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 (A New Life in Christ)
Week 12: Rejoicing in the Lord
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Week 12: Rejoicing in the Lord

People often see God as a killjoy—someone who enjoys making life miserable by burdening us with rules and regulations. But is God really a maniacal overlord who enjoys putting cake before your hungry eyes only to take it away at the last second? Does God enjoy watching you, like a little plaything, squirm through trials and temptations? The Bible records a time Jesus attended a wedding party (Jn 2:1-11). But a problem was encountered at the party: the people ran out of wine. Fortunately, Jesus was there and miraculously turned water into wine. Biblically, wine could symbolize strength and joy in life (Judg ; 2Sam 16:2; Est ; Ps 104:15; Eccl 10:19; Songs 2:4f).

You may feel spiritually drained and disheartened in your faith at times, i.e., you may feel as if you’ve run out of wine. But Jesus’ sign of turning water into wine teaches you an invaluable lesson—not how to drink till you’re joyfully drunk, but how to let God spiritually transform your life. You should be filled with the Holy Spirit, not wine (Eph 5:18). The fulfillment of God’s transforming power is all you need to renew your strength and joy in life. Remember, Jesus didn’t come to kill your joy; Jesus came to complete your joy—turning your water into wine. Learn how to rejoice in the Lord and you’ll enjoy your spiritual life that much more.

Some Basic Principles

Abide in Jesus’ Love.

In Jn 15:1-9, the Lord teaches us to abide in his love by keeping his commandments. Then in verse 11, he says, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn ). Therefore, Christ’s abundant joy is ours if we abide in his love. Abiding in Jesus’ love means you’ll obey Jesus’ commandments, and his commandment is that we love one another (Jn ).

Your Spiritual Joy Is A Measure of Your Love for God.

Renewing your love will naturally renew your joy. Sometimes being a Christian seems like too heavy a burden to bear. The Bible seems filled with weighty laws and commandments you must follow; however, all the commandments distill into two: love God and love others (Mt -40). Obeying God’s commandments shouldn’t weigh down your spirits. You’ll only feel burdened by God’s commandments when you’ve lost your love for God and for others (1 Jn 5:3). Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24:12, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” 1 John 3:4 explains this prophetic statement, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness.” The reason you can’t experience joy in your spiritual life is because your love has grown cold and you’re living in the darkness of sin.

Rejoice in Your Suffering as Jesus’ Follower.

As we have studied in the lesson on trials and tribulations, Christians are bound to suffer. But as believers we do not despair when we suffer. The followers of Jesus had much to say about joy in suffering. James reminds us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of [our] faith produces patience. (Jas 1:2,3). When we suffer because of our faith, we should all the more rejoice because we become partners of Christ in his sufferings (1Pet ,13). Like the apostles, we should consider suffering for the name of Christ an honor and rejoice because we are worthy to suffer for Christ (cf. Acts -41).

Rejoice and Be Thankful Always.

This principle also applies even when you’re not suffering trials or temptation (1Thess ; Eph ). Jesus, in Luke , tells you to rejoice because your name is written in heaven. If you obey God and abide in him, you can confidently come before God’s presence and know you have eternal life through Jesus (1 Jn ). Since you’ve seen Jesus, spiritually speaking, you’ve seen God’s salvation and should rejoice (Lk -45; ).

Suggested Guidelines

Be Part of the Fellowship of Believers.

Take every opportunity to fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Having fellowship means encouraging one another with the word of God and personal testimonies so that we can all grow together in the faith. The fellowship you have with other church members is a great source of spiritual joy (cf. 2Jn 12).

Be Filled with the Holy Spirit.

One characteristic of God’s kingdom is joy in the Holy Spirit. “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom ). Since the fruit of the Holy Spirit brings joy (cf. Gal ; 1Thess 1:6), we can experience great joy when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. While people of the world seek pleasures through materials, we are to find joy in the Holy Spirit (Eph ). Through constant prayer and practicing God’s word, God’s joy will always live in us.

Study and Meditate on God’s Word.

God’s word will give you guidance when you feel lost. It will comfort you in your most trying and depressing times. This was the experience of the prophet Jeremiah, who said to the Lord, “Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jer 15:16). Sincerely seek God when you’re down and you’ll find him. Don’t forget God is always there to take you by the hand and lift you up when you fall. his word will be your source of joy in the midst of your difficulties.

Sing Hymns.

Singing hymns is also a great source of spiritual joy and cheer (Eph ). By singing hymns, you can uplift your heart when it’s depressed or feeling down. Even in your most trying times you can sing hymns to lift up your spirits and praise God (Acts ).

