogger Todd M said...

Wow. Thank you for the thoughtful response. It is times like these that I wish I was smarter.

Perhaps some others will weigh in on this.

In the NLT, John 16:19-30 sort of sheds some interesting light on this. It was not the Message that Bill Bright had included in his devotional. I am pretty sure he had King James.

To me, the implication is that once that separation between God and His people was broken so that we might have direct contact with Him through His son, then joy is ours.

Anyway, here's the NLT ... I get a kick out of verse 29 but that's just me being weird.

Thanks again, Mike K!

19Jesus realized they wanted to ask him, so he said, "Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in just a little while I will be gone, and you won't see me anymore. Then, just a little while after that, you will see me again. 20Truly, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy when you see me again. 21It will be like a woman experiencing the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives place to joy because she has brought a new person into the world. 22You have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. 23At that time you won't need to ask me for anything. The truth is, you can go directly to the Father and ask him, and he will grant your request because you use my name. 24You haven't done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

25"I have spoken of these matters in parables, but the time will come when this will not be necessary, and I will tell you plainly all about the Father. 26Then you will ask in my name. I'm not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, 27for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. 28Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and I will leave the world and return to the Father."

29Then his disciples said, "At last you are speaking plainly and not in parables. 30Now we understand that you know everything and don't need anyone to tell you anything. From this we believe that you came from God."

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Michael K said...

I like verse 29 too. the MST (Mike's sweet translation) would read: Dang dude, it's about time. Why didn't you just say that the first time?

At 9:44 PM, Blogger Todd M said...

That is very funny.


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