Joy and Peace

Last week we began looking at the fruit of the Spirit as we discussed love.  While love has many meanings, particularly in the English language, the kind of love that God demonstrates for us and that we are to have for one another is a self sacrificing love.

The fruit of the Spirit are qualities that we as Christians should possess but they are not something that we can simply decide to attempt to possess.  They are marks of maturity.  While as human beings we may demonstrate some manner of these qualities, it is only with God’s help that we are capable of having them perfectly, or at least fully as perfection is probably too high to attain.

The fruit of the Spirit are given by the Holy Spirit and only come through trial.  We learn these qualities as we are refined by the Holy Spirit.  The things that detract from these qualities are burned away over time and experience.  Only then do we gain these qualities.  With this in mind, let’s take a look at the next two qualities this morning, joy and peace.

Galatians 5:22-26

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Some equate joy with happiness and while it is true that they are similar and in some ways overlapping emotions, they are not the same.  To state it most simply, you can be unhappy and still be joyful.  Paul had this concept mastered better than most of us ever will.  To the Philippians he wrote in Philippians 4:4:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

To the Thessalonians he wrote one of the shortest verses in the bible in 1 Thessalonians 5:16:

Rejoice always

If we expand a bit further for context we get an even better idea of what Paul meant – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Finally, Paul writes in Philippians 4:10-12:

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

What Paul describes to the Philippians is true joy.  Paul had the right to tell the Thessalonians to rejoice always because Paul had lived that.  My mentor has said before that there are two people’s lives in the Bible that he would not want to have lived – David and Paul.  These two are among our greatest heroes but neither had an easy life.  Paul writes of his difficulties to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 11:24-26:

24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.

If you want to speak of a difficult life, Paul has lived it.  And he did this after living what I would assume was a life of luxury.  Not only was Paul a Pharisee but he was a wealthy one prior to his conversion to Christianity.  Paul could have bemoaned all that he gave up, particularly as he was being beaten or imprisoned for the gospel.  Instead, what we see time after time is that Paul is simply more emboldened to share the good news.

I do not like to hold myself up as an example because I am a very imperfect man.  However, I do believe that God has called me to be a testimony for Him through all of this.  Two years ago yesterday was when I had my colon surgery.  Roughly 18 inches, or about one third of my colon was removed.  Two weeks to the day after that we found that Merissa had miscarried a second time.  This came almost three years to the day from her first miscarriage.  And the following Sunday, those of you who were here should remember that I stood in this very spot and declared that God is still good.

Now the Lord has blessed us with a son and I am battling cancer once again but with a much tougher diagnosis.  And I can tell you that there is still joy to be found because it is not dependent on outside circumstances.  To me, joy is dependent upon the goodness of God.  I may be unhappy about the circumstances but that does not change the fact that God is good one bit.

It is far too easy to blame God when things go wrong in our lives.  In times of tragedy people will ask “Where was God?” or “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”  Nowhere have we been promised that we would avoid hardship in life.  Some people are led to become Christians, believing that their troubles would disappear.  If anything, life is harder for the Christian because Satan has little interest in destroying someone who already belongs to him.

Jesus warned us that there would be trouble.  In John 16:33 He says:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

So how do we have joy in a life that Jesus Himself told us would be full of trouble?  The answer is to gain some perspective.  The average lifespan is now approaching 80 years in industrialized countries.  Depending on how close you are to that number, that may or may not seem like a lot.  Even if we vastly outlive that average, our time on earth is but a speck of a speck in light of eternity.  It is easy to focus on the “here and now” because that’s where we live but the reality is that no matter how great our troubles are, they will not last forever.  On the other hand, we were made to enjoy God forever.  And the rest of our time won’t be in these frail and sinful bodies.  It will be in a glorified body that is made to last forever.

Jesus instructed in John 12:25:

Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

This sounds like double talk but it is the key to joy.  Jesus does not want us to literally hate our lives, we should enjoy the time that we have here on earth, but we need to keep eternity in our minds while we go about life.  Jesus is telling us that we need to live in light of eternity, not just what is presently in front of us.  When we focus on eternity, even the most horrible things that we see around our world don’t seem so terrible because we can rest assured that God is still in control and there will be an accounting for the things that break our hearts today.

Peace is closely related to joy.  It is difficult to have one without the other in my opinion.  Many of the fruit of the Spirit are things that a person might naturally be but it is only perfected with the Holy Spirit.  I am naturally calm and collected which I get from my mother.  My father is pretty much the opposite of that.

