Let’s stop lying to ourselves and let’s stop blaming God, saying, “God just wants me to be happy”. God does not want you to be happy. He doesn’t; he wants something more.
The book of Philippians is a book about outrageous, contagious joy. It is hidden in the New Testament, written by a guy named Paul. This guy had been shipwrecked, left for dead several times, bitten by snakes and now he is chained to a Roman soldier. And what does he do? Fourteen times he talks about joy. JOY is a condition of happiness. Condition is the state of being of a person.
You would think that Paul would be singing some (Folsom Prison Blues), while he is in a Roman prison. “I hear that train comin’, it’s rollin’ round the bend. I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when.”
But Paul was not doing that. Paul was writing about outrageous and contagious joy.
Paul is going to tell us that JOY IS A PROCESS, NOT A DESTINATION. It is a decision followed by a process, but not a destination.
He is in Rome, writing to the people of Philippi. “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Philippians 1:3-5)
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) Say the word “Completion” with me- “Completion.”
God is an artist; it is what he does. The Bible calls us works of art. We are made in the image of God. Scripture says that we are God’s workmanship, we are unique, and we are canvases. But so often, God is drawing in our lives and we don’t understand the color scheme, the scale.
We say, “God, why are you doing that? It does not really look right.”
But God is working to complete the work that he started.
God is going to work out what he has worked in. God is going to work out, by his love and grace, what he is already working in. That gives me confidence and joy. Joy is the constant confidence that we know, no matter what life or people through at us, that it is part of this gorgeous painting that God is making out of your life and mine.
If you allow Jesus to come into your life. He will then forgive you and cleanse. Then, once he is in your life, you will become a white canvas and God has the freedom to draw and draw and draw. You will not truly discover joy until you allow God to draw. It is all about completion.
I didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast this morning, [if you are giving this talk to your chapter, start eating a banana] but I love fruit.
The fruit of the spirit is … joy.
The first thing Christ does when he comes into your life is He places the person of the Holy Spirit there.
The Holy Spirit works from the inside out and redecorates to give outrageous, contagious joy. He is at work producing joy in my life and yours. Yet, I have this counter force battling the Holy Spirit called- Me! God’s spirit in me wants to produce joy and I want to produce selfishness and pride and envy and jealousy.
The Holy Spirit produces fruit called joy.
It is to share. [Chaplain gives the tangerine to a person in the audience.] I share the fruit and am unselfish. And do you know what happens when I share? I have outrageous, contagious joy.
The world says that if I pursue happiness, I will catch it. But that is wrong. If you pursue happiness you will end up with the opposite—unhappiness. We have to take the floaties off and go deep to discover joy. So, joy is a process not a destination.
Notice something else, JOY IS RELATIONAL, NOT CIRCUMSTANTIAL.
In John 15:11 Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Think about the chalk drawing again, God is completing it. He is the artist.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
Many people think, “If I can just avoid any problems and stay away from problem people. Then I will be happy.”
What kind of thinking is that? That does not make sense. I don’t care if you are CEO of the World, married to Ms. World, flying to your homes all over the world and driving the best cars in the world; you will have problems. I don’t care if you are far away from God or if you are Billy Graham on steroids; you will have problems.
Life is full of problems. And the problem with life is the problems. But sometimes people think that we can evade the problems. But we live in a fallen world, and we cannot do it. It is how we process the problems and what we do with the problems. And Scripture teaches us how to process the problems and how to do it with outrageous and contagious joy.
“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”
Say the word “Advance” with me- “Advance.”
The word “Advance” is a powerful word because the picture behind it is a group of guys that would go before an advancing army. They would clear out a smooth path for the advancing arm to TCB—take care of business.
That says a lot to me, because when I have problems and I feel like I have been shipwrecked, beaten and snake bit and I want to sing the blues, what should I do? I should remember that God is working on my canvas and that he is using those situations and circumstances to clear away the underbrush so that the gospel can be advanced. That gives confidence, power, and perspective. And that gives outrageous, contagious joy.
Before you came today, did you ever think: “God just wants me to be happy.” No he doesn’t. God wants us to be deeper. God wants us to move from the shallow end to the deep end with outrageous, contagious joy in your marriage. God wants you to have outrageous, contagious joy in your career, friendships, and recreational pursuits. God wants us to live lives of joy. He wants life to be a joyful journey.
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