Joy in the Lord

Home Church Devotional 12/12/2020

These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 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. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”    John 15:9-13 (NASB)

This passage is found in the middle of the most intimate time Jesus has spent with His disciples. John 13-17 is the record of this time, coming when Jesus and the disciples take their final Passover meal together. After the meal Jesus and the disciples, minus Judas Iscariot, leave the upper room and head across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives to their final destination, the Garden of Gethsemane. Passing through the groves filled with olives and grapes, Jesus uses the vine and branches as an example for the relationship between Jesus and the Father and Jesus and the disciples.  

The disciples are the branches and must abide in Jesus. If they wish to produce fruit, they must stay attached to the vine to gain the nutrients that will allow them to be productive branches. Jesus goes further and tells the disciples if they do not abide in Him, they will be thrown away and cast into the fire. By abiding in Jesus, God is glorified through the fruit we produce, and we find Joy in the Lord.

When we experience Joy in the Lord we rise above our circumstances and emotions.

1). Joy in the Lord is found when we abide in Jesus.

Jesus tells the disciples they will abide in Him by keeping His commandments, thus, through the disciples, the same is true, we abide in Jesus by keeping His commandments – following His example of keeping the Father’s commandments – by this we experience the daily joy of obedience to Jesus. But one might ask, what commandments are we to keep? Jesus followed His Father’s commandments, what does that mean for us?

If Jesus is the example we are to follow, then we too follow the commandments of the Father. Throughout the Scriptures we read of a scribe or follower, asking Jesus how they can gain heaven. The answers are consistent, follow the commandments, the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives three clear examples from the Ten Commandments and then expounds on them, taking them further than expressed by God to Moses. For example, the Ten Commandments state you shall not commit adultery, but Jesus says if we look upon a woman, or man, with lust in our hearts, we have already committed adultery. This is but one example from among many, that we are to follow as Jesus followed.

Joy comes from a consistent relationship with Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the joy of living with Jesus Christ keeps us level-headed, regardless of the highs and lows we may experience in our circumstances or emotions. When thing are going well – we are happy. When hardship comes and things go poorly – we are sad, maybe even depressed. True joy found in Christ Jesus rises above the rolling waves of our circumstances and emotions.

When we experience Joy in the Lord we rise above our circumstances and emotions.

2). Joy in the Lord is found in sacrificial love.

Jesus found His joy in loving us and we are to love others the same way. When the Son loves us, He loves us the same way the Father loved Him, this means we receive the greatest love possible. The Father has set the standard on how to love others. The love of the Father is supreme love in the giving of His Son, His ONLY Son. The Father suffered through the pain of separation from His Son as He watched Him take the sin of the world upon Himself, dying to redeem fallen humanity.

Jesus made the supreme sacrifice of obedience to the Father – He died in obedience to the Father’s will. He sacrificed Himself to bring humanity back into right standing with the Father. His shed blood broke the chains of bondage to sin, death and the grave. How did Jesus love us? He freed us from guilt; He helps us focus on others; He restrains our selfish desires; He has provided examples to follow in His life; He provides support through other believers and He has sent the Holy Spirit to comfort us and lead us into all truth.

This supreme love is the same love we are to show others. We must sacrifice our selfish and self-centered desires to live in obedience to Jesus. We too must make the supreme sacrifice of obedience to Jesus by obeying His commands. In showing this love to others we put aside our wants and desires for the needs of others. We walk in the will of the Father as an example of obedience for others; we teach them obedience to the will of the Father. How do we love others as Jesus loved us?

First, we love sacrificially, showing them the love of Jesus in word and action, then we lead them to the source of this love, Jesus Christ. We walk with them through the challenges of life as they grow in faith and maturity in Christ; we provide an example through our lives lived in obedience; we introduce them to other mature believers, and we pray with them and for them. Through our sacrificial love we find Joy in the Lord.

When we experience Joy in the Lord we rise above our circumstances and emotions.

This passage is found in the middle of the most intimate time Jesus has spent with His disciples. John 13-17 is the record of this time, coming when Jesus and the disciples take their final Passover meal together. After the meal Jesus and the disciples, minus Judas Iscariot, leave the upper room and head across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives to their final destination, the Garden of Gethsemane. Passing through the groves filled with olives and grapes, Jesus uses the vine and branches as an example for the relationship between Jesus and the Father and Jesus and the disciples.   

The disciples are the branches and must abide in Jesus. If they wish to produce fruit, they must stay attached to the vine to gain the nutrients that will allow them to be productive branches. Jesus goes further and tells the disciples if they do not abide in Him, they will be thrown away and cast into the fire. By abiding in Jesus, God is glorified through the fruit we produce, and we find Joy in the Lord.

Jesus said to His disciples He had told them these things so that “My joy may be in you…” What does Jesus mean by His joy? He means doing the will of His Father in heaven; He means looking ahead to the glory of eternity with the Father and with us. Likewise, our joy is found in doing the will of Jesus, whose example we follow as He did the Father’s will; we too can look forward to eternity with the Father, the Son and other believers. Our joy is found in abiding in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, sent to comfort us and lead us into all truth; by studying the Word, the promises and commandments of Jesus, thus the joy of the Lord Jesus may be found in us.

None of this has anything to do with our circumstances or emotions. In fact, true Joy in the Lord will rise us above our circumstances and emotions. On this the third Sunday of Advent, we find our joy in the Lord Jesus, he One who has made the supreme sacrifice to bring us the standard for loving others, the supreme love of the Father. May your days be filled with the fullness of joy found only in Christ Jesus.

Amen and Amen.

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