Just as an example, a few years ago when I lived in Virginia and before I was married I had a little incident where I burned down my shed.  I was talking to Merissa on the phone at the time when I walked into my kitchen and saw my shed aflame.  And my reaction was pretty much “Hey, I gotta go, my shed’s on fire.”  That’s me, that’s a natural peace that some people have and some people obviously don’t.

The fruit of the Spirit is a supernatural peace.  There are two kinds of peace in life.  There is an outward peace and there is an inward peace.  Eastern religions often stress inward peace and promote meditation.  Anabaptists, which we are as Brethren in Christ, are pacifists which is an outward peace.  Outward peace is fine and is a good thing to strive for but the kind of peace that we’re talking about here is an inner peace.

Much like joy, peace does not depend on circumstances.  We can have peace inwardly even when everything around us is going wrong.  Likewise, outward peace does not always lead to inward peace.  Recently our government has reached an agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear program.  I have not read the details and I have no opinion on whether this is a good deal or not.  What I do know is that despite what appears to be an outward peace, there are many who do not have inward peace because of this deal.  If anything, it has taken away their inner peace.

As I said a moment ago, joy and peace are closely related.  For this reason, it should be no surprise that we find the definition of peace in Philippians 4 as well.  Philippians 4:7-9

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

As I read this, I see two parts to peace.  The first is that peace comes from God.  Sometimes we speak about a peace that passes understanding.  This peace can only come from God.  It may be given by the Holy Spirit but I don’t believe that it is anything that is achievable through any action of our own.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a situation where God has given you this peace that passes understanding but I can tell you from personal experience that it almost defies description.

Two years ago when I first went into the hospital and I had no idea what was going on, I ended up passing out in the ER bathroom.  The next ten minutes were a blur of people and hooking me up to machines and IV’s.  But once things calmed down, my room was empty.  Merissa wasn’t even with me at that time because we had no reason to think that anything was serious when I first went.  At that time I just found myself humming a hymn.  I don’t remember what it was now but I distinctly recall lying in the ER with an IV in each arm and several monitors and probably oxygen as well and I was just tremendously at peace.  None of what had happened bothered me in the least bit because I knew God was in control of it all.

I’ve probably told that part of the story before.  What I haven’t told is that I was scheduled for a CT scan before passing out.  They still ended up doing the CT scan anyway.  But the doctors misread the scan.  I’ve seen the write up myself.  The doctors found the polyp but because they didn’t expect to see something that size in a healthy 33 year old, they didn’t view it as a problem.  I don’t know for a fact, but I personally believe that if I hadn’t passed out, the doctors wouldn’t have ordered more tests and they might not have found the cancer until it was too late.  I believe the peace that I felt that night was God reminding me that He knows what He is doing despite what the circumstances look like.

In the last two years I have had doctor after doctor tell me how fortunate I was to catch the cancer when I did because there are usually no symptoms.  And God gave me peace throughout every doctor’s visit and procedure that I went through.  I will tell you that hearing the word cancer is a shock and I do believe that it is the scariest word in the English language, but I can tell you straight faced that not once was I ever worried about the outcome.  That may seem impossible but it is true because it’s not about me but the fact that I serve a God of peace.

There is another half of peace however, and this is where our part to play comes in.  Paul says “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

This is what we must do in order to obtain peace.  This is like joy where we have to keep things in perspective.  It is easy for our thoughts to go negative in times of trouble.  Don’t let them so much as it is within your power.  Focus your thoughts on positive things.  I’m sorry if that sounds cliché or like far too many self help gurus but it is the truth.  If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.

We begin to worry when we take our mind off of excellent or praiseworthy things.  God is the source of excellent and praiseworthy things.  The things that we worry about are beyond our control and that’s why we worry about them.  But we worship a God who is in control over the things that our beyond our control.

I know some of you are type A personalities.  Women are more likely to be wired this way for whatever reason but there are plenty of men who are like this as well.  Type A personalities need to have control.  And because of this, peace is something that they struggle with.  God is in control and God is a God of peace.  I’m sure Merissa gets tired of hearing me say that God is in control but that thought is truly the source of my peace.  Because I am mostly able to just surrender my life to whatever God wants of it.  And at this point, I mean literally surrender my life.

I know that some of you are more worried about me than I am worried about me.  And I really do appreciate the concern.  But I can also tell you that I am at peace with the situation.  I am praying for healing but that’s not all that I’m praying for.  I am not interested in just being someone who beats the odds or even someone who is miraculously healed.  God has allowed this to happen for a reason and I do not believe that it is just a test of faith.  I am convinced that He is going to use this to show others His goodness.  I don’t know how yet but I am sure that I am going to have ample opportunities in the upcoming months and probably years.

