Part 1 of  3


  Chapter one                                  


              Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say,

              Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance.

              The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about

              anything, but in everything by prayer and

              supplication with thanksgiving, let your re-

              quests be made known to God. And the peace

              of God, which passes all understanding, will

              keep your hearts and your minds in Christ


                                   Philippians 4:4-7


         Now there are many ways in which we can express the joy

         of the Lord. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we have

         to walk around grinning from ear to ear or make ourselves

         say, “Praise the Lord,” every five minutes. If that joy

         is in our heart it makes all the difference in the world

         in our outlook,

            our attitude toward people,

            our habits,

            even in our physical and mental health.

         The farmer who enjoys his farming goes at his work in a

         very different way from the farmer who hates it. And

         the woman who enjoys her husband and her children is a

         lot more pleasant to live with than the one who detests

         her situation and feels sorry for herself.


         When the Messiah was born, He was born to bring us joy.


               “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great

                joy which shall be to all people...”


         And when He began to proclaim His message, He called it

         a gospel which means ‘good news’. It was understood

         that anybody who would reach out and take hold of this

         good news would have joy.


              The kingdom of heaven is like treasure

              hidden in a field which a man found and

              covered up and then in his joy he goes

              and sells all that he has and buys the field.


         People who begin to follow Jesus will always, always

         find that they are not only given a cross to carry;

         they are also given unspeakable joy.


             “That my joy may be in you and that your

              joy may be full...I will see you again and

              your hearts will rejoice and your joy no

              man will take from you.”


         And this joy is not just for two or three lucky people

         out of every hundred believers, it is to be the normal

         state of the believer in the midst of all the hassles

         of life.


              If you have Jesus in your heart, you have joy.


              If you don’t have joy something’s wrong.


         And yet, how often, in spite of our earnestness,

                                                     our desire to be faithful

                                                     our attempts to pray,

         the joy is missing. There is a heaviness in our hearts.


         It gets so bad sometimes that our friends in the world,

         whom we should be comforting, come by to cheer us up.


             “Look man, I don’t understand your faith

              but does it have to make you so depressed

              all the time?”


         We know something’s missing. We know we ought to have

         that joy, so we walk down the road in pursuit of it,

         and we are met by a man who seems to be able to read

         our mind.


              “Good morning, friend, I can see that you’re

              looking for joy. The lack of it is written

              on your face, I have just what you need.

              Come with me and believe my gospel of prosperity.”


             “Prosperity? Did Jesus preach a gospel

             of prosperity?”, you say.



              “Look, friend, the reason you’re so down

              in the dumps all the time is because you’re

              not prospering. Circumstances are against

              you. Look at all the things you lack!

              Why, you can’t even afford to travel by

              Greyhound bus! Now, if you will believe

              my gospel circumstances will begin to

              smile on you and you won’t travel by Grey-

              hound anymore, you’ll be going by jet,

              first-class; and those rags you have on

              will be replaced with purple and fine linen.

              You’ll have joy in your heart.”


             “And that will give me joy?”, you ask.


             “Of course!” answers the prosperity gospel man.


         Just then you look through the door of this man’s house

         and, behold, you see all the things he promises! People

         in there are well-dressed, eating wonderfully. The

         temperature’s just right, there’s no danger in sight.

         But as you look in their eyes you see no joy. They’re

         vacant. And in your heart you can hear a voice which

         says, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of

         good cheer I have overcome the world.” So you hurry on.


             “Hold it! Hold it!”, says a large woman stand-

             ing beneath a beautiful golden arch. “You’re

             looking for joy, I can see it on your face.

             You’ve come to the right place.”


             “What do you have to offer me, ma’am?”, you say.


             “I offer you the celebrity gospel,” she says.


             “Celebrity gospel? Did Jesus preach such a

             thing?”’, you say.


             “Listen, if you will believe my gospel,” she

              says, “you will be known and admired and liked

               by many people. And isn’t that what you’ve

              always wanted?”


             “But did Jesus offer that kind of gospel? Is

              that the joy Jesus offers?”, you ask.


             “Oh, friend, you have a bad image of yourself,”

              answers the celebrity gospel lady. “Now we

              have to build that up. Come, we will make you

              more important.”


         Just then you look through her beautiful golden arch

         and there you see people dressed up in the most out-

         landish costumes, standing on golden pedestals, every

         one with a smile frozen on his face. But their eyes

         are void of joy. And you hear a voice that says,


              “He that exalteth himself shall be abased

              but he that humbleth himself shall be



         So you hurry on down the road.


         You’ve hardly gone a hundred yards before you hear a

         voice that says,


             “Over here, baby!”


         There stands a man in front of the doorway of a build-

         ing that looks like a Super Fitness Center.


             “Hurry up, get in here! Don’t you know

              those streets are dangerous? You can’t

              handle it out there! You’re too weak!

              No wonder you don’t have any joy. I offer

              you the gospel of power. And if you will

              believe my gospel, you will bend destiny

              to your will, you will make things happen

              and nobody will push you around any more.

              Then you will have joy.”


         You look through the doorway and see the spiritual

         power-seekers learning their spiritual Kung-Fu. On their

         faces is determination. Their jaws are set. But their

         eyes reveal no joy. You hurry away and sigh with great

         relief as you realize how close you came to falling right

         into the trap....which promises that if you have the power

         to push other people around you’ll have joy.


         Suddenly the road comes to an abrupt end at a stone wall.

