Episode 1. The Thief in the Night
Joy is such a wonderful thing – it’s something that Jesus wants for each one of us. But sometimes people and things and circumstances come along, like a thief in the night, to steal it away. It’s great to be with you at the beginning of another week, gee the time rolls by quickly doesn’t […]
Joy is such a wonderful thing – it’s something that Jesus wants for each one of us. But sometimes people and things and circumstances come along, like a thief in the night, to steal it away.
It’s great to be with you at the beginning of another week, gee the time rolls by quickly doesn’t it? Now imagine, imagine for a moment that a thief breaks into your house while you’re out, he’s come to steal things. The question is, what’s he going to steal?
Now you know the things in your house better than anyone, it doesn’t matter how much you have or how much you don’t have or how much it’s worth compared to, say your neighbour. When the thief is in your house he’s going to be looking, well looking for what? He’ll be looking for the most valuable things in your house.
Let’s say you have some cash lying around; definitely take that, jewellery, paintings, TV’s, sound systems. The bottom line for the thief is to take the things that are worth the most, makes sense. When the thief breaks into your house he wants to grab the most valuable thing he can and then run.
Last week on the program we spent some time talking about “joy”. There’s not one person I know on this planet who doesn’t want more joy in their lives, not some sort of, well fleeting happiness, sure we chase after that but we know that when we spend our hard earned cash to buy the next ‘happiness’ fix it just won’t last. No, I’m talking about real joy, deep joy, abiding joy; a wondrous quiet contentment that fills our heart and hangs with us through thick and thin. The sort of joy that Jesus talked about when He said:
I’ve said all these things to you so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
As we said last week, this was said to His disciples when everything was falling in a heap, when Jesus was about to be crucified, when they were afraid for their lives, He said, “I’ve said all this stuff to you so that my joy might be in you and that your joy might be complete.” And around the same time He also said to them:
Until now you haven’t asked for anything in my name but ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete.
See joy, real joy, that kind of abiding joy that never leaves you is a gift from God. Just before He was crucified, that horrible thing, here’s what Jesus prayed to His Father. He said, “I’m coming to you now Dad but I pray these things while I’m still here in the world so that they, they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” And it is so that we could experience that joy, His joy, a joy that only comes when we have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, that He endured the cross.
Years later the writer of the Book of Hebrews explains it to us. Have a read, it’s in Hebrews chapter 12, verse 2. He writes:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and the perfector of our faith who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, scorning at shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Now these are all things we talked about last week on the program, I love this particular passage because, see it mixes the sorrow and the scorn and the shame and the pain of the cross with joy. Jesus did that because He knew that there was joy coming. Now the point here is that, for Jesus, a joy that overflows out of your heart and mine is not some optional extra, it is central to what our relationship with Him is about. Not some “nice to have”, it is absolutely essential.
Sure, you believe in Jesus and you have eternal life, that’s fantastic but what if that eternal life were miserable? What a horror would that be? But an eternal life filled with an indescribable joy, now that for Jesus was worth dying for. You get it? Joy is the heart of what Jesus wants to give us. In John chapter 10, verse 10 he said:
The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy but I’ve come that you might have life and have it in all it’s abundance.
Now it’s a passage that I’ve talked a lot about over the last few months because I believe we need to get a handle on the life that Jesus wants us to live, a super abundant life and it’s hard to imagine that without joy isn’t it? In fact if you asked me to name the jewel in the crown of the super abundant life that Jesus has given me, it would be the joy of the Lord. For the joy of the Lord is my strength, the fountain out of which all my good works overflow. It begins with a relationship with Him, it begins with a joy that comes out of relationship and then everything else I do flows out of that.
After Jesus Christ himself, the joy of the Lord is the most valuable thing I possess, so don’t you think that when the thief comes that’s the one thing he wants most to steal from us? The word joy and the word grace come from the one Greek word; they’re two sides of the same coin. Joy is Gods gift of grace to us, it’s a valuable treasure that Jesus purchased for me and for you on the cross when He died and in fact Jesus tells us exactly that when He says in Matthew chapter 13, beginning at verse 44:
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it he hid it again and then in his joy he went and sold all that he had and bought that field.
See Jesus is saying that this mans motivation was what? The joy of discovering the kingdom of God and in Nehemiah chapter 8, verse 10 says:
The joy of the Lord is my strength.
Because you see, if joy is our motivation it makes us strong. If everything we do flows out of a joy that we experience in knowing Jesus isn’t what we do going to be wonderful? Now you rob me of that and following Jesus becomes incredibly hard work, it becomes drudgery, it becomes a chore but fill me with His joy and my heart leaps to serve Him and to sacrifice for Him and the devil knows this stuff.
The devil knows that the joy of the Lord is our strength and that’s why it’s the most valuable thing he wants to rob from us and that’s the point of today’s program. We have to wake up to that fact, the most valuable thing in our house is our joy in Christ and he wants to plunder that. As Jesus said:
The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.
And the number one prize for the devil is our joy. It is time to stop paying lip service to the joy of the Lord, you sap our joy you sap our strength. We become weak and vulnerable and open to the thief to steal, kill and destroy. He robs us of the very thing that Jesus died to give us.
Now the rest of the week on this program we’re going to look at some tangible ways that the devil robs us of our joy and what we can do about it. This is good stuff; the prize is the joy of the Lord, the most wondrous thing. I want to encourage you to join me each and every day for the remainder of this week.