Joy & The Fight Of Faith
JOY AND THE FIGHT OF FAITH

A.     Introduction:  We are studying the fight of faith, the fight we all face to hold on to
     God's promises in the hard times. I Tim 6:12
     1.     Knowledge from God's Word helps us fight the fight of faith. Eph 6:13
          a.     God's armor is His Word. Ps 91:4
          b.     Whole armor implies that there is a complete set of facts which we need in
               order to stand in the fight of faith. Eph 6:14-17
     2.     In each of these lessons we have been looking at different pieces of armor,
          different weapons -- different facts from God's Word -- which He has given us
          to help us in the hard times.
     3.     In this lesson, we want to begin looking at a vital weapon God has given us in
          the fight of faith -- the gift of joy.
     4.     One of the things Jesus came to do for us is to give us the oil of joy for
          mourning. Isa 61:3; Luke 4:18-21
          a.     Life is hard; and it is filled with difficulties which cause us to mourn =
               show / feel grief or sorrow.
          b.     But, Jesus has provided real help for real pain if we learn how to use it.

B.     First, some general statements about joy.
     1.     The word joy is used in a number of different ways in the Bible, but, if we look
          at the different uses, we can get a full idea of what the word means.
          a.     Joy is used as both a noun (a thing, a substance) and as a verb (an action).
          b.     The joy we are going to look at is not an emotion although it can and will
               affect your emotions.
     2.     Joy is a fruit of the recreated human spirit. Gal 5:22
          a.     Fruit is outward evidence of the life within.
          b.     As branches of the Vine, we have the eternal life of God in us. John 1:4;
               I John 5:11,12
          c.     We now have the potential to demonstrate this fruit of joy.
          d.     From this, we see that joy is not simply an emotion, because unbelievers
               have emotions, but they do not have the fruit of the spirit.
     3.     The purpose of this fruit of joy is to strengthen us in the hard times. Neh 8:10
          a.     When you hurt, when you sorrow, it weakens your determination to fight
               the fight of faith.
          b.     Isa 61:3 tells us Jesus has given us the oil of joy for mourning (sadness) and
               the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
               1.     Heaviness = KEHAH = weakness.
               2.     Sadness or mourning weakens us.
          c.     Joy is a spiritual strength which strengthens us in difficult times so that we
               can endure, stick with it, until things get better.
          d. In a hurtful situation, you need to feel better, but that isn't necessarily
               what you need first or most.
               1.     To feel bad because of a hurt, a disappointment, is a genuine reaction
                    to loss and that feeling needs to express itself.
               2.     Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us that there is a time to weep, and a time to
                    laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
          e.     So, God has provided joy for us to help us deal with the sadness that is      
               part of life in a sin cursed earth.
     4.     Joy is also a response to the difficulties of life. Hab 3:17,18
          a.     In the face of tremendous difficulties, the prophet said his response would
               be joy.  He would joy; he would rejoice.  He would be joyful -- not feel
               joyful -- but be joyful.
          b.     The Hebrew word joy = GUL = leap, joy, rejoice, be joyful.
          c.     Paul talked about being sorrowful, yet rejoicing. II  Cor 6:10
               1.     The emotion he was feeling was sorrow, yet he was responding  by
                    rejoicing.
               2.     When you rejoice, you call upon or make a demand on the fruit of joy
                    to strengthen you to stand until you see victory.

C.     How can we respond with joy to the difficulties of life?
     1.     Respond with joy = react in a way which will draw on this oil of joy, this
          spiritual fruit, this strengthening in the midst of difficult circumstances to help
          you endure until things get better.
     2.     James 1:2 tells us to count it all joy when we encounter difficulties.
          a.     Count = consider or reckon.
               1.     Think of them as cause for nothing but rejoicing. (20th)
               2.     Reckon it nothing but joy. (Weymouth)
          b.     Notice, this has to do with how we view our situation.
     3.     To rejoice in difficulties seems impossible to do, but notice the next words:  
          knowing this. v3     
          a.     The only way you can respond appropriately to difficulties is if you know
               some things.
          b.     In this scripture, James mentions knowing that difficulties work or exercise
               patience.     
     4.     In order to respond with joy, you have to know some facts from God's word.
          a.     If we look at the context of Nehemiah 8:10 we see that the peoples' joy
               came from knowing and understanding God's word.
               1.     The word of God was read to the people and explained to them. 8:1-8
               2.     v12 -- So the people went away to eat a festive meal and to send
                    presents; it was a time of great and joyful celebration because they
                    could hear and understand God's word. (Living)
          b.     Jesus taught his followers that He told them things -- gave them His word
               -- so that they would have joy. John 15:11
     5.     Joy comes to us from knowing and understanding God's word because His
          word tells us what God is doing in our situation in the realm which we cannot
          see, the realm which will eventually affect what we do see.  Notice:
          a.     Joy is not an emotion you must whip up when faced with a     difficulty.
          b.     Joy is a response to the difficulty based on knowledge of God's promises as
               revealed in His word.

