SanLo Community, an update for the week of May 12, 2019…
Thank you Pastor Brian for the message from John 15:1-11, “Finding Joy.” Some of you have heard of Marie Kondo, the petite woman from Japan known as the guru of decluttering. She inspires and helps people by having them “Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.” If they spark joy then you can keep the item. Finding joy in our possessions is a fun concept but it is short-lived. What if you knew the secret of having joy that lasts? This morning’s scripture helps us discover where long lasting-joy is found.
Jesus says goodbye to His disciples in John 14:28 by saying, “If you loved Me you would have rejoiced because I am going to the Father.” Jesus told His disciples, because I am going to the Father you should rejoice because it is where I belong. Jesus is encouraging the disciples to find joy in the midst of their fears and sadness. It’s understandable why the disciples are feeling this way. They were facing the loss of their mentor, teacher and friend after three years of living daily with Him. Jesus also says in verse 11, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Jesus wanted His disciples to experience true joy by accepting Him. Jesus would continue to live in and with them through being in the will of God. Joy can be found in the presence of Jesus even in hardship. But, how? How do we find joy in the presence of Jesus?
1) God REMOVES anything that keep us from living in the presence of Jesus. (vv.1-4) God takes away the clutter that makes it difficult to see Jesus. It might even be painful to get rid of the obstacles that get in the way of our relationship with Jesus. Removing these things is like a gardener who cuts away dead branches and prunes plants to produce better fruit. God desires that His children bear fruit. What is this fruit? It is spiritual fruit. Galatians 5:22 describes the fruit of the Spirit as: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These make up a lifestyle that would change the world. God wants His people to mature so that His joy may be in us and our joy may be full. He seeks to remove those things that keep us from His desires. Just as the pruning of a vine helps to grow fruit, God removes obstacles in our lives to help us bear better and more fruit. He cuts away anything that keeps us from the joy of living in the presence of Jesus.
Because we are sinners we have a multitude of things that need cutting away, which can be painful. One commentary said, “In His pruning the Father sometimes uses hard circumstances and trials. None of these appear ‘pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest.’ This principle, that ‘pain produces,’ is one of the primary laws of spiritual growth. It is commonplace both in horticulture and of the Christian experience that the harder the pruning, the greater the fragrance and beauty which will later be released.” The painful process of pruning will continue throughout our life. I am grateful that God loves me enough to remove any hinderances that keep me from the joy of living in the presence of Jesus. Is there anything in your life that God may be pruning? It’s not an easy or pleasant process when God reveals things to be removed but in the end, joy is found.
2) Living in the presence of Jesus means to REMAIN in God’s will. (vv.5-10) We find joy when we remain in His presence. To live in the presence of Jesus is to live in the will of God. When we abide in Jesus, we are in sync with God and seek the same goals and purpose as He does. There are three ways we know we are in the will of God.
First, do we pray as Jesus prays? If so we are in God’s will. (v.7) “If you abide or REMAIN in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” If we are of the same mind as God we will not seek anything that He does not want. We will only ask for the things God wants. Therefore whatever we ask will happen because it is the will of God. To remain in God’s will is to seek and submit to the mind of God. This is where joy is found. So when we pray, we should ask, is this how Jesus would pray?
Second, we know we are in God’s will when we bear or produce the fruit of love. (vv.8-9) “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples. As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Abide in My love.” God removes things that prevent us from being spiritually productive. When our lives reflect Jesus we are bearing fruit and God is glorified. As believers there is joy when our actions and/or words honor God. When you treat others with gentleness or kindness God knows your heart and sees that fruit. Remaining in Jesus will produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
A third instruction to being in God’s will is keeping His commandments. All of God’s commandments are summarized in Matthew 22: 37-39 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” If we would live in obedience to love God, others, and ourselves every day, it would drastically alter how we interact with one another. Pride would be held in check, there would be fewer arguments, no seeking revenge, no bullying, no lying, no cheating, stealing etc. It would be unrealistic to expect everyone to daily live out this great commandment but if you want to experience joy, being in God’s will through obedience to this commandment is a good place to start.
Jesus said all these things so that His joy would be in us and our joy would be full. Joy is found when we live in the presence of Jesus. The obstacles that prevent us from fully living in the presence of Jesus, God helps us by removing them. Through seeking to know the mind and heart of God in prayer, living a spiritually fruitful life of love, and obeying the commands of God we can remain in the will of God where true joy is found.
The KonMari method of cleaning is like cleaning our spiritual lives. The goal of KonMari is to find joy in a household by getting rid of clutter that does not spark joy. It is painful for people to discard things that they had emotional attachments with. Items that conjured up wonderful and meaningful memories, like pictures, stuffed animals, shoes, clothes, keepsakes were particularly difficult to throw away, even though they had become clutter.
For believers, joy in Jesus is sometimes hard to imagine because of the clutter in our lives. We might have clutter that we have a difficult time getting rid of because we are attached to them. Clutter such as our desire to control everything, the clutter of comfort, the clutter of wrong thoughts, or the clutter of wrong attitudes are a few things that need to be thrown out. God prunes us through decluttering anything that prevents us from experiencing the joy found in the presence of Jesus. Is God revealing any clutter that needs pruning from your life?
Jesus, Thank You; Lord I Offer My Life; Worthy is the Lamb/Crown Him with Many Crowns; The Power of Your Love, Doxology
Geneva Lum shared about her short term mission trip to Hokkaido, Japan, July 7 – 24, with a team from Asian American Christian Fellowship, UC Santa Cruz. A team of five will serve at Airim Church with a children’s program and helping with the renovation of their new facilities. Please pray for: safety, energy and good motivation; to overcome the language barriers; for God to reveal Himself to those who are not saved yet; to open the hearts and minds of those they will be sharing the gospel with; for God’s financial provision for the team to reach their support needed.