Complete Joy in Jesus

“I have said these things to you
so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
John 15:11

Joy has been the topic of my articles during this Easter season. The verse
above is within Jesus’ analogy of the vine and the branches. As we (the branches) abide in Christ (the vine) we will have complete joy. This joy is really his joy abiding in us as we abide in him.
“Love unites the disciples to Christ as branches are united to a vine. Two
results stem from this relationship: obedience and joy. Obedience marks the cause of their fruitfulness; joy is its result. Jesus intends his disciples to be both
spontaneous and happy rather than burdensome and boring. Obedience in carrying out his purpose guarantees success, for Jesus never plans failure for his disciples. Joy logically follows when the disciples realize that the life of Christ in them is bringing fruit—something they could never produce in their own strength. (Expositor’s Commentary)”
Obedience to Christ keeps us connected to him, and joy is the energy that we
receive from that relationship. So, when Christians tell me that they are lacking
joy in their lives, I wonder if it is because their obedience is lacking. We should all question where are we not committed to being obedient to Christ. Then we can reconnect with Christ to allow this life completing joy to fill us.

Pastor Greg

Being Joyful Because God Remembers

For he remembered his holy promise
and Abraham, his servant.
So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
Psalm 105:42-43


     Has God forgotten about me?  That is a question that sometimes troubles us as we struggle with the issues of faith and life.  In the Psalm above, the people of God, with the promises to Abraham are in bondage in Egypt.  They are considered no more than possessions of the Pharoah.  They are given hard labor, hard taskmasters, and even witnessing their children dying.  This goes on for many years before Moses is born.  Then 80 years later, Moses tells Pharoah, “To let my people go!”
     Did God forget about his chosen people for those 400 years in Egypt?  No, God did not.  But after the years of death, servitude, and suffering, the day of Joy did come.  God led them out of Egypt with joy and singing.  I think we need this perspective for the trials that we endure.  No matter how bad it seems today, the day of joy will come to God’s people.  As Jesus was raised from the dead when his trials were complete, God will deliver us with the same power.  That is why the Apostle says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
     Easter joy is not a vain promise.  And the promises that keep that joy in front of us, will also keep our hearts and minds immovable in the face of whatever life brings to us.

Pastor Greg

There will be a new member reception in the service on
Pentecost, May 19.  

If you would like to be a part of the membership class, please let me know. 

The Command of Joy

Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. (Philippians 3:1)Here the Apostle is commanding the believers to have joy in the Lord.  How can that be a command?  We too often see joy as a response to something, but it is a decision that we must make.  So not to be joyful is disobedience.  All too often, believers walk around depressed, discouraged and just plain glum.  I think so often that has to do with our focus.Paul’s focus was on Christ, not on his accomplishments, or even all that he gave up to be a Christian (Philippians 3:2-8).  He focuses on Christ in a way that seems counter-intuitive for joy; he focuses on Christ’s death.  “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:10-11)”  His focus was not a morbid obsession, it was confidence in God.  Paul saw life through the lens of God’s eternal justice.  Though the Messiah had come, obeyed the Father perfectly, kept the Law completely, fulfilled the will of God fully; the Messiah was unjustly accused and mistreated.  The Messiah was killed by unjust people, but then as proof of his acceptance by God, Christ was raised from the dead.  We walk in joy, because no matter how much injustice we experience, no matter how unfairly we are treated, no matter when we are rejected for all the good that we do, our faith is in the God that raised Jesus from the dead.  And the promise, that we too will be raised in complete justification by the Judge of all the living.That is why Easter is the season of Joy.  The command to rejoice in the Lord, is not a denial of the pain of life, it is despite the pain of life.  This is not all there is.  We have faith in the God that raises us from the dead.Pastor Greg

How Do We Begin the Season of Joy?

So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:8  

The Season of Easter is a season of joy, celebration, and happiness at the news of the empty tomb and the resurrected Savior.  That is the way it should be!  Yet, the way we experience life rarely is it completely this way.  As we see the response to the Resurrection in the Bible, it is often mixed with other, and sometimes conflicting emotions.  Such as the passage above: fear and great joy. 

Joy is a mark of God’s Spirit dwelling in our hearts.  Also, we see fear there too.  Christ’s victory over the grave and death does not mean that now our lives are worry free.  Jesus is very clear to his disciples, “in this world you shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  Life, even following the Resurrected Son of God, is one of struggle, conflict, painful times, rejection, and confusion.

 As we struggle with ourselves, we must admit that our desires to do better often go awry.  We are frustrated with how incomplete our love can be expressed.  When we stand for the just cause, we are rejected even by those we are trying to help.  The presence of these things does not exclude joy in our experience of follow the Resurrected one.
Then our confession is that the season of joy begins sometimes with fear, confusion, struggle, and pain.  We do not deny the reality of life, but we grasp a greater reality that puts it all in order.  The reality of the empty tomb and meeting the living Son of God. 

Pastor Greg