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The Joy of the Lord – do all Christians have it equally? – John 15:7-11

The Joy of the Lord

Do all Christians have the joy of the Lord in equal measure? Do all believers make the same progress in their faith? Are all believers equally committed to walking daily in obedience to Christ? How does each believer grow in the joy of the Lord?

Date: January 15, 2012
Title: Why Don’t All Believers Have The Same Joy?
Scripture: John 15:7-11
Speaker: Kevin A. Pierpont

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We all know the answer is “no”, don’t we? Why don’t all believers make the same progress in their faith.

We’ll see the answer to that question, we’ll see the solution to steady progress in the faith and we’ll see the way to real joy and happiness — all in John 15:7-11 this morning where Jesus says:

7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Why do some believers you meet seem to be so full of joy, they seem to have a healthy prayer life and a strong love for God’s Word? And then there are other Christians you meet that seem to lack real joy. They seem to lack a strong prayer life and don’t seem to enjoy God’s Word.

What makes the difference? Did those believers who seem strong and joyful in their faith receive something different at salvation than those who don’t seem strong and joyful in their faith, or do they not struggle with sin like others do? Or do those who seem lack a zeal for God and His Word and prayer, simply face more trials and difficulties than others do?

No, I think we can agree that all believers received the same indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit at salvation, all face the same types of life challenges and all have to deal with and confess sin.

But it is clear that not all believers are the same in their walk with Christ.

Think of the prayer life of a follower of Christ. We spent a couple of Sunday’s here at the beginning of the year addressing the importance of consistent and faith filled prayer in the life of a believer. We encouraged and challenged you to commit to praying for one another and the ministry of this church for the first eight days of January.

And we are now encouraging and challenging you to commit to praying for the ministry we are a part of here for at least 15 minutes on the first and fifteenth of each month. So I trust we all understand the importance of faithful prayer in the life of God’s children.

But even though we all know prayer is important, I think it’s safe to say that we don’t all enjoy the same strength of prayer life. And Jesus points to the strength of a believer’s prayer life in verse 7, saying:

7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Jesus teaches us here that there’s something that gives power to our praying. There’s something that makes the prayer life of a believer fruitful. Note that in verse 7, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you, follows two conditions.

The first condition is that the believer must abide in Christ. For the believe to have power in prayer the believer bust abide in Christ.

What is it to abide in Christ? Last week we noted this in verses 1-6 and I said then that when you see this abiding in Christ you should think fellowship with Christ. This abiding in Christ, this fellowship with Christ, is a regular and faithful communion with Christ that, I think, can be seen in a strong trust in Christ, a strong prayer life in which you find yourself regularly pouring out your heart to God, trusting Him as you pray, and as a result, you find in Christ the peace of which He speaks back in John 14:27 when He tells us, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. And that’s the peace of God which we know of from Philippians 4:7, which surpasses all understanding, which, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. I think that’s what abiding in Christ looks like.

All our efforts to grow our faithfulness in prayer will mean nothing if we don’t seek to abide in Christ, if we don’t seek to find our greatest joy and satisfaction in fellowship with Christ as we depend on Him daily.

The second condition for power and fruitfulness in prayer is that the Words of Christ must abide in the believer.

And God’s Word abides in the believer when the follower of Christ understands fully the truth of passages like, Hebrews 4:12 which instructs us about the power of the Word of God in the life of the believer saying, For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Nothing knows you and like God’s Word. That’s why we’ve committed ourselves as a church to gathering here weekly to teach the Word of God. That’s why I encourage you to read through the Bible this year. Because I can’t possibly know all the needs represented in the lives of God’s people each time we gather. But God knows just what each of us needs and His Word speaks to our needs when God’s Word abides in us.

And abiding in God’s Word also means that you seek to live by God’s Word. Not that you live a sinless life, and it’s not that you’re perfectly faithful to keep God’s Word. But God’s Word abides in you when you seek to make His Word your guide for living; you seek to make God’s Word your standard of conduct, the standard by which you do your work, the standard by which you speak and live.

And you’re on your way to God’s Word abiding in you when you identify with Job who said, I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food. (Job 23:12)

And when we abide in Christ and His Words abide in us, we will have the answers to our prayers. And we will, because the will of God expressed in His Word will be our will also. When our will is shaped by God’s Word He is pleased to answer our prayers.

So abiding in Christ and His Word abiding in you; that’s the hallmark, the distinctive mark, which Jesus points to in the life of vibrant Christ follower. But those believers who seem to struggle to believe the Word and be strengthened by the Word, and seem to have no real joy in this life, are those who aren’t abiding in Christ and His Word is not abiding in them and consequently their prayers are powerless.

And note why Jesus says that abiding in Christ and His Word abiding in us is so important.

8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

First, God is glorified by this. God gets the glory when He answers the prayers of His people. But note too that not only does God get the glory when we bear much fruit, but we also prove to be His disciples.

And there are three people who are helped when it’s apparent that you are a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The first person is the unbeliever. When we abide in Christ and His Word abides in us, God shows to the watching world that we are truly His. And that’s a powerful witness for Christ to the watching world.

The second person is your brother or sister in Christ. When they see the fruit which God produces in the life of an abiding believer, they are encouraged by your growth in Christ, strengthened by your faith in Christ and challenged by your obedience to Christ.

And the third person that is encouraged by your abiding is yourself. Nothing will bring greater joy and satisfaction than for you to know that you are Christ’s — that you are kept by Christ. And that assurance is yours when you are abiding in Christ, and He is producing much fruit in your life.

There’s no more joyous place to live than in the comfort of knowing the love of Christ. Says Jesus in verse 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you…

So have I loved you… which reminds you that the love of Jesus is not earned by you, His love for you was purchased by His blood shed at Calvary. So take great joy in His love and as Jesus says at the end of verse 9, …Abide in my love.

But for those who aren’t abiding in Christ, there’s no joy in their faith, there’s no power in prayer, there’s no glory for God and there’s no proof of discipleship.

So Jesus, gives this reminder in verse 10,

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

Do you want to enjoy the abiding love of Christ? Do you want the peace that’s yours in knowing you are His? Do you want the contentment that’s only yours in Christ? Then keep His commandments.

Now, “keeping” the commandments of Christ is not the idea of perfection. But I believe it is the idea of devotion. God does not expect us to be perfect commandment keepers. He does not expect perfection. But He does expect devotion to keeping His Words. And I hear in this a call to believers to be devoted to the Word of God, being committed to taking God’s Word personally. It’s what we hear in verse 7 when Jesus says, if my words abide in you.

I think, when God’s Word abides in you it’s the same kind of thing we hear of Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 15:16 — Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.

I think that’s what Jesus was calling His disciples to that day, and I think that’s what we need to hear Him calling us to now, when he says If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love. He’s calling us to being disciples who take great joy in following His Word, making the Word of God and practicing His precepts your joy. And if we do, we will abide in His love. We will know the love of Christ for us on a very personal level.

But where there is a lack of joy over the Word of God, for the believer who is struggling to feed on and obey God’s Word, there will be no real contentment, no true peace, no real joy. I think that’s why Jesus says this in verse 11.

11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

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