These are my notes from our 4/17/2011 church meeting.
Leader: Raymond Harris
A heart check; Are you happy? Are you unhappy? Why? In what way do you depend on the things of the world for your happiness? (If you do!) Could your faith survive the loss of all things? Read and meditate on Isaiah 40 and Heb.1:3; Job1-2. Bring any scriptures and thoughts you have.
Happiness vs. Joy
A person’s happiness depends upon what happens to them. By contrast, a person’s joy is completely independent of what happens to them. A joyful person can be unhappy about something that happens, such as the loss of a loved one, but that doesn’t take away the joy in their heart.
In the Bible, often times the word “happy” is also translated as “blessed” in other translations. A good example is Prov. 3:13, which says:
Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; (NKJV)
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, (NIV)
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom And the man who gains understanding. (NASB)
The word “happy” here is the transliterated Hebrew word “esher“, which means “blessed; happy.” In the NASB, this word is translated as “blessed” 41 times and “happy” only 4 times.
19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? 20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.
23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. In other words, it is a result of abiding in the vine that is Christ. The Spirit produces joy in our life.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
The Macedonian Christians gave out of their joy despite their suffering and poverty.
1 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
(2 Cor. 8:1-4)
Depending on the World for Happiness
As I alluded to previously, happiness is a result of what happens to us in life. Therefore whether a person is happy or unhappy can vary from day-to-day, moment-by-moment (see Jesus’ comments from John 16 above). By contrast, a Christian’s joy should be inherent—a result of having the Spirit live within them, knowing that their name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (assuming they walk by the Spirit per Rom. 8:1).
Could Your Faith Survive the Loss of All Things?
I don’t think it’s fair for me or anyone who hasn’t lost “all things” to answer definitively to this question. I’d hope my answer would be a firm, “Yes.” I feel as though I’m laying up treasures in heaven as opposed to on earth, but we really don’t know how we’d respond to a situation until we’ve been there. I hope I don’t have to face this situation, but we should all do our best to mentally prepare for this possible occurrence.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I want to be one of which the world is not worthy. Father, help me!