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.
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
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; ).
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.
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).
List at least three sources of joy.
Abiding in Jesus’ love and obeying God’s
commandments is the best way to achieve everlasting joy. T/F
Memorize 1Thess 5:16-18 and write it down.
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
How can we “abide in Jesus’ love”?
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
Why are Christians able to have joy in
Helping other people always takes away your joy
because you could’ve used that time on yourself. T/F
Praying in the spirit is a good way to keep yourself from being depressed. T/F
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?
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
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?
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.