Be A Helper.

It feels good to help someone in need because you feel like you’ve done something worthwhile and meaningful. For example, when you preach the gospel and bring people to the Lord, you have great joy. When you counsel a brother who is in despair and he regains his hope, you also share in his joy. When you learn to give and share what you have, not only will you feel good, the Lord has promised that his joy will also abide in you because you have obeyed his command to love others (Jn 15:9-13).

Questions

1.      List at least three sources of joy.

2.      Abiding in Jesus’ love and obeying God’s commandments is the best way to achieve everlasting joy. T/F

3.      Memorize 1Thess 5:16-18 and write it down.

4.      What are some practical ways for us to fulfill Jesus’ command to love one another?5. As Christians, we should be thankful to God and rejoice always. T/F

5.      How can we “abide in Jesus’ love”?

6.      Having fellowship with brothers and sisters means doing fun activities with them such as watching movies or bowling. This will give you joy. T/F

7.      Why are Christians able to have joy in suffering?

8.      Helping other people always takes away your joy because you could’ve used that time on yourself. T/F

9.      Praying in the spirit is a good way to keep yourself from being depressed. T/F

Case Studies

1.      David was not a happy person before he became a Christian. But ever since he was baptized, he’s been much happier. David used to beat up his wife, who converted to Christianity before him, whenever he got mad at her. He would usually beat her up after she came back from church. He hated the fact that his wife went to church and left him alone. Fortunately, after many prayers by his wife, David came to church one day and received the Holy Spirit. After receiving the Holy Spirit, David’s life was changed. He now understood how badly he treated his wife before. David would cry bitterly every time he even thought about how much he emotionally hurt and scarred his wife through years of abuse. David has now made a sincere commitment to make up for his past mistakes. In every little thing, David tries to make his wife happy and joyful. As a result of the changes he's made after he receive the Holy Spirit, his family is much happier and peaceful. However, one day David loses his job and has a heated argument with his boss. He comes home very angry and begins to take it out on his wife again. He stops going to church and he loses the joy he’s enjoyed since his baptism. What has happened and why? If you were David’s good friend, how would you advise him in this situation?

2.      Cherry was always a very joyful Christian. Every time she came to church, her face was beaming with joy. Cherry loved to pray deeply and often to God. If she ever encountered a problem, she would always take it to prayer. However, one day her son, who was only 16 years old, was killed in a car accident. Her faith was shattered in an instant. Cherry still tried to pray, but her prayers were unfocused because she could only blamed God for her son's misfortune. She asked God in her prayers, "God, how could you let this happen to me? I loved you and tried to do everything right! Why did you do this?!" Her prayers became more and more angry towards God, until she finally lost all desire to pray. Eventually, Cherry no longer came to church. At times, Cherry thought about committing suicide because her very existence became too heavy a burden. However, one day, for some unknown reason, Cherry decided to open up her Bible. She turned to John chapter 16. After reading the whole chapter, Cherry began to weep uncontrollably. At the same time, her faith was somewhat renewed and she found enough strength to pray with a sincere heart to God again. After her prayer, she decided to move forward with her life. Cherry came back to church on her own and began to renew her resolve to pray sincerely and humbly before God. During the first prayer she had after she came back to church, Cherry was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to sing spiritual songs. God really comforted her heart in that prayer. If you knew Cherry, how would you have comforted her after she first learned about the death of her son?

Examine this story carefully and think about/discuss with others how you could regain your spiritual joy after facing a difficult trial like Cherry.

If you were in Cherry's shoes, how would you react to a devastating event like the death of a loved one? Would it be a good or bad reaction?

Activity

1.      One of the practical steps, mentioned above, to enjoying your spiritual life was helping out others and bringing joy to others. Helping out and bringing joy to others doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money or exhaust all your time. Helping others out might be as simple as giving a ride to church to a brother or sister who can't drive. It can be as easy as talking to and encouraging a brother or sister who feels depressed or lonely. In about a month's time, keep a log of all the helpful things/joy you've done/brought to others. Evaluate how you feel inside after you've helped others or made them more joyful. Do you yourself feel more spiritually joyful or do you feel burdened? Think about your reaction to helping out or bringing joy to others and ask yourself why you react the way you do. Also, if you have nothing in your log by the end of a month's time, think about why you don't help out or bring joy to others. Make a commitment, for the next month's time, to do one act that will help out another brother/sister or bring some joy to another person's life.

 

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Publisher: True Jesus Church
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