Study # 6
October 5, 2003
Lincolnton, N.C.

Thesis: Enduring joy requires the enduring provision of a singleness of focus in the mind/heart complex. Introduction: [Read Luke 1:13-14.] It's certainly one thing to read about a promise of joy in the Bible and altogether another thing to actually experience the fulfillment of that promise in one's life. The main question before us this morning has to do with this: why did Luke tell Theophilus about Zacharias' coming joy? What is the impact that comes from reading about another's joy? What do you suppose would have been Zacharias' emotional response if the angel had told him that, though he was going to have a long-desired son, that son's destiny was to be thrown into prison guiltless and then have his head cut off because some extremely wayward queen got mad at him? Tied to these questions is this one: why is it that the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 has joy as the second characteristic in the list? Doesn't God know that we live in a cruel and grief-filled world where it doesn't matter what you live like, you will get hammered? If you live godlessly, you will be clobbered by the repercussions of your behavior as the law of the harvest kicks in and by the reactions of those around you. On the other hand, if you live godly in Christ Jesus, you are promised that you will suffer persecution. How is it that one of the chief aspects of the promise of eternal life is joy? And, in addition to that reality, when we read Paul's letter to the Philippians from a Roman prison we are confronted multiple times with his insistence that we "rejoice". Was he some kind of a nut like the one we saw at Burger King who not only carried on a conversation with himself, but regularly burst out in gleeful laughter? How are we supposed to respond to the grief in this world and the biblical mandate that we present the watching world with a real demeanor of joy? What help do we get from Luke's record of the angel's words to Zacharias?