This past week’s sermon was a challenge for me. I preached from John 15:1-11, Jesus’ teaching about the vine and the branches. He instructs his followers to abide in him. The challenge for me came regarding Jesus’ teaching on joy in verse 11.

11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John 15:11

To be truthful I’ve struggled to have joy during the past several months. Now if Jesus had taught to be full of fear, doubt, frustration, or uncertainty, I would have had those covered during the last several months. My guess is that I’m not alone. Between pandemics and protests, viruses and racial tensions, stay-at-home orders and lifted restrictions, there is a sense of uncertainty that permeates our experience. Uncertainty does not feed joy.

As I studied and preached this text over the weekend, I became convinced that the goal of abiding in Christ is that we might have joy. Abiding in Christ is an active command from Christ, but it is first of all a gift. Jesus declared to his followers in verse 3:

Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

John 15:3

As humans, we are born in sin and inherently flawed. We are prone to worry, doubt, and impatience. But Jesus teaches us that abiding in him and being made clean by him are gifts that he offers. No, I’m not inherently joyful. But when I reflect on what he’s done for me, I can have joy: the delight in God’s control in all things and his care for me through all things. Here are some reasons we can have joy regardless of our circumstances:

  • Jesus makes us clean through his cross. We don’t earn or deserve cleansing; it is a gift.
  • Jesus invites us to abide in relationship with him. We get to know and relate to the Creator of the universe.
  • Jesus makes us fruitful when we abide in him. We get to live a life that matters eternally because of Christ.
  • Jesus promises to answer our prayers when we abide in him. We get to bring our burdens and requests before him confidently.

John 15 teaches that our relationship with Jesus is the reason for joy. Do you need joy? Pause and think about the salvation that Jesus gave you. Remember that you are in a relationship with the Creator of all. Know that your life matters because Jesus gives you eternal life and the opportunity to share that life with others. Take heart that you can bring whatever struggle or situation to Jesus in prayer.

Abide in Jesus and have joy.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Father, you are Lord and Creator. You are holy and sovereign. We pray to you because you alone hear. You alone can intervene in our circumstances. You alone are able to bring about salvation, peace, and healing.

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

As your people, we humble ourselves, pray, seek your face, and repent. When we look around our nation and world, we are heartbroken at the fallen condition of mankind. We see wickedness, despair, immorality, violence, and hate. We long for awakening. We long for sinners to come to know you. But we realize that revival must begin with us. Reveal to us our sins that we may confess them. Grant us repentance that we may turn to you.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

Psalm 51:1-2

Have mercy on us your people. When we look in our sinful hearts, we find idols: things to which we give attention and adoration besides you (1 John 5:21). Use these days to reveal our idols that we may turn from them and to you with our whole hearts. We deserve judgment for our sin, but we plead your mercy.

You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3

Father, we are weak. As your people, we should walk by faith, not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). But we find ourselves nervous, anxious, afraid. Forgive us for being overwhelmed by our circumstances and controlled by our fears. Teach us to keep our minds on you, to trust in you, and experience your peace.

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Teach us to bring our anxieties to you in prayer with thanksgiving. Father, you want to hear us as your children. You want us to have your peace and presence. May we learn to pray in thankfulness and experience your peace.

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

John 17:16-19

Thank you Father that you have changed us. Thank you that we have your Spirit living within us and our hope and future is eternal. Nevertheless, we find ourselves living in a world fractured by what is false and divided by disinformation. Sanctify us in your truth. You have sent us into this world to influence and impact. To fulfill your purposes, we need what is timeless: your truth and your Word. May we focus this day on your Word and your will.

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Ephesians 6:18-20

Father, may we walk daily in a demeanor of prayer. May we persevere, praying when we feel like it and when we don’t. May we intercede for others. May we have boldness to declare the truth of the gospel that will redeem lost souls. The only hope for your people is revival and renewal in your Word and by your Spirit. The only hope for our nation and world is the gospel of your Son. Revive us your people that we may boldly proclaim Jesus to a lost world. In your glory and grace, grant revival to your people and awakening to our land.


PhPhoto by Matthew Henry on Unsplash