This morning I’ve made things a bit more personal than usual.  I’ve used myself as an illustration because these are two traits that I believe I have exhibited in difficult times.  But I will echo the words of Paul and say “follow me as I follow Christ.”  I am not a perfect example and don’t think for a moment that I am.  Right now I am at the beginning of another difficult journey.  And in the months to come there are going to be rough days.  And there are probably going to be days when I am not feeling as joyful or at peace as I am today.

Please don’t hold my humanity against me.  The fruit of the Spirit are qualities that we strive for but also ones that we won’t perfectly attain.  When we allow our lives to be controlled by the Spirit we will see these things exhibited in ourselves.  But when we try to take back control, as we all do at times, that’s when these qualities will disappear.  So I simply say, yield to the Spirit as much as you are able and when you fail, try to do better next time.

Worship Evangelism

by Pastor Mike Stine

There is a worship debate in many churches today.  Perhaps your own church is one of them.  In these churches there are two factions.  One side wishes to uphold the rich traditions of the church and that it holds dear.  The other side believes that those traditions are outdated and are unable to reach the lost and dying world that we live in today.  The debate quickly spins out of control and into “he said, she said” type of argument.  At the end of the day, the actual glorification of the Almighty is pushed to the back of everyone’s minds if not forgotten altogether.

Both sides have their points.  The church is meant to worship.  Our Sunday morning service is typically called a worship service.  Also, the Bible instructs us to reach the lost with the message of Christ crucified for our sins.  What these two sides don’t realize is that both can be accomplished in one church service and the argument of traditional vs. contemporary does not even have to be brought up.

Every week the church meets and unbelievers are among us.  Some have sat in the sanctuary for years and don’t even realize that they’re still lost.  Others have wandered into the church for the first time.  Why do these people come to church?  With the rare exception of some large churches, these people did not come simply to be entertained, because the church has excellent music, or great dramas.  These people are in church in an attempt to fulfill an unsatisfied need.

We live in a very spiritual age.  It is much like the age about which Paul tells young Timothy.  People have a form of godliness, yet deny its power.  Being religious is an accepted and respectable thing still.  The majority of people in America still claim to be Christians.  The problem comes when they are expected to act like Christians.  These people are in our churches every week.  They are drawn fill a void in their lives that they can’t fill with anything else.  These people cannot worship God however, because they do not know Him.

If you took a survey of why unbelievers came to church, you’d find that very few people came because of the worship style.  Churches with a particular worship style may grow, but it is not necessarily from people getting saved, but rather from people switching churches.

So why does worship matter at all in respect to the unbeliever?  It matters a great deal because it is the one time when they get to see God at work in the lives of many Christians at once.  The pastor gets his chance to preach the gospel to the unbelievers in the church, but it is during worship that the lost see the difference that the gospel makes.

If believers are truly worshipping God, there is tremendous power behind that.  When believers come together in worship, there is a unity that cannot be found in the workplace, in politics, on television, or anywhere else.  There is a sense of purpose that is shown through the worshippers.  Any nonbeliever who is a witness to this is going to ask themselves from where this sense of purpose and unity comes.  The answer is in Jesus Christ.  These lost souls who have wandered into our churches looking for something to fill the emptiness in themselves are going realize that they’ve found what they been looking for.

The answer does not lie in a particular style of worship.  Nonbelievers do not enter the church because they heard great things about the worship there.  They may stay because they find entertainment in the church.  They will stay if they see people with changed lives who enjoy worshipping God.

The responsibility is ultimately on the congregation and not the worship planning committee.  No matter what style of worship is used in the church, if unbelievers do not discover what they are searching for in it, they probably won’t stick around.  Odds are, they can find better entertainment somewhere else.  However, if the people of the church make an effort worship God with their full being every Sunday, it will be noticed by the outsiders looking in.  That is how evangelism is accomplished through worship.  It has nothing to do with debates over styles but everything to do with giving God all of the glory that He deserves.


by Tony Abram
Psalm 100:1-5

(Psa 100:1 KJV) A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
(Psa 100:2 KJV) Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
(Psa 100:3 KJV) Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
(Psa 100:4 KJV) Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
(Psa 100:5 KJV) For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Verse 4 “bless’ this Hebrew word is “berak” a act of worship to God. It has the meaning to kneel.

Worship has the ideal of adoration, admiration and intense love.

Hallelujah = Praise Jehovah

I. There is an order in Praise ad Worship.

(Psa 95:1 KJV) O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
(Psa 95:2 KJV) Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
(Psa 95:3 KJV) For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
(Psa 95:4 KJV) In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.
(Psa 95:5 KJV) The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.
(Psa 95:6 KJV) O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

Notice the order of things.
1. Come before Him with singing-make a joyful noise.
2. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, courts with praise.
3. Then, worship and bow down.