         There’s a small door in the wall. Beside the door stands

         a man who greets you by name and says,


            “Welcome! We’ve been looking for you. The

             only one in all the world who can give you

             the joy you’re looking for is on the other

             side of that door. But let me make clear to

             you He will not offer you prosperity, He

             does not promise to make you a celebrity,

             nor does He promise you power to dominate

             other people’s lives. If you will come

             with Him you will have joy. But the joy

             He offers is never doctored with the allure-

             ments of this world; power, popularity,

             prosperity. It’s the pure joy of simply

             knowing Jesus,”


         You think it over and you decide to walk through the

         door. And the minute you step through that door you

         begin to learn four lessons:


          1. The joy our hearts crave is the joy of believing in Jesus.


              In this you rejoice, though now for a little

              while you may have to suffer various trials

              so that the genuineness of your faith, more

              precious than gold, which though perishable

              is tested by fire, may redound to praise

              and glory and honor at the revelation of

              Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you

              love him; though you do not now see him

              you believe in him and rejoice with unutter-

              able and exalted joy.


         All the things that the false prophets offer in addition

         to Jesus are as nothing compared with the joy of knowing

         Him. Do we not find as we look at our own experience

         that the most magnificent thrills and pleasures which

         the mind can conjure are as refuse compared with the sur-

         passing worth, the unspeakable joy, of knowing Jesus,

         and being found in Him?


         Those who think that you have to spice up the gospel

         of Jesus Christ by adding to it the allurements of

         this world are revealing to you the fact that they

         themselves have not yet come to know the joy that is

         found in sheer belief in Jesus. In His name, I promise

         every reader of these words that if you, today,

         will put your life at the feet of Jesus and surrender

         it into His hands, you will have joy.


        2.  The joy our hearts crave is the joy of fellowship

             with the cross of Jesus, which often begins with

             sorrow but always ends with gladness of heart.


              “Ye now, therefore, have sorrow but I will

              see you again and your hearts will rejoice

              and your joy no one will take from you....


              “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing....


              “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery

               ordeal which comes upon you to prove you,

               as though something strange were happening

               to you. But rejoice in so far as you

               share Christ’s suffering....’’


         Most of us are in some way experiencing pain,


              pain concerning your loved one,

              pain over one of your children,

              pain over your own failures.


         Our message is not, “Stop having pain! Cheer up! What’s

         the matter with you!” Our message is rather, “Let that

         very pain bring you into fellowship with Jesus on His

         cross, and your sorrow will be changed into joy.”


         So many people today are being deceived by a gospel which

         tells them to run from the pain. Thereby they are being     

         cheated of the very thing that will bring them joy and

         make their lives fruitful. Don’t run from your pain,

         but let that pain be the means by which you come into

         fellowship with Jesus and your sorrow will be turned into



         3.   The joy our hearts crave is the joy of laboring in

               the Master’s Vineyard.


             “My meat is to do the will of Him who sent me

              and to accomplish his work,” said Jesus.


         And when He calls it His meat, what is that but His joy?

         When the laborers in the vineyard are finally hired from

         their idleness in the marketplace how happy they are.

         One of the reasons many of us are so discontented and so

         unsettled and cynical is because we are idle. Maybe we

         have enough to pay our bills. Perhaps we have enough to

         buy groceries and things we want, but if we’re idle we’ll

         never have joy.


         There are folks who are retired from their formal work,

         living on a pension or social security. Yet they get

         up every morning and fill the day with meaningful work.

         They’re doing something. And there are so many who are

         young and relatively able-bodied, (though they make all

         kinds of excuses with their aches and pains), who aren’t

         doing anything. They’re not working, they’re not apply-

         ing themselves, and they wonder why their lives are so

         empty. Pick up something to do. If you can't find a

         formal job, make sure at least you’re looking for a job.

         Do something! You will never have joy...never, until

         you’re working in some way. Likewise, you’ve been

         called to a ministry. Don’t just sit around and listen to

         the gospel and go to Bible studies! Take the truth that

         the Lord has given you and do something with it!


              - Plant those seeds,

              - Go out into that harvest,

              - Pick some of those grapes,

              - Go out there and do something or

                 it will rot in your own heart.


        4.  The joy our hearts crave is the joy of knowing that

             our Lord has prepared a place for us. The Father’s

             house is waiting.


              Rejoice not that spirits are subject to you

              but that your names are written in heaven.


         What a relief comes when we begin to see that this life

         is not all there is. “If in this life only we have

         hope, we are of all men most miserable.” But now we

         begin to see beyond this life and we begin to fix our

         hearts there.


              “Grant we beseech thee,” says the ancient

              collect, “that our hearts may there be fixed

              where true joys are to be found...that thou

              being our ruler and guide, we may so pass

              through things temporal that we lose not the

              things eternal.”


         There’s no reason why every reader of these words can’t

         take hold of joy.


         All we have to do is reach out and get it. But re-

         member what kind of joy it is,


                   it’s the joy of believing in Jesus,


                  the joy of having fellowship with Him

                             in His suffering and His cross,


                  the joy of labor with Him,


                  the joy of knowing that because of Him the

                             Father’s house is waiting.


         God help us in the midst of a world so full of twisted

         gospels to settle for nothing less than the real thing ---

         the joy that is found unmixed and only in Jesus Himself.


             Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say,

             Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance.

             The Lord is at hand, Have no anxiety about

             anything, but in everything by prayer and

             supplication with thanksgiving, let your re-

             quests be made known to God. And the peace

             of God, which passes all understanding, will

             keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,