D.     There are many things we need to know from God's word in order to respond with
     joy in the fight of faith, but one of the greatest facts we need is Rom 8:28.
     1.     This verse is a tremendous promise from God that He can and wants to bring
          genuine good out of genuine evil in your situation.
          a.     God knew before He ever formed the earth the difficulties we would face.
          b.     He already has a plan in mind to take what is meant for evil and cause it to
               work for good.
          c.     The Bible is filled with examples of this -- Joseph in prison, the Red Sea.
     2.     Rom 8:28 is not a cliche to use when there is nothing else left to say -- it is a
          wonderful promise from God.
          a.     But, as with other promises of God, it will not go in to effect in our life
               automatically. Heb 6:12
          b.     We must believe His promise and agree with His promise.
     3.     James 1:2 tells us to consider our difficulty as an occasion to rejoice.
          a.     We can only rejoice when we know something is good.
          b.     How can a disaster be good?  It isn't if you view it according to what you
               can see with your natural eyes.
          c.     But, if you can look at your situation with the eye of faith, the way God
               sees it, you can see the good, the end result.
               1.     Physical eyes see only the physical circumstances.
               2.     The eye of faith sees what God says in and about the situation and
                    agrees with it.
     4.     II Cor 4:17,18 -- Paul could call all his difficulties light afflictions.
          a.     How?  Because he looked at what he couldn't see (the end result) through
               God's Word.
          b.     He knew eternal realities were being played out behind the scenes.
     5.     The prophet Habbakuk could rejoice because he knew some things.  Hab 3:19
          a.     God is my strength.
          b.     It won't always be this way because God is at work.
     6.     When you agree with God, when you count it all joy, you activate the oil of joy
          within you, enabling the Holy Ghost to strengthen you in the difficulty.
     7.     How do you count it all joy?  You agree with God by the words of your mouth
          and say what He says.
          a.     According to sight, this is a bad situation.
          b.     But, it didn't catch God by surprise -- He knew it was coming.
          c.     He already has a plan to cause this to serve His purpose.
          d.     Therefore, I praise you God because you are at work in this situation.
          e.     I take joy in this situation because I know you will turn it to good for me.
          f.     I choose to see the end of the situation -- the good you are working, the
               eternal consequences you are working out through this situation.
     8.     Keep in mind, none of this has anything to do with emotions.

E.     That brings us to the place of praise.
     1.     Jesus has given us the oil of joy (fruit of the spirit) for mourning and the
          garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness -- the two work together.
     2.     The oil of joy is activated when you put on the garment of praise.
          a.     Isa 12:1-6 speaks of drawing out of the well of salvation through praise.
          b.     Jeremiah 33:11 speaks of the voice of joy.
     3.     Praise is an action based on a decision to respond appropriately to a person or
          a situation.
          a.     It has nothing to do with emotions.
          b.     When I praise someone for a job well done, I am not being emotional.
          c.     I am responding appropriately to what he / she has done by listing and
               commending his / her accomplishments.
          d.     Realizing and recognizing what he / she has done will affect my emotions --
               make me happy.
          e.     But, I did not praise him / her because I was happy.  I praised him / her
               because it was the appropriate response.
     4.     It is the same with God.
          a.     I praise Him (list His virtues and accomplishments), not because I feel like
               it, but because it is the appropriate response.
          b.     I praise Him for what I know He is doing in the situation even though I
               don't see it yet.  That's faith!!
F.     How do you joy and rejoice in God in the face of difficulty?  in the fight of faith?
     1.     You choose to remember and speak out:
          a.     What God has done -- He has already come up with a plan to deal with
               this situation.
          b.     What God is doing -- working behind the scenes on your behalf.
          c.     What God will do -- get you through until you see the end result.
     2.     That, in turn, will lead to praise as you respond appropriately to God for what
          He has done, is doing, and will do.
     3.     As you do this, you will activate the  fruit of joy on the inside of you to
          strengthen you.
     4.     You can be sorrowful, you can hurt, you can cry -- but rejoice!  Speak out
          continually what God has done, is doing, and will do.
     5.     Praising God opens the door to His power in a tremendous way.
          a.     In II Chron 20, Israel went into battle with praise and defeated their
               enemies.
          b.     Ps 50:23 -- Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me (KJV), and he prepares the
               way so that I may show him the salvation of God. (NIV)

G.     Conclusion:  When you are facing difficulties, to be told to praise God in the
     situation seems ridiculous.
     1.     We are sight creatures, and, we automatically think emotions.
          a.     This situation is really bad -- it is impossible; it will never work out.
          b.     To say that it will work for good is ridiculous -- nothing more than a
               cliche.
     2.     It seems that way unless you know and believe what is going on behind the
          scenes.
          a.     God has given us the capacity to look beyond what we see.
          b.     He has given us His Word to tell / show us what is going on in the realm
               we cannot see.
     3.     If you remember His promise and provision and begin to thank Him for it
          before you see it, your praise will activate the joy you need to stand until you
          see God's promises fulfilled in your life.

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