II. Praise and Worship touches our Spirit, Soul and Body.

1. We were created with a spirit, soul and body
2. We use our entire being to worship God

A. Spirit
(John 4:23 KJV) But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
1. Remember, you are a spirit, you were created in the image of God. God is a spirit. You must worship Him in spirit and in truth. You have a soul, and when your soul ad spirit agree, your body will respond

B. Soul
When we make up our minds and choose to enter into praise then our soul gets involved.

1. Praise begins in the soul realm. The soul is made up of the will of man, the mind and the emotions.

a. That’s why we need to have God renew our minds.
(Rom 12:2 KJV) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

C: Body
(Rom 12:1 KJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
1. Your body is good not bad, it’s the house of the Holy Spirit.
(1 Cor 6:19 KJV) What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
(1 Cor 6:20 KJV) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

III. Praise and Worship demands we use our heart not our head.

A. Head worship verses Heart Worship
B. Heart worship is the resulted of the recreated spirit.
C. Out of that right standing or relationship that begins in the spirit then the soul gets involved.
D. Then our mind, the emotions, the will of man.
E. Our minds need to renewed. They need a Holy Spirit transformation.
(Mat 26:41 KJV) Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

1. When we worship God, God the creator, the Spirit of God renews and changes our minds and opens our spirit.
2. Will we connect with the Father through our spirit or will we allow our feelings to lead us???
3.Our emotions are to fully expressed and released in order and decency according to God’s Word-But they must be released.
4. The body gives expression. In fact, He commands us to express ourselves and in so doing he’s really inviting us to enjoy Him. God enjoys us enjoying Him.

IV. Praise and Worship honors God not man.

A. We do not express these ways to be seen of men.
1. We want God to see them.

B. Some people are afraid of what others may think.
1. They are consumed with the fear of man.
(Gal 1:10 KJV) For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
(Col 4:12 KJV) Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
(Acts 5:29 KJV) Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
(1 Sam 15:22 KJV) And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
(John 14:15 KJV) If ye love me, keep my commandments.
(John 14:23 KJV) Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

V. Praise and Worship is faith in action.

A. Remember that God has commanded us to praise Him. It’s not a suggestion.
B. So if we please God we must use faith. Praise is faith in action.
C. Praise is not a cure all.
D. It is not a formula to manipulate God. It is a lifestyle of the believer.
E. As we lift Him up our faith begins to magnify Him and our problems begin looking smaller and smaller.

(1 Pet 2:9 KJV) But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
(1 Pet 2:10 KJV) Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
It is something we live everyday. Our application of daily praise in faith will cause the word to produce in our lies. Praise is faith in action. Faith and works together produces life.
(Acts 16:25 KJV) And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
Praise is an act of faith. Paul decided to let his faith go in praise and worship.

We decide to agree with God’s Word.
We decide to give thanks in all things.
Our decision to agree with the Word will always produce fruit, whether, in worship service or on your job, In your home or wherever you are. You must have faith to please God.

VI. Singing

There are 575 scriptures admonishing us to sing. More on singing than speaking.

The first reference in the Word to singing as worship to God was the result of the deliverance of God’s people through the Red Sea.
(Exo 15:1 KJV) Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. (Exo 15:2 KJV) The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him a habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him. (Exo 15:3 KJV) The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. (Exo 15:4 KJV) Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. (Exo 15:5 KJV) The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. (Exo 15:6 KJV) Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. (Exo 15:7 KJV) And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. (Exo 15:8 KJV) And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. (Exo 15:9 KJV) The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. (Exo 15:10 KJV) Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.
(Exo 15:11 KJV) Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? (Exo 15:12 KJV) Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. (Exo 15:13 KJV) Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. (Exo 15:14 KJV) The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.
(Exo 15:15 KJV) Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. (Exo 15:16 KJV) Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. (Exo 15:17 KJV) Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. (Exo 15:18 KJV) The LORD shall reign forever and ever. (Exo 15:19 KJV) For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.

A. God choose this as the first time to mention praise because of the law of first appearance-the first time something appears in the bible is important and has special meanings.

1. The people were filled with praise because He triumphed gloriously,

2.I will prepare Him a habitation.

3. This song declares God is Lord over our lives.

4. When we submit to Jesus’ lordship, we’ll give him our worship.

5. It is possible to be so active in the service of Christ as to forget to love him.

6. The word worship is a shortened form of the old word worthship, which means showing God the worth he holds in your life.

7.Fellowship with a holy God will produce holy living.

8. Some people think Sunday